Today Mark is talking with Leonard Perlmutter (@AMImeditation), founder and director of the American Meditation Institute. He is also the author of several books on yoga and meditation, most recently Your Conscience: The Key to Unlock Limitless Wisdom and Creativity and Solve All of Life’s Challenges. Leonard and Mark talk about meditation, yoga, wisdom, karma, and the ego.
- Everything starts with the mind—it’s our most powerful tool
- Multitasking is impossible—we are not as energetic or creative without the freedom to redirect our attention to our conscious
- Within each of us is an ocean of consciousness and with that resides our intuitive library of wisdom—the super conscious portion of our mind
- The ego is not always wrong—but there is a distinct downside to it
Listen to this episode and grasp the way to find the wisdom within you—so you can be guided in this VUCA world.
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Hello folks. Welcome back. This is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Super-stoked to have you here today. I very much appreciate your time and attention, and I thank you for that.
And I thank you for all of you who have rated the podcast, and if you haven’t, it’s very helpful when you rate the podcast – especially on iTunes or amazon – because other like-minded people can find the podcast that way, so thank you for that.
A couple quick announcements, welcome my new podcast producer Jason Sanderson. Jason lives over in Prague, of all places, but he’s a British citizen. He does the audio production for a couple other really high profile podcasts, so you’ll be noticing some changes starting with this episode and we’re really going to up-level my commitment, up-level this podcast…
And we’re going to be changing the name from the Unbeatable Mind podcast to what I call the Fifth Plateau podcast. And we’ll be talking a lot about that today with my guest, but the fifth plateau is the level of awareness where as a leader, you have world-centric care and concern and compassion. The decisions you make have a positive ripple effect locally in your community and also globally and you and your team are committed to making a positive impact on the world, beyond just making money or providing a service.
This mindset is an outcome of either natural evolution or training your mind, and that’s something we’re going to be talking about today.
I’m with our esteemed guest – I’m very excited to talk to Leonard Perlmutter. I’m excited to talk to Leonard, because Leonard’s a yogi he’s founder and director of the American Meditation Institute, he’s originator of the national consciousness month.
As a meditation and yogi student he studied under someone I’m well familiar with named swami Rama – I can’t wait to talk about swami Rama – who came out of the Himalayas to the west and did a lot of good work really validating the impact of meditation through scientific method.
And Leonard has recently released a book called “Your Conscience: The Key to Unlock Limitless Wisdom and Creativity and Solve All Of Life’s Challenges.” That’s a pretty bold claim, Leonard.
Leonard: Thank you very much…
Mark: We all want to solve all of life’s problems, and we know that we have to do it from the level of mind, right?
Leonard: Everything starts with mind, right. I can’t even raise my hand without first entertaining a thought. The mind moves first, the body follows – consequences flow from that. The power is in the mind.
Mark: Absolutely. Well, I’ve said several times that yoga is the oldest mental development program in the world, and it’s unfortunate that most people’s perception of yoga is stretchy, bendy, lululemon yoga.
It’s really not. It is the science of mental development and evolution. And if you take the word spiritual and add it in – so mental and spiritual evolution…
Those kind of all come together into one thing. Evolution is spiritual, it is mental…
I can’t wait. So give me a sense of how you got involved in this work – what were some of the early influences, and how did you meet up with swami Rama? Take us back in time a little bit.
I would say that since my early childhood, two major principles have directed my life. The first is philosophical – I’ve always had a philosophical lens through which I see experiences.
And the second principle is practicality – I’m a very practical person – if something that I learn does not have a practical application, then I don’t give it too much energy.
And so that led me in my early formative years in grade school and on to high school. I joined the scouts – I was a cub scout, and I was a boy scout, and it was an eye-opener – it was really very, very interesting to me, because we learned practical tools for life and for survival.
In fact, I had a conversation – this is interesting for me – had a conversation with my scout master, years ago… and the motto of scouts is “be prepared.” So I asked him this question, “be prepared for what?”
He looked at me with a strange look. And he says, “how would I know?”
Mark: (laughing) be prepared for anything is what they meant, right?
Leonard: That’s right. And I learned years ago – actually decades ago from my auto mechanic – that if you have the right tool every job is relatively easy.
