In our previous talk we discussed how the attempt to seek permanence in a temporary or impermanent realm (this material world) leads to great unhappiness. Many people are unaware that they may be caught up in this.
In response to a question I received on this talk, we take a bit deeper look at things. The search for permanent happiness often means that we cultivate unrealistic expectations of ourselves, our bodies, our relationships, and this world. This leads to great disappointment and unhappiness and is based upon an unenlightened perspective. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna advises as follows:
O son of Kuntī, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed. Bg 2.14
So, tonight is going to be a little bit of a continuation from what we talked about last week, which we titled Seeking Permanence in That Which is Impermanent, and how that causes so much distress for the living entities, because the nature of this world and relationships, our body, beauty, health, everything, is impermanent, and the desire to cling on to things, wanting and wishing them to be permanent, is a source of enormous suffering and distress.
And in part of the talk, I mentioned, from a report, how three in five, sixty percent of young women in America are overwhelmed by record levels of persistent sadness and hopelessness. And so, what we were trying to point to, was that the foundational problem for many is this idea of trying to seek—or, wanting things to be permanent, when there’s no possibility of it.
So, in response to the talk, I did have one person make a comment, or questioned me, and so I’m kind of going to respond to that. So the guy stated, “I’m not surprised about the stats on young girls in America. You have lived there,” Yes, I have. “Did you find there are more pressures on young people to be successful? And the usual definition of success in this country is linked to the myth of the American dream, not success in the spiritual sense.”
And so in response to that, I pretty much let him know that the problem is not so much exclusively or foundationally what’s considered the American dream, but rather it is actually having unrealistic expectations. This is an absolute killer for people’s mental health, for their happiness, for relationships, for all kinds of things: unrealistic expectations.
I actually talked about this a few years ago, and I used the example of Princess Diana and Charlie Boy (oh, now King Charles, sorry, excuse the irreverence), and how their wedding was put forward as like the ultimate fantasy, the ultimate dream come true, and everybody was just like gushing over how beautiful it was, and how beautiful they looked. Then there’s photos of them out on the balcony at the palace after the wedding, kissing. And it just like, “Aaahhh, it’s so…” [mimes reaction to cute an sweet and laughs] Well, that one really went to crap really fast, this unrealistic expectation that this is the ideal, that this is Disneyland on steroids, for real. You know, you can be a princess and have a Prince Charming, be a member of a royal family, and have all the stuff and everybody bowing to you and praising you and—but it kind of like, that doesn’t mean anything, not really. When it came down to it that was just like a big zero.
These weird little things [holds up a phone] which are so—in and of themselves they’re absolutely neutral. They’re nothing. It’s just matter. But as I’ve mentioned before, what a lot of people don’t see, that every time I look at my screen I’ve got a massive array of computing power on the other side of that screen, taking every reaction I have, I mean as simple as beginning to type in, in Google, beginning to type in something to search for and then erasing that word and replacing it with another, even that level of information is retained about you, and a profile is developed for each individual. And that’s why—I mean these things, these massive warehouses of computers with backed up redundancy, they use unbelievable amounts of electricity and water just to keep the whole thing cooled down, all the refrigeration to keep all the air temperature right. It’s just like the amount of stuff that’s been used is unbelievable. And everybody’s living in there. They have a profile of your psychology, your likes and dislikes, your body type, how you feel about, how you react to things. When they serve you a video and you don’t click on it, that is captured information. When they serve you something that you click on and then you get upset by, that’s captured information. Everything is captured.
And of course, everybody then is being ultra-manipulated by these little devices—well, not by the devices, by the array of super computing power on the other side of the screen, that you don’t see. And you are being fed ideas. You are being fed ideas to the point, or to the degree rather, that many people just can’t fathom, “How much stuff in my head is actually coming from me and how much of it is put there by others, not just by the phone, even by social interaction and everything?”
We’re not masters of our life. We’re not even masters of our mind. We are being constantly manipulated—our value system, that which we value. And of course, one of the big things that are being fed to everybody—I mean it’s not just that there’s some—
And I have this massive allergic reaction to the word “influencer.” I mean, if you are an Instagram or a YouTube influencer, with few exceptions, there are a few exceptions, it’s just dumb, stupid, shallow garbage. And the fact that you’ve got a hundred and fifty thousand, a million, three million people following you, and you’re just doing dumb shit, that’s just! What does that say about the world?
