Dr Jack Purcell: Okay. As we mentioned on Monday, we have a guest speaker here. And I will, without further ado, let Rishi introduce him, since you’ve all met Rishi before.
Rishi: Hi guys. So, David is someone that I met through my mom, actually. He has been meditating for over 45 years. I think there was kind of a, like some sense of a camaraderie there, having come from, you know, the practical tradition that I grew up with, I guess. And David is somebody that has, I guess, who we would consider as nlightened or awakened, in I guess most conventional terminologies.
The way David usually talks about it is that consciousness woke up to itself or became aware of itself through the body. And he can probably clarify that a lot better than I can. But he’s not somebody that is usually considered as like a teacher or a guru. And he has, in the activity and work of his daily life, has gone the academic route with a seminary PhD in the Vedic sciences, and has written a dissertation and written pretty extensively about, I would say, further developing and integrating the Western understanding with these kind of descriptions of the inner workings of consciousness and that kind of a thing. Well, I mean, I don’t know, I’ll let you.
I think it’ll be an interesting, it was definitely a very interesting thing for me to first talk with him, both with the similarities and the differences from, I guess, what you’d expect for someone experiencing that.
But I think that the real, I don’t know, the real rarity and the value is that this is somebody with an academic background that can express through that way, but also has the grounding in the experiential kind of awareness and consciousness. So to me it was a very like helpful and clarifying thing. So I don’t know if that’s enough or good. Thank you for allowing me to do the introduction, Dave.
David: Well, thank you, Jack and Rishi. Today I wanted to talk a little bit about the Vedic perspective.
That’s my background, as mentioned. I’ve studied Vedic science academically and also experientially. It’s essentially a perspective out of ancient India, and Veda means knowledge, of the nature of life, and it’s among the oldest surviving texts in the world come out of this tradition. It was originally in northwest India. A lot of the stories were considered mythic because, you know, for example, it was described as existing along the Saraswati River, which didn’t exist, but they’ve discovered more recently with satellite imaging that there is a dried up river through that area, and then they discovered large cities in the desert. That were ancient cities, but the writing they found there has been untranslated. They haven’t figured out how to translate it yet. The Vedic culture has had a profound impact on the world even today. The way we measure space and time go back to this culture. The days of the week, months of the year, hours in a day, degrees in a circle, and so forth. They developed quite a sophisticated set of sciences, medicine, astronomy, mathematics, and quite sophisticated, and we continue to get to be surprised by how sophisticated as it’s discovered.
But the understanding of a lot of that material has been lost. For example, the core Rig Veda, the foundation of the Vedic thought, doesn’t make a lot of sense when you read it, really. It just sounds like a bunch of mythological stories and things. But actually, it’s encoded experiences. You see, it’s written in Sanskrit, and Sanskrit is this ancient language where the sound of the words and the meaning are aligned, the sound that creates the form and the meaning, it’s all tied together. And so essentially someone who’s clearly awake on a refined level where the world is a field of vibration just becoming, if you listen to these stories on that level, you can actually have the experience of the original seer that wrote the text. So, like I said, they’re encoded experiences, which make a lot more sense when they can be experienced directly.
The Vedic tradition was oral for thousands of years, but as they describe in the Vedic tradition, the texts are, the time moves in vast cycles, like seasons. So we have golden ages and silver and bronze and iron ages, essentially, as the Greeks described it. These vast cycles of time where consciousness rises and falls. And we went through a long period of descent, and the sage Vyasa could see the coming dark age, and so he wrote down the texts to preserve them.
And some of them were still lost, but the core texts and many others have been preserved. He organized the Rig Veda into the form it is in today, we know it today. Gathering together the experiences or the cognitions of these various sages into an organized format.
Later in the tradition, we have Vasishtha, who was the teacher of Prince Rama in the epic story of the Ramayana. But probably the biggest influence on modern Indian thought is Adi Shankara. He brought out the Sanatana Dharma. He had his disciples, his key disciples, found four seats of learning in India, in the north, south, east, and west. He revived the monastic tradition that had faded and brought out Vedanta as Advaita or non-duality, which you may have heard of today. Today’s modern Neo-Advaita is not really what Shankara was pointing to, though, and it kind of ignores his later teaching, where he got into more of the refinement and of the process of the unfolding enlightenment.
But the key with all this stuff is application. Philosophy has little value unless you can live it. You know, you can certainly develop really interesting concepts and beliefs, but by itself, that’s just mind. It’s just like a dream, you know, value. It’s kind of an idea and it can certainly be a strong filter through which we experience the world, but it’s still not grounded in reality, basically. And faith, on the other hand, can culture the heart, but both need to be grounded in our higher nature or we get tossed around by the events of life and it’s very hard to sustain our faith, our sense of reality, when life changes as it always does.
So this is where one of the key aspects of the Vedas come in, and that is application. What is the means of developing this unfolding so that you can come to a place of living these ideas? Now, when I use the term “yoga” this is the means in Vedas. You probably think of somebody doing stretching exercises or a yoga studio somewhere, and they often talk in terms of control and values of force and concentration in modern interpretations of yoga.
