What does consciousness have to do with leadership, or where can consciousness contribute to leadership? Is consciousness the same as mindfulness? Dr. Tony Nader, a physician, scholar, and thought leader devoted to the expansion of consciousness, says there’s much more to it than simply its binary definition of on or off. Dr. Nader is the definitive authority on the Transcendental Meditation technique. He worked closely with TM Founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the science of consciousness. Catch him in this episode as he joins Steve Farber in a deep conversation about consciousness, love, and leadership, touching on the difference between consciousness and mindfulness, servant leadership, and the resurgence of Transcendental Meditation in popular culture.
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Consciousness, Love, And Leadership With Dr. Tony Nader
We are about to have a wonderful in-depth conversation with my fantastic guest, Dr. Tony Nader. Thank you for being here. Dr. Nader is as the designation doctor suggests, in this case, a real doctor. There are people that use that phrase rather loosely from time to time. He was trained as a medical doctor at Harvard and then went to MIT and got his PhD in Neuroscience. He was a clinical and research fellow in Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Harvard Medical School, Assistant Director of the MIT Clinical Research Center.
He’s conducted research in neurochemistry, neuroendocrinology, and the relationship between diet, age, behavior, mood, seasonal influences, and hormonal activity, and the role of neurotransmitter precursors in medicine. Dr. Nader is a scholar. He runs the international Transcendental Meditation organizations. The TM organization that has presence in a hundred countries around the world. How many millions of TM meditators are there in the world now?'Love is a force that links, binds, and puts together similar as well as dissimilar and even potentially contradictory things.' Dr. Tony Nader Click To Tweet
Above 10 million, we’ve counted once 12 million, but some meditate, some are here and there. Roughly, plus 10 million.
I started and learned TM many moons ago, 50 years ago or so. It’s a great pleasure to be able to sit down and have a chat with the person who took over this organization. Took the reins of it, took custody of it, is the custodian of the knowledge behind it from the Founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and took on a great responsibility. You’re running a multinational organization. I’d love for folks to hear your story. As we progress through our conversation together, I want to talk specifically about the relationship of consciousness, which is an enormous word.
That means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I’d like to discuss the relationship of that, from your experience with leadership. As a person who is leading a huge organization, I’m sure you have a lot to offer us, not just on a philosophical level, but more importantly on a practical level. Thank you again for being here. Right out of the gate after that intro, any thoughts on the top of your head that you’d like to share with us?
Thank you for having me. You’re a great leader and an inspirer to leaders also. It’s wonderful to be with you and speak about these topics that those who are with you like to read, hopefully, to shed some light on various aspects of life that can help in leadership. Your question as well, starting well-posed in terms of what does consciousness have to do with leadership, or where consciousness can contribute to leadership. To start with, consciousness is that ability that allows us to be aware, to be conscious, and people saying either I’m conscious or not conscious during sleep. I’m not conscious during dreaming. I have an illusionary consciousness of illusionary reality. That’s about it but consciousness has depth, has broadness, has dimensions, and we go through different levels of consciousness.
If we are tired or stressed, our consciousness narrows down to a point value, which is the point that is attracting our attention in order to deal with the situation at hand but this sometimes shuts off the upper parts of the nervous system. The executive deciding leadership parts are not as much involved because one is dealing with perceived danger. We call it stress but we used to be in the jungle and it used to be danger. You have to either run or you have to fight.
Therefore, the nervous system has that capacity to kind of focus attention on a specific situation and leads to reactions in the nervous system where the upper parts of the nervous system are not involved and not called upon. That leads to a narrow perspective where consciousness itself is narrowed to attend to the situation at hand and we lose the broad perspective. We lose situational awareness. We lose a vision of the wholeness. Therefore, consciousness can be narrow. It can be wide. It can be open. In its most rested state, if it is there and awake, it has the broadest possible perception. As leaders, we want to be able to have the maximum number of variables involved in any situation so that we can make a decision based on informed knowledge, not just on reaction on a moment per moment basis. Globally, that was the kind of basic idea.
It’s interesting because consciousness is a word that we use without striving to understand what it means. For a lot of people, consciousness is a kind of an on-off switch. Either I’m conscious or I’m not. If I’m conscious, that means I’m alive, and that’s good. If I’m not, I’m either asleep, I drank too much, or I’m so stressed out that I’m completely unaware of my environment. What you’re saying is that there’s much more to it than simply a binary definition of on or off?
