Feeling Lost? Watch This! with Dr. Srikumar Rao

In today’s illuminating episode, we welcome Dr. Srikumar Rao, a pioneering executive coach known for merging spiritual wisdom with practical guidance for high-achieving individuals. Dr. Rao’s profound insights into the nature of reality, success, and personal growth offer a refreshing perspective on how we can lead more fulfilling lives by altering our mental models and embracing spiritual principles.

Dr. Rao begins by discussing the true benefit of setting and striving towards goals. Contrary to popular belief, the real value lies not in the achievement itself but in the learning and growth that occur during the pursuit. He emphasizes, “The benefit is the learning and growth that happened in you and to you as you try your level best to achieve the goal.” This approach shifts the focus from external outcomes to internal development, encouraging us to see every effort as a step towards greater self-awareness and personal evolution.

Dr. Srikumar Rao delves into the concept of reality as a construct of our minds. Drawing parallels with ancient teachings and modern theories like simulation theory, he explains that the world we perceive is shaped by our mental chatter and models. This realization is liberating, as it means we have the power to deconstruct and rebuild our reality based on what serves us best. By understanding that we live in a self-created matrix, we can begin to change the aspects of our lives that do not work for us.


  1. Reality as a Construct: Dr. Rao’s insights remind us that our perception of the world is a mental construct. By changing our mental models, we can alter our experience of reality, leading to more positive and empowering outcomes.
  2. The Importance of Awareness: Cultivating awareness is crucial for personal growth. By becoming more mindful of our thoughts and actions, we can make conscious choices that align with our true desires and values.
  3. The Role of Surrender: Embracing the idea that we do not have control over external events can reduce stress and increase resilience. Instead of resisting what happens, we can learn to accept and work with it, trusting that the universe is ultimately friendly and supportive.

Dr. Rao also highlights the illusion of control, explaining that much of the stress we experience comes from our rigid demands that life unfold in specific ways. He uses the analogy of a traffic jam to illustrate how our reactions to situations are shaped by our mental models. By changing our internal narratives, we can transform our emotional responses and reduce unnecessary stress.

One of Dr. Rao’s core teachings is the practice of gratitude. He suggests that by focusing on what we have rather than what we lack, we can shift our emotional state from one of frustration and dissatisfaction to one of appreciation and joy. This simple yet powerful practice can profoundly impact our overall well-being.

Dr. Srikumar Rao also shares the profound lesson that we are not the limited, isolated individuals we often believe ourselves to be. Instead, we are pure awareness, witnessing the play of life from a higher perspective. This understanding can lead to a deeper sense of peace and fulfillment, as we recognize our true nature and the interconnectedness of all existence.

In conclusion, Dr. Srikumar Rao’s teachings offer a transformative approach to living a more conscious and fulfilling life. By embracing the idea that reality is a construct, cultivating awareness, practicing gratitude, and surrendering to the flow of life, we can achieve profound personal growth and experience true happiness.

Please enjoy my conversation with Dr. Srikumar Rao.

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Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 196

Dr. Srikumar Rao 0:00
So here's what you have to understand the benefit of setting a goal and try your level best to achieve the goal is not achieving the goal. The benefit is the learning and growth that happened in you and to you as you try your level best to achieve the goal.

Alex Ferrari 0:31
I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Dr. Rao. How're doing Dr. Rao?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 0:37
I am fine, thank you.

Alex Ferrari 0:39
Thank you so much for coming back on the show I had you on early in the show when we first launched a while ago and I had such a wonderful time talking to you that I wanted to bring you back on to talk deep thoughts to go deep into into what into these deep conversations about the mysteries of life that you that you happen to have a really depth into with all the work that you've done over the years. But can you tell everybody a little bit about yourself and the work that you do?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 1:06
Certainly, I am an executive coach. And I have a unique niche in that I coach very successful people, typically entrepreneurs and senior executives who want to have an extraordinary impact on the world. They're already successful, but they want to make a dent in the universe. But they also have an explicit spiritual path. So they know that life isn't all about getting the biggest choice with the most choice. In the back of their minds, they probably have a notion I can sit down and meditate eight hours a day and grow spiritually, or I can become a business Titan. And my job is to show them it's not all it's and that becoming a business state and is their spiritual path. So that's my coaching niche to the best of my knowledge and the only person playing in that sandbox. That doesn't mean there are others, it simply means that I'm not aware of them.

Alex Ferrari 2:02
Well yeah what I found interesting about your work is that you've you've studied a lot of the ancient, you know, text and spiritual masters and brought them down to and kind of like taken away all of the religious and dogmatic aspects of it. And really, what really kind of put it down grinded down to the bare bones of the amazing profound lessons in those Is that Is that an accurate description?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 2:34
That's fair enough.