So, the mind is our most powerful tool. So, that has motivated me to use the mind to be able to animate the body to bring about certain kinds of consequences that I desire… like happiness, like fulfillment, like security, like health…
And that led me to reading all sorts of philosophical books, religious books, and eventually – in 1976 – I found out that swami Rama of the Himalayas had a school in Pennsylvania, where he sometimes spent the summer.
So, I wrote a note – this was well before internet email – I wrote a note and they sent me a list of books. And I just started reading the books, and the first thing I said to my wife – my life’s partner since 1977 -was “gee, this swami Rama fella sounds like a scout master.”
So that’s the way he taught. In a very practical way. So I very honestly sort of began my own personal experimentation in what he was teaching. I had no intention, and I had no desire to meet him, I just wanted to find out what the truth was, and how to get to point b from point a.
And so I practiced. I experimented, and as a consequence I felt better. I felt better physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually… I became more creative in a variety of relationships; I had more energy, and it was a good deal.
Mark: Do you remember what those early practices were? What were you doing that led to those really beautiful results? That you picked up from a book, might I add?
Leonard: Well, the way swami Rama taught was classical yoga science… so the yoga science has different components. There is a philosophical component, a psychological component…
The philosophical is about who am I. And this becomes the building block for everything else. Because of the limitations of our brain and our senses, most human beings believe that they are the body, that they are the mind, that they are their thoughts, that they are their desires, their personalities, their habit patterns…
And even though we have a body, even though we have a mind, even though we have these thoughts desires and emotions with which we have relationships – we are not them. We are something other than that. We are this eternal consciousness, wisdom, bliss and fullness having this human experience through this mind-body sense complex.
Now, by changing my perspective I change my experience and I become more open to challenging faulty concepts that I had and still have on the software of my mind in my unconscious mind. And that detachment helped me to make better choices.
So that philosophical component was first. Then, meditation – seated meditation – critically important. Because that helps us to train the mind in a one-pointed manner – not multitasking, which we all know is impossible. And in order to provide us the delusion that we multitask, what has to happen hormones, adrenaline has to surge through our entire physiology.
And the effect of that is that it depresses the immune system, it depresses the mind and we’re really not as energetic and we’re not as creative as if we were one-pointed. So, meditation trains that one-pointed attention.
And through one-pointed attention, we automatically create a space between stimulus and response. And what lies between stimulus and response, what lies in that space that the culture is invested heavily in annihilating?
What’s in the space between stimulus and response is our freedom to redirect our attention toward the conscience. Which alone can reflect super conscious wisdom from the center of consciousness. That’s beyond the conscious, it’s beyond the unconscious – same portion of the mind where Albert Einstein saw mathematical equations, same portion of the mind where Paul McCartney hears beautiful melodies.
Doesn’t mean I’m going to become a songwriter, Mark. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to become a physicist.
But the more that we can focus our attention, create a space between stimulus and response… that provides us the freedom to check with our conscience and the conscience can then reflect super-conscious wisdom into our conscious mind that can become our thoughts, our words and our actions.
That we are promised will always allow us to fulfill the purpose of our life without pain. And in the process, if I’m willing to commit to the experiment over and over again, in different kinds of relationships; I’ll be building the muscles of my willpower. To do what’s to be done, when it’s to be done and not to do what’s not to be done when it’s not to be done.
Mark: Wow, that’s terrific. You covered a lot of territory there. First off, you use the term “conscious.” Are you equating that with consciousness?
Leonard: The conscious mind allows us to be conscious of something. In other words, the unconscious we don’t have access to unless that which is stored in the unconscious mind travels into the conscious portion of the mind.
So when somebody cuts me off in traffic going 90 miles an hour in a 60 mile zone and I have to slam on my brake in order to avoid an accident, a bubble of anger comes forward from my unconscious mind that I didn’t even know was there. But in that instant, I am aware consciously of anger.
Then the question becomes in that moment when the unconscious has become conscious what am I going to do with that energy? Anger is energy, it’s contracted energy, it’s debilitating – often poisonous.
But I learned in fifth grade – energy – even though it cannot be created or destroyed, it can be transformed.
Mark: So the way you’re using the term “conscious” is really to be aware of awareness – aware of being aware.
Mark: As opposed to like, “use your conscience,” which is more about act from your higher self or your ethical moral self.
