Dada Gunamuktananda talks on Consciousness: The Final Frontier by TEDxNoosa 2014 Conference – Transcript
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Dada Gunamuktananda – Yogi and meditation teacher
Thank you. I must say I’m very impressed with the way Mary pronounced my name. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
About 25 years ago, I was in my final year of medical school, but I’d been doubting my career choice for quite some time. Then one day, I went to take blood from a sweet little old lady, struck an artery instead of a vein. I still don’t know how I did that.
And as blood spurted out all over the place, I said to myself, “Yep, you’re definitely in the wrong profession here.” So in the interests of all concerned, I dropped out and became a yogi instead.
Hence my unconventional appearance. Well, actually, it’s not the only reason for my unconventional appearance. One of many shall we say.
So I’d like to share with you the yogic concept of space, our inner space, what we experience within ourselves – I’m redefining the terms a bit here – and outer space, everything outside ourselves.
We live in a vast universe. To give you some idea of its size, if we took the universe to be the size of our planet Earth, then our planet Earth would be about a billionth the size of a pin head in comparison. A billionth the size of one of those. I’m holding up a pin, in case you can’t see it. It’s my prop.
There you go. It’s the same one. It actually is the same one. A billionth the size of one of those compared to one of those. By the way, a billionth of size of a pinhead is about a millionth the size of a grain of sand, or about the average size of an atom, so take your pick.
In any case, the idea is that it’s really, really, really small compared to the size of the universe. So does that help put it in perspective? I think that gives us some idea of the size of our universe. An incredibly vast and complex universe which we’ve been expected to believe, according to modern science, appeared out of nothing without any intention behind it. That’s actually like expecting us to believe that our phones and laptops just fell into place without anyone designing them or putting them together.
According to biologist Rupert Sheldrake, “Modern science is based on the principle, ‘Give us one free miracle and we’ll explain the rest. And the one free miracle is the appearance of all the matter and energy of the universe and all the laws that govern it from nothing, in a single instant.”
But modern science is just now coming around to the conclusions held by yogic science for millennia, to an explanation of our Universe that is going to take our understanding to a whole new level, and that is that both the substance and the intention of the Universe come from a deeper reality than the material one we normally perceive with our minds and senses. And that reality is consciousness — an all-pervading, blissful awareness, inherent in everybody and everything.
Just as your own consciousness is the essence of your own mind, cosmic consciousness is the essence of the entire Universe. It exists within everything, and everything exists within it. Essentially, everybody and everything is part of and full of consciousness. Imagine that.
However, we, for reasons I won’t go into now, have largely given up on the idea of a higher consciousness in our modern world view. In the last 100 years or so, modern science has come to a very mechanistic take on reality.
What if though mind, matter, and space were all full of consciousness? What if the possibility of consciousness is a higher reality where every bit is real as any of our current constructs of reality? And what if it could give us, if only we were open to it, some very real advantages in understanding our world and where we fit into it, compared to some very serious disadvantages of a materialist world view?
In a materialist world view of an arbitrary, mechanistic, unfeeling Universe, there is every reason to feel alienated, lonely, fearful, and depressed. And if we don’t feel it ourselves, we all too often see it in others, and in the malaise of our society. Materialism doesn’t engender optimism in people or society.
On the other hand, in a blissfully conscious Universe, there is every reason to feel inherently connected to people and to the world, to feel loved, hopeful, happy, and at peace with oneself and others. In the words of my guru Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, “You are never alone or helpless. The force that guides the stars guides you, too.”
So rather then, trying to validate a worldview which makes us sad and fearful of the future, I believe, we should be trying to validate a worldview which gives us fulfillment and hope for the future, not just as individuals but as a society. The benefits of a conscious world view are immense. And it’s potentially no less valid than any of our constructs of material reality. This is not just wishful thinking.
In fact, the essence of the Universe is consciousness is just as valid a premise as the essence of the Universe is matter. The only difference is that one can be sensed and the other can’t. We can perceive matter with our minds and with scientific measurement, but we can only experience consciousness internally. We must find it within ourselves.
There was once a Sufi mystic called Nasreddin. I actually stayed in his hometown in Turkey for a few days once. And there are many stories about how he used to teach in eccentric and humorous ways. One of the stories goes that he lost the key to his house, and that he was looking for it one night outside under a streetlamp.
A passerby asked him, what he was doing. “I’m looking for the key to my house.”
“Where did you lose it?”, she asked.
“Somewhere inside my house.”
Then naturally she said: “Well, if you lost it inside your house, why are you looking for it outside?”
“Because it’s dark inside,” he replied.
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