Leonard Perlmutter is the founder of The American Meditation Institute in Averill Park, New York. the author of "The Heart and Science of Yoga" and editor of Transformation, the Journal of Meditation as Mind/Body Medicine.
Perlmutter has served as an adjunct professor at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, and was the editor and publisher of The Washington Park Spirit Newspaper in Albany, New York.
Our conscience uncovers the truth
By Leonard Perlmutter
To lie or not to lie. That is the question. The internal dialogue that takes place while we decide whether or not to serve the Truth usually sounds like this: “If I lie, the outcome I fear will probably just disappear. If I speak the Truth, the outcome I fear is going to cause me pain.”
That’s how most human beings struggle with the ego’s desire for short-term, limited gratification versus the long-term benefit offered by the conscience. It’s the age-old conversation between the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other.
But the simple Truth is that a lie cannot save us from a painful consequence. Any action against the wisdom of the conscience (buddhi in Sanskrit and Holy Spirit in Christianity), will eventually lead to some physical, mental, emotional or spiritual dis-ease or pain. And if we do not heed the message of pain at a low decibel level, the message will simply get louder and louder until dis-ease becomes full-blown disease. It is only when we serve the quiet promptings of the conscience that we can fulfill the purpose of life––without pain, misery or bondage.
The conscience (buddhi) functions as a mirror. As long as we are in the waking state of consciousness, the buddhi can reflect the Perfect wisdom of the superconscious mind into our conscious mind. The superconscious mind is not a figment of our imagination. It is a level of consciousness; an intuitive library of wisdom beyond the conscious and unconscious portions of the mind. Whenever the conscience reflects superconscious wisdom into the conscious mind, you know what it says is true. The only question that remains is, do you have the will power to align every thought, word and action with the wise and good counsel of the buddhi?
The superconscious mind is the same portion of the mind from which Albert Einstein saw mathematical equations and Paul McCartney hears beautiful melodies. This doesn’t mean that you’ll become a great mathematician or a gifted musician––but by employing the buddhi to determine the thoughts you think, words you speak and actions you take, you’ll be able to access the particular wisdom that will directly and positively enhance each and every relationship.
The word conscience comes from the Latin, and it means “with science; with wisdom or knowledge.” As a Yoga Scientist, you are simply asked to make all your decisions consciously—based on the science of Yoga and on the reliable advice of buddhi.
The buddhi enables us to transcend animal instinct and to know conscious union with the Eternal Truth. As this union grows, we can free ourselves from old habits of fear, anger and greed that have kept us less than truthful. This potential for transcendence is present in every relationship, and is the very reason we have been born with a human mind-body-sense complex. We are ready to take the next step toward Self-realization by aligning our every thought, word and action with the buddhi––and to experience a happier, healthier, joyful life.
In the Gospel of St. Thomas, Jesus the Christ taught, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” Yet despite the warnings, human beings seem reluctant to embrace their own salvation. Instead, we have remained content to muddle along seeking the thrill of victory while perennially enduring the agony of defeat.
The Best and Worst of Times
In the famous opening words of A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens paints a timeless portrait of the conflict and pain that arise when humanity forsakes the unerring guidance of Truth. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair . . .”
Today, Dickens’s words are again profoundly relevant. These too are the best of times––and the worst of times.
With twenty-first century technological advancements at our fingertips, it’s reasonable to conclude that very few individuals have ever been as blessed as we are today. I am not suggesting that inequities do not exist, but just consider that every day, in every season, local grocery stores offer fresh, organic fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds, nuts and oils from around the world. Modern medicine offers new therapies that can diminish pain and extend human life. Most of us have immediate access to hot water, heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. Automobiles and airplanes carry us long distances with ease. Smart phones with built-in cameras connect us to friends, family and business colleagues twenty-four hours a day anywhere on the planet. In the flash of a keystroke computers provide access to the collective unconscious to retrieve any kind of practical or trivial information, to watch a movie (or make one), listen to a song (or record one).
