I want to speak about a subject, which would probably be very relevant to a certain group of people and not very relevant to another group of people. And the reason I am talking about a theme which would be, perhaps, not very universal, in other words it’s for specific people, is because it really needs to be said. For those who don’t need it, they’ll consider it obvious, for those who do need it, they’ll consider it significant, I suppose. Therefore I am sorry for those of you who have to suffer your way through my explanation.
One thing about me which probably you’ve figured out by now is that I try to avoid speaking in terms of absolutes, or black and white. One thing about me is that I like to be more subtle. Not because of some esoteric reason, it’s just my nature. I don’t like to think in terms of absolute things because my experience has been practically through my whole life that everything is a mixture of things. In usual spiritual terms, ‘absolute’ really refers to a source of everything, that personality to whom everything is related. But sometimes people who are very fundamental in their thinking, who are fundamentalists, tend to take that understanding and apply it to many things, they tend to say ‘This is right’ and ‘That is wrong’, ‘This is good’ - ‘that is bad’, "this is friend, that is enemy", and so on. When you get into a more refined version of that, ‘this literature, this religious literature is perfect, absolute, all the others are not so’, and than you get all derivatives of that, that this follower is good, this follower is not good. Even if you have shades of grey, even if you have these ‘in-betweens’ in any of this, there is always the idea that that which is close to or is the best is good, everything else is less so.
When I’ve been speaking throughout all these years, I’ve been trying, I have been attempting to state things in a somewhat neutral manner. Obviously, I can not do that perfectly, I can not perfectly be neutral, because I have opinions, even if I don’t want to admit them to myself. I have inclinations, I have ideas, and I have concepts which I think are right. Yet at the same time I am not a very confident person, so I can’t just like run out of the door, raising my flag, screaming ‘this is so!’ I suppose I am not a very confident person by my nature, but at the same time I see reasons for it, it’s not like an irrational idea, I see reasons for my lack of confidence. It’s based in my experience, it’s based in my having seen throughout time, that even if I believed something at one point in my life to be just the way it is, after a while I see it differently.
I’ll give you one example. When I was in the University, I started off my university life, having very little confidence in my capacities. In the school before the university I had a lot of confidence, especially in my later years, I knew what I was doing, where I was going. And when I switched to the University, all of a sudden everything became maybe 3 times more difficult for me. Then I was rather submissive to what the teachers were saying, I was rather careful about expressing myself in public than. But when I got into last year of the University, that had transformed from this person who had lack of confidence and quite submissive to somebody who felt quite different about this situation. I understood the professors a lot better, I understood their weaknesses a lot better, and I understood the weaknesses of the system. I understood the politics surrounding the university atmosphere; I understood exactly why everybody did what they did. My university at that time was one of the two most radical, revolutionary universities in the United States, and I was right in the middle of it. And I felt myself very vindicated. I thought that Yes! This is right! Our cause is right. So, I had started off in one way, I ended up in another way, feeling very strongly. But than I left the University and started seeing things from another point of view, I again changed the way I saw it. These changes are not immediate, these are quite slow changes, and they take place within five, ten year, fifteen year periods of time. When I started understanding the difficulty that professor would have actually surviving in such an environment. In other words, it was just as important and significant for that professor to teach me something as it was to survive and keep his job, which maintained his family. And because of the reality of that situation that this man was in or woman was in, they had to compromise themselves, they had to do things they may not have wanted to do. And my blaming the Dean or the University President changed, because I saw that these people were actually under the control of politicians, of comities, of commissions, that these people were under the influence of others and ultimately it all boiled down to money, but that’s another thing.
