Rick Archer on The Ethics of Enlightenment Transcript

Rick Archer on The Ethics of Enlightenment –  # 426

>>Rick: So I really appreciate everybody coming. Hey Scott, good to see you. My name is Rick Archer and I’m the creator and host of Buddha at the Gas Pump interview show, or it seems like the creator and host. People come up to me and say, “Oh, thank you for everything you’re doing,” and I think, “Am I actually doing anything?”

That’s not meant to be a spiritual cliché; it’s just really the sense that it’s kind of happening and I’m just hanging on for the ride. In any case, I really appreciate your attendance and your attention because there are some wonderful things going on in other rooms, simultaneously, and so it’s a real honor to have you all here.

My talk today is a topic that I’ve given a lot of thought to over the years. Some people have graduate degrees in ethics and they study it at Harvard and so on and so forth. I certainly don’t, but I’ve been a participant in and an observer of the spiritual scene for 50 years, and I’ve run into a lot of things, especially since I started doing this interview show.

And I get all kinds of feedback from people and I’ve met a number of interesting spiritual teachers over the years and some of the famous ones, hung out with them, and this whole topic of the ethics of enlightenment has always intrigued me. And I think it gaining currency in the spiritual culture that we’re all a part of; something that needs to be better understood and addressed.

Incidentally in this talk, I’ve gotten a lot of help from some people I’ve interviewed, and I’ve been emailing back and forth with, people like Greg Goode, David Buckland – who is running the camera over here, Timothy Conway, Peter Cutler, and a couple of people who haven’t been on BATGAP – a fellow named Chris Atwood, and a friend of mine named Einar Olsen. Some of the things that I’ll say here are lifted directly from emails they’ve sent me.

So words like … oh, incidentally, I’m going to read a lot of these notes because there’s a lot of material I want to get out and it would be a lot more interesting if I could speak it all extemporaneously, but I will miss things if I do. So I’ll get through this and then there will be some time for discussion.

So words like ‘ethics’ and ‘morality’ have a kind of an unpleasant connotation for many people, they bring up images of overbearing, dogmatic, abusive religious figures, many of whom it turned out were unethical hypocrites. So this talk is not meant to encourage people to be dogmatic or moralistic or judgmental, but if you’ve been on a spiritual path for some time, chances are you’ve run into some situations, or at least heard about them, in which gurus or teachers have been misbehaving in various ways. In fact, after a while it almost seems like the norm rather than the exception and you begin to wonder, “What’s going on?”

Very often these people seem to be very spiritually advanced and their teachings seem to be beneficial, but you know, I’ve run into a number of people who have been burned a few times and they have become cynical about the motives of all gurus and teachers, and some have even lost faith in spirituality altogether — I think that’s a shame.

So what do we mean by ethical behavior? Who is to say what’s right and wrong? Incidentally, there are probably more question marks at the ends of sentences here than there are periods, and if you hear a sentence that has a period at the end of it, it is still an opinion, and opinions are subject to revision. I don’t mean to present anything in a sort of absolute way, hopefully that tone won’t come across.

So ethical standards vary from culture to culture and from age to age, some cultures condone things that most of us would consider barbaric. Is there any universal standard of ethical behavior or are all norms somewhat arbitrary? I think there is a spectrum. At one end there are things like rape and pedophilia and other things that seem universally unethical. Working on the Sabbath, eating meat, even polygamy, are kind of more grey area stuff that many cultures consider okay – obviously meat-eating is a big thing in most cultures … no problem – but some people would consider unethical, like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Then there are things that are accepted in some cultures, such as female genital mutilation, which I think should be at the unacceptable end of the spectrum, universally, and in the more enlightened world hopefully will be.

Ethical behavior is good for you:

Most spiritual traditions regard ethical behavior not only as a reflection of spiritual development, but as a prerequisite to it. Most have some notion of karma and say that if we hurt others it will come back to us and impede our own spiritual evolution. Both Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism teach that cultivating an ethical outlook prepares one for the deep insights required for nondual realization.

In Buddhism, students are encouraged to develop deep compassion even before beginning with teachings on emptiness. In “The Art of Happiness in a Troubled World”, the Dalai Lama is quoted saying, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” So any way you slice it, it’s good for you.

