Nothing lasts forever, except forever. That’s the good news. It’s a good thing that nothing lasts forever because things would get terribly boring. Even now they tell us they can recycle plastic. Plastic, while it may last forever in a certain sense, can change forms at least, because otherwise it would be terrible if Tupperware lasted forever. I don’t know, it would be tough!

Nothing lasts forever. Everything is transient. Sri Krishna refers, of course, to this world as a joyless, transient world. Obviously he’s never been to Disneyland. Disneyland may be transient but it’s lots of fun. But we all know what he means. He means that it’s a little heavy here sometimes, inside our minds. It gets heavy sometimes, inside our minds. Everything is transient. By that we mean that we are transient. Not the objects of the world—that’s apparent. But we’re transient. As beings, the self that you now have does not last. Even if it could endure a whole lifetime, it ends at death and you will never be this person or this being again. That’s the good news. Because otherwise it would get terribly boring, to just continually be who we’ve been—because we’d always see life and ourselves in about the same way.

How interesting it is when you’re clairvoyant. Because you can look into people’s minds and see how they see life, and you see that everybody sees life totally differently. They all think that everybody else sees life basically the way they do, but there’s a different film being made in every mind. And of course, the star of the film is the mind, the personality, the self.

Everything is transient and it’s a good thing, as I said. I celebrate the transient constantly. I don’t find that sorrowful in any way. I don’t see anything sorrowful about death. I don’t see suffering as sorrowful; it’s unpleasant, but it’s not sorrowful. The only thing that creates sorrow is attachment to the transient, which is like betting on a horse that you know is going to lose—doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Since you know that everything is transient, it just makes absolutely no sense to be sorry about anything, even ourselves. Mostly ourselves. The good news is that we don’t last. Thank heavens! Because to continue the drama of who you are is boring, ultimately. The universe is our friend because it kills us, and that’s what friends are for. (Audience laughs.)

Now again, the universe gives us a new self, a new life. We get a new movie to make, we’re on to another location, on with the show. Knowing this, we’re kind of ahead of the game. You see, most people don’t realize that everything is transient and they don’t realize that they’re going to be making another movie, so they cling to the movie they’re in; they never want it to end, even if it’s a terribly boring, old stodgy movie. They cling to it.

A famous actress died today. Do you know who died today? (Audience responds.) Who? Greta Garbo. And she is famous for saying? “I want to be alone.” Yes, meaning get lost, don’t bother me. And true to her statement, for the remaining years of her life she lived a very reclusive life, as many aging film stars do. Sometimes they do it because they’re vain. I don’t know if that was the case for her or not. But sometimes a film star is very good-looking, very handsome, very beautiful, and that’s why they’re a film star. And then they get old, and everybody doesn’t age real gracefully, I guess. Except for Sean Connery. He’s the only man I know who, the older he gets, the better looking he is. There’s just no question about it, with or without the toupee.

But some film stars, as they get older, they don’t look so beautiful. And since their whole life was built on their beauty and that was their power, then what they do with the money they make is they wall themselves off. They never see anybody except maybe another old, decrepit film star who’s done the same thing. Meaning, they don’t want anybody to see them. They’re ashamed, they’re embarrassed because they were once so beautiful, and now they’re wrinkled and shrunken—the things that happen to the human body with age. And their identity—they were the femme fatale, he was the most handsome man—and now they’re just old and they look like human bodies do when they get old. Old.

But they don’t want the film to end. They still want to be that young, bright, vivacious, everybody turns their eye when they walk into the room—“Oh, there’s the famous so-and-so.” You see? So they hide themselves away because they’re so embarrassed by the way they look. They want the film to go on. Even though it’s ended, they’re still sitting in the screening room, hoping that it might run again. But it’s transient. Everything is transient. If their egos weren’t quite so big, then they could feel perfectly good being who they are, but I guess it comes with the world of film—sometimes, not all the time. And then there’s Sean Connery. He’s figured out how to be immortal. Exactly.