So, when I was young, I felt the world can be changed; the world can be a better place if only this was done, if only that was done. But as I grew older, I understood in more detail and I had a better comprehension of how many things are connected, how things under the surface are more powerful than that that I can see. And how changing this means changing this, that and that, and there is whole series of changes and transformations that have to permeate an entire society to accomplish things. Now that is a very difficult thing to do. I mean to say that it’s difficult to expect such a wide scale transformation. It’s not like you pass a law or you make a resolution, or a group of people state ‘It is like this’, ‘It should be like this’ and it will be. You can’t pass a law that says ‘you should be good.’ OK, you can make a structure, such that people don’t argue or they don’t have as much of an opportunity to do so, and so form and structure help and assist to create peace. But if somebody wishes, has the desire, has an inclination to make difficulty, it will happen regardless of the form. So, in my youth I thought that by having a proper form and structure with proper principles, everything would work out great. And as I grew older, I understood quite the opposite, that it’s the individual who actually make change and transformation, because everything ultimately depends on each individual’s choice. So, in other words, my youthfulness thought of a cohesive structure that would resolve everything, and my old age, and believe me, it is here, I see things as individually-based.
And with that introduction I am ready to talk about the exact theme I wish to speak about today. And again, I will try as neutrally and impartially as I can just explain these differences I am seeing. And again, don’t think of this in terms of absolute and black and white, better or worse, good-bad. I can’t say, am I good now, was I bad when I was young. That’s very black and white, isn’t it? It doesn’t take into account that youthfulness requires a certain amount of idealism, requires a certain amount of thought in that fashion of this cohesive holistic ideal. After all, it relates to the family ideal, that when the whole family within the community, within the society is whole, there is health. Because when you are a child, that’s what you see. And when you are an older teenager, that’s your ideal. And you wish to reproduce it in the world around you. When you are older, you see things from the other side; you see things from the side of having to hold it together, having to maintain it, having to make it work. You see it from the side of how it’s dependent on you. So, the age and the responsibility dictate how you see things. So, one can safely say that our conceptions like this are very much attuned to our age, to our circumstances and so on.
Harsi asked me a question in Harimedia forum ‘Discussions with Hari’ which made me think. So I read his question which was not very clearly worded, there were many elements in it which you could read this way or that way. And as I was trying to answer his question, my first paragraph was me rewriting his question to make it clear. So, I would come up with something that I thought was a good summary of this question and than I would write answers, and than I would go back and read his question and I would say ‘no, he means something else’ and than I would have to adjust my whole answer again. So, for two days I am just completely changing my text back and forth and re-writing the question and changing the text. And I was really getting worried here, I was saying: "Have I become afraid of this subject?" So, I wrote to him again and said ‘Look, you’d better clarify your question because I am going crazy trying to answer it’. And it’s very interesting, because when you are forced to clarify your question, often you go through a process, by which you can understand the reason you are asking it, the impact the subject has on you. And so, when he finally managed to phrase his question in a good way and than he adjusted his phrasing again, I told him that I was going to answer him in this lecture. Because I really appreciated the struggle he was going through.
The reason I said this will be very relevant for some people and not so relevant for others is based upon what we just spoke about, the introduction of this lecture. Some people will have already dealt with this and will have passed through the stage of worrying about it. But a lot of people, I don’t know how many, haven’t really dealt with it, and I think it’s important that you know where I stand in this situation. And I am going to take a stand. Amazing, isn’t it? I am labeling the title of this lecture ‘Outside-in vs. Inside-out’.
It’s a way of seeing things; it’s a way of thinking of life. Obviously, life is a mixture of that which comes from outside to us and that which goes from us to outside.
But when we talk about religion, when we talk about spiritual traditions, it’s important to make this distinction. It is my proposition to you that traditional culturally-based religions are processes of the Outside-in. And my older age rebellion against that is to develop the process of Inside-out. In other words, in the beginning of my life, I could accept easily the Outside-in ideal, and now in my older age I can not and I only wish to develop the Inside-out ideal. I sometimes, periodically get very strange letters from some people here, there and everywhere, I mean, it’s not just one individual, it just comes from everywhere; I get these letters reminding me of this conflict. I am not against Vedic literatures, I am not against Prabhupada, I am not against ISKCON, I am not against Christianity. I am not against Islam; I am not against any of these culturally-based traditional religions. I disagree with the methodology. I think it has its own particular place. But I don’t feel in that place. I am not against it, I just disagree with it. Sometimes people conclude that because of this, that means I am against it. Because in their minds either you are FOR something, or you are AGAINST something. Let’s analyze this a little bit more, in more detail.