Yet despite modern conveniences, material wealth and universal access to knowledge, we are increasingly feeling alienated, discontent, angry and fearful. Instead of calmly enjoying our blessings, we frantically seek more and more of everything. Searching for happiness, we cling to the objects of the world, and our fear of losing them increases. As a result, family, social and political institutions are being strained beyond viable limits, and in their place, arises a new acceptance of authoritarian solutions.
During the past year we have heard a great deal of public discussion about the concept of “extreme vetting.” Many people believe it would be an effective tactic to keep us safe from terrorism. Many others disagree, claiming that “extreme vetting” would only encourage more radicalization and violence.
From a yogic perspective all positive, meaningful change must begin in the individual mind. The Law of Karma states that it is our thoughts that lead to words and actions––which ultimately result in consequences. If we are truly interested in learning how to skillfully deal with the painful effects of any stress trigger, a policy of “extreme vetting” should definitely be instituted––but not on the external worldly chessboard. Real change always flows from the subtle, causal world to the external, manifest world. Just as all of the tree exists in the seed, the very chair you are sitting on right now was originally an idea in the mind of a human being. The mind moves first and the body simply reacts to the mental intention. Just acknowledging this undeniable relationship between mind, action and consequence is empowering.
The Truth is that you are the architect of your life. You determine your destiny. If you deeply desire to live in a world free from the lies of non-Truth and the consequent pain, misery, bondage and terrorism, you definitely need to institute “extreme vetting” of your own thought processes. For that effort, you must first recognize that every thought is only a suggestion. There is no imperial command that you must nourish every single thought with your attention. As a Yoga Scientist, whenever a thought appears in your awareness, learn to create a space between stimulus and response. In that space you’ll be free to redirect your attention away from an uninvited thought and to the voice of the conscience. Then, if the conscience gives that thought its approval, support it through your speech and action, and the consequence will be positive and life-affirming. If, however, your “extreme vetting” process yields advice from your conscience that a particular thought will only lead to dis-ease and pain, you are obligated to refuse entry of this thought into your City of Life. You’re asked to sacrifice your attachment to the thought, thereby facilitating the transformation of that thought’s debilitating energy into a new form of healing energy, will power and creativity.
When you base your outer actions on the wisdom of the conscience, you will free your consciousness of fear and its painful consequences. Then every thought becomes a new opportunity for happiness.
Why Do We Lie?
If the Truth be told, we lie––perhaps every day. It’s not a very attractive part of our humanity, but if we’re absolutely honest with ourselves, we must admit that lying appears to be an integral part of being human. We all serve the non-Truth in certain kinds of situations––wittingly or unwittingly––by intentionally making statements for the purpose of deception.
Why do we lie and cause so much pain and suffering to ourselves and others? Since we already have a conscience that can discriminate between the Truth and non-Truth, why aren’t we hard-wired from birth to use the conscience to serve only the Truth and to be free, happy, healthy and secure? What power moves us to lie, even against our better judgment––as if forcing us? My personal experiments with Truth indicate that the primary cause of our lying is the ego’s excessive attachment to self-preservation. It lives in the form of subtle fears that hide below the surface level of the conscious mind.
What is it that triggers the ego’s belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain? In many cases, the simple answer is ignorance. The ego has learned to totally ignore the Truth that we are citizens of two worlds; that at the subtlemost core of our being there exists an eternal ocean of consciousness, wisdom and bliss (a.k.a. God). Instead, the ego mistakenly defines the concepts “I,” “me” and “mine” exclusively as the body and the personality. The Truth is that I do have a body and I do have a personality, but “I” am not the body and “I” am not the personality.
By relying exclusively on the inherent limitations of our brain and senses, each of us has grown up from birth under a grand illusion that motivates us to lie in a vain attempt to obliterate fear. Every day we innocently accept the false, egoic, family and cultural suggestions that “I” am a separate individual. Religionists even have a name for this condition. They call it “original sin,” as if there were nothing we could do to end our ignorance. In fact, the concept of “sin” is so identified with punishment, pain and eternal damnation that no one seems to remember the word “sin” came into the English language from its origin as a Greek archery term. It simply meant that an archer had “missed the intended target.” We need not condemn ourselves to the pain associated with the cultural concept of sin. Instead, we can contemplate the factors that brought about the error in our aim, and thus gain the clarity and wisdom to redirect the flight of our next arrow. In the process, we’ll learn how to transform the hell of guilt and fear into the heaven of self-confidence and comfort.