And people have become addicted to, “What’s the new thing? What’s the new video?” And they just, when they start following somebody, they feel compelled—
It’s interesting: I noticed that, some time ago, how you go into a business meeting, and everybody’s being really polite, and they put their phone on the table. The instant it vibrates (They’ve got it on vibrate. They’re really observing cool etiquette), as soon as it vibrates you’ve lost them. They’re already there, going, “Who is that? What do they want? What’s it about?” [mimes thinking that and externally trying to ignore phone] and you’re trying to engage in a conversation. And you’ve lost them. They’re in the phone. “Do you want to get that?” “Oh, you—do you mind? Thank you,”
It’s just—And we are so unobservant. We’re not taught to be. We’ve been robbed of our independence and our ability to be observant. We don’t have any real insight, just regular people in the world, to what’s driving us, what is the state of consciousness that we’re existing in and through which we are looking at the world, and it’s shaping everything. We think that we’re independently thinking about stuff, and we’re analyzing stuff and making a decision just on our own. And it’s just like not true, not unless you’re a great transcendentalist; otherwise you’re utterly absorbed in this whole, all this chaos known as material existence, and you have a state of consciousness that has been influenced by so many people and so many things. Your desires and everything, they’re not your own. They’ve all been put there, for the majority of people, and then you don’t understand that the way that you are thinking about something and the way that you are seeing is the result of this prism, or this lens, this paradigm that is not you. It is not you.
And so because of these influences, we are frequently overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations.
This idea that the way my body looks is going to determine how lovable, how desirable I will be, my God! that’s a catastrophic idea. And from a spiritual platform that is like, my God! that’s almost suicidal, because it doesn’t end well. You get a short, a brief period of youthfulness, and then you’re over the hump, and it’s downhill. It’s not heading in a good trajectory. All you’ve got to do is go volunteer in old age homes. For a few days, go and volunteer, and try to help people at this point of life where everything goes. If your only, your sole focus and your goals are that which is material, this is tragic. This is tragic.
If, on the other hand, you are developing knowledge of your actual spiritual existence—I mean, vast majority of living beings have no idea who they are, I mean, like zero idea! Everybody’s just totally locked into the external thing. And the mind, which is also a covering of the soul, a covering of the living being, and through which we are experiencing, perceiving, thinking, developing desire, the way we’re making judgments on things, it’s all detached from a deeper, extraordinary, spiritual reality to do with our actual spiritual identity.
I looked at one of the links for the drawing thing and—, because I was thinking of doing a video on some things, and my friend here, Rasalila, is an artist, she does scribing, you know, when people talk at a conference, and then she’s drawing what everybody’s talking about, that kind of stuff—so I was thinking that would be a cool way to do it. So she sent me some examples of what it was I was referencing. And one of them was about this guy, Carl Jung, you know this? I mean, he is meant to be—he is placed on a massive pedestal because he is one of the—Sigmund Freud thought he would be his heir apparent. He was a deeply thoughtful person, there’s no two ways about it. But one of the big problems with psychology, and he was fundamentally a psychologist, although he was a social philosopher, and he influenced a lot of very religious people also.
But when I would run the programs in prison, I (and a lot of these guys get counseling) I talk to them about how, what they’re dealing with, with counseling and stuff, is people that have a two-dimensional paradigm, meaning all they’re dealing with is the body and the mind, whereas our approach, being wairua based, or spiritual in nature, we understand, yes, there is the body, there is the mind, but there is also a spiritual being that is actually the driver, the experiencing—the witness, the experiencing personality within.
And so it’s part of the thing—I was looking at, there was some reference to this, what was meant to be an extraordinary thing by Carl Jung, one of his most famous books, The Red Book, where he wrote—because he was trying to understand the nature of the soul, but he was trying to do it within the context of the mind, he was seeing it as being somehow a function of the mind—and he wrote,
“My soul, my soul, where are you? Do you hear me? I speak, I call you – are you there? I have returned, and I am here again. I have shaken the dust of all the lands from my feet, and I have come to you, I am with you. After long years of long wandering, I have come to you again.”
So, a lot of people in this world would look at that and go, “Oh, that’s so deep. That’s so deep,” but anybody that’s engaged on the spiritual path, when he says, “My soul, my soul where are you?” it’s like, okay, well, who exactly are you? And what is the soul you are speaking of?