Leonard: Well, it’s beyond ethics, it’s beyond morality…
Mark: Beyond all that. That’s right. But when people commonly use that term “conscious,” like you consciously you followed your conscience, we’re really talking about morality.
But what we’re talking about is beyond morality, beyond any construct of the human brain…
Leonard: Yes, what’s interesting is that the conscience which is one of four functions of the mind is the only decision maker. Only the conscience – not the other three functions – not the ego, not the senses, not the unconscious. They’re only advisors. They’re counselors.
But only the conscience can discriminate, determine, judge and decide. And when I learned that it changed my life. Because what it meant was every single choice that I have ever made – and every single choice I will make – has been and always will be made by the conscience. That conscience is the only decision maker.
But it can make two different kinds of decisions depending on how well behaved the other functions of the mind are.
Mark: Right, right. And so you’re saying that if you’re contracted into believing in the identity of “I am this body, I am these thoughts,” generally speaking you’re playing out a script that’s been fed you. Or trained into you.
And oftentimes – or not often – but, in a large sense you could say that script has manipulated us into that lack of freedom… lack of freedom of choice, because you are grabbing toward that with desire, because that’s been programmed by the tv commercials and social media and all that.
So when you train through meditation your mind gets more and more still. And then can reach into or open up to the experience of non-dual awareness or awareness awakening to itself. And then you said that then that aspect of your being then kind of enters your conscious and you make decisions from that perspective.
Mark: I mean that space between reaction – which now becomes response – it’s timeless, right? You can take all the time in the world, and it may only feel like an instant, but you have all this time in the world to ask, “what does my conscience or spirit want me to do now?”
Leonard: That’s right. That’s right.
Mark: I love that. That decision is qualitatively different from your perspective how? You mentioned wisdom and access to information that you didn’t normally have – but there’s also other aspects to it, right?
Like, the empathetic or the heart – compassion. What are decisions from that level of conscious awareness look, feel…? How do they play out that are really different than the average or the common?
Leonard: Well, they all uphold the fabric of the individual and of the whole organism. And so when I rely on the conscience to reflect super-conscious wisdom every thought, every word, every act is to be non-injurious…
Why? Because every relationship that I have is truly with myself… even though you and I might have a different body, a different mind, a different personality, a different set of habit patterns – all of those change, they are changeable.
And yet within each of us there is something that is eternal – it is this ocean of consciousness and within consciousness itself resides an intuitive library of wisdom. The super-conscious portion of the mind.
And in addition to that intuitive library of wisdom, the nature of consciousness is bliss and fullness as opposed to lack, which arises when I believe that I am a limited human being. And everything else I can perceive through my brain and senses is an object.
Because that creates a space between me and all these other objects, that I’m aware of. And in the space between the two – between the subject and the object – what lies between them is fear that I might lose something or that I might not gain something. And fear always invites danger.
Mark: I think that’s awesome. Because the super-conscious mind – or the aware mind – recognizes the sameness in all of us, then this notion of not doing anything that’s injurious to yourself extends to all beings.
Leonard: That’s right. And the opposite is true, if I am injurious to you somewhere in space and time something is going to come to me that is going to detract something.
Who Am I?
Mark: Beautiful. Let’s go back to the philosophy – Ramana Maharshi – “who am I” was his primary meditation. So when you learned about the nature of reality and that question – you started investigating the question – was it a practice for you? Or were you just contemplating it as a philosopher?
Mark: Both, okay.
Leonard: Remember, I’m a practical guy, so if it doesn’t have a practical application, I don’t give it much energy…
Mark: Right, I get that. So let’s describe maybe for the listener, how they can use that as a practice of self-awareness. The “who am I?” Kind of study.
Leonard: Sure. So, again – when you change your perspective, you change your experience. So if I have a relationship in front of me that’s problematic, emotional and I ask that question, “who am I?” That’s a touchstone that brings me into my center.
It’s like viewing the earth from the far side of the moon. It changes your experience, because you have changed your perspective. So you ask that question – it’s a touchstone to your eternal, all-knowing self at the core of your being.
So from that new perspective, I can become more detached in the situation. I can become more compassionate for the limitations – not only of my own mind – but the limitations of the mind with whom I have a relationship.