What follows is an explanation of how we became so ignorant of who “I” really am.
Installing the Software of the Mind
Just for a moment, try to remember yourself as a newborn infant. In the midst of an overwhelming barrage of new sensory stimulation, an urgent desire for self-preservation propels you to search for comfort, safety and contentment. But how? You have no frame of reference to remind yourself that this situation is merely temporary. You can certainly scream and thrash your arms and legs about, but beyond that, you can do little.
Then, as you try to comprehend and deal with this seemingly endless sensory assault of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch, Mama lovingly cuddles you in her arms and coos as you start to nurse at her breast. Then effortlessly all your mental attention focuses down to a single point: Mama’s nipple. Because of your one-pointed attention, the stimuli of the senses lose their attraction and you’re able to experience a cessation of pain and an increase of pleasure. For the first time since birth, you are aware of relative peace. You feel safe, secure, warm, nurtured, content and loved.
And, in the midst of this new, pleasant experience you reach your first profound, but ignorant, conclusion: “I am a separate entity and Mama is a separate entity, and objects and relationships in the material world bring about contentment and happiness and cause the elimination of pain.”
Fueled by an intense desire for self-preservation, this memorable experience leads the newborn to conclude that “I,” the subject, perceive “Mama,” the object. The experience of nursing at Mama’s breast is the dawning of the delusion of duality. It represents the birth of the ego, the mental software that separates the baby from the Truth. In fact, the ancient Sanskrit word mama means “mine.” The baby now believes, based on the incomplete, rudimentary instrumentation of the brain and senses, that there is a “me” and there is also an “other.” And wherever an “I” thinks there is a “me” and a “you,” fear exists, and will inevitably invite danger.
Because survival depends on this new relationship, the baby mistakenly accepts duality as the Truth. Separation becomes key to the ego’s self-preservation, and that “fact” is conveniently stored in the unconscious mind. Because the ego’s attachment is so powerful, self-preservation immediately becomes indispensable! After all, the baby’s separate sense of self (“I”) must survive, even if it means serving the non-Truth!
As the newborn begins to experience, learn and make choices, he or she encounters continual reminders that reinforce the delusion that objects and relationships in the material world eliminate pain and establish relative calm and happiness. Only moments after birth, as soon as the baby nurses at Mama’s breast, the baby’s unconscious mind begins to spin a web of delusion because the only installed software program is based on the illusion of separateness and duality.
As the baby grows, the security of Mama’s breast is replaced by a succession of different objects: a pacifier, stuffed animal, shiny toy, diploma or degree, car, girlfriend or boyfriend, a good job, a spouse––or even a new baby. The human being continually substitutes one object and relationship for another, prodded and deluded by the notion that the next object or relationship is going to bring happiness and eliminate pain.
Evolution into Involution
When the hollowness of passing desires is recognized, the personality will begin an earnest search for unbounded happiness and security. It is this quest that finally directs us inside ourselves to find and employ the liberating Truth that leads to freedom from fear.
Are you ready to go beyond the fears that cause the pain of serving non-Truth? If so, I’d like to share five essential rules that have helped me in my own personal practice of experimenting with the Truth.
Always use your own mind-body-sense complex as a personal scientific laboratory to know the Truth.
In searching for Truth in a particular relationship, always heed the counsel of the conscience, for it alone can reflect Truth into your conscious mind.
Consider any non-Truth to be a lie, regardless of its “shade” (white or otherwise).
Recognize that fear always manifests in one of two ways: the fear I won’t get what I want, and the fear I might lose what I have.
Always employ your will power to serve Truth and sacrifice the ego’s attachment to the non-Truth.
As you uncover and employ the Truth, your vision will change your consciousness––and that of the planet.