Living ethically — and again, that term needs further definition as we go along – makes the mind more open and subtle and thus more capable of deep nondual insight. There are several different perspectives that people tend to lock into, one or the other, and I prefer a more inclusive perspective that might include them all. I think that people run into trouble when they don’t recognize that all perspectives, even though they may be paradoxically opposed to one another, are simultaneously true, each in their own domain.

Enlightenment, we might say, is the coexistence of transcendental, Divine, and embodied or imminent qualities. So for instance some might say – and I hear people say this all the time – “Only unity is real and important. Nondual teaching should be descriptive, not prescriptive. Prescriptive teachings can only address a so-called “person”, which doesn’t really exist” – you’ve probably heard that.

So we end up with nondual teachers who claim not to be a person, acting unethically, and claiming that no one is doing it and that the world is unreal. There was a – I’m not going to name names, but there was a person whom I interviewed a couple of times and whose interviews I took down when I was contacted by a woman who, at the age of 15 or 16 had been repeatedly raped by him “Bill Cosby style”, and who had been pressed into service as a stripper, being told that “The body is not real, the world is maya,” and “you are the Self, you are not the body or the world of appearance” — using spiritual teaching to condone and justify that kind of behavior and it’s extremely shocking to me.

A friend of mine said, “I know a man who was stealing from a store daily for over a year, a one-dollar piece of cake wrapped in cellophane. When a friend would tell him not to do it or ask him why he would do it…” – oh wait, I’ve skipped to my second point! Hang on a second.

So anyway, the thing I said about that guy doing that stuff, this is a blatant misunderstanding of maya and such a belief will not prevent karmic backlashes from happening. And I think people are getting less and less tolerant of this kind of thing. Of course, no one would be tolerant of that, but even more minor infractions – people are getting less tolerant. They find the idea of a sage who can abuse or take advantage of others and still be granted the status of “sage” to be abhorrent.

Okay, now here is the next point I wanted get on, and that is another perspective is that: it’s not that there is no world, but the world is perfect just as it is. All is well and wisely put, it’s all Divinely orchestrated. And if you adopt this perspective exclusively, you may feel that you can do whatever you like because everything is perfect.

And so here’s the bit about the cake. This guy was stealing a piece of cake from the store every day for about a year, and when a friend told him not to do it, or asked him why he was doing it, he would say, “Aham Brahmasmi. I am Brahman, so everything I do is right.” My friend told this to the meditating administrator of a state mental health clinic and he said, “This is not unusual, we see this all the time. People get sort of brainwashed in nonduality.”

Here is another perspective: ethical teachings aren’t needed because having realized one’s true nature, one will inevitably and spontaneously act in the best interest of all beings concerned in the situation — something we might call “spontaneous right action.” Yeah. Maybe ideally it sounds like it makes sense, but it’s really hard to find examples of it. And even if this were true, it would leave everyone who hadn’t yet achieved realization without any ethical moorings until they had become realized, so why wait, you know?

So again, I prefer an all-inclusive approach, that all these perspectives have their relevance, but none can be taken to the exclusion of the others without creating some kind of imbalance. The highest teaching of Vedanta, as you know, is Aham Brahmasmi – “I am Brahman,” and “Tat Twam Asi” — “Thou art Brahman.” And if we’re really living in nonduality, then the chair, and people, and everything, are just as much a part of us as our arm is; you wouldn’t intentionally hurt your own body because it is part of you.

So if nondual awareness is genuine, if everything is really seen as part of you. As Jesus said, “Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you have done it to me,” so there shouldn’t be any inclination to hurt anything or anyone, and if there is, if people are behaving that way, maybe we should question their realization; “you shall know them by their fruits”, you know?

On the topic of hypocrisy, if we claim or imply that we have realized our true nature and are offering to help others do the same, is it consistent for us to behave deceitfully, perversely, selfishly or cruelly? Deceit might include lying about one’s level of spiritual attainment, one’s lifestyle or adherence to vows – claiming to be a celibate renunciate, if that is not really the case, supernormal claims, such as being a breatharian or able to live on sunlight or something.

Some famous gurus have been excellent stage magicians and claimed their miracles were real to fool the naïve villagers and even many Westerners, and of course, there are Christian evangelicals who also use stage tricks as well.

And then we get into grey areas, people claiming to be channeling beings from galaxies or parallel universes or other times or dimensions. Should there be any criteria for ethical standards for such performances? Again, I’m asking a lot of questions here, I’m not that this, that, or the other should be.