However, the actuality is kind of the opposite. It’s about letting go of control and allowing and letting life itself move through you as opposed to trying to control. It’s the ego, the identified ego, that thinks that I am this individual person and I’m separate from other people, that creates issues with our experience of life and tends to cause us to have difficulties and challenges. Whereas if we can experience our deeper nature, our universal nature, then our experiences are put in a much larger context and we can unfold, we can soften the attachment to the ego and open up to a fuller value of this. And then with direct experience, philosophy becomes lived rather than theoretical.
They have a term in the Vedic tradition, Atman, which means the Self with a capital S. It’s essentially our cosmic nature or universal nature. I have a quote here from the Katha Upanishad. The Upanishads are kind of excerpts from the larger texts, the Reader’s Digest version, so to speak.
“Taught by an inferior man, this self cannot easily be known, even though often reflected upon. Unless taught by one who knows him as none other than his own self, there is no way for him, for he is subtler than the subtlest, beyond the range of reasoning.”
So, beyond the mind, beyond the content of experience. The Self is that which is doing the experiences and is also the essentially the screen on which experiences are unfolding. Of course this is taking a perspective that consciousness itself is fundamental, that the world we experience around us arises in consciousness as do we ourselves.
And just as Christianity has developed branches over time, so too this has happened in India, but even for a longer period of time. So there’s this vast array of philosophical approaches. The core Vedic approach, there’s a set of six philosophies, the darshanas, of which Yoga is one, Vedanta is another. These are sometimes thought to be competing philosophies, but in actuality, they’re perspectives of the different stages of development.
And so each of them has validity in its own time. Now today, the philosophies and religions of India are kind of lumped under “Hindu,” which is essentially a name given by the English to group it all together, including things that are not necessarily related. Now, it may seem otherwise, but it is essentially a monotheistic perspective. There is some variation on that, but broadly there is considered to be one God or one reality with many expressions, and so you can follow the expression or the embodiment that you favor. But again, modern India’s expression is kind of superficial.
Buddha came along, and you’ll be hearing about that, I understand, and he basically got rid of all the ritual and the belief structures and stuff, and came back to the core again. This is something that’s happened around the world over the centuries, over the ages, where someone is not just enlightened, but they have an understanding of the means of bringing it to other people as well. This is quite rare. And so, this person comes forward and helps enlighten other people, and a group develops. But what tends to happen after about three or four hundred years is that the core understanding, that means, is lost, and so it just becomes a set of concepts or a philosophy, and then degrades further into belief without a means.
And this has happened the world over. It happened with the Vedic understanding. It happened with in Buddhism and I believe it’s the same with Christianity as well, where Jesus brought out a means but that means was lost in time and you know, degrades into belief and dogma. And so periodically someone comes forward again. But we’re now in a time, a rising age, where the means is being brought forward. Many more people are waking up, it’s nowhere near as rare as it was even a decade ago. And, you know, some of those are people who have been meditating for a long time, like myself. And some of those are, are people who have a longer term history prior to this life, that they’re bringing that forward and apparently waking up without practices and so on.
And as the collective consciousness rises from more and more people doing appropriate practices and waking up, it’s kind of, we lift all boats, so to speak, the entire collective is raised up and we move towards a predicted golden age. In the West we tend to think of our current time as the peak of evolution and as a technological civilization and that, but from a Vedic perspective we’re actually rising out of a darker age because we lost that sense of our universal Self and our interconnection and our essential nature.
And what’s happening now is that we’re returning to that. And interestingly enough, though, technology like we’re using today is helping facilitate that. Many spiritual teachers, for example, are now doing retreats online using the same kind technology and allowing people to sit with spiritual teachers and have what they call darshan, which is essentially exposure.
There are occasional people who wake up on their own, spontaneously, but the vast majority of people wake up through exposure to someone who is awake. They call this darshan. Essentially, it’s the Self within, that universal nature, that wakes up to itself. But this has never happened in our history, history of our soul, you could say. And so we have no example, no experience to point to it. But when we spend time with, when we culture the ground and prepare, and then spend time with someone who is awake, it’s that same Self that’s waking up. And so the opportunity comes for that Self to wake up to itself by recognizing itself through someone who’s awake.
If that makes sense.
Rishi: Would it be helpful for questions or something like that to kind of guide you on your topics?
David: Yes, that’s actually what I was about to suggest.
Rishi: Okay. I was going to ask, since you mentioned about both practical application and background in the in the Vedic like study, would you want to talk about a little bit what kind of spiritual practices you had in this life and what I don’t know the significance of that in in terms of either connection to the enlightenment process or is this something you would want to talk about about yeah
David: Sure okay. Yeah, the key from a practical standpoint is culturing the ground essentially, so that we’re capable of shifting, but also so that when the shift happens, that it’s a smoother process. So we’ve done the sufficient purification and preparing the ground. You see examples of people who shift without that preparation and it tends to be a bumpier time. Eckhart Tolle famously spent two years sitting on a park bench, you know trying to figure out what happened, for example.
So here I developed an interest and basically I started reading about brain physiology and stuff that at that time they were coming out with books on right brain, left brain, you know, how the brain worked and stuff. And that of course leads to consciousness, the topic of consciousness and reading about that and then that led to the topic of meditation.