In these processes of Outside-in you will find often there are the following elements and I’ve made a list of them, in both categories, in Inside-out and Outside-in and I’ll just go through them in no particular order. And the reason I thought of this as Inside-out and Outside-in is that if you think about there different aspects you’ll see that they tend to corroborate, tend to show what I labeled it is so to a large extend. The reason why I labeled the Outside-in as ‘Outside-in’ is because these symptoms that I have listed tend to prove it. And we have another symptom of how difficult it is to do it, when you speaking through a translation, you don’t know what you are saying. I was trying to say that the symptoms tend to corroborate, in other words I am making it rather broad. But you don’t know what ‘corroborate’ means, do you? And that’s the problem. It means they show that it seems to be related, it seems to be so. But because I have to transform it, I had to say ‘prove’ and I said ‘look at me, look at what I just did, I took something I was happy with and had to change it to something I wasn’t happy with, because ‘prove’ is not at all what it is.’ This is not a defect in Gaura. Every single translator will make the same pressure on the original speaker. Every single audience will make the same pressure on the speaker. And therefore it is very difficult to actually express extremely subtle concepts. Yet, these extremely subtle concepts are where all the power lies in spirituality. Just a small little shift in the view of how you see things will change your whole life in a spiritual practice.
So, this kind of making it very specifically so is something that is very characteristic of the Outside-in process.
There is a tradition. This tradition has shastra, scriptures. Every religion has this. There is a cultural context, within which this religion was born and thrives. And this shastra, this scripture points to God. And God is so. And we are servants. Our duty is to serve. We are submissive. We are to humbly hear and present ourselves before those who are wise. We have original sin. And that sin is our somehow act or desire, which caused us to come to this material world. We were in heaven somewhere else and we came here because we are bad. So the solution is to become good by following others who are good. And the goal is to get to the Hereafter, the Promised Land, the Destination. And to do that I have to be very vigilant, I have to be very careful and watch what I am doing, so I don’t make mistakes. And because possibilities to make mistakes are everywhere, I have to be always in the stress to make sure I can fight my way to the goal. And part of that is ‘this, what I am following, is right, and everybody else is wrong and my duty is to defend what I am following’. You get the point. These are symptoms which you will find in every religion. The external, the outside of a person, that, which is outside, is of predominating importance. And I am a little itsy-bitsy thing in the middle of this enormous outside which is telling me what’s right, showing me what’s right. Obviously, there is a mixture of outside and inside, I’ve already stated that. It’s not 100 percent like that, it’s predominatingly like that. Now considering all of this, we can also understand that there is a value in it. The value in it is that it’s a familial-community structure. And it helps, it assists, it defines those who are young. It is not my position to say if it’s good or bad. It works in certain circumstances. I can absolutely say it doesn’t work in all circumstances cause it doesn’t work for me now. So, if somebody tells me, this is the way and there is no other, so what are you doing, you idiot. I can’t accept that. Yet, it is useful. It has value. It is very good, if you wish me to say it, for that personality who desires it. Many people have said to me ‘Life used to be so easy when I just accepted everything. I didn’t have to think, I didn’t have to take responsibility for my life. It was all done for me. I didn’t have to worry about what I believe, or what I don’t believe, or what’s right, or what’s wrong. It was clear. I had people who did the same thing. We all knew that we agreed upon the foundation of life. And we felt very confident within ‘us’ and them. ‘Us’- who had knowledge and were in the right thing - and ‘them’ who are not. And our whole business of life was to serve, and that was very good because we could be active all the time. We had a mission. There was the ‘us’ and there was the ‘them’ and the ‘us’ had to teach the ‘them’ how to become the ‘us’. So that made a lot of work to do, enormous amounts of work to do: build institutions, build buildings, so that ‘them’ could become ‘us’; distribute Shastras, distribute scriptures, so the ‘them’ could become ‘us’; and maintain it all and so many people were engaged. We could go and do, do, and have it done and accomplish and have rewards. So it was very satisfying: to work hard all day and crash to sleep at night, and food was there, really good food was there. Everything was there.