So occultists know this and it places us ahead of the game. Therefore we don’t get upset by things, or if we do, we don’t mind because we know that that’s just a part of ourselves, and that part is transient. Everything is transient. It gives you a tremendous freedom to understand this because you can just change your life, you can just go do things. Since you’re going to die anyway, and you know that and it could happen at any given moment, why not go do whatever it is you’re in the mood to do? Because you are going to die. And to postpone anything is ridiculous, if it’s important to you. It’s just an absurd way to live. You’ve just got to go do what you want to do, whatever it may be. Because you are going to die, and if you don’t do it now, you may never do it.

Now, there’s an argument that well, it really doesn’t matter once you’re dead. It really doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t do. Those people don’t know about reincarnation. It does matter what you do. If the things you do have power, you can take that power with you; it goes with you into your next life. So if you have a boring, insipid, mouse-like life where you’re just afraid to be or do anything, then you don’t bring much with you into your next life. You don’t bring much power. You get off to kind of a tough start. Whereas if you actualize your life and you live fully at every moment, then you bring the power from that type of life, you accrue an inner power that does go with you.

Money may not travel with you, possessions may not, but power, who you are, does. The personality comes and goes but the power, the energy field that’s deeper, that is immortal, that is the part of us that exists forever—that travels. And it has fields around it if you could see them, auras that come from past lives. It’s like a report card. It follows you. And while we do get a new slate in each life, the place, the location, and the way it starts off are from the last life.

Meditation is different. It has nothing to do with reincarnation. Meditation is when we go beyond incarnation, beyond all cycles, to immortality, to something that is not transient, to that which is eternal. When we meditate we stop our thought. When your thought stops, the mind is perfect. There is no transience. No thought, no transience. That’s what is eternal—when there is no thought, no sense of self and no impressions. That’s eternity—what you feel, that reality that you are. That’s eternal. That’s beyond transience. That’s what we really are, of course. Yet, surprise—we get to have two bodies, a transient body and an eternal body. We forget about the eternal body when we’re real caught up in the transient body, and things appear very frightening from the transient body’s point of view because it knows it’s going to die, it knows it’s going to dissolve and it’s afraid of that. But if we switch to the eternal body, if we bring up and wake up our eternal awareness, then there’s nothing very frightening about being transient because we realize it’s only a part of us that is transient.

We get rid of the old clothes and we get new clothes. But the body remains. We change from one lifetime to another. The body goes, the personality goes, but that which is us is forever. It’s unchanging, meaning that which you experience when there’s no thought in meditation. That’s the eternal self. I don’t know if it’s a “self,” but it’s eternal. That’s forever and we are that. That’s what we are. We can’t really say that we are the transient part. I mean for a short time, sure. For a little while I’m a body, I’m a mind, I’m a personality, I’m a fear, I’m a desire, I’m an anguish, I’m a love, I’m a hate, I’m a dispassion. Whatever it is that we’re experiencing at any given moment, whoever is doing the experiencing at any given moment, well, that’s who we are for a short time, as short as a moment or as short as a lifetime. But that’s not really who we are. I mean we can’t really just be who we are for a moment. That’s more like a place we pass through; it’s a location.

We’re travelers, we’re mental travelers. We’re a mind in time and space. When we drive through an area, we don’t say that we’re the area. We’re the one who drives through. So I don’t really think we can say that we are who we experience at any given moment in any given lifetime, because we’re just driving through. We’re driving through moments. We’re driving through bodies, through selves. It helps to know this. The only way you can know it, really, is to meditate. When you meditate you stop thought. When there’s no thought, that’s eternity. That’s the eternal part. To conceptually know this is just another moment that you’re driving through. You’re driving through the moment when you knew this. Then you’ll forget it, and then you’ll experience the fear, the obsessions of a transient moment, mistaking it for reality. Whereas when you know that you’re driving through, you’re just passing through as the song says, then it doesn’t matter so much. It matters for a moment, just like driving through any place matters for the moment that you’re there. You’re there. But the confusion of self is that we are—we mistake ourselves for where we are. We are not the body. We’re not the personality. We’re eternity, which is passing through all this, all these wonderful forms that we see that we call life. We’re the formless. The formless.