Exactly. The question is, what are you conscious of? Consciousness as a platform of awareness has content and its content depends on the container of consciousness. It’s like a small glass you can put so much water. It can be full but its fullness is just limited. A little pond has more water and the ocean has a huge amount of possibilities and huge amounts of water in that case but if it is consciousness, you can have a small amount. You can have a bigger amount. You can have a truly unbounded amount of knowledge from a very profound level of being.
If you are making a decision in the stock market, for example, and you only react to some changes here and there that you don’t know better, then you are limited and the possibilities of choosing the right thing to invest in but suppose you know a successful company, that the management is solid. You know they have good projects and that society is requiring these products that the company is going to produce. You know what is the future because you have a vision of society and its progress and its growth. Therefore, you have a broad understanding and open awareness, which is capable of holding on or understanding all these factors, then naturally, you will make the best decision and certainly better than a narrow, moment-to-moment reaction to one element or the other.
Consciousness has a dimension. You can see it on a simple experience level. When you wake up tired, you haven’t had a good night’s sleep, you are taken around by situations and circumstances. If a small thing appears like a big mountain and you are overwhelmed by situations and you feel things don’t work, you have obstacles, etc. If you are well rested, had a great night’s sleep, had good food, good exercise, good sunshine, and you feel clear and calm, you automatically are able to resolve issues and take care of situations that are much bigger than even before but you can handle them because you are bigger. We can be bigger and bigger in our awareness.
The expansion of self and how we perceive ourselves, that container that you’re talking about. What I’m gathering from what you’re saying is, if you compare the glass of water to an ocean, for example, and I’m experiencing life, it feels like I’m experiencing life as a glass. That doesn’t mean that I’m locked in that glass forever, that I can expand it and achieve more of that ocean quality. What I tend to hear in the business world is more so than the word consciousness, it’s the word mindfulness that has become popular in recent years. I’m going to say over the last decade, in particular.
You’re starting to see it pop up in corporate mindfulness programs and is a wonderful thing to see. Let me just read how you prefaced this idea of being mindful and I want to compare it to what you’re saying in terms of consciousness. You said, “We are bombarded by information and expectations from the environment, including family, friends, work, media, and being under pressure from stress and worry. The mind might begin to focus on less desirable aspects of life, fleeting, insignificant, and non-evolutionary, which are contrary to the intent of being ‘mindful.’ The mind would then jump aimlessly from one thought to another, getting tossed around like a boat, on the surface of a stormy ocean, unable to settle down and fully experience what life offers.”
“In these cases, the moments of experience, the bits of consciousness are not as clear, as purposeful, and as fulfilling as they can be.” We’re told that because we live in this constant bombardment, like you said, that we lose our ability to be present. For example, something as simple as an attentive listener to each other and to our constituents. That’s how most of us think of mindfulness. My mind is focused right here with you right now. Is there a distinction between that and how you’re talking about consciousness?
Mindfulness is about the mind being full of something and able to not be tossed around. This is beautifully expressed and explained as you did it and this is the ocean. Let’s say the mind is like an ocean and if you are on the surface of that ocean and it’s a stormy ocean, naturally, you will be sent around like a boat being tossed around by situations, by circumstances, by information, etc. One technique to help be able to be focused on aspects or project has been recently promoted as mindfulness. Where you allow the mind to start being aware on a simple level of the breathing or your own thoughts and try to take a distance from it in a non-judgmental way.
This is called technically open monitoring or in some cases, contemplation. You contemplate, you look at things from that level. The consciousness is something deeper than that. It’s the platform on which the information happens, it’s your inner being and if we compare it to the ocean, it is the depths of the ocean, not the surface level of the ocean. The surface level of the ocean is where you become aware of thoughts and if thoughts are like a bubble coming from the deep depths or quietness of the ocean, and grow up and come to the surface, then the bubble then comes on the surface and you see something and you experienced a thought.
Where does this come from? The actual source of the intelligence of the creativity of the awareness of the bubble, which is specific awareness of a specific event or a specific thought, comes from a deeper level, which is the depths of the ocean. The ocean is not just awareness of individual content or being mindful of individual aspects but broadening as we started by saying the container of knowledge, which means gaining the depths of the ocean.