So I can learn in a practical way to set aside my own limitations – because I have limitations, too – I have plenty of faulty concepts still stored in my unconscious mind that I got from my mother, my father, my grandmother, my grandfather… teachers, celebrities, politicians.
But if I can change my perspective, and I ask that question “who am I? Who am I?” And the answer comes forth that you are essentially spirit having a human experience. I’m more detached, I’m more compassionate… I can set aside my own limitations that are in conflict with my inner wisdom. I can see the limitations that exist in the mind of the person with whom I have a relationship. And set them aside.
And if I am successful in that endeavor, the only thing that would exist between us is love. The most ancient traveler that travels from eternity to eternity. And it is the most powerful force, and it is the basis of all emotions.
Mark: I love that. Love is – and everything less than love simply serves to block it…
Leonard: That’s because anything else you see is ignorance – if I think I’m an individual, then I’m separate and I’m needy. And that love force changes into a desire for an object. And if that desire is fulfilled, it brings about again another change of that love force into fear, that I might lose what I have. Or I fear I might not get what I want. But if that desire is blocked it burns to anger.
So desire, fear and anger… those are the byproducts of not knowing who we are. And so that powerful love force becomes these powerful contracted emotions. And they all spring forth from the four primitive fountains that affect all animals – for food, for sex, for sleep and for self-preservation.
Mark: So westerners are taught, and it’s passed on epigenetically to think that they’re separate, to identify with the body and these desires. And the consumerism to want and grasp for more.
So it’s a difficult leap for someone to just ask this question “who am I?” And immediately get to the “I’m a spiritual being having this human existence,” right?
So, there can be an iterative process to start to examine what you think you are and then to disprove it, right?
So, you started to go through that earlier. Like, first start with the obvious – like, “I am this body. And I am this personality called Mark. I am this person who was a navy seal and has these degrees.”
And you start to ask, “is that really who I am?” The answer to that – when you ask it from a quiet place – is “no, that’s not who I am. None of that really is. Those are the things I did. Maybe I accrued some accomplishments along the way, but it’s not who I am”
So, then you start with the outer and the objective and then you move into the subjective… say, “okay, well, am I these thoughts?” No.
Maybe those thoughts were planted by my parents, like you said, or your grandparents so you’re not your thoughts…
My emotions… no those are sensations in this body. Am I my body? No, you’re not the body. There’s something else going on. So you just kind of keep turning inward, and turning inward, and turning inward, and turning inward until you disprove all of that.
Leonard: But that all presupposes that I have a desire to engage in that kind of an inquiry.
Mark: That’s right…
Leonard: That’s a blessing. To be able to have that desire – even though it’s a small desire – if you have that desire and you feed it, then you will receive what you need.
Mark: That’s right. There’s no turning back. I remember… I don’t know if I read this from Yoga Nanda or maybe Sri Rukhistawar… but it says it takes a thousand lifetimes to find yoga or the science of mental development.
Leonard: Well, it takes a lot of different kinds of experiences to know both what to do and what not to do. Because this is a challenging assignment being a human being. I tell you; this is what I have found…
Mark: (laughing) me as well. Funny, we have that in common. I think everyone listening would agree with that. It’s a challenging assignment, and yoga really can set you free.
And I love that, the freedom… it’s like what Victor Frankel said in “man’s search for meaning,” ultimate freedom is choice, right? So you have the choice moment to moment to choose love, to choose spirit… or to choose contraction and fear…
Leonard: And then then whose life am I really living? I’m in servitude to these faulty concepts that I’ve just picked up along the way. They’re not even mine – they’re just renting space on my hard drive in my unconscious mind.
So, I am not able to create the magnificent work of art that I have the capacity to create; that’s within me.
Mark: So, I want to talk a little bit about swami Rama, he’s a fascinating character…
But you described what we’ve been talking about – understanding “who am I?” And to constantly disprove who you’re not and to move toward who you are – the spiritual being.
And then meditation – which is training, clarifying, purifying and focusing the mind. That takes you from grade school probably up through high school – maybe even college level, right? There’s a lot of work to be done there.
But the yogis of the east – the masters – they were well into the advanced degree territory when it came to mental development. And one of the things that was interesting about swami Rama – when he came to the west, he wanted to have some demonstration of the unique, powerful skills that can accrue to an advanced meditation practitioner.
