Many voters are expressing their anger at elected officials who do not speak the Truth. From a yogic perspective, this sociological phenomenon is extremely interesting––especially since politicians have rarely, if ever, been standard-bearers of the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth.
Since the dawn of civilization, politicians have worked to serve the consciousness (aspirations, concerns and judgments) of the people they represent. Is it possible that our current surge of anger toward politicians portends a genuine change in the consciousness of humanity? Could this desire for truthful politicians signify the dawning of a deep-seated intuitive wisdom that knows true happiness and security can only be experienced by serving the Truth in mind, action and speech? Does the electorate really want our politicians to value and employ the Truth, instead of the old, unconscious habits that have traditionally relied on non-truth? And if that’s the case, what responsibility to the Truth does that require of me as a citizen and voter? If I hold my politician to a high standard of truth, am I not bound by the same standard in my own personal relationships?
Before we can begin to answer these questions, it would be helpful to first know the traditional yogic implications of the word Truth and to see how Truth can be accessed by the human mind.
Truth is the eternal, unifying consciousness that dwells in the heart of each individual. We access the Truth through our conscience (buddhi in Sanskrit), and the more frequently and attentively we employ that Inner Wisdom in thought, word and deed, that alignment, that union perfects us. It frees us to think clearly and fulfill the purpose of life without pain, misery or bondage.
Once we are determined to find the Truth everywhere, through our purified thoughts, speech, and actions, the Truth itself brings each of us loving, nurturing relationships that meet our specific needs.
Truthfulness (Satya) is the avoidance of all falsehood, exaggeration and pretense. But satya is more than mere conventional honesty. Remember this: first and foremost, a fact, in order to be the Truth, must be in harmony with ahimsa––non-injurious, non-harming and non-violent. If a thought, word or deed is injurious, it is considered to be only a fact, but not the Truth. Truthfulness is essential to the unfoldment of your intuitive, discriminating faculties.
98% of the People are Blind!
Now that you have a basic understanding of Truth and the mental process for accessing it, it’s critically important to recognize the handicap each of us suffers from that inhibits our access to Truth.
“98% of the people are blind.” Those were the exact words my meditation Master, Swami Rama of the Himalayas spoke to me and my wife Jenness when we visited him at his Pennsylvania ashram in the summer of 1992. We had requested a private meeting to gain a clearer perspective on challenges we faced in certain professional relationships. After explaining to us that all relationships, professional and personal, require us to access and lovingly employ the Truth, Swami Rama precipitously concluded our conversation with the bold and provocative oh by the way statement, “98% of the people are blind.”
As you can imagine, the comment momentarily threw us off balance. It was shocking. Did we hear him correctly? “Yes,” we assured each other as we struggled to understand why the teacher we respected so highly would paint such an unkind and judgmental caricature of humanity. Even after our return home, consternation about this continued to color our thoughts. We decided to write a letter explaining how troubling we found his statement, because it conflicted directly with the highest principle of Yoga Science––ahimsa (non-injury, non-harming).
Ten days later we received his very concise and emphatic response. The entire note read, “Any negativity is in your mind.”
Seeing these words in stark black and white made one point come into sharp focus. Swami Rama was telling us in no uncertain terms that the problem originated in our minds, and it must, therefore, be resolved in our minds. Swami Rama’s unwavering attitude also brought to mind something that we already knew––that whenever there is consternation in the mind it is always the ego playing a trump card to win control. With that small but important degree of clarity, we set about earnestly examining and reexamining Swami Rama’s teaching to discover for ourselves how and why he declared that, “98% of the people are blind.”
In the days and months that followed, we made this quest an integral part of our daily contemplation practice. What we discovered through the process was enormously revealing and illuminating.
As we honestly and dispassionately examined each new and ongoing relationship, we began to recognize that we were actually blind ourselves to viewing other people as they truly are. For the first time we could see how often our perceptions were skewed by our own conceptions of right and wrong, like and dislike, acceptable and unacceptable. Our personal experiences reminded us of the words of philosopher Thomas Merton, “The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves and not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them; we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
Even though in the past our mental attachments had sometimes exhibited the power to darken our landscape and compromise our ability to see people clearly, our meditation tools of nonattachment (vairagya), one-pointed attention (dharana), discrimination (buddhi), self-enquiry (vichara) and the muscle of will power now helped us observe the cunning activities of our egos. We began to watch with a sense of amusement how our egos tried to combine a few exaggerated impressions, memories, expectations, assumptions and judgments to create distorting and myopic perspectives––presented as unquestioned truths.
We became more and more mindful of this, and discovered that we could see through the ego’s attempt to masquerade as the buddhi. With the help of our meditation tools we recognized the conscious mind as the seat of our personal, individual, egoic identity––a veritable catalogue of all the concepts that comprise I, me and mine. Slowly, slowly, we understood that it is the conscious, rational mind that “thinks” and “schemes” about how to fulfill certain desires, while its trusted colleague, the unconscious mind, functions simply as a database of learned “programs,” tape recorded from our prenatal days through the first six years of life.