And I ended up learning TM, Transcendental Meditation. And then, you know, I took some classes and stuff that they had available at the time. But in order to go deeper, you needed to basically learn to teach the meditation and go on a course. It was essentially a six-month retreat in off-season hotels in Europe. And so basically, I spent a bunch of time doing extra meditation and doing deep study of the background and it took me much more into the Vedic perspective, although it’s something I’ve been studying a good part of my life.
I did do kind of a Siddhartha thing, though, where I spent a lot of time in spiritual practice and very focused, and there was a lot of unfolding while I was on that on the course, a couple of things happened.
One is that the witness came online, and essentially what that means is the observer value of consciousness woke up. It didn’t wake up to itself, so it wasn’t the spiritual awakening or Self-Realization in that kind of sense, but it did become alert. So essentially there’s this observer quality of consciousness that’s awake and witnessing all of experience. So what you’re experiencing day to day, but it also witnesses dreams and deep sleep. So there’s kind of a value of awakeness even in deep sleep.
And then related to that, kind of the lights came on, so to speak, and I began experiencing the subtle structures of the world around us, the nature of how the world comes to be and so on like that. There’s a lot there though, so it takes quite a bit of time for that to… because there’s kind of the experience and then there’s the time that mind takes to unpack all that and come to some understanding.
And then basically life called me to do some more grounding, essentially. I didn’t see this at the time, but I ended up starting a career and a family and all that stuff and got very involved in the world. I still continued to meditate and there was still unfolding going on, but it became a little bit more in the background and not quite so prominent in my life.
And then, I guess around 2005, I was working in IT and software development, managing the development and distribution of web applications for the construction industry. And the life I was living kind of, basically fell apart. The job, it became clear that the company was never going to make any money the way it was structured at the time. And the company, I was the first employee of the company and did all the early design work and then hired developers and so on like that. The company kind of had a number of bad habits that revolved around me. And then because I was working a lot, a lot of hours, that was having a negative influence on my marriage and so forth. So there’s this whole series of…
So I made the decision to step back, step out of the company, but that actually ended up ending my marriage. And sort of a whole series of things that, the life that I had been living fell away.
And then the spirituality moved forward again. Just old friends from the early days showed up in my life again. And then the opportunity came up, I connected with an old friend again, and it turns out he’d woken up and was doing spiritual teaching. And Self finally woke up to itself here. And I guess because of the long-term preparing the ground, I’d been witnessing for 30 years, something like that, then the next few stages came pretty quickly.
And it’s interesting to reflect on now because it’s, life kind of created these circumstances where, not only was there unfolding here, but I was exposed to a lot of other people who were unfolding also. And so I saw a lot of examples of the unfolding and the variations and various concepts I had to throw out that turned out to be inaccurate or weren’t as fixed as I thought, you know, that they were more flexible and variable. And it taught me a lot about the process.
And through the academic study, I found some core texts which brought out deeper understanding of the process and opened up the perspectives a little bit. And so the result was, you know, I wrote a book and dissertation and so on stuff on the stages of enlightenment based on what I was, you know, the core understanding from the Vasishtha I mentioned earlier on in the Ramayana. But how is it being experienced today?
Rishi: I have a question, David, I think kind of on that point. Do you think it would be helpful? I was wondering maybe if you would want to give maybe some, maybe talk a little bit about on both the kind of quality of experience changes that kind of coincide with consciousness waking up to itself and like, so what changes in the quality of experiencing and what, and maybe a little bit, just maybe touch on what is not a quality of experience kind of a change. Does that question make sense?
David: Yeah, it’s pretty variable. Fundamentally, what happens is there’s that shift from experiencing yourself as an individual person to experiencing yourself as universal consciousness. So you become unbounded and infinite.
And, however, you know, when people hear about some of this stuff, it sounds kind of flashy and distinctive, but what most people, one of the first things that happens after the shift is people will like, be really surprised because it’s perfectly normal and ordinary. You know, that they just, it’s like nothing changed. It’s still the same person, still the same laws of nature that are functioning here.
But the perspective changes, essentially. So you’re experiencing, instead of you’re being, experiencing it as a “me” who’s in the middle of it all, you’re kind of, you kind of step back and have a more, a bigger perspective, a larger perspective.
And so what tends to happen then through experiencing life and going through the usual things we do and going to work and relationships and all that, we experience them from the changed perspective and then there’s a kind of an unpacking. There’s a lot that can happen prior you know if you have a good spiritual practice but because you’re essentially now awake within, you’re essentially meditating 24/7 because you’re always in Samadhi essentially, it’s there all the time. And so there’s a lot, the processing tends to be faster and deeper and so on like that.
So, you know, you’ll basically be going through life and some story comes up in the mind. But now because you’re in a broader perspective, It’s like, oh, that’s what I believe? Well, that’s nonsense. And you can throw it out.