That is where the technique that you have been doing more than me even, Transcendental Meditation comes as an experience of the self, going deep within. Diving deep, without trying to be mindful of something. One naturally dives within through this technique and experiences the depths of the ocean and the source of where this is coming from. You will be able to be mindful in a spontaneous way, in a natural way, without having to manipulate or force the mind to be mindful or directing the mind to be mindful. The mind will go to that which is most attractive, most evolutionary, most fulfilling. It’s like sitting at the bottom of the ocean and you can watch the entire vista, the entire scenery of all the waves, and actually create the waves that you want that are most supportive, most positive because you are the ocean.When you have broad comprehension or situational awareness, you're not stuck by one thing but you're able to see the wholeness of reality. Click To Tweet
There is a difference between transcending which means actually going beyond the attempt to be mindful and naturally become aware of oneself, which is the bottom of the ocean. That broadening the awareness gives the capacity spontaneously to be mindful, because stressors are released, trends are going, the mind is easy. That’s where you have what we call broad comprehension or situational awareness, which means you’re not stuck by one thing but you’re able to see the wholeness of reality. You see different perspectives that otherwise can be hidden because you’re forcing the mind to be mindful of some small things here and there. Mindfulness definitely is helpful but there is a dimension which brings mindfulness in a spontaneous way that is quite profound through transcending.
There’s an enormous body of research on the impact of meditation on the brain and the physiology and that’s something that you have been deeply involved in for a long time, but that’s not where it all started out for you. If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like you to rewind your own tape for a little bit and tell us your story starting back in your home country of Lebanon.
My story starts like everybody at school and a family and we have questions and we learn things from others. We imitate others. We hear what they are saying. We believe everything that is being said or some of it. We then evolved during our teenage years and started asking bigger questions. We then start going through life. I started like everybody. I didn’t revolve much, happily for me, but I believed in something grand and big, and I wanted to see how it can be achieved. I was hoping to achieve that through the study of medicine which helps me to help others make a meaningful life. That was my vocation. Everyone has their vocation in their life.
I was trusting life and trusting that everything comes, in fact, from the development of the mind and body. I was looking to develop those but I had great ideas and feelings of supreme justice and supreme beauty and all that which are still there but I had to go through a process that led me to question all these things, where they come from and how they evolve because I faced the Civil War. As soon as I started my pre-medical studies and the American University of Beirut, Civil War was there and it led to huge suffering and huge complications.
Everything was simply simple and nice and then suddenly, there were these based on belief, based on something which should be the ideal of life but also because of social differences, ideologies, political thinking, economic thought. All of that came together to make people fight each other and there is so much suffering there. At the same time, I had started transcendental meditation, which helped me to settle within and be able to face all these things and continue my medical studies but open to my awareness something profound.
I went through all this, studied it, and kept hoping to understand human physiology and mind to see why people do what they do from a physical perspective. I went on to more research, Psychiatry, and Neurology and brain science, brain research to try to understand this. Ultimately, I discovered that these are fabulous and they give huge things to society but there is a way to approach the mind and the body which is more holistic, more complete. That is from the level of consciousness, from the level of awareness.
The technologies of awareness of consciousness are the other side of the coin, there is the physical and there is the mental side, you can change the mental through the physical. Change the physical through the mental. If you take drugs, you can influence your mind but it disturbs the functioning of the nervous system. There is this ancient technology such as Transcendental Meditation that helped to settle the mind and have profound effects on physiology. There are hundreds of scientific research studies that have shown the positive, beneficial effects on the body. I saw this simple, zero side effect technique and so universal.
To keep my chronology right, did you learn TM while you were still in Beirut?
While that Civil War was going on, you’re studying to be a doctor, and you’re surrounded by suffering in this chaos, that’s when you started TM?
Did it have an impact on your ability to deal?
Absolutely. That was the strength that it has. It gave me a platform of stability within myself so that I can continue my studies. The ability to focus more, study more effectively and deal with the situations that were hard because going through the emergency room and seeing these things, it’s not easy. Human suffering, in particular my vocation, was to remove human suffering. To be a doctor and help others and then see these young people, these children, these families, these people come into the emergency room, the sirens, ambulance noises, and all of that, it’s quite something.
It’s quite something to be in a war where even walking on the street is dangerous for you. I had occasions where bombs blew around me and then I had to carry people in these situations and take them to the emergency room myself when I was going from the hospital to the dormitory where I was staying. I had friends that were damaged. I had my father, who had a big issue. All of this, I felt like I had that stability within that helped me to help others, to be out for others so that it was not something where I escaped. That is something which is important.
It’s not that you’re escaping, and you’re feeling good yourself, and so you’re not getting off for others. If you are strong, if you are happy, if you are stable, then you can give strength and happiness, and stability to others. I felt this responsibility towards myself, even in my vocation, to be able to give and help others on the outside. We have to start by accepting that we need to be stable, strong, clear, and healthy in order to help others if that is our vocation, or in order to create a good business, or lead the society or leader of a company. It’s important that the leader be stable within themselves.