“Do you hear me?” Do you hear me, you, the soul, do you hear me? And for anybody that is on this spiritual path, that’s just like, oh my God, this person is monumentally confused. They see the soul as separate from themselves, whereas the spiritual understanding is the soul is the self. The Sanskrit word for it is atma, which is way better than soul. It means the self. And in all of the yoga processes the self was called the witness. It was called the seer, the one who is actually seeing and witnessing things, within, but who is totally captivated by the mind and the body, and utterly identifying with it. So this is a big problem.
I was having a little conversation with Andy a little earlier, and it’s kind of like—Oh my gods, I’m kind of like looking at the clock over there, and we’re trying to keep the talks to a sort of like reasonable period, so everybody doesn’t spaz out and fall asleep because it gets too boring. But it’s just like trying to talk about these subjects in brief little bites is really, really difficult, because we’re talking about states of consciousness, and we don’t even—we are not even aware of the state of consciousness that I am in, that is my paradigm for how I see everything, and what’s forming that; what to speak of getting beyond that. This is called transcending, rising above, or going beyond, even the influence of the mind, to experience the reality of the soul itself.
So what we do here every Sunday, this exercise of chanting and then encouraging people to consider developing a personal practice of meditation, where in your daily life, even if it is for 10 minutes or 15 minutes every day, 20 minutes, if you engage in the meditative process it creates now an opportunity for you to move towards real self-realization. You can’t—this is not a mental exercise. It’s something far more amazing and wonderful. It’s not overly difficult but it requires commitment, like everything in life. Any form of success in the material world requires commitment unless you got lucky and won the lotto or something. Different forms of success require commitment. And similarly this requires commitment.
You absolutely (looking for the right word) I was going to say must, but it’s kind of like, “Who’s this guy telling me what to do?” It’s not very nice it’s not very cool if I say must, it’s only because I’m driven by feeling of tremendous sadness at how people unnecessarily suffer in this world. But I strongly encourage people. On my website I think we might have some links and stuff. We’ve got some guided meditation, just something that you can do and put on and go for it for 15, 20 minutes, just some breathing and relaxation and a bit of chanting, to do it on a daily basis.
And then adopt things that will make a difference in your life. Be kind. Don’t be mean. Don’t be nasty. Don’t be angry. Be kind. Try to do nice things. Render service to others. It will have a wonderful mellowing effect on your heart and mind. Don’t be greedy. Don’t stimulate this hunger for consumption that we’ve been—We’ve just been manipulated to the max for the last hundred years to develop the consciousness of being a consumer, and we don’t know anything else, unless you’ve successfully stepped away from that. Live a life of restraint, of moderation. Be of service. Show kindness. Accept self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice is very ennobling.
The opposite is to be greedy and self-centered. If you make your life all about you, you will become unhappy. There’s no way around it. There may be moments of fleeting exhilaration but they lead quickly to unhappiness, whereas a life of restraining one’s consumption, their senses, and manifesting kindness, being loving, these kinds of things ennoble your life and make it worthwhile. And this process of meditation upon transcendental sound is utterly transformative. It’s simple yet incredibly powerful. Okay?
So—and do not cultivate unrealistic expectations. Drop the selfie. My God it’s such—it’s very—it upsets me because people are sucked into this realm, where this moment of [mimes taking selfie] “I’m so happy, I’m enjoying” –it’s just bullshit. It’s not true. And you’ve got millions and billions of these images floating around and ideas of all of this artificial—it’s not reality, it’s (I was going to say artificial reality), it’s fantasy. And everybody’s buying into it, and thinking, “Why can’t I be like that?”
The primary reason that you get this massive number 60 percent of young women in America currently overwhelmed by unhappiness and hopelessness is these two things: the trying to create something permanent out of that which is temporary and passing, and this second part of that is the way in which that is done is by building unrealistic expectations. Everybody needs to lower things a little bit, and get on with life. Be nice to people. Be kind. Okay. That’s it. Boom Boom Boom. [Applause].
So I’ll chant the mantra Aum Hari Aum. Aum represents the highest transcendental reality. It is a completely transcendental and purifying sound. And Hari means the remover of all the burden of the heart, which means to take shelter in transcendence.
So when we chant just let everything go. Rest your heart in this sound.