But it was just automatic before, and you weren’t just unconscious and automatic. Whereas now, you’re more conscious, essentially. And so the stuff can come up and leave. And when difficult circumstances come up, instead of just being purely reactive, we start to learn, more thoroughly, to allow and process and complete whatever is coming up, so that we’re not resisting life and we’re not being reactive the same way. So it’s kind of like the awakening itself is [click] like that. It’s just, there’s just a recognition. It takes just a fraction of a second, but the unpacking and the integration of that in our daily life, that takes place over time. The old texts talk about it in terms of 10 to 12 years to integrate fully, just because that’s how long it takes to go through the process and live your life in a normal kind of way. But the benefits start pretty much right away.
And there’s a kind of a winding down of the concept of karma. Karma means action. And essentially when we act in harmony with life, then the action completes. But when we act in a way that’s a little disharmonious with life, we’re resisting in some way or trying to grasp at life in some way, it creates a kind of unresolved, some unresolved energy, so to speak, incomplete action. And so it kind of creates a tendency then for that unresolved experience to come up again in our life at some point, sometimes quickly and sometimes over time. So we may notice certain repeating patterns in our life, for example, where we always seem to find the same kind of girlfriend or same kind of boss that we have trouble with, essentially there’s a pattern that hasn’t resolved itself. So when we step out of being in that, it’s much easier to just allow it to be and to let it go.
So over time, our life gets simpler and more settled, and the drama kind of settles out and challenges and so on. But we continue being a person and having those experiences of, you know, the karma we came in with in this life and that’s a whole other kind of topic. But there’s kind of like, awakening has this, we tend to produce a lot more unresolved experiences than we resolve in a lifetime. And so over time, those unresolved experiences build up as a kind of backlog.
When we clearly awaken, that identification with the me ends, it kind of breaks, it’s said to roast the seeds of karma, the mountains of karma – it breaks that connection to it and and so they can resolve. However the sprouted seeds that are unfolding in this life, they continue to unfold through the lifetime. And so we still someone who’s awake still has challenges, still has ups and downs and so on like that, but they’re experiencing it from a different perspective. So it makes life quite a bit smoother and easier.
Rishi: And that’s where I guess people would talk about like these flowery language or descriptions of, you know, big states of peacefulness and bliss. Is that where you’re?
David: Yeah, yeah. So, Sat Chit Ananda, for example, is the way they talk about in the Vedas. Buddhism uses the word nirvana. But, now one of the things that unfolds, if there’s refined perception is unfolding, is a recognition that it’s not just the surface experience and consciousness, but there’s these kind of layers of experience.
So we have the physical experience, our emotional, our emotions, our thoughts, the intellect, intuition level, and then there’s what’s known as the celestial or the bliss body.
And that’s the same thing as that fine vibration I was talking about here if you experience on that level, That’s where things were first becoming. And when you experience that subjectively within, that’s experienced as bliss.
Now the world around us is being recreated in every moment. And so that fine vibration is going on all the time. And there’s a whole long list of qualities. I’ve done articles on just listing the qualities of that layer. But when the emotions and the mind are settled enough and there’s been enough healing, then that quality of inner happiness becomes ongoing. Now it varies somewhat. Sometimes it can be really almost overwhelming, just like we’re drowning in bliss, so to speak, and sometimes it’s just kind of just there in the background and as we’re busy living our life but it’s essentially you know the, most people are living their life in their thoughts, emotions, and the physical world, the surface three [layers].
But if you look at the deeper layers, the consciousness, where consciousness first starts structuring and then that finest celestial level with the bliss body. Those three are known as sat, chit, and ananda. Those are the qualities of those three subtle levels. So it’s kind of like the same functionality is there, it just we shift from being in the body-mind, to being in consciousness-bliss.
And the body-mind is still there and functioning, but it’s not, it’s not as dominant.
Jack: So any of you can ask questions.
Q: Is there a way that you’ve noticed… wait let me get my question right… from your experience and your understanding of everything how do you how do you recognize someone else is awakened?
D: Well it depends. There’s what I refer to as resonance. And so we individually will tend to resonate with some people and not with others, with some teachers and not with others. And there’s some superficial things you can say, well you know someone might prefer an academically oriented teacher, someone may prefer a more heart-based teacher or something like that, but there’s kind of like a deeper value of resonance, and we’re going to tend to get the most results with somebody we resonate with. Now, fundamentally, when someone wakes up, it’s the same Self that’s woken up, and so when there’s some value of resonance, then you’re meeting yourself, so to speak, when you meet someone like that.
But as you go through the stages of enlightenment, you’re becoming increasingly universal, and so the resonance becomes more and more universal. So you may not resonate with someone, and may not know whether they’re awake or not, and where someone else may be quite obvious to you, whereas as they move through higher stages of enlightenment, it becomes more and more obvious.
It’s just because, it’s the same, they’re living from the same reality and it’s kind of like there’s a resonance, it’s a feeling essentially.
Q: Thank you
D: Sure That relates to Darshan. Yeah, it’s not an introductory kind of… I mean, I’m introducing my Vedic perspective, but it’s…
Yeah, I’m not a light… a light perspective of it. I like to try and go in there and talk about the… the deeper nature because that’s really what it’s all about.
Q: I’ve got a question. Yes. When you’re working towards and in a serious meditation program, do you work out all the shadow, all of the you know the unconscious parts that are the negative aspects of yourself that you’re not aware of. Is that part of the process of reaching enlightenment?