Obviously, I am skipping all of the problematic things which were there, because they are not important to me right now, what is really important is to describe why this kind of methodology of life works for some people at some periods of their lifes. You have something to believe in, you have somebody to believe in, you have something to follow and had work for your whole life. Something you can believe in. And that’s rare in this world. And you have a guarantee that after doing this for this short lifetime you will be headed for Heaven. Call Heaven whatever you want, describe it as whatever you want, it’s just not here. When you are young or when you are needing such an environment, it’s just a very good environment to protect yourself within. So I was living in such environment for a long time. And like I said I was gradually having my experiences, I was gradually understanding things in a different way. And when that churning within came to a certain maturity, it manifested itself as transformation, as a change. Some people say ‘You couldn’t follow because you didn’t have faith, you didn’t follow the process’. And when I say ‘Because I didn’t want to’, they get very confused, they say ‘Well, that’s because you’ve lost faith’. Actually it’s because I completely transformed 180 degrees through my experience the way I see spirituality. I looked around and I said ‘I can not accept this any more, practically none of it at that time’. And practically for the first time in many years I just followed my heart. In the beginning it was difficult because I wasn’t so confident, but right now I understand very well what I am doing. I am doing Inside-out.
And my whole conception of what is good for me and perhaps others has transformed. In the Outside-in discipline is so important in the sense of doing it within the context of what you are supposed to do, what you are supposed to be. But I have been systematically developing the idea of Inside-out in great detail, through every one of these discussions we’ve had for years. And I am going to describe some of the steps or some of the aspects of Inside-out as compared to the aspects of Outside-in. But I am going to just list the Inside-out ones.
Now as an introduction to this which I feel inspired to give you, it’s not that this is against the Veda if you are concerned about that, but rather I am focusing on other aspects of the Veda or whatever you want to call it which were neglected in the Outside-in process. Those aspects which are discouraged within Outside-in processes, because they require your submission to keep the structure together. But I don’t feel I should and I don’t want to refer what I am doing to a scripture. I will not do it. Because by doing it I am going to be forced again to do the Outside-in. I am going to have to say ‘What I am saying is true and it’s confirmed here, in that literature’. I don’t even want to be subtly put into position where I am going to have to do it in any way. Not because I’m against the scripture or because the scripture allow me to do it, because there are opportunities to do it. I just don’t want to do it because I am trying to present Inside-out. And that process comes from within. I am now going to list some of the aspects of the process of Inside-out that I feel are relevant to me right now and perhaps others.
The process of Inside-out is obviously dependent on the self: one’s perception, one’s awareness, one’s consciousness is the center of the process. And that personality is to be respected, that personality has integrity, and that personality is the source of all evolution for that soul. In other words, the responsibility rests on me, the individual. And everything that I do in my evolution process is the reaching out for or simply coming in contact with. Obviously, this is something where I contact the Supreme or the Divine beings or whatever, but it is my process of finding it out. Hearing about it from others is less important than discovering the experience of such beings oneself. It’s the process of uncovering step by step, of starting exactly where you are now and moving forward step by step. Of being totally present in the now. For no other period of time as we define it exists for us, except the now. And the processes which are there to assist us in our realization all are of the now, of the present. They all derive from myself. They are all dependent on myself alone. They don’t require things, they don’t require anything. And it is all coming, when one is completely and totally relaxed, when one doesn’t feel stressed to be a certain way or to act a certain way; when one no longer has that pressure from the outside world for one to be anything at all, except what one is. And whatever one is, that is fine. One doesn’t have to be anything. One IS and that is fine. In other words, one simply relaxes and systematically removes all the stress, all the tension, all that anxiety, which comes from outside oneself. Even these ideas about how we are bad or whatever - that have been given to us from the outside, that, which is quite contrary to our natural child-like state of innocence and self-acceptance, that state of feeling the wonder of exploring, of growing step by step.