Alex Ferrari 2:35
Yep. So great. So my first question then is, based on your studies, what do the ancients masters that you've studied, have to say about the real reality or the real world as we see it?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 2:52
That is an easy one. But it's also a very difficult one for most people to comprehend unless they've already spent a fair amount of time thinking about it. They all say in every visitor tradition that the world we think we live in is not real. That we repeat that the world that we think we live in is not real, it is a construct, we made it up with our mental chatter and our mental models. It's very much as if each one of us was living in the matrix. Only this is not a matrix created by an alien civilization out to enslave us. It is something that we created with our mental chatter and our mental models. Now, Alex, I got to stress that this is a hugely liberating concept. Because if the world you lived in was real, and you didn't like it, you're screwed. grin and bear it. But in the world you live in is not real, it's a construct, and you don't like it, then you can deconstruct the parts of it that are not working for you and build it up again. And you can do this over and over as you go through the journey of life. And that's what my teaching in my coaching is all about.

Alex Ferrari 4:14
So do so this idea of this construct, which is, I mean, from back in the Hindu traditions of Maya, the illusion, the great dream of the Aborigines. I mean, this is an is a concept that goes back 1000s of years, you have now we're talking now, quantum physicists are starting to throw their hat in the ring,

Dr. Srikumar Rao 4:34
Exactly the same thing.

Alex Ferrari 4:36
It's the same thing but simulation theory, and that the math actually starts to make sense of like, No, this could be a giant computer program, quote, unquote, of an illusion, which then again, goes back into the matrix go into this illusion that we think So in your opinion, can we create our own reality?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 4:55
We do all the time.

Alex Ferrari 4:58
So can you explain a bit?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 5:00
Sure, what happens is we don't live in the real world, we live in our mind. Now, let's assume that you're young, and you are deeply in love. And your girlfriend dumps you. And you go out to a beautiful vacation resort, a seaside resort, you're walking on the beach, and it's gorgeous. And there's the blue ocean, and there's a wonderful sun, you don't enjoy all of that you're stuck in a deep, dark, gloomy miasma. And you can't get out of it. That's the world that you created inside your head. And having created it, you experience it as you've created it. And if you go through life, you will find that you're never where you are, you're always in your head all ways. And you think, Oh, that's a beautiful sunset, and you look at it for 10 seconds, and then you're back into what you're created. And we do that. So constantly. And we do that all the time. And we don't even recognize that this is what we're doing.

Alex Ferrari 6:14
So it is a hard concept for people to understand,

Dr. Srikumar Rao 6:17
Of course, it's not easy to grasp, unless you already spend some time thinking about it. And you say, darn it, you know, that idiot he is right. And that's what I'm doing.

Alex Ferrari 6:28
We're dropping seeds in this conversation, we're hopefully dropping seeds that will flourish later. Because it when I first heard this idea, I was just like, this is difficult to cons. But as you start to grind down on it and start to kind of like, marinate on it for years, you start to understand, and then you start analyzing the reality, you you are you start playing little games of like, well, instead of looking at the milk that just spilled and get angry at it, just understand that the milk that spilled is, and my and my perception of it is the charge that I give that situation positive or negative, correct?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 7:07
Exactly, exactly correct. Things are, they're not good. They're not bad they are, but you graft meaning on to them. And having grafted meaning onto them, you experience the meaning that you have conferred on them.

Alex Ferrari 7:27
But that meet, but isn't that meaning or the concept of good and bad is cultural essentially, that we're programmed with it

Dr. Srikumar Rao 7:34
More than cultural. I would say it's what we've been programmed into some part of it is cultural or societal, then society. Oh, absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 7:42
So societal, so either cultural or societal, you know, because in some parts of the world, you know, things that we consider good are not considered, you know, positive in other parts of the world. And vice versa, you know, you know, freedoms for women freedoms, for speech, freedoms, all these kinds of things that we might have here in the west and other parts of the world we look down upon. So this is cultural. So if you understand that your idea of good and bad is based purely on where you were born at the time you were born, and your parents and the community that you were born in, kind of starts to shift your idea of the whole concept of, quote unquote, good and bad, correct?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 8:23
Absolutely. Yes, it is.