David: Yes, yes. That’s an interesting question actually too. There’s kind of the obvious level and the essential teaching of yoga is what they call Samadhi. And Samadhi is essentially going beyond the emotions and the mind and into our deeper nature as consciousness.
And that helps culture that value and cultures the nervous system to be able to support that experience more.
It also helps with the purification and clearing those negative things. However, I have found that most people in the West require some supplemental work, so to speak. And so I do also recommend some quality of energy healing, essentially where, not some formal fancy stuff, but just essential, essentially, emotional awareness and simple techniques to allow those negative influences to resolve themselves. And support that process because the habit so often is of resistance and we’re not really recognizing that. It becomes much more obvious after awakening where we’ve been resisting our experience in some way and that can actually include seeing qualities of ourselves as negative.
For example, in my own case, I have a strong intellect and I viewed that as a negative, spiritually. It was because a strong mind kind of gets in the way, so to say. I thought it was something I had to get rid of. But in actual fact it was innate and I realized that even in the midst of profound spiritual experiences it was in there and part of the process.
And so what I needed to shift was actually my relationship with it and I guess you could say a quality of self-acceptance. And it’s interesting too, you know, for me, there was things that I assumed would fall away with awakening and things that I would maintain. But what those, and in some cases that did happen with things, but in other cases I was surprised to find that, for example, my interest in playing musical instruments fell away, which I would have thought was a positive thing, but it turns out it was was driven more by, you know, family influences. I still really enjoy music, but that that, the performance part fell away. Whereas there’s other kinds of things that are, like I mentioned about the strong mind that I thought would fall away, but actually have gotten stronger.
And, it’s kind of interesting too, a lot of people seem to think that with enlightenment, that emotions disappear. You become somehow a Vulcan or something. But the opposite, is actually, they’re freed up. It’s a liberation. It’s a liberation of all aspects of the person. And so emotions become fuller and richer and more profound.
Yeah, so yeah, it’s an interesting… There’s a lot of expectations, but especially if you study this stuff for a while, you develop a lot of expectations about what it’s supposed to be [air quotes], but the actuality for, and the trick is,
one of the things that I found really interesting to realize was that from a cosmic level, consciousness is aware of itself globally and at every point. And essentially, each of us are one of those points. The soul, you could say, or Jiva. And we’re essentially each designed to have our own perspective of reality, because reality knows itself globally already, but in order for it to know itself in all the details, it takes these forms and apparent persons, and each of us have different combinations of laws of nature and a somewhat different perspective.
And it’s through all of us together that we unfold the fullness of reality. So each of us has a unique perspective and so our experience of the process and experience of life is going to be a little different. We’re going to have our own take on it and that’s actually what we’re bringing to the whole. It’s our contribution. Yeah, so it’s not that we’re all supposed to have the same experience. It’s the opposite. But interestingly enough, we do have that global and universal value in common. So we can still have a shared reality and communicate about our experience.
Jack: I have a question. Since you mentioned playing musical instruments, it’s something I’ve been mulling over lately. And in my experience, there seem to be very few people who talk about, and I’m going to talk about this from a standpoint of beauty, right? And the very few of the, like, the only character that comes to mind that I’m familiar with is Rupert Spira talks a bit about beauty, and I think that’s probably because of his background as an artist. Mooji also was a an artist in his background, but he seemed, I’ve never heard him talk about beauty, but there’s something interesting to me about, right, like we do seek what is beautiful, either through painting or sculpting or music or what have you, and I wonder if you could say
something about that, because there’s a sense in which that seems to come from something deeper within us looking for expression, but finding the expression returns it back to itself.
David: Yes, exactly. That’s kind of another way of saying what I just said. Yeah, one of the things to understand about the process is that there’s essentially two parallel processes taking place.
One is the process of consciousness waking up to itself and unfolding in progressively deeper levels, and there’s a series of stages in that process of waking up of the witness or observer value and then the waking up of the behind the world value and the two coming together and so forth. That’s a whole other conversation. But those are stages of unfoldment of consciousness to itself. And this is often described as the Shiva or the masculine value of consciousness.
But there’s also this other side, the feminine. And these aren’t gender things I’m talking about here. It’s fundamental qualities of consciousness. The feminine, which is the expression, the world itself, nature, it’s put in a number of ways, the Shakti, and this is the means for consciousness to know itself. And this is much more about refinement of perception and the awakening heart. And this is kind of, it’s a progressive, where consciousness, the stages in consciousness are sudden shifts and then progressive integration. The stages of the heart are progressive development to a climactic shift. And so they’re kind of, these two processes are kind of intertwined in the unfolding. But in the West, there’s a lot less, we’re more repressed emotionally and there is a lot less of that kind of expression.
It’s a lot more healing on that level, like Gail brought up, to allow that unfolding to take place. And so you see a lot more like in modern Advaita circles, there’s a lot more dry expression. They talk only about consciousness in many cases and only about those masculine qualities, and any talk about an awakening heart or refined perception is considered to be a distraction or a problem in some way or something, whereas actually it’s part of a balanced process.
Now again, everybody is different and they’re going to be a different mixture. Some people have, a rarer number of people, but some people do have a lot of refined perception, kinds of things going on, but without that inner grounding in consciousness, they tend to be tossed around by life’s experiences, and it’s a more challenging kind of experience of life.