What Patanjali calls the siddhis and he warns against the advanced siddhis like being able to become as light as a feather so you could walk on water. Well, there’s a famous individual who’s well known for walking on water. Perhaps he was a yogi, right? We won’t go there in this one, but strong likelihood.
But swami Rama was known to be able to produce a tumor on his arm with his mind and then make it disappear. What was your experience working with him directly? And how his mind worked and some of these really fascinating things that he was able to do?
Leonard: Well, he once told a story… when he was young – before he was a swami – he lived with his master in the cave monasteries of Rishikesh in the foothills of the Himalayas. And he evidently had had some kind of major disagreement with his guru – his teacher.
And so the teacher came into the cave where they lived and saw that swami Rama was packing up his belongings. “Where are you going?”
“Oh, I’m leaving. We’re not getting along; I’m not learning anything from you.”
The guru says to him, “well, where are you going?”
“Well, I’m going down the road. I’m going to go to this other cave of this great sage and he’s just marvelous. And he’s going to teach me how to breathe fire.”
“Oh. He’s going to teach you how to breathe fire. That sounds very interesting. How long has he been practicing to develop that technique – that siddhi.”
And he says, “whoa, must be 20 or 25 years he’s been working on it.”
Bengali baba – his guru says to him, “well, gee if he wanted fire, why didn’t he use a match?”
Mark: (laughing) I love it. Why spend all that time to develop a skill when you can be doing something else with your mind? Fascinating.
Leonard: That will help serve your purpose and that work of art…
Mark: Right. But in the case of swami Rama he must have known that the westerners are very skeptical, right? And they’re very a scientific, materialism and if you can’t measure it, it’s not real.
And so it was worth some time to develop the mind’s ability to manifest a tumor or I’m not sure what else he was able to do… but the stories are legion of masters who could do these incredible things.
Be buried alive without access to breath, or even just a breatharian, right? As a yogi principle of being able to live on air.
Leonard: Well, but what about when that guy cuts me off in traffic and I’m blinded with rage and anger – how about being able to transform that anger into positive healing energy, and expansion of my willpower, and an increase in my creative possibilities?
Because I can do that. I can transform the power of fear or anger or selfish desire into energy, willpower and creativity. That becomes a strategic resource, that I can call on in any relationship…
Mark: 100% and you could almost make the argument this day and age that that type of sitting around and trying to practice learning how to breathe fire, or to read minds, or to walk on water is really self-serving…
When the world could use your energy for healing.
Leonard: That’s right, that’s right. What is my contribution here? And I don’t even know the answer to that question, but the more that I become willing to serve the super-conscious wisdom, the super-conscious wisdom will guide this particular mind-body sense complex, to be in service to certain kinds of relationships.
And that itself by definition will create the work of art.
Mark: That’s right. The art of your human experience.
Talk about karma and Krishna and arjuna on the battlefield, and that whole discussion about hey, if you avoid your karma, then you’ll bring suffering to yourself. And if you’ve bring suffering yourself – like we talked about – you’re bringing suffering to the world.
And yet if your karma is something really crushingly hard – like going to battle and killing people – it’s confusing for individuals. So, how can we penetrate this idea of karma? And how that plays out in purpose in life?
Leonard: Well, again, very practically.
So karma… take a look at the law of karma. The law of karma states that thoughts lead to action – whether it’s physical action, verbal, or mental – but thoughts lead to action. And action leads to consequences.
So, I’m a practical fellow – as I mentioned. I start at the end. I look at the consequence that I want to experience. And then I work backwards at what’s going to get me to point b from point a.
So, I need a business plan. I need a philosophy of life that is going to enable me to understand the law of karma, of thought, action, consequence – because I already know the consequence I want. I want to be happy; I want to be healthy; I want to be secure. I want loving, nurturing, creative relationships.
Okay. How am I going to get to point b from point a? Well, if thoughts lead to action and action leads to consequence, the key is the thoughts… and every single thought is only a suggestion… it’s not an imperial command…
And yet every thought has energy that can either be used in the kinetic state – now, in the present moment. Or stored in the potential state for a different kind of relationship that requires it.
When I can understand and respect that law of karma – of thought, action, consequence sequence – then I can yoke myself to basing all of my actions, all of my thoughts and words on the super-conscious wisdom reflected by the conscience.