If you’re meditating, you’re not experiencing the formless. If you’re not the formless, in meditation, you’re not meditating yet. You’re practicing concentration and learning to meditate. But only when you experience the formless are you really meditating. And again, you can’t experience the formless. That would imply that you, the transient part, is driving and for a moment you’re experiencing the eternal part, and you’re passing through it. Uh-uh. You’re not meditating yet. You’re learning how.

No, it’s only when you, the eternal part, are eternal and that’s all there is, that you’re meditating. There’s no thought, no sense of self. That’s meditation. Up until then you’re learning how. You can either meditate or you can’t meditate. You know, you can’t be a little bit pregnant. Right? So they say. You can’t meditate a little bit. You either meditate or you don’t. If you meditate, there’s only eternity. Then [later] you’re not meditating. Well, here we are in the transient again, experiencing a transient body, a transient world, a transient moment. And we forget about the eternal part. But the more we meditate, the less we forget about it. After a while, we have a kind of a dual awareness.

Enlightenment is a dual awareness where we’re aware of the eternal as the eternal. We’re aware of the transient as the transient, and something else that I couldn’t describe to you in words—the void. There are no words. Words don’t mean anything in the void—for the experiences that are beyond words, for the reality. Words are terrible traps. They’re pretty, but they’re terrible traps if we think that in any way they explain anything about reality. They just point us in lots of different directions simultaneously.

So then, when you practice meditation, know that you’re not meditating until there’s no thought, no sense of self and only eternity. Only eternity. Only eternity. And the more you try and make yourself stand out, the more you try and be noticed by others, that means the less adept you are in meditation. Because it just means that you’re clinging to the transient self and trying to glorify it. Well, the only one who does that is someone who doesn’t know anything about eternity, who really is mistaking the transient for the eternal.

The more you want to be noticed, that simply means the less you know about meditation. The people who know the most about meditation aren’t noticed. There’s no need to be noticed because they know they’re not the person, so why glorify that? You’re glorifying the transient; the transient is God, of course—and Goddess. The transient is perfection. It’s not less than the eternal, it’s a manifestation of the eternal. But you don’t bet on a losing horse—unless you’ve got tax problems, you know what I mean?

Discrimination, vivika, means you know the difference between the transient and the eternal. It doesn’t mean you know the difference. It means that you know that you are the eternal, and you are also the transient and you can tell the difference. That’s what discrimination means in Shankara’s yoga. That’s what he’s talking about. He’s talking about knowing the eternal. To discriminate doesn’t mean intellectually you’re going to say, “Oh yes, I understand, this is a transient idea, this is something that’s eternal.” That isn’t discrimination; those are ideas. Discrimination is the ability to meditate. Unless you can meditate, there can’t be discrimination because there’s only transience and transient ideas of the eternal. Only in meditation is there discrimination.

Meditation is discrimination, the absence of thought, the absence of self. No aggrandizement of the self, not making it big, not franchising it, just the purity and perfect, unbroken continuity of existence which has always been the same—eternal, non-transient. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t change and have different whatever-it’s-in-the-mood-fors. Sure it does. Who can say what it is and what it isn’t? No one can describe it. It’s just words. It’s fun to do, no reason not to. But in meditation alone is there discrimination. It is the discrimination. It is the eternal.

So learn to meditate. Learn to stop your thoughts. It’s not just a mental process that you do several times a day. It’s a whole way one leads one’s life, where we downplay the self, not with a false humility but with power—because we want to know the eternal.

We don’t have to hate the transient. We don’t have to dislike the fact that we are young or middle-aged or old, it doesn’t matter. It just rolls around forever like the seasons. Here it’s about to be spring. Winter has passed, finally. Shortly leaves will be everywhere, for six months. And then in six months, they’ll all go away and the “bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang,” as Shakespeare called them, the branches will dominate again. No leaves. But there are about to be leaves. We’re going to go from one condition to another. That’s life. In California they have palm trees. Palm trees have seasons too, they’re just not as obvious. Unless you’re an aficionado of palm trees, which I happen to be.