And whereas someone who’s only on the consciousness side of the equation tends to have a much drier, flatter kind of style. So the ideal is to culture both. And so that’s why I mentioned about energy healing, for example, because it’s a way to help heal the emotional energetic kinds of dynamics. Most people in the West have kind of a, actually a black crust around their heart chakra as a defence, essentially, because the the world is energetically harsh on the fine feelings, but once you’re grounded in that universal nature, you know, like the texts talk about, water cannot burn it, nor fire,
eer, fire cannot burn it, nor water wet it, and so forth.
It creates a stable platform for a lot of development to happen, one of which is the awakening heart and the shedding of the crust and opening to universal values of love and compassion and so forth. So that creates the boundary for beauty to be recognized and expressed in a much fuller way. Because that’s the key. For beauty to be recognized, we have to be willing to feel. And so if our heart is kind of cramped, it’s a lot harder to feel richly and without limit.
Jack: Cool. Thank you.
Q: I have a question about practices. So, from when you were an observer to now, someone that’s experiencing, how have your practices changed?
David: Well, I continue to practice the same meditation, but the experience is quite different now. Before awakening, there was transcending, they call it, essentially the settling of the activity of the emotions and the mind and stepping down into a deeper nature.
It was kind of foggy at first, but gradually got clearer. But it’s basically going beyond the mind and transcending, hence the name Transcendental Meditation. I believe this is the essential style that is talked about in the Vedic tradition. It comes out of the Shankara’s tradition. The key is with yoga and with meditation is effortless.
So you’re not trying to control the process. You’re shifting from your individuality into your broader nature. And those more subtle, you know, I mentioned before about the bliss body, those more subtle levels are more charming and so on. And so when we begin a practice that doesn’t constrain us to the mind by trying to control, the mind will naturally settle into, within because those subtle levels are more charming, are more universal. And then the result is samadhi, the touching into our deeper nature as consciousness. And again, it can be pretty vague at first, but over time, as we clear the way, clear the dust, so to speak. It becomes clearer and clearer, and then that kind of prepares the ground and sets the stage for the shift.
So after we wake up, there isn’t transcending because we’re already there. So it’s more what some would call presence. It’s kind of basically shifting from having the mind and senses focused outwards on things around me, around and you know, what I’m doing or whatever, it’s closing the eyes and the attention falls within. And so it’s like dropping the world instead of transcending, becoming, just settling into the essential nature. But you know, it gets more and more broad. Kind of the deeper the state you go on the stage is the more universal it is.
I mean, Self-Realization, that initial awakening, feels very universal. It feels like it’s infinite and eternal, and in its nature it is. But there is a great deal more that can, it can go bigger and more universal and deeper in its process.
Jack: More questions? Anybody?
Q: Yeah, I actually had one. So whenever I hear people talk about the Vedic studies, they always talk about it as like this insurmountable lifelong journey, you know, like first step on the journey?
David: Well, I guess I would, for a first step, I would recommend the means that you have some value of samadhi going on, so that you’re developing the direct experience. And then you support that with study. And a lot of what’s taught of Eastern philosophy is on that level of concepts. And many of the Western teachings are essentially conceptual interpretations of another culture and times concepts.
And so there’s kind of like, there’s another layer to it. That’s, I wouldn’t say misleading exactly, but it’s just still on the level of the mind. So yeah, a practical application where you’re culturing that and then study it.
So there are places where, that are more aligned with, you know, what I would consider the actual traditional understanding, which is not as common even in India, but they are around, you know, and there are quite amazing teachers out there.
And then there’s, you know, it kind of depends. I mean, there’s certainly… The teachings aren’t confined to the Vedic tradition. There are teachers from all cultures who are essentially teaching the same thing. What appeals to me, personally, why the Vedas appeals to me, is because that you know, light, I mentioned the lights coming on early on and I started experiencing these subtle structures of the world. That’s not typical necessarily. Everybody has their own process and some people are more visual. Like a friend of mine is very aware of the emotional, mental and intellect structures and where people are constrained in some way. They’re a professional energy healer. That led to that. Whereas my emphasis has been subtler and they’re more on the level of a feeling value, whereas I’m more visual and other people are more audio, so that they’ll relate to it and and bring out different values and different understanding from different perspectives.
And so, but for me, because there was a lot of visual experience, not very many traditions go into those details. So that’s where the Vedic tradition really appealed to me. They talk like, you know, the first big one here was what’s known as Hiranya garbha, or the golden egg. Essentially, it’s experiencing the universe from the outside and how it comes to be. I don’t know any other tradition except the Vedic tradition that talks about that, and it talks about it quite widely, quite a bit.
So that’s where, for me, with my style unfolding, the Vedic tradition appealed a great deal. And it was only later in life that I managed to study it academically, more formally.
But I did, but I have, except for when I had a young family and stuff, it was a part of my life in various ways through there.