Then there’s the whole Ayahuasca area and its related things: should people conducting these things be trained in diagnosis and dealing with bad trips? Should people be interviewed before they are given such substances to find out if they are psychologically strong enough to cope with the information they will receive during such an event? What if there is a latent psychosis? What if someone admits beforehand that they have a history of schizophrenia, should they be allowed to take large doses of such hallucinogens? There isn’t much regulation or oversight.

Then there’s the whole money issue. Churches routinely ask their members to tithe, therapists charge for their time, seminars and courses nearly always have a fee, most retreat centers have to charge in order to keep functioning, spiritual teachers have to pay the rent, just like any others. What ethical guidelines should there be around money?

I interviewed Adyashanti the other day and asked him that question, he went on for 10 or 15 minutes about it, so when that interview goes up you might be interested in hearing his answer, it was good.

Perhaps an evaluation and enforcement of all teachers should be left up to their audience and the court of public opinion. P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute” — some people are going to excuse their teacher’s behavior no matter how egregious. Also, there is a problem that the spiritual seekers are often kind of naïve and innocent in a way, ungrounded, kooky and easily taken advantage of, unless perhaps they’ve been around for a while and then they have kind of learned the hard way … but many times they start out that way. And there have been sad situations in which people have been taken advantage of and have had their faith shattered.

So we need … whatever regulations — and there may or may not ever be, as there are in other professions, like psychiatrists and psychologists and doctors and so on, all have these codes of ethics which they have to abide by and there are boards which govern them, and they can lose their license if they violate those guidelines — maybe that will happen someday with spiritual teachers in general, or maybe spiritual teachers will always be like herding cats and it won’t happen.

But in any case, whether anything like that ever happens, it’s incumbent upon the student to develop discernment, I think, and discrimination, and to learn to make wise decisions.

So, now this is a big question: are higher consciousness and ethical behavior correlated? When I was a TM teacher and student and so on for many years, Maharishi always said that there’s this tight correlation between higher consciousness and ethical behavior, he said that an enlightened person acts in accordance with all the laws of nature and that you couldn’t possibly do anything harmful if you are in a higher state of consciousness, and so on. But there seem to be so many violations and exceptions to that rule that I’ve really come to doubt that, or, well I’ll elaborate as we go here.

Is it possible to be an enlightened scoundrel? Ken Wilber mentions “waking up” and “growing up” and says that the two are not tightly correlated, and most famous gurus actually have done things that are kind of questionable, but had they reached the pinnacle of potential human potential?

In other words … a friend of mine just wrote a book called “How Much Enlightenment is Enough?” and he has pictures of glasses of water on the cover that are getting fuller and fuller. Here’s a quote from Nisargadatta Maharaj shortly before his death, he said, “Forget ‘I Am That.’ I’ve realized so much more since then, it’s so much deeper.”

So I have this attitude that we’re all works in progress and that to have the opinion that there’s some kind of static terminus point that we are going to reach, or that this, that, or the other teacher has reached, is only going to result in disappointment and confusion. Everybody is a work in progress, as far as I know, I don’t think I’ve ever met an exception; I may not be qualified to judge peoples’ level of development or anything, but as far as I can see.

And even in the Vedic literature there are … okay, one more point before that. I think that the correlation between higher consciousness and ethical behavior is more like a stretchy rubber band than a tight, rigid pole of some sort, but, God-realization and saintliness are associated for a reason.

Traditionally, God-realization is correlated with the development of qualities like love, compassion and so on, and in my book, in my opinion, full enlightenment — if there is such a thing, or at least a great deal of enlightenment — would include their development. There could be some channel that … oh well.

There are numerous examples of great Vedic sages who were tripped up by some latent tendency or some subtle remnants of ego they didn’t even know they had. There are many degrees of awakening prior to the final enlightenment, if there even is such a thing, and in my opinion there isn’t. If harmful, selfish behavior is displayed, it shouldn’t be rationalized away; it indicates some lack of development that would need to be addressed.

Okay, a point on purity: words like ‘purity’ and ‘impurity’ may evoke all sorts of creepy religious judgements and abuses. I use the term in the Vedic sense, that vasanas or impressions or gunas – sattva, rajas, and tamas. Someone in this sense — and this may be a little shocking, but it gets better — someone who rapes children is being governed by impressions and impulses that are impure by comparison with those governing someone or one who dedicates himself to feeding starving children.

The relative world is comprised of pairs of opposites and gradations in-between, to disregard them is to render all values meaningless and to endorse nihilism.