In other words, the center of my existence is myself. And when I am aware, when I am in the present, I can than connect with others, I can connect with the Divine beings; I can connect with anything I want, from the self to the other. And when the self is relaxed, that natural love of the self will just manifest. You don’t have to love yourself, because you are love. You don’t have to struggle to love yourself. You just relax and your natural energy is there of love. And that love can be shared with others. Without all of these ideas from the mind, without all of these ideas that are there, externally forcing themselves on us. Because I am what I am, I can connect to the Supreme, I can love all the Divine beings, I can love all beings. When I know what I am, when I feel very strongly as I am, confident, I don’t worry about attempting to be something I am not or trying to be something that I am not, because I know that’s not me. I don’t waste my time trying to be something I am not. Because these ideas to become something that I am not have come from outside of me. I will only be what I am in whatever way I am. And that natural being that I am is very aware, has great wisdom, has great understanding, because that’s the nature of what I am. And that process of meditation is nothing more than just very deep relaxation which than allows my natural spirit to just connect and to understand other things that I wish to do. As I find my own way within the context of what I am, as I make my choices based on what I feel is the right thing to do now. And I am of assistance, I am of service to others as I see it is required, as they need, as they want. So, we have God, we have service, we have the self, we have discipline, we have knowledge, but it is in another context of Inside-out. It’s a process of discovery through experience which is so gratifying.
Now let’s contract Inside-out and Outside-in. The process of Outside-in is kind of easy to take up because everything is defined for you, you just act within a certain process and you get a certain result. The process of Inside-out is more difficult because you don’t have all these safety-nets, it’s something you have to take responsibility for yourself. It’s also hard to share with others, because their experiences or their understanding are not necessarily relevant or even useful to you. Life is more difficult because you can’t just run here and there, traveling, doing this and doing that all the time, so that you don’t have to worry about the heart. It’s easy to live within such a process because the self is defined by the self’s actions. The actions are defined by the mission; the mission is defined by superiors. It’s all easy. And in Inside-out process the actions are born of one’s desire and one’s responsibility. They don’t offer a shelter. In other words, by being very busy and running around here and there, it doesn’t help you, it kind of makes you feel uncomfortable, because you are missing the point. Even if you are accomplishing a lot, that’s not the point, because your point is to be in contact with the Self, you are happiest when you are deeply in connection with the self, with the present, with the Now, and connected with all the beings and all the energy that is part of the now. And since there is no mission, and since there is nobody to please with one’s work, that doesn’t offer you shelter. Since there are no results, since there are no fruits in such an ideal, accomplishments don’t mean much. And because of that, accomplishment in the end of life or the attainment of Heaven or going somewhere else doesn’t mean much. There are many reasons why it doesn’t mean much, but the most important of all those reasons is that all that means anything is right now. So, in the Inside-out way of seeing things you don’t worry about the future, and getting somewhere, and going somewhere. All you care about is the now because you are already there.
I can not be neutral in this. I am not an academician who is analyzing and detailing the science of a certain subject. I can not personally be involved with or follow the Outside-in system. I’ve done that. It doesn’t work for me. It worked for me for some time, not even the entire time I was in it, but it doesn’t work for me now. What works now for me is Now. And why do I have to worry about getting somewhere, when I can get there through my meditation now, I can connect with those personalities now. So now in my Inside-out living I have my deities, I have my Divine beings, I even have my Supreme beings, I have my personal disciplines, I have things I will do and I will not do. I like being of service, when I can, when it’s meaningful. I love connecting with all that is there right now, which is such an immense wonderful spiritual energy everywhere. So, the goal of Inside-out, I suppose, if you want to use the word ‘goal’ and the goal of Outside-In are one, the process is different. And I am in the Inside-out side of things.