And the more that I do that, I find in my life that the consequence brings me happiness. It brings me security, it gives me meaning and purpose, and the body health… because there’s a balance between outer action and inner wisdom – as opposed to conflict between outer action and inner wisdom.
Because if there’s conflict between outer action – thought, word or deed – and inner super-conscious wisdom… if there’s a conflict in the mind, there has to be conflict outside the mind.
That could mean the body, or it could mean interpersonal relationships… but that inner conflict is the mother of all problems, so if I ameliorate that inner conflict and I sacrifice those habits that encourage the inner conflict then I diminish the inner conflict. And I also diminish the outer conflict.
We’ve all come to rely on a bunch of gadgets these days and some are better than others
Mark: So that practice of awareness and being present and creating that space between the thought and the response to allow a response to come from higher consciousness or super-consciousness precludes you from creating any more negative karma.
Leonard: Let’s be honest here; I get triggered just like every human being. There are certain circumstances where my wife taps me on the shoulder and says, “hey, your father is speaking through your mouth.”
Mark: (laughing) I totally get that all the time. Oh my goodness. No matter how hard we work, there’s always these vestiges…
Leonard: And Jesus is on the cross, right? We’re talking about the Christ – this enlightened human being – he’s on the cross, he’s filled with fear, and he’s filled with anger. And he yells out, “why have you forsaken me?”
And yet – as a yoga scientist – he catches himself; he examines it, he sacrifices it back to this supreme intelligence. It’s transformed into energy, willpower and creativity. And he’s able to speak the words, “forgive them father, for they know not what they do.”
Mark: Wow, that’s a really beautiful representation of that practice in action.
So what about this idea that karma follows us through lifetimes? The net sum total of the positive and negative energies that you put out into the world, and you imprint in the world in this lifetime will help decide what kind of experiences you’re going to have next time around.
Leonard: Well, you’re really talking about relationships… because there’s no relationship that’s an accident. Every relationship is the consequence of a previous action providing me the perfect opportunity to self-examine, let go of some obstacle, some faulty concept in my own mind -so that the love force can come through me in a clearer, more meaningful and productive way.
Mark: Beautiful, I love it.
Your book, “Your Conscience: The Key to Unlock Limitless Wisdom and Creativity and Solve All Of Life’s Challenges,” let’s talk a little bit about that. I know we’re running a little short on time, so we’ve got a few more minutes, but I’d love to know kind of what inspired it.
And I mean we’ve been talking of course about the message, but let’s get a little bit more specific about the book…
Leonard: I found myself in February of 2020 in quarantine because of the covid. I was not teaching classes here at the American Meditation Institute. And I started asking myself, “how am I to be of service? What type of action can I take that can be of service?”
And like most people I was watching the news, I was listening to things on the internet and in newspapers… and I saw all this pain that was going on. All this pain and my heart ached.
“What can I do? What can I give people? I have to give people a gift that’s practical, that will help them as a tool to make conscious, discriminating choices that will enable them to become self-reliant and self-confident in their own self. In their own decision-making process.”
And so I thought that the best thing I could do was to give them an understanding of their conscience and the four functions of the mind that need to be coordinated, so that the conscience can reflect super-conscious wisdom.
As opposed to just becoming a rubber stamp of the limited faulty concepts of ego, senses and or unconscious mind.
Mark: I love it. So conscious mind – we’ve talked a lot about that. How do you define ego?
Leonard: My friend the ego. (laughing) first of all I have to say that the ego’s not always wrong. So you and I both Mark need a healthy ego right now to have this conversation. Or to drive an automobile or a truck…
We need a healthy ego to keep us alive. But the ego… there’s a downside to it, because it has such a narrow perspective.
It seems to me that the ego is hardwired to the reptilian brain. And the reptilian brain is heavily invested in self-preservation…
Mark: That’s right.
Leonard: You know, “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to lose the form…” so in service to that desire which engenders a tremendous amount of fear of annihilation, the ego insinuates itself in every relationship, and cuts that relationship in half. And says, “oh, over here – this portion is pleasant. I like it. I consider this good, let’s reprise it.”
“On the other hand, over here this portion of this relationship is unpleasant. I don’t like it. I think this is bad. I want to eliminate this.”