In some ways is a matter of degree. Being in a literal life-or-death, war-torn situation is not entirely analogous to running a business because the stakes are different but yet there are parallels. There are similarities. It’s that ability to have that calmness and that stability in the face of chaos. Sometimes business danger, as in losing a customer or facing an economic downturn, even though it’s not the same kind of danger as a bomb going off, our brain, on some level, still interprets it that way.
It’s like being on some level being in a war zone and honestly, I’ve never been a fan of military metaphors to describe business. “We’re going to kill the competition, and we’re going to blow them up.“ I always felt that gave the wrong tenor of what business ought to be. After all, my body of work is about love as a business principle but having said that, on a physiological level, we’ve all had those days where at the end of the day, it feels like we’ve been through a warzone.
This is the interpretation because our physiology, our nervous system have grown up in certain conditions. In my book, I discussed how physiology comes about but irrespective, we’ve been in the jungle. Therefore, the risks were different but then it was transitioned. The interpretation has been like, anytime you have stress or you hear a noise even, or you fear for some loss, the loss of business or loss of a customer or loss of something. It looks like a small thing but the nervous system is geared to react to it in a way that reduces the blood flow to the upper parts of the nervous system and the frontal part of the nervous system. If one is not stable within and send them to the central parts, the limbic system and the defense mechanisms and the amygdala, even under situation where you hear a noise or you hear this, of course, that happens if you are tired more than if you are rested. When you are rested, you are still open.
This research on meditation has shown that the blood flow comes back to the nervous system’s higher parts to the frontal cortex, which is the executive part of the nervous system. Therefore, it gives you the ability to see things from a much more profound and clear perspective and that has an impact on your entire nervous access, which leads from the nervous system to the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which control the endocrine system. It controls the secretion of the hormones, and then controls the immune system. It leads to physical real changes that can be damaging, can be restrictive, and can imbalance the physiology. It is in a way a war zone, where the bomb is thrown from some imaginary thing in a sense. Imagine the loss of a customer, it’s not imaginary, but imagine in the sense of the damage and the scope of it is not the same, yet, the nervous syst
If you are strong, happy, or stable, then you can give strength, happiness, and stability to others. Click To Tweetem reacts in a similar way. It leads to damage in the physiology and the mind, and the ability to deal with the situation in the best possible way.
That brought you ultimately to the States where you studied at Harvard and at MIT and you got involved more in the TM organization because you were so drawn to it. This is the short version of the story, obviously, but fast forward now, you were chosen, designated, delegated. You were given the reins of the organization. I’d like to build on that a little bit and hear about your experience in leading a multinational organization, but how did it come about, to begin with?
It came about through apprenticeship first. Spending a lot of time with the founder of the organization and learning from his vision and being around him. Apprenticeship means, as all leaders know, you learn by copying, by imitating, and by following the way the leader of the organization at that time is leading and is doing and learning also about different aspects. I have had to deal with many projects and education, even in business and industry, dealing with leaders around the world, going through research and science, and writing and composing in many aspects of the organization first.
Go deep into the knowledge from which the meditation comes, which means the ancient system of yoga and Veda, understanding the reality from this perspective and doing research on it. Comparing mind to body, physical to nonphysical, material to non-material. This research was a project, for example, that was important for Maharishi, who is the founder, and that is the connection between mind and body, between consciousness and physiology, between intelligence and matter. This was a research that took me several years actually to complete and it connected the ancient knowledge to modern knowledge, and brings a common denominator, holistic value that connects all these aspects in life.
I think because of all of this and the knowledge from science and Maharishi, one thing is for knowledge to be presented in a scientific way because it has to do with mind and consciousness. It can sometimes be seen as spiritual and the sense of nonphysical, etc. People maybe even think that it’s a belief system or you have to adopt some religion or all of that, but he wanted to be a technology of consciousness, a technology of the mind, a technology which means something you can apply in a systematic way. If you do it in a systematic way, you get the expected results. It is repeatable, it is reliable, it always produces the results and that is the scientific methodology.
Bridging East and West, matter and mind was my specialty. Having had a scientific background and knowledge plus spending time in apprenticeship and learning about the whole thing led to this request, let’s call it. At the beginning, I said, “It’s too much. I don’t think I’m ready.” “Maybe I’m not the right person.” There was an insistence and I felt honored and accepted to be with others as part of this. The second part of your question, if I may repeat it, is how do you do it?
