Consciousness — the final frontier | Dada Gunamuktananda | TEDxNoosa 2014

Translator: Nadine Hennig
Reviewer: Denise RQ Thank you. I must say I’m very impressed with the way
Mary pronounced my name. I couldn’t have said it better myself. (Laughter) 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. [I] struck an artery instead of a vein. I still don’t know how I did that. As blood spurted out all over the place, I said to myself, “Yep, you’re definitely
in the wrong profession here.” (Laughter) So in the interests of all concerned, I dropped out and became a yogi instead. (Laughter) (Applause) Hence my unconventional appearance. 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. (Laughter) 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.'” (Laughter) “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
as a higher reality were every bit as 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 than 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 Nasr Utem. 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 inside your house,
why are you looking for it outside?” “Because it’s dark inside,” he replied. (Laughter) We need to look for what
we’re looking for in the right place. Even if it’s hard to look for it there. It’s easy to look outside,
not so easy to look within. According to yoga teachings,
consciousness lies within, and so we must look for it there. But here’s the catch, not intellectually. It’s not something
we can comprehend with the mind. Take the case
of a light bulb, for example. A light bulb is capable
of shining light on the room around it but not on the power which illuminates it. In the same way, we’re capable
of comprehending the world around us but not the consciousness
which animates us. It’s beyond the normal functioning
of the mind, beyond words, beyond even thought itself. The core of our being is not something that can even be spoken
about let alone thought of. I think, we’re all familiar
with the saying by Descartes, “I think, therefore I am.” But this is what yogic philosophy says, “When I stop thinking then I really am.” (Laughter) Just because we can’t think of something, just because we can’t prove
something scientifically, doesn’t mean it’s not there. We can’t prove
a mother’s love for her child but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s a matter of the heart, and matters of the heart
cannot be fathomed by the mind. So material science
can never get to the heart of what it really means to be human. We can only validate
the essence of our existence through the deepest internal
experience of awareness within us. About now, you might be thinking that this is all a bit
airy-fairy and New Age. Even I’m starting to think
[interesting] to myself. (Laughter) So I want to give you
a few brief examples of scientists that have also acknowledged the likelihood
of consciousness as a higher reality. There aren’t many of them. But those that there are,
are quite distinguished. I won’t spend too much time on this, in fact I’ll to try to finish
before I begin. (Laughter) Max Planck, the father of quantum theory,
considered consciousness as fundamental. “I regard matter as derivative
from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard
as existing postulates consciousness,” this from the pioneer of quantum theory. A bit later, the physicist
James Jeans wrote: “The stream of knowledge is heading towards
a non-mechanical reality. The Universe begins to look more like a great thought
than like a great machine.” And I better throw in
something from Einstein here just to give it a bit more umph. (Laughter) “The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience
is the sensation of the mystical. It is at the root of all true science. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence
of a superior reasoning power which is revealed
in the incomprehensible Universe is my idea of God.” Finally, I want to give you an example
of a contemporary scientist who actually experienced
higher consciousness first hand. Dr. Eben Alexander is a neuroscientist
who had like many of his colleagues bought into the idea that the brain
creates its own consciousness. Then, quite ironically, he contracted a very rare brain infection
which put him in a coma for a week during which he experienced the heightened
and enlightened state of awareness, despite the fact that he was
clinically brain dead at the time. He said: “During my seven days of coma, I not only remained fully conscious
but journeyed to a stunning world of beauty and peace
and unconditional love. I underwent the most
staggering experience of my life, my consciousness
traveling to another level.” Dr. Alexander is now on a mission to convince the brain science
community to, as he puts it, “graduate from kindergarten” and move on from the idea
that the brain creates its own reality. Now, fortunately for you and I,
apart from examples such as these, there just so happens to be
a systematic and scientific method of validating consciousness
personally in our everyday lives. I think you won’t be surprised
to hear me say that that’s going to be meditation. Meditation is intuitional science where consciousness is substantiated by purely first-hand internal experience. Through meditation, it’s entirely possible
to experience higher consciousness as every bit as real as you and I
sitting in this room right now. Once I had a particularly
illuminating meditation experience where I felt the whole room
was full of a field of consciousness vibrating with awareness and with bliss. It was so intense, so tangible. The feeling I had at the time
that I could cut it with a knife. It was undeniably real then and I still
have no doubt about it to this day. Through meditation, one has
many such experiences that ultimately lead
to the realization of one’s consciousness. Why don’t we go ahead right now and try to experience higher
consciousness through meditation? Shall we give it a try? It might not have occurred to you
when you woke up this morning that you’d be meditating today,
but there you go, anything is possible. So I invite you to the close
your eyes for a minute or so. Remember to breathe, and try not to fall asleep,
I know, it has been a long day. And start off by the centering yourself. Focus on your sense of self. Feel the center of yourself. (Music starts playing) Now feel that you are completely at peace. Feel peace and happiness all around you. Feel infinite happiness all around you. Now feel that you are merging into
that infinite happiness. Feel that your own sense
of awareness is merging into the infinite awareness around you. Feel that your own consciousness is merging into the infinite
consciousness all around you. Feel yourself becoming one with it. Feel that you are one with it. Feel that you are it, and continue like that
for a few more seconds. Now, doesn’t that feel better? Dada Gunamuktananda: Yes? No?
(Audience) Yes. Anyway, you might have gotten
a glimpse just now into the possibility that your own consciousness is one with the consciousness
of the whole Universe. That it’s within you
as well as all around you. That it’s real, and that you can feel it,
if you really try. And not only feel it but know
it is at the core of your being. This is not just an abstract concept,
it’s about the essence of us all. It’s about discovering
the greater consciousness within our own consciousness, realizing our own inner reality
is the greater universal reality. And the more we expand
our sense of reality, our sense of being, the more connected we feel to all beings. The happier we are,
the less fearful, the less lonely because we realize that all is a part of us,
and that we are a part of all. The inner quest facilitates
the embracing of all within ourselves, all people, animals, plants… The planet. People, animals, and plants
on other planets – yes, it’s a no brainer-
the whole Universe. What I like to say is that just as the world
becomes a smaller place with the development of communication
and transport technology, so will the Universe
become a smaller place with the development
of meditation technology. [“Cosmic Consciousness abides
in one’s sense of existence; in one’s very heart’s desire.”
Shrii Shrii Anandamurti] Thank you. (Applause)

6 Replies to “Consciousness — the final frontier | Dada Gunamuktananda | TEDxNoosa 2014”

  1. Watching this I thought “why do we fight?” We’re all the same thing, we could simply just not fight. It’s just a waste of energy.

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