Alex Ferrari 8:25
So what can people do about it's so hard when the milk spills, man, you want to get angry? What can we do to stop ourselves for a second and go to wait a minute, either get either feel the anger quickly and get out of it quickly. Or that's the thing I've noticed in my life, before when the milk spilled. That would ruin my day. If the milk really spilled, it could ruin my day for two or three days. Now, when the milk spills, I get angry for about a second or two, then I pop back out. And it kind of lessens as time goes on, at least in my life. Is that what you found as well?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 9:04
That's wonderful. Yes. And that is exactly the way it should be the male spilled, the milk spilled. And what you now have to figure out is, what is the quickest, most efficient way I can clean this dad spill up? And move on? What do you like to have a terrific day every day Alex? Yes. Well, would your listeners like to have that too?

Alex Ferrari 9:25
I'm assuming if they're listening to the show, yes. Alright.

Dr. Srikumar Rao 9:28
So let me tell you how you can have a terrific day every day. And it's really very simple. It's so simple. That when I tell you how to do it, you might be tempted to laugh at me, don't. It's what I'm about to share with you is very profound. Okay. The way to have a terrific day every day is to get up in the morning and decide you're going to have a terrific day. Most of us make a mistake, and they think that two things have to happen before we can have it here. I think day. And those two things are one stuff should happen that I want to have happen. And do, stuff should not happen that I don't want to have happened. And you don't have any control over either one of those. So if you're smart, you will get up and say, I'm going to have a terrific day today. But being smart, you recognize that faces is going to fall from the sky, that's the nature of faeces that falls from the sky. So in my terrific day, there is some shit going to be landing on my head and on the floor, and I'm going to spend a couple of hours on my terrific day cleaning up the shit that's inevitably going to fall. And I'm going to have a terrific time doing it. That's all you need to do to have a terrific day, every day. It's really that simple.

Alex Ferrari 10:59
And it sounds simple. And I agree with you that that is a possibility. But for people who have it, we're going to talk about your mental models in a second, which I think is really important to what I'm about to say. But when you have programming, or you're holding on to anger, you're holding on to this content, it's difficult to break through that barrier. To have what you just said, if you're in a different place emotionally, mentally, spiritually, What you said makes all the sense in the world. But how do you break through those, those kind of those mental models, if you will. And if you can explain what a mental model is to everybody, maybe that help?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 11:38
The Mental Model is a notion that we have that this is the way the world works. And we have dozens of models, we've got a model for how do I find a person to marry? How do I evaluate an employee I'm planning to hire? How do I decide where I'm going to have dinner, we've got dozens of models, some of them may be in conflict with each other, and we may or may not be aware of those conflicts. The problem Alex is not that we have mental models, mental models are wonderful things. They help us make sense of unstructured situation, they save us time. The problem is not that we have mental models, the problem is that we don't recognize that we have mental models. We think this is the way the world works. But this is not the way the world works. This is the way we think the world works. And the more we invest in this, the more it seems to us as if this is in fact the way the world works. And very soon we built a silo around ourselves that so thick, we can break out of it. So to answer your earlier question, how does one get out of this when we have been so strongly indoctrinated is to think about what I have just shared with you and determine for yourself whether it's true or not, you know, I believe x whatever x is, is that true? Is there data which refutes that. Is it possible that I'm mistaken, or is it possible that some of the time what I think is true, but other times it's not? So therefore I cannot generalize. And you have to keep going back to it in your mind thinking over and over again until you have deprogrammed yourself. Look where were you born and where did you grow up?

Alex Ferrari 13:33
I was born in Miami. Okay very good and grew and basically grew up between that and New York right?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 13:40
So you have never worn a longyi right do you know what a longyi is?

Alex Ferrari 13:44
I do not.

Dr. Srikumar Rao 13:45
A longyi is a traditional dress in in many parts of South Asia, particularly in Burma. It's basically a strip of cloth ties sewed into a circle. So you step into that and you tight around your waist and you know that saloon G and for informal dress you have a plain balloon G you can be very formal and have elaborated intricately designed loon J's with all kinds of formal decorations. So it can be a formal dress, it can be informal, but that's what people in Burma now Myanmar wear all the time. Now, the first time I wore a balloon G I was very uncomfortable in this all I could do to prevent it from falling and for a long time I used to keep the low G up by basically tying a belt around my middle and folding it over. But eventually I started feeling comfortable with the more over the laundry the more I felt comfortable and a day came when I could simply wear it I could never wear it but the nostrils they do but I could wear it keep it on feel okay I'm comfortable with it. That's how you do it. This lotions seem uncomfortable. Try them on for size, keep thinking about them, and one day they will stop being uncomfortable. We'll see. But of course, that's how it always is. That's how you make the transition you deprogram yourself.