So, what happens is we become addicted to the limited perspectives of the ego, because the ego is so loud and so pushy and so insistent. And so that noise in the mind creates an addiction to going after likes and avoiding dislikes.
But our practical everyday experience has already taught us that that which appears as pleasant isn’t always good for us. And that which is unpleasant, isn’t always bad for us.
But if I’m locked into that limited perspective then whose life am I living? So I have to provide for the ego a pleasant experience, where he gives up – or she gives up – that limited perspective just for the sake of an experiment like brushing your teeth.
The ego first thing is going to say, “I don’t want to do it. I vote against it.”
Of course, of course. Because to the ego it seems like I’m going to be missing out on something that potentially could be really enjoyable. But if I could teach the ego to take a two-minute timeout to brush the teeth, I believe – because I have experienced this with the ego – that the ego will say, “hey, it wasn’t so bad. And I didn’t die by embracing some form of change that I thought previously would have annihilated me.”
Mark: Right. It’s fascinating.
As you’re talking what’s coming up is just how social media and the technologies of today are really training the ego to be dominant.
Mark: Always grasping, always triggering and always getting pleasure out of the next stimulus – the next hit…
Leonard: That’s because the culture that we have is not a philosophical culture. It is a commercial culture.
Mark: Transactional, right?
Leonard: Yes, it’s transactional.
Mark: So the way out is asking the question “who am I?”
Leonard: The way out is the way in…
Mark: The way out is the way in… you got to go in to get out, I love that.
Leonard: That’s right. And that’s it, that’s the balance – that’s yoga – it’s all about balance of inner wisdom and outer action. So before we commit our assets in mind, action and speech, counsel within. Find the wisdom within you. And then take that wisdom and bring it into the world.
Mark: Beautiful. Where can people learn more about you, Leonard? Do you have a website…?
Leonard: We have two websites – one for the book called yourconscience.org and in 1996 I founded the American Meditation Institute. Swami Rama had sent me a note from India, and it was just a three-word note and he said, “start teaching now.”
(laughing) okay. What? Where? How? None of those were illuminated at all and the only thing that I felt qualified as a westerner – an American who did not grow up with this teaching – the only thing I felt empowered to teach was what I practiced. And I didn’t want any association with anything foreign, so I came up with the best American kind of a name – so I called it the American Meditation Institute in 1996.
And people can see what we offer. We have a foundation course there, which will speak to all of these issues that we’ve had conversation about today.
And that website is americanmeditation.org.
Leonard: In Latin, conscience means with science.
Mark: Oh interesting. So yourconscience.org… and there’s a reason to buy it there or to go learn about it there versus let’s say on amazon?
Leonard: No, no. Amazon, Barnes and Noble… any place that’s convenient for folks.
Mark: Well, Leonard first off thank you for your life’s work.
Leonard: Well, thank you for your life’s work…
Mark: I appreciate that and thank you for bringing the gift of this book that brought us this karma to have this conversation – and it’s very, very enjoyable, very stimulating, my mind is seeing so many connections.
And it’s so needed in this world, right? I feel like our culture – the deck’s stacked against us, the cards are stacked against us – because of the just inundation of information, and constant distraction, and consumerism.
And so people need to fight back. And this is the way to fight back – you don’t fight back through negative action, by fighting what you’re against – that just creates more negative energy and injures your soul…
Leonard: Fight against the darkness…
Mark: The way to fight darkness is to bring more light into the world.
Leonard: Darkness cannot exist when there’s the presence of light.
Mark: That’s correct. So we have to be the light, and we have to let the light in and through us.
And your practices that you’ve described and in your book are one extraordinarily valid way to do that. So thank you very much.
Leonard: Can I just say one last thing?
Mark: Please do.
Leonard: I just want to say to people that have been listening – I don’t want you to believe a word I have said. What I would like is experiment with it for yourself, put on your doubting Thomas hat, experiment with it and see what you experience.
Only then will you experience the truth. And only then will you become self-reliant and not reliant on me or any other outside source.
Mark: 100%. Yeah, we’re seeking autonomy and freedom. And that has to be found within. Thank you again Leonard. It’s been an honor.
Leonard: God bless you.
Mark: God bless you.
Wow, what an incredible conversation. I mean Leonard is the real deal. I love his idea of combining philosophy and practice and making it really practical. I think that all of us really appreciate that.