Before we get there, I want to make sure that we don’t miss it. When you were presented with that opportunity, your initial response was not, “Thanks.”
No, it wasn’t. I’m a scientist by heart. I’m a researcher. Researchers and scientists usually work in the lab and a cave. All they want is to find truth and to find laws of nature and understand that. They like to lecture, write, and all of that, but to lead an organization where there were many capable people and administrators who have been there for so many years, I felt maybe others can do it. It’s beautiful and a great honor, but I wanted to first refuse and make sure it is truly a consistent request. I refuse politely and respectfully.
This is a significant point. It may not seem that way to you because you are, by nature, a humble person. What you’re telling us is, you came up through this world-famous organization. TM has been part of our culture for a long time. Ever since the Beatles, those early days. Here you were given this opportunity to lead that organization but that was not your intent. That’s the key. It wasn’t like, “What do I have to do here to prove that I’m worthy of running this place.” It was doing what you loved in service of the people around you and in the service of the world.
What happened as a natural result of that is you had that rare combination of doing that work, but also the equality that said, “This is a person that could lead this organization.” Not by any engineering on your part. That’s significant because a lot of people you know, a lot of people in any organization in the world, I’m sure it happens in nonprofits like the TM organization, it happens in for-profit all the time, where people get starry-eyed ambition. Everything is about, “What do I have to do to run this place someday?“
This is a wonderful and enlightened explanation on your part, Steve. It’s wonderful. It has a truce, but if you want to generalize it to leaders and to actors in any field, actors meaning those who act and do things, not actors and cinema or movies necessarily. Doers, actors, transformational leaders, and all of that, you focus on the action. You have a great goal and focus fully your heart on the action itself. The results come based on the deservability of yourself or the others and you don’t spend your energy on being attached to the ultimate goal. When you’re acting, you have to be present with the action and in the field, so you have to give it your heart. That’s a beautiful title. I’m sorry that I didn’t read your book, but I will be reading it soon.
I can get you a copy. I know somebody who can get you one.
I’ll get one. It’s okay. I like to contribute that much. Love is a good business. Love means you’re giving. Love can be like a child’s love which is taking. It can be an adolescent love which is sharing, and it can be a true adult mature love which is giving. That is the ultimate value of love. Love is giving and when you give, you give and give generously. Think big, give big, give to your company, and give to your people. No question. That will be appreciated and that will be the way one and up in a position of leadership in an effective way. That leadership, as you say, and I read this note also from you, it’s beautiful, “It’s not being the leader of a company, it’s also making changes in society and moments that you can help somebody smile or help somebody get out of their problem,” that is fulfilling. That is where true leadership is, ultimately. The goal, the outcome will come there.
There is a saying and the ancient wisdom that the doer is able to control the action but cannot necessarily always control the results of the action. Focus on the action that you’re doing, do it the best way that’s possible and the result is not within our control. The result is based on your actions but there must be some things from the environment, the past, and the future, reasons why things don’t come out the way maybe you thought they should come out. At least your action is given its full value rather than you thinking, “I’m acting because of something I want to achieve,” and you’re not getting the action, it’s deserving attention. It’s what it deserves to get. Your half mind is on the goal and half on the action so neither the goal is fully there nor the action is fully there. Steve, I’m impressed you beautifully explained it.
Thank you, if I could be so presumptuous as to quote myself, “Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do.” That’s the core of what I’ve been advocating for and teaching for a long time. To build on what you said, Tony, it’s not, “Do what you love in order to get the result that you want.” It’s, “Do what you love in the service of people.” If you do that, which you are a beautiful model of in your entire career, what happens naturally is reciprocity.
The love comes back. It may not be in the way that you had initially thought it would but it does come back and, in some way, or another and we respond to leaders like that. We respond to leaders who we know are true servant leaders. Servant leadership is a phrase that’s been around for a long time. We will gravitate towards leaders who live in service of us, which is different from how some people or many people are trained to think about leadership, which means, “I’m in a position of authority and you’ll do what I tell you to do because I’m the boss.” It’s different from you’ll want to do whatever you can because you’re committed to this because the love is there.
If I could be so presumptuous as to quote you, if I may, this is also from your book. You said it this way, “Love is a force that links, binds, and puts together similar, as well as dissimilar and even potentially contradictory things, values, ideas, and people.” Talk a little bit about that because we tend to think of love as building love in a team or building loving a business. Everybody’s happy all the time, nobody ever argues and disagrees. That’s what love is. That’s not what you’re saying. You’re saying that love is something that operates even when those differences and conflicts are there or even especially when they’re there. Talk a little bit about that if you would.