Here is an interesting thing from my friend Timothy Conway, who has been on BATGAP a couple of times, he said, “Buddhists and Hindus refer to the “asura titan” or the demon types of consciousness which can seem very powerful, very bright, very charismatic and enlightened, but it is more insidiously a syndrome afflicting someone who might think he is enlightened but is not, because he/she is still fueled by greed, aversion, delusion. It is especially alluring and misleading when the person has some lovely deva karmas aspect mixed in, certain talents or virtues. Such a combination of powerful light and dark entities can be very confusing to those lacking discernment.”

“Ravana” — this is the end of Timothy’s quote – “Ravana, for instance, the bad guy in the Ramayana, would be an example. He was charismatic, learned, possessed numerous powers, but he was still operating from selfish motives.”

Then another consideration in all this in which – and this whole talk could be expanded into a weekend of semester or whatever, there’s a lot to consider here – the whole issue of kundalini. There is such a thing as deflected rising, where kundalini rises to a certain point then gets deflected or stuck, and a person can display the symptoms of enlightenment without actually being enlightened. Those symptoms can include tremendous Shakti, darshan, radiant influence, and they appear like, “Whoa, this guy must be enlightened,” and yet there is something really off, still, and the offness can get extreme.

Papaji warned, “This is the kali Yuga. Even rakshasas, demons, will incarnate as teachers to mislead you.”

I’m reading this book, “Holy Madness” by George Feuerstein, it is very interesting. There is a section here from something called — I should have brought my reading glasses – from something called “kula mara tantra,” or something! “There are many teachers, like lamps in house after house, but hard to find, Oh Devi, is the teacher who lights up all like the sun. There are many teachers who are proficient in the Vedas and the Shastras, but hard to find, Oh Devi, is the teacher who has attained to the supreme truth. There are many teachers on earth who give what is other than the Self (capital ‘S’), but hard to find in all the world, Oh Devi, is the teacher who reveals the Self. Many are the teachers who rob the disciple of his wealth, but rare is the teacher who removes the disciple’s affliction. He is the true teacher who by whose very contact there flows the Supreme bliss. The intelligent man should choose such a one as his teacher and none other.”

Okee dokee, um … can we judge or understand the behavior of the enlightened? It is often suggested that an enlightened being’s behavior is beyond our capacity to understand and that we should accept on faith that he is acting in accordance with Divine will. So for instance, it seems that the Divine has a fondness for Rolls Royce’s or young women or young boys, or whatever — and those are obvious allusions to actual situations in which people just said, “Well, I’m ignorant, this guy is enlightened, and I don’t know understand this but I’m just going to go along with it because it is beyond my capacity to understand enlightened behavior.”

Again, discrimination, discernment. Now this all might be getting to sound a little judgmental at this point, and as you know, Jesus said, “Judge not that ye be not judged,” and, “why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” We’ve all seen examples of people adopting holier than thou attitudes, laying trips on people and perhaps even we’ve done it ourselves, but at the same time we must be discriminating.

We have a right and an obligation to evaluate a potential teacher, to call them on their stuff if necessary and to leave if they are not receptive. At a symposium of Western Buddhist teachers, the Dalai Lama had strong words for teachers who abuse their power and students who give theirs away. Quote: “A teacher who behaves unethically or asks students to do so can be judged as lacking in ultimate insight,” his holiness said.

“As far as my own understanding goes, the two claims that you are not subject to precepts and you are free, these are the result of incorrect understanding. No behavior is free from consequences. For this reason, true wisdom always includes compassion, the understanding that all things and beings are interconnected with and vulnerable to each other.”

“Even though one’s realization may be higher than the high beings,” his holiness said, “one’s behavior should conform to the human way of life. When teachers break the precepts, behaving in ways that are clearly damaging to themselves and others, students must face the situation even though this can be challenging. Criticize openly,” his holiness declared, “that is the only way.”

“If there is incontrovertible evidence of wrongdoing, teachers should be confronted with it. They should be allowed to admit their wrongs, make amends, and undergo a rehabilitation process. If a teacher won’t respond, students should publish the situation in a newspaper, not omitting the teacher’s name,” his holiness said. “The fact that the teacher may have done many other good things should not keep us silent.”