People ask me: ‘Do you feel that you’ve wasted so many years of your life? Do you regret things in your life?’ And I can honestly say, except for probably one thing, I don’t regret it and I don’t think it was a waste at all, it was a fabulous experience for me. The one thing I lament, I will express, was one phone call I had when I was at the peak of my anger seeing this whole mess around me. But other than that I think it was a very significant, very deep, very rewarding experience for me. But it’s not any more. I mean, I’ve changed, I see things differently. And because of that the way I might speak about this previous experiences or any traditional culturally based religion may seem not particularly nice sometimes. But that’s the way I feel now. Because of the way I feel about it now. It’s not that I don’t like people who are in such a situation, I mean, I like all of them, really. But I don’t like being around them because they are always trying to push the Outside into me. This is the problem, that I am very happy without the Outside, I am pretty free from that Outside business. When people try to push the outside into me, I say ‘NO, I am sorry, that doesn’t work, I don’t like it, I won’t do it’. And when I am in these groups where they are like that, I look around me and all I see is Outside-in, Outside-in, Outside-in, I have nobody to talk to. Because when I talk to someone like that, they don’t talk to me as themselves out to me, they talk to me as someone who has accepted the Outside-in and now is a representative to some degree or another of that and presents it to me. And going to eat good somewhere else, you know, well, I eat pretty good at home, it’s better than what I eat out there, anyway. So, that kind of makes it seem as if I am against it, it’s not at all so, it’s incompatibility. Because I deal differently considering the way I am now. And I suspect that many of you who listen to this, who are listening live right now or listening to the recording, can understand that from one perspective or the other. Sometimes, not often, people listen to my lectures just to check me out, to make sure what is that guy saying, what does that guy think he is doing. And I am not even antagonistic to that; it’s just that we are incompatible. You think one way, I think another way. OK, let’s leave it at that. I am not going to debate it, I’m not going to fight it, I don’t care if you think it’s better, I don’t care if it’s better or worse because better or worse doesn’t enter into it. Good and Bad doesn’t enter into it. The idea of friends and enemies in this contrast is just illusory. And regardless of how we feel and how we think, if we can just live together peacefully, that’s fine by me. But that’s hard, because sometimes people in the Outside-in say that ‘Unless you are following this or unless you believe in this, we can’t deal with you at all. We are uncomfortable with you, because you should know better.’ And I understand that because I feel the same way about them: ‘I am uncomfortable with you, you should know better’.
So, I am going a different path. And my path is not a path to somewhere. It is path in the sense of process and the process is to simply BE. Here. Now. Take responsibility for what you think, take responsibility for what you say, take responsibility for what you do, take responsibility for your life NOW. Don’t live in the past, don’t live in dream world of the future. So, that is what I have concluded is the difference and this needed to be stated as clearly as I can state it.
We can just sit here peacefully and digest all this. For I am what I am and that is fine. I can’t be anyone else. And if I let go of all that stress which I am embracing, I can feel that present by simply relaxing, by simply letting go, simply relaxing all the bodily stress and tension which comes from my mind, simply relaxing all that stress and tension which is born of these ideas I have within me that this is the better way to be. Just relax, let go of all that tension and anxiety. Be confident that when you are relaxing you are relaxing into yourself, that beautiful spirit that you are, that beautiful person that you are, that spiritual being of love. Relax into yourself by letting go of what you are not. And as we relax, the meditation of ourselves, meditation from ourselves let us feel the connection to all others who are joining us today, in this wonderful matrix of life.
When a lecture is transcribed, it will be placed in this forum.
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