It brings me back to Maharshi’s teaching and the way he organized the administration and the way he wanted it to be. He used to say it’s a parental role. Same as a parent who cares for those who are under their tutelage or nourishment, children can be different. They can be different from you. A child can kick you and can say, “I don’t want you.” “I don’t love you.” “Go away.” You are the parent, you have to say, “Okay. It’s fine. I’m here to love you, nourish you, give you, and see you grow.” That means the perception is different. The leader has to have a broad awareness and comprehension.
The leader has to be able to love from the power of being able to love where one is established in oneself, one is strong, and one then can have their love not be disrupted by differences and difficulties which are part of the beauty of life. The beauty of life is to be so varied and one can take from different, even opposing and contradictory values, a powerful evolution, rather than powerful clashing and damaging each other and fighting.
There are reasons why people want something and others want something else. If one can find the dynamics that allow both to contribute to something bigger than each of them because of this power of force and evolution that is there, it’s asking for something new or bigger than the individual components. That is ultimately this binding power of love that puts together extreme opposites of the universe of life and living. This is true.
It’s a bit of an understatement to say we live in a time that seems to be characterized by those differences versus the unity underneath it. I suppose that’s true in every age. We have examples of that, and it gives us something to work towards. In the TM Organization, because of its international scope, I would imagine that you have all kinds of differences. Just so that people are clear, TM is not a religion or belief system. It’s a methodology that’s rooted in ancient Indian tradition and all of that but not in a religious way. Therefore, my point is, you have people in the TM Organization, from all different religions, all different parts of the world, all different political points of view, who come together under one roof, so to speak, metaphorically speaking. Does that present any challenges from a leadership perspective for you?
Not at all. They are all free thinkers, free deciders, people who go to church, the temple, the synagogue, the mosque, and that is fine. It’s the diversity of life and belief in the different ways one deals with one’s life, religion, worldview, and ideas. There are people who are totally agnostic, atheist, or whatever but they all know they have consciousness. They all know that consciousness can be clouded and can be clear. When the consciousness is clouded like having colored glasses, you see things through that one color, it’s fine. You have a yellow color. You know you have a color that is yellow and somebody else has red glasses and they see red. That’s fine.To create a good business or lead the society, it's important that the leader be stable within themselves. Click To Tweet
As long as that underlying this reality of the filter, there is the reality of being, awareness, and consciousness, which we all have and is the source of all the expressions on the surface level. This is a statement that is complicated to explain maybe in two words. This is one of the basic paradigm shifts that are needed to understand the full value of the emergence of life, its purpose, and the relationship between different components of diversity, coming from one unity. As you probably know, we often use this example of the same sap that produces the branches of the tree, the flower, the petal, the fruit, the leaves, and the trunk.
They come from the same field from the same nourishment, the same sap. They appear differently, some can be rough, some can be smooth, but ultimately, that is that one unbounded ocean of being and consciousness that is the common denominator. If our attention is on that level, then we see the differences as expressions of the richness of life. We can use them to build something beautiful and use differences as a power of progress and evolution rather than a cause for struggle, strain, and fighting. Establishing awareness, then we have these possibilities.
People in our organization have this deep understanding not only on an intellectual level but mainly on an experiential level because that is the main key. Intellectually, we can discuss all of this and it sounds nice, but you come out and you see something else you forget about it but if you experience it and establish it within you, then it stays with you. This is how you are more solid in front of change, challenges and differences because you’re well established in the self, and ultimately, ourselves, myself, and yourself, are one and the same thing.
I noticed that the title of your book is not An Unbounded Ocean of Consciousness, but One Unbounded Ocean of Consciousness. It’s a massively important concept but we’re not talking about a concept. That’s where it gets tricky because it’s interesting and it is a good exercise for the mind to get into the definitions, the distinctions, and all that and to say, “Is it possible to have differences and unity at the same time? Is it possible to appreciate different points of view, but at the same time, understand that we’re all one?” That sounds philosophical. What you’re saying is the philosophical element of that, which is fascinating.
On Amazon, your book, I noticed and these things change all the time, but when I looked at it on Amazon, it was ranked number one in the category of Existential Philosophy. I thought, “Talk about how to miss the point.” My point is that once there’s an experience of quieting down, which TM and there are other techniques that do similar things, but I’ll speak from my own experience. Help me if I’m not saying this right. The methodology part and the technology part of it is a simple way for the mind to get quiet. When the mind gets quiet, you get an experience of That, that oneness a thing, not as a focus of divinity, it’s an awareness. More and more over time that it comes out. You see it pretty much everywhere.