On the issue of readiness to teach, there is almost always a lag between realization and its full embodiment. Assuming the role of a spiritual teacher can confront you with challenges you wouldn’t otherwise face. The very act of teaching channels some sort of higher energy, you tend to become brighter, more eloquent, more charismatic. People are attracted to you, sometimes sexually, they start thinking you are special, that you know something they don’t know; it could easily go to your head, I think we’ve all seen this happen.

When I became a TM teacher in 1970 – and just before I say that, there’s definitely a need for teachers; I’m not saying necessarily that everybody should wait ten years after realization although some traditions say that; they advise waiting years after awakening before beginning to teach.

After his awakening, Ramana marinated in a cave for years. Swami Atmananda never gave satsang until he and his master agreed he was ready – it took years. I’ve been told that in the Zen tradition one is supposed to wait ten years after awakening before beginning to teach. Thich Nhat Hanh was always diligent in his own actions and motivations, he felt that if he ever slipped in some way he would immediately stop teaching; he felt that his life was his teaching.

When I became a TM teacher in 1970 at the age of 21, Maharishi said to us that when a war is raging, there is no time to train sharp shooters; just hand them a rifle and send them out. But we didn’t claim to be awakened, we were just a bunch of kids taught to impart a technique. My girlfriend, after I became a TM teacher, told me, “I thought TM teachers were saints until I got to know you.” 🙂 I took that as helpful feedback.

Then there’s the whole issue of crazy wisdom, which is discussed at length in this book. I’m very skeptical of anyone excusing egregious behavior as crazy wisdom. There have been legitimate examples of crazy-wise adepts, holy fools, rascal gurus, but for every genuine one there have been many who use crazy-wisdom as an excuse for bad behavior. Jesus said – and I had quoted this earlier, “You shall know them by their fruits.”

In evaluating a teacher perhaps we should ask ourselves, “Do I want to become like this person?” Traditionally, these holy fools — that you read about in this book and elsewhere — were humble, meek, and self-abnegating. They went to extremes to avoid adulation or appearing special; they were sitting on dung-heaps and things. In contrast to this, recent or contemporary teachers whose behavior is excused as crazy-wisdom have often been tended to be self-indulgent, ostentatious, and grandiose.

Then there’s the whole issue of free will. Some people say this whole talk about ethics and morality and behavior and all this moved because we have absolutely no free will. Ramesh Balsekar contended that we are just governed by our genetics and our conditioning, and that too has been used by some as an alibi for misbehavior.

I do think that people act according to their level of consciousness, their degree of purity or impurity, their conditioning, etcetera. Someone who is rather stunted by those measures can’t just decide to act like a saint, but ethical guidelines give people something to adhere to within their capacity to do so, like traffic rules.

My final quote here, and then we can take some discussion, is, “It is this integration of one and two that makes life. Nonduality is one thing, but living Nonduality is another. To live Nonduality takes heart; we have to love something, everything. We have to take the false appearance as beautiful and precious, if we don’t, it is a lifeless Nonduality; it is a principle not a life.”


>>Rick: Thanks. There is a mic right there and if you’d like to ask some questions … get some discussion going…

>>Audience member: I think can we drop names …?

>>Rick: Sure, that may be interesting, but it would get me sued also!

>>Audience member: You could beep it out.

>>Rick: Yeah, we could beep it out. So any thoughts, feedback, discussion? Do you agree? Disagree? What do you feel about all that?

Yeah, please go on the mic.

>>Audience member: Well, my question is just an observation about what we were saying earlier, which is the correlation between higher state of consciousness and unethical behavior. I’m wondering if maybe we do not quite understand what is the standard for higher state of consciousness, and maybe we should begin with that? And then finding there is an equal way or an equal plane where the two can be correlated, because the correlation can be not happening simply because we have a misconception about what it is.

>>Rick: Yeah, no, that’s a really good point. I have this attitude, for what it’s worth, that, well … like Ken Wilber again – and I haven’t read him extensively, but I’m told that he refers to “lines of development” and that there are all these different lines and the lines can get pretty out of whack with one another.

But if I were to use the word ‘enlightenment’ — which I tend to avoid because it has such a superlative quality to it, a sort of static quality – I would regard it as a holistic development in which all those lines have been brought along to a very great degree and are in correlation to one another.

It doesn’t mean [to develop] in every area or thing that human beings can do … it doesn’t mean you’re going to be an excellent basketball player or something, but with regard to the virtues and the behavior and that kind of thing, and the wisdom. And even things like sensory refinement and blossoming of the heart and all those kinds of the more spiritual faculties, I would say those should all be at a pretty good peak. And if some of them are really found to be lacking then I don’t think it would deserve the term ‘enlightenment’ — in my estimate, in my opinion.