At about the same time, we also discovered the work of developmental biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton. In his book The Biology of Belief, Lipton wrote, “If our unconscious beliefs conflict with our conscious desires the unconscious mind will prevail because it is one million times more powerful an information processor than the conscious mind. And as neuroscientists know, it operates about 95% of the time.”
For us, Dr. Lipton’s words were very helpful in deciphering the cryptic message from Swami Rama. When any relationship threatens our concepts of identity, security and happiness, a heavy curtain of prerecorded, unconscious forces descends into the conscious, rational mind, blocking our access to the Truth. In such situations, without the guidance of a meditation practice, each of us becomes a “tempoplegic.” We become temporarily blinded or paralyzed by unconscious concepts and emotions that diminish our discrimination and creativity. As a consequence, our relationships inevitably suffer.
In such a condition, even if we earnestly desired to overcome our blindness with affirmations and positive thinking, those efforts would be futile. The powerful unconscious mind cannot respond in any other way than as the tape player it is. There’s no real “entity” in the unconscious that we can talk to or reason with. Its prerecorded software of habits and preconceptions, simply replays over and over again whenever it’s “switched on” by a relationship that is perceived as emotionally threatening.
But the software of the unconscious mind can be changed by accessing and engaging its “record” button. That’s where meditation can help. A daily meditation practice teaches us how to erase old, unhealthy taped messages in the unconscious mind and also how to record new, healthy messages. In meditation, when we learn to focus our one-pointed attention on the mantra, its unique vibration can automatically activate the unconscious “record” button and registers a new taped message of love, fearlessness and strength that we can draw on in challenging circumstances. That’s why Yoga Science considers the mantra to be the shreya––it’s our personal guidance system that enlightens our decision-making abilities to fulfill the purpose of life without pain, misery or bondage to further darkness.
In addition to providing us the possibility of recording a new message in the unconscious mind, our meditation practice also teaches us how to erase portions of old, prerecorded material that only bring dis-ease. In seated meditation, when any thought other than the mantra comes forward from the unconscious mind into the conscious mind, we recognize it as the preya––an ego or sense gratification that blindfolds and separates us from our own Inner Truth and wisdom. When we have a relationship with any preya, we first honor and witness the thought that competes with the mantra and then surrender it back to the Origin from which it has come (a.k.a. God). When we consciously withdraw our attention from the competitive thought, that subtle thought-object (preya) returns to the unconscious mind and effectively erases a bit of the old recorded program. When we redirect our attention back to the mantra, the mantra records a new, healthy program that will enhance every relationship.
Through our own personal experience, we’ve discovered that meditation is actually an engineering science. A daily meditation practice can record a new, positive and expansively creative message over our old, debilitating unconscious tapes. Meditation frees us from a state of blindness and bondage to fear, anger and self-willed desires by gradually bringing the elusive power of the unconscious under the direct guidance of our own Inner Truth. Real happiness is knowing that regardless of our circumstances, we can always choose to access and serve the Truth rather than the darkness of blindness.
Recognizing both the handicap inherent in the human condition and the remedial power of meditation, we ultimately came to the same conclusion as our teacher, Swami Rama. “Yes,” we concluded, “98% of the people are blind.” And in certain situations when our own emotional buttons are being pushed, we too exhibit the handicap of severely limited vision.
So, in light of the handicapped human condition, do you really want politicians to speak the Truth? If I say, “Yes,” does that mean I understand the implications of that choice? Through the voting process, we, the electorate, designate one politician as our “ego annex” to represent us. As the winner in the political contest, this individual becomes an extension of our own personality––as long as we both continue to see eye-to-eye on certain basic issues. But if 98% of the people are blind to the Truth, the woman or man we elect will obviously be just as handicapped as the electorate. What if we suddenly decided to hold our politician to a higher standard of Truth than we presently embrace for ourselves? For that politician to remain in office speaking the Truth, the electorate would have to bind itself to the very same high standard.
For our “ego-annex” politicians to serve the Truth in mind, action and speech, they must certainly have faith that they are accurately reflecting the same consciousness, the same set of mental concepts as the electorate. If they served anything else, they know they would never be re-elected.
The politician who is “blind” to speaking the Truth is not the real problem. It’s just a symptom of the handicapped consciousness of the electorate. The real problem lies in my mind and yours. If you and I cultivate the meditational skills necessary to liberate our own minds from the unconscious forces of fear, anger and self-willed desire, we can change our blindness into 20–20 vision. As we change our consciousness, we change the consciousness of the electorate, the nation and the planet––because there is only One Consciousness. Through this process, we will be ushering in a new age in which Truth is more highly prized than convenience and habit. And working toward the elimination of this kind of disease is worthy of our best effort.
©2016 The American Meditation Institute