From my own experience, I’m not going to pretend that I don’t get triggered by differences, particularly in the political world that we live in. There are times where I lose sight of myself in certain conversations about certain things but at the same time, I can say from my own experience, I have an underlying sense that we’re connected. It sounds corny and it sounds cliché but it’s a physiological thing on some level. I hope I didn’t massacre all that.
No, you’re wonderful. You’re exactly there. The same sap nourishes the entire tree and it becomes the different parts and the same experience of transcending, which is going beyond the surface value of changing thoughts and ideas into a field of pure awareness, which means consciousness is conscious of itself alone is something that brings the unity quality in the field of diversity on an experiential level. One might think, “This is subjective, and therefore, it’s not something palpable on a surface level. You cannot study it.” You can study its effects which are fantastic, but how can you measure it itself? You have to count on the experience of the individual. On the experience, it’s there, you can say, but it’s still subjective.
You say there is matter and differences in the material life. This is the question that scientists have been asking as time goes and as time has been. What is matter? Physical matter is made out of atoms. Atoms are anything. The body is made out of organs, organs are made out of tissues, tissues are made out of cells, cells are made out of molecules, molecules are made out of atoms. As scientists kept probing deep in nature, they found that even the atoms are made out of elementary particles and that the elementary particles are fluctuations of fields of energy. Energy and matter are equivalent and there are fields of energy field forces. The fields of forces are electricity, magnetism, weak force, strong force, gravity, and etc. They have been now more and more unified and therefore, we don’t have electricity and magnetism anymore. We have the field of electromagnetism.
We have the weak unification. We don’t need to go into this physics in great detail but suffice to say that many Nobel Prizes have been given to scientists to have discovered that all that there is in the universe comes from more and more unified fields. Ultimately, glimpsing and postulating a unified field of all the laws of nature, which means, the scientists are looking and they postulate that there is one field that as it starts expressing itself on the surface, it differentiates itself or it appears on the surface as electricity, magnetism, weak force, gravity, or etc. These as they fluctuate daily to particles. When particles come together, they create atoms. When atoms come together, they create molecules, cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, and a human being, a tree, an animal, or a planet.
All come from that one unified field of all the laws of nature. This idea is not crazy. It’s no more can be seen as crazy that there is a unified field of life. It’s science, physics, and it’s understanding the limits of the outer, the edge of knowledge, in terms of where it is going. From an objective scientific perspective, it leads us to that one field. From a subjective individual perspective, transcending going through the deeper value of oneself, we find that one unbounded ocean of consciousness. One ocean of pure being, of pure existence without any reverberations, thoughts, or fluctuations. If you put these two together, it’s a small step, but a big step, then you can tell and you can see that this is not a crazy idea.
To the contrary, it explains so many things that are not explainable from any other perception. Where is consciousness coming from? There’s law, order, freedom, suffering, pain, and all the other aspects that have not yet been fully elaborated in a complete way be it in philosophy or in science can now be put together and understood in a holistic paradigm, holistic framework in a logical scientific way because it follows deductions and analysis and also no contradiction through knowledge that we have now and resolving many problems. In science, there is a saying, “When a theory starts explaining many facets of life, findings, and observations, and at the same time, it does not contradict any observation, then it is most likely to be in the direction, if not the ultimate truth.”
I put everything that I do in my work through a translation filter. I’m thinking about this from the so-called typical businessperson, if there is such a thing, perspective. It’s like, “I get it. We’re an electromagnetic unified field. I get it.” The fact of the matter is, when I drive into that brick wall at 25 miles an hour, the airbags are still going to go off. A lot good that does me when I’m running into a brick wall or whatever that looks like. It’s a completely pragmatic practical level, it’s not to say that this discussion is impractical but to say, “What do I gain from that?” The thing is, that consciousness, tell me if I’m wrong, is going to make it less likely that you drive into that brick wall, to begin with.
Exactly. That’s going to be my answer if you had asked me the question. It’s going to make sure you don’t drive into the brick wall because you have awareness. If you drive into a brick wall, it’s because you don’t have awareness. Your awareness is somewhere else. It’s divided, it’s tired, and you make the wrong decisions. It’s a beautiful example. It’s wonderful.