>>Audience member: Yeah, that’s what I was saying … to redefine the concept of “higher state of consciousness” to be a lot more holistic and integrated.

>>Rick: Yeah, good.

>>Audience member: Thank you.

>>Rick: Sure. Ah, yes, mic please.

>>Audience member: Thanks for your talk. I was thinking, sort of from my own perspective, there’s not just intentional harm that’s caused but there is also unintentional harm, and so I’m wondering if you have anything to say about whether someone somewhere along the process of enlightenment still has that ability to unintentionally harm, and if that is helpful.

>>Rick: I’m sure they do and, I mean, I’m probably nowhere near enlightened as I would define it, but I’ve certainly caused unintentional harm at times in my life. There’s a Buddhist sage of yore named Padmasambhava and he said, “Although my awareness is as vast as the sky, my attention to karma is as fine as a grain of barley flour.” And Don Juan in the Carlos Castaneda books said to Carlos, he said, “A warrior has time only for his impeccability.” So both quotes imply to me a sense of diligence, a lack of sloppiness, where you can’t just sort of wallow in your unboundedness and then behave any way you like. There needs to be an integration in which you have balanced the unbounded awareness with skillful action, and harmlessness would be a big part of that skillful action.

>>Audience member: One quick follow up thing and that’s very helpful. I guess where I’m also thinking is, is unintentional harm avoidable at all? Will it always occur when you are an incarnate being?

>>Rick: Yeah, I mean you walk down the sidewalk and you step on little creatures and things, so there’s always going to be some. The Jains would starve themselves to death to avoid taking any life, but is it really harm to eat a carrot, or even a chicken, in the big scheme of things?

So these are all grey areas subject to discussion and definition and so on, but I think that at least the aspiration to not be harmful, intentionally or unintentionally, is a laudable one.

>>Audience member: I’m Pam and I’m delighted this is happening and I wish there were more people in here…

>>Rick: Oh, there’s a pretty good crew.

>>Audience member: Ah… but I’ve come through the trenches of experiencing abuse and things like that early on, so anyways, I’m glad you’re here. But I’m just finishing a Finders Course in Jeffrey Martin’s study of different teachers. And one of the things he said is that he finds that people were stealing before they moved into a persistent nondual and they still steal afterwards. He is not finding a high correlation of a shift; some, but not real high.

And the other thing he said is that when people do shift into an awakened persistent stage that they tend to lose more of the capacity to observe themselves.

>>Rick: Yeah, I disagreed with Jeffrey on some of that and debated it with him a little bit. In fact, one thing he said is that when they shift into a particular stage, I forget which stage he called it, they tend to become very flat and emotionless and the enlightened becomes rather insipid and they want to move back toward a previous state in order to have more juiciness in life. And I said, “No Jeffrey, there’s a flat state that you get into at a certain stage but then beyond that, moving forward rather than backward, it all begins to blossom again, you get much more rich.”

Okay, so people who were stealing before and stealing after, I would just say they are works in progress, you know?

>>Audience member: I was just wondering if you think that the true issue lies in teaching people on their spiritual path how to make more authentic choices that are in alignment with their consciousness. Because in my work with a lot of women over the past 20 years, I feel like we are spiritual beings having this human experience with all these desires and choices that we want to make, but I think it’s trying to be authentic to yourself when you’re not alone in this world. Issues you start to grow and like, you start to multiply yourself with children, families, and responsibilities, and so I think that’s where the challenge lies.

>>Rick: Yeah, and ultimately I think we are our own barometer. If we culture a certain self-referral awareness kind of way of functioning, then we get indicators and signals from within ourselves when we’re out of alignment with something, and so we don’t necessarily need to rely on external authorities as much, and who could really evaluate better than ourselves? Well, there is that Robert Burns poem that said, “To see ourselves as others see us.” But still, I think that’s an important component if we could culture that kind of inner barometer or antenna so that little alarm bells go off if we’re moving out of alignment.

I think I’m out of time. Am I really out of time?

>>Audience Member: Yes.

>>Rick: I’m really out of time. Alright, I’m so sorry. This lively discussion could go on a long time with this, but I guess this is just a taste, some food for thought, so thank you very much for coming.

{Audience applauding}