And I can say, you know, the sources now are so much better. I can recall going into the stacks, they called it, of the library at the nearby university to, you know, look up stuff, find some books on this stuff and that. And a lot of the translations were other people who didn’t have good grounding in English, and so they were hard to read from that standpoint. Or they were English interpretations, like many of the early Vedic texts were translated by a German fellow named Max Muller, who viewed it as essentially a bunch of mythological fairy stories, and brought that interpretation to it and then the early English translations were based on his translation. And so, you know, the foundational understanding wasn’t there, and so a lot of the early texts are not very cleanly translated.
So, yeah, so the first thing you want to do is develop the means, and then, because knowledge by itself, you know, has limited value. Whereas if you have, of this kind of thing, whereas if you have that qualities of experience going on, then you can use the knowledge to support that.
Q: I’ve got another question. I’ve been more in the Buddhist practice and I’ve taken the Kalachakra initiation, which is the Buddhist path. But the Rinpoche that I received the initiation from is in Australia. In the United States, there’s not a lot of Rinpoches that are working on enlightenment or the Kalachakra path.
And now he has an online program, But I realize, I mean, I know it’s an individual path. Everybody has to find their path and I’m not wedded to, I mean, they’re all, like you say, they’re all pointing the same direction. So anyway, I guess my question, Is, from the United States, where is a good program? So that you’ve got some structure, although the work you’ve got to do to understand that part.
David: Yeah, well it’s actually an interesting thing because I, some people have a single path through their life. They find the teacher and they take them through the whole process. Other people will have a sequence of teachers. That’s happened here, for example.
All in a related tradition, but they’ve had different roles at different times in my life when they were needed. And sometimes we’re kind of, we’re in a place where there’s kind of a, you know, we’ve been used to a certain approach for a while and we’re kind of getting pushed to change, but you know, we’re not, we’re resisting that in some way. And sometimes, you know, we’re kind of, there’s people I recall back in the early days, I knew people who would go to all the different teachers whenever somebody came through town, they’d go and listen to it, and they’re kind of like trying to cherry pick, but not really committing to anything.
Not really, because, you know, I get that with my blog, sometimes people send me questions, And sometimes I’m getting people who are trying to compare two completely different paths and trying to figure out which is right, whereas they’re not necessarily compatible in that kind of way. And in some ways you need to, it’s not universally true, but for a lot of people this tends to be about making a commitment to something that resonates with them and that works for them. But it’s, you know, the TM organization, they do have a whole, they have TM centers and they have various courses and they have online classes. I mean, it’s based in the Vedic tradition, but it’s kind of been secularized for the West. And they have various classes that are online and they have a university in Iowa. That’s where I got my master’s. I went there basically because they have, like the guy that wrote the textbooks on Sanskrit, is their a Sanskrit professor, you know, the ones they use at most the major universities. And they had this understanding.
It wasn’t just on the level of theoretical. But, you know, like as you undoubtedly have experienced, any spiritual organization is going to have dynamics and egos in play. And so, you know, the key is finding what’s of value to you and not getting caught in the dramas and the politics, I guess you could say.
Yeah, so it’s, I mean, there’s certainly value there, but for myself, I mean, I’m taking a course in the Brahma Sutra through the university right now. They’re teaching online and that’s and it’s really nice to have that that perspective being brought to it because the Brahma Sutras if you’ve ever looked at them, are essentially they’re looked at as intellectual arguments for Brahman, for the absolute, but are actually a list of recognitions of in Unity Consciousness, in the third stage of enlightenment, where essentially there’s, with Unity, there’s an initial shift where you recognize that not only am I the cosmic Self within, but the cosmic Self is also kind of like the movie screen on which the world is playing out, and those are the same Self, and it’s an internal recognition, and they come together into one wholeness, hence Unity. But it’s progressive because then you go out and you experience your life and you see, “Oh, that is also myself, and oh, that is also myself,” and all the layers of experience are gradually integrated into one wholeness, which the Brahma Sutra calls the aggregate. And so essentially the text is listing, not a series of intellectual understandings, but a series of recognitions in experience, and they understand this in this course, and so that’s really valuable, because most, essentially any translations I’ve seen, see them as…I mean, Shankara did a commentary on the Brahma Sutra, and that is intellectual arguments about the validity of it, but the text itself is not an intellectual argument. It’s recognitions of the intellect, of the nature of reality. So it’s an experiential thing again, somewhat like I was talking about with the Rig Ved. So yeah, so there’s a lot of possibilities out there.
There are some very good teachers, but there’s a lot of noise level, so to speak. I’ve spoken at the Science and Non-Duality Conference in California several times and what I found is that the popular teachers and the mainline speakers, some of them are Self-Realized, but there are a number of them there, for example, deny anything further. There’s a single awakening and any talk of stages is either a concept that’s a barrier or is a delusion. And so it’s an interesting, I mean I didn’t even bother going there at first because that was quite entrenched early on, but gradually more and more people have unfolded these further stages and so it’s become more and more accepted as a potential. And so, essentially the community became open to talk of stages, further stages. So it’s an interesting dynamic.
But the key, of course, is resonance. It’s an interesting thing. For example, I found that I really valued Adyashanti’s books. He has a couple of books where he talks about the transition after awakening, talking about the unpacking and so on that I was talking about earlier, and some of the things that can happen for people. But I don’t resonate with him as a teacher, but I really value his books.