As we bring this in for a landing, I told you before we started that we could do this for hours and hours or at least I could. I do want to start to wrap this up. Let’s start wrapping this up with a thought that occurred to me. You’re running a huge organization that’s culturally, geographically, economically, and politically diverse. Your life path prepared you for it and seems to me. Born in Lebanon, growing up through a fifteen-year Civil War, being educated in the States, becoming a scholar in Ancient Vedic or Indian Tradition. I grew up in Chicago and I live in California. That’s pretty much all I’ve got. That life experience that you had in retrospect, you can see if it’s a happy set of circumstances that ended up that way. It doesn’t matter.
You seem to be beautifully prepared for this incredible mission that you’ve taken on with the great good that you can bring to the world. The other thought that I’d like to share with folks is, TM has become part of our popular culture for a long time but it has experienced a resurgence a lot because of David Lynch, the David Lynch Foundation. He’s brought all these celebrities out of the woodwork who are long time TMers like Jerry Seinfeld, Howard Stern, David Lynch himself, Paul McCartney, Katy Perry, Russell Brand, and all these people. I’m curious, has that had an impact for getting the word out and teaching people TM and creating an interest? How does that play into the current end state and in the future state of your organization?
We are grateful for all these successful people who want to share what they know is good for themselves. They have no interest and a personal level, it’s all done in a completely generous way and a completely giving way because when you experience something good, you want to share it with others. We’re grateful for them. There has always been also scientific interest and many scientific research studies have been done on veterans on PTSD, on the effects even on social indicators.
There has been growth and what we call collective awareness and collective consciousness. We see people have had clues about their diet, about exercise, and all of that. They also are interested more in their mind and their development on the consciousness level, on the spiritual level. There has been a resurgence and interest in mindfulness, yoga, and seeking something more than day-to-day living gives and the ability to develop one’s awareness. There have been these transformational leaders and many people in society, who are now guiding and leading through the internet, which has been an amazing tool to communicate with people in the woods.
Also, regular people, not only celebrities, everybody, me, others and all of that here and there, great people yourself, writers and thinkers are interested in something more. They see the value of the mind and consciousness because after all the body works, but how do we make our decisions? What is the guiding principle? It’s something that happens in the mind. The mind guides the physiology to act and to think. If you want to create a company, you have to write, read, and send things, but it’s your creativity, your intelligence that does it.
These are instruments on the outer value and the origin is happening within consciousness, awareness, understanding, vision, creativity, and intelligence. This has a non-material dimension and people are looking to develop that value in their life for their happiness and success. They have the results and they share them with others. It’s almost like word of mouth. Thanks to great people who have experienced this and who want to share what is good with others, like yourself, and on other occasions, sharing this knowledge and thinking about it are the ways that helped from many angles.
Thank you. I encourage and encourage everybody to read Dr. Nader’s book, One Unbounded Ocean of Consciousness: Simple Answers to the Big Questions in Life. I’ve done a power read of it. I haven’t had the time yet to savor it. A book called One Unbounded Ocean of Consciousness is bound to be pretty deep. One would hope it is and it is. I encourage you to read it and take your time with it because it’s going to get you thinking about your life in ways that you likely may not have done before. It’s a beautiful, inspiring read and very practical. Dr. Nader, thank you so much for spending this time with us and to all of my friends and readers. Until next time, do what you love in the service of people who love what you do.
Beautiful. Thank you so much.
- Dr. Tony Nader
- One Unbounded Ocean of Consciousness
- David Lynch Foundation
About Dr. Tony Nader
Tony Nader, MD., Ph.D., directs the international organizations that teach the Transcendental Meditation program in over 100 countries and is the definitive authority on the TM technique.
Dr. Nader is a medical doctor trained at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D. in neuroscience). He was a Clinical and Research Fellow in Neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School; and the Assistant Director of the MIT Clinical Research Center. He has conducted research in neurochemistry and neuroendocrinology; the relationship between diet, age, behavior, mood, seasonal influences, and hormonal activity; and the role of neurotransmitter precursors in medicine. As founder and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Mathematics and Consciousness, Dr. Nader also offered a mathematical model for how the multiplicity of matter arises from a fundamental “singularity” of Transcendental Consciousness.
For decades, Dr. Nader worked closely with TM Founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the science of consciousness, which integrates modern research with the broad-based areas of knowledge stemming from the ancient Vedic tradition, including landmark studies in peer-reviewed journals establishing Transcendental Consciousness as a fourth major state of consciousness and expanding the scientific understanding of enlightenment.
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