That kind of mirrors my approach when I started to teach what I now call unbeatable mind to seal trainees. It had to be very practical. I had to take the “fu” out of the “kung fu,” and it sounds like Leonard’s done the same thing.
And the way he talked about how the mind worked was really, really practical and spot on.
Some highlights – I love this idea that with the right tool every job is easy, and the mind is the right tool. I think about if the mind can be made into a wrench, it can be made into a hammer, it can be made into a knife…
So you get to take the mind and mold it to whatever function you want it to serve. And then you deploy that tool, the right tool for the right job…
But you can’t do that if you don’t train the mind. And so that’s what he’s getting at – if you want to use your mind as a sharp knife, you got to train it and sharpen that knife – the knife of your mind.
If you want to use your mind as a sledgehammer, you got to train it to do that. That’s fascinating.
We talked about the science of yoga or the yogi science – and the two pathways that Leonard used to really kind of penetrate the mysteries of the mind. And to develop the mind.
One was to contemplate this question of “who am I?” And to recognize that you are not your body, your thoughts, your emotions and desires – but you’re actually something much more eternal.
You are spirit. You are a spiritual being. An eternal witnessing spiritual being.
Who is also simultaneously having this human existence. So, as a practice you can use this every day to always be asking yourself – in any situation, any challenge – “wait a minute. Who am I here really? Am I contracted into this egoic set of desires moving toward what I want and away from what I don’t want?”
“Or am I something much bigger? Am I a spiritual being having this human existence?”
And from that perspective, you can make a wise decision, a wise choice. Wisdom enters.
And then the second simultaneous path is actual meditation. Sitting and sharpening your mind to single point focus. He called it the one pointed mind; I love that.
The one pointed mind is the mind that can stay radically focused on one thing for as long as you need to. And so this is trainable, and you’ll learn how he trains it in his book “Your Conscience: The Key to Unlock Limitless Wisdom and Creativity and Solve All Of Life’s Challenges.”
We do that through concentration training I’m certain it’s very similar to the concentration training we teach an unbeatable mind. We develop that single point focus through concentrating on a single thing – it can be an image like an image of the box in box breathing. Or it can be a mantra. Or it can be an object outside of you, or an object inside of you.
So there’s plenty of ways to develop the single point concentration. Which then gives you the opportunity to open up space between the stimulus, whatever’s coming in – that tap on the shoulder or that car cutting you off and, in that space, you don’t react with the ego mind – which is tied to that reptilian brain – that’s needing or focused on survival.
But you can have now the freedom to respond from conscience. To release the contraction of the ego and open up to the conscience consciousness or awareness revealing itself to itself. Then we have this opportunity to connect to what he called super-consciousness, which is the wisdom of all things. The archive of all knowledge.
And so you can really bring that into your life and use that for improving your creativity, letting more love and light into your life which will dispel the darkness. Love that.
We talked about karma and how there’s a cause and effect relationship between a thought and then a voiced action or some other action that you take. And then a consequence.
And so you want to have great integrity – he didn’t use that word – but the integrity is the alignment of thought word and deed or action – all in alignment with awareness, a consciousness… love, light vibration as opposed to being fractured or fragmented or unaligned.
Which will then bring injury – and if you’re bringing injury to yourself, then you’re injuring the world or all of humanity, because we are connected at this level of spirit. And it’s only the ego sense of separation that causes confusion in the world.
So he said this all works because just by changing your perspective, you’ll change your life – you change your perspective by understanding who you are. And you change your perspective by developing the skills through meditation, then you’re going to change your life experience…
You change your life experience, then it becomes better because you’re taking conscious control over your mind. Which then gives you conscious control over your body.
We talked about also swami Rama and some of the really interesting things that he and his masters were able to do, and also how they could be obstacles, right? So, we’re not doing the yoga science and mental development so that we can walk on water or manifest things like cancer tumors in our arm and make them disappear.
But we are doing it so we can heal ourselves, and we can live a very long time as long as we’re supposed to so we can fulfill our mission. And so that we can find peace, contentment and happiness in life.
So I thought it was a very, very interesting conversation. I appreciate again you listening or watching this on YouTube. Thank you for your support of the Fifth Plateau podcast. We’ll see you next time.