On the flip side, you know, I’ve seen Gangaji a couple of times as a teacher, and I have a strong resonance with her, but I don’t resonate at all with her teaching, her approach, probably because I have a strong intellect and want to go into a lot more detail where she avoids that. She doesn’t want to create concepts. But it’s kind of like this debate. I mean, do you– a person is traveling on the road, do you give them a map? Or do you deny them the map because they may confuse the map with the journey? And it’s kind of this debate.
Because I know just from feedback I get from people, that people do get confused sometimes by my writing. And I’m primarily a writer and have a large blog. And so I get people writing to me saying that they’ve had their Unity Consciousness shift and they’re in the third stage of enlightenment, but they haven’t actually woken up yet. So, you know, that they’re kind of, you know, the ego has kind of gotten involved and tried to make, you know, make themselves special and so on. So there is that hazard with talking about it, but on the other hand there is a lot of people who are awakening these days and so it’s really valuable for them to understand the potential and to bring context to some of what’s unfolding. Because it’s all natural, but if you have no background or understanding of what’s happening when your reality is shifting there can be an inclination to resist it in some way, or think it’s wrong, or not know how to support it properly, so that it settles in and is integrated properly.
So that’s where it’s really valuable, is for people for whom it’s unfolding. But it’s also valuable for people who are studying this stuff, because it gives context to so much of this. Where, you know, like for someone to say they’re a new Advaita, or they’re an Advaita teacher of non-duality, but to deny non-duality, because Self-Realization itself is actually known in Advaita as duality, dvaita, because there’s a duality of experience. There’s the inner Self that’s awake to itself, but we’re still experiencing a separate world. Now a lot of them in the Neo-Advaita community will say, “Oh, the world is an illusion, and so we don’t have to pay attention to that. There just is one internal oneness within.” But actually, it’s still there. It’s still in the experience. And so it may be experienced as illusion, but that’s actually a quality of a stage of development. It’s not the nature of reality itself.
Just to explain that briefly, there’s this concept of three gunas, or subtle qualities in the Vedic tradition that underlie everything. And when tamas guna, inertia essentially, is dominant in the experience, we experience the world around us as solid and real, and that’s most people. When we do spiritual practices, it tends to culture rajas or fire of transformation. So we go through transformative things, there’s healing, there’s openings and so on like that taking place. And when rajas is dominant, we can experience the world as illusory. So it seems to be just an appearance. What’s real is the inner experience rather than the outer experience. It kind of flips.
And then as we go further along in the spiritual progress, then sattva becomes dominant, purity or clarity (excuse me). And then we experience the world as divine play, the unfolding of our inner nature. And so it’s not seen as illusory in the same way.
So each of those are perspectives based on the quality of our experience. And, you know, looping back to what I was talking about earlier, there’s a lot of people who are having that initial awakening, but if there isn’t enough sattva being developed, then there isn’t the refinement of perception and the awakening heart taking place.
Because some practices do culture, like mindfulness, will culture the awareness of consciousness and of our observing nature, but they don’t have a healing quality because we’re not transcending and settling the physiology. There isn’t the healing taking place. And because also we’re dropping through the layers towards consciousness in the practice, we very, very gradually become more and more conscious of those layers and that culture’s refinement of perception. So that’s another value of practice of Samadhi, transcending. Anyways, I’m kind of wandering around there.
Q: What’s the name of the university that you’re talking about?
David: It’s called Maharishi International University, miu.edu.
Q: Thank you.
Jack: Since we’re about at the end of the session, do any of you have any logistical questions or questions about class or obviously questions for David. You guys are kind of tame today. On Monday I couldn’t shut you up.
David: Well, it’s kind of a big download here. I did want to mention my website is davidya.ca, so it’s david y a.ca. There’s lots of articles and so on exploring these topics in more detail.
Jack: And I’ll give you that information also.
David: Thank you.
Jack: Any other questions or comments? Screams, grunts, groans, cries of anguish, peals of joy, any of that? The usual?
Q: Oh, he answered it as I was about to ask it. I was going to ask for the website.
David: thank you for the questions. Good questions.
Jack: Thank you so much for the talk, for talking to us.
David: You’re welcome.
Q: I was going to say thank you so much for taking the time and talking to us. It’s been very interesting.
D: Oh, thank you.
Jack: I think I could have just, I could have just gone on listening to you talk the whole time about the Vedic traditions.
David: Yeah, it’s very rich, as I mentioned.
Jack: That’s one of the things I was wondering about, like with some of the stuff you were talking about later, is that, given that in this part of the world, this is a fairly recent phenomenon of people sort of waking up. It seems that the richness of the traditions of India could be very helpful there, and maybe should be.
David: But they also, there needs to be a bit of a revival, as I mentioned, because there is that tendency to, you know, view it as something hard, you know, and, you know, taking a long, long time and you know lifetimes of practice, hard practices to get anywhere and so on.
Jack: Yeah i just meant in terms of you know what we might call the science of yoga or the science of vedic…
D: yes but there is a revival taking place because it is, you know people are getting results and talking about what worked for them like you know we’re doing today and yeah.
Jack: Yeah, exactly. All right. Thank you again so much.