Alex Ferrari 15:11
Now the mind is a very is your best friend and your worst enemy all at the same time. It can't be. And with this conversation, I'm already playing devil's advocate, if you will, and going, Okay, well, what Dr. Rao was saying is great, but that's for other people. That's like, you know, like, Oh, if I'm if I'm not doing financially well, and then you just said, is there any evidence to refute? Why you're not doing financially well, then you like, well look at look at the five or 10 other examples of people doing financially well, and there's like, well, they're obviously it's possible. Or if you're not in a loving relationship, you see other people and loving relationships, it's possible. But then the mind goes out. But that's for other people, not for me. How do you break free from that kind of that chatter that that that inner critic that is so brutal to us?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 16:00
By awareness, awareness is the only solution to that, Alex, you have to constantly be thinking and seeing how you're taking the pit into which you are falling, you will fall into a pit and you're making things worse by digging. There was a joke somewhere I forget where you said, when you realize in a hole, the first thing you have to do is stop digging. So for the person who wants to get out, the first thing you have to do is stop digging. And if you're in a really deep hole, it will take a while before you can clamber out. But the way that I show persons to do it, and that's described in my book, are you ready to succeed and in my courses and coaching programs, it will work. You just have to apply it assiduously. And of course there are people say, ah, you know, this is this is a crock of you know, Walden Geller is like, go to work, God bless them. Continue as you are, until you figure out that what you're doing is not working for you. And when you truly recognize it's not working for you come back.

Alex Ferrari 17:06
Now you discuss something earlier in regards to control that we have we we perceive that we have some sort of control in our lives. And that I think that I've heard you say before that control is an illusion. Yes. So can you discuss that a little bit as far as why we believe that because a lot of people think that I have to drive the wheel, I have to drive the car and drive everything.

Dr. Srikumar Rao 17:28
That's one of the biggest myths we have in our society. And the myth we have in our society is, you know, I've got to do it, I'll go over there, I've worked really hard. And I'll make it and if I want to go from one place to one place a place, we have to come up with a plan for going from place A to place B and I have to execute well on that plan I'll get from place A to place B, right? Maybe maybe not. How many times See, here's what happens many times in our life, we wanted to go from place A to place B and we came up with a plan and executed and we did in fact get from place A to place B every seven years. It doesn't I have control. I did it. And I could do it again. In reality, any of a million things that could have gone wrong did not go wrong. So be eternally grateful. But don't think that you did it and you have control. Because the notion that you have control is what I call the illusion of control. And all of us have it. The pandemic was wonderful in this way, because it viscerally brought home to many people that you do not have control. My wife and I are both tennis freaks. We've been to the US Open practically every year we've been to the French Open a number of times went to the Australian Open three years ago. And 2020 is when we will go into Wimbledon. So bought good tickets for the men's semifinals and finals. If you know anything about Wimbledon getting good seats for the later rounds, it's not an expenditure is a capital investment. At that time, if somebody had said Srikumar, you're not going to go save the Buddha might have said yeah, it's possible. But in my head would have been something like perhaps somebody close to me fell ill so I had to cancel my trip. I would never ever imagine that the tournament itself would be canceled. And there would be no planes flying between London and New York. So the pandemic in a very visceral sense brought home to many people that you really do not have control.

Alex Ferrari 19:35
Now it's control a part. Control is ego, essentially.

Dr. Srikumar Rao 19:39
Absolutely, yes, I can do it. This is why actually there's a wonderful social practice in the Islamic tradition among Muslims. You know, whenever there's something say something they always say Insha Allah, if that be the will of Allah. Let's meet for dinner on Sunday. Yeah, let's meet for dinner on Sunday inshallah. Now what happens is this has become mechanical. So some of my Muslim students tell me that it's become not only as it become mechanical, but it's now used as in a very derogatory derisive way. So inshallah means, of course, it's not going to happen, so they use it derisively. That's, that's, that's really a shame. Because if you go down to the spirit of the tradition, inshallah means nothing is within our control. And if it be the will of the universe, the will of Allah, then we will meet. And you acknowledge that upfront, and that acknowledgement is wonderful. So if it's not mechanical, but you say, Yeah, nothing is under my control. We'll meet for dinner on Sunday. You know, if all things go well,

Alex Ferrari 20:45
So let me ask you this, then, because I was raised in the West. And I was raised and working hard work, good work ethic, all of that stuff. And I have achieved many things in my life, by working hard. But I also have not achieved many things in my life by working hard, arguably, some of the biggest things I've ever wanted in my life to happen. I like like my wife says, it's not for lack of trying. But you haven't achieved those goals. So where do we balance with letting go of control, but yet still working towards the goals that we have? Because you can't sit around waiting for someone to knock on the door to give you what you want? Oh, your participation.

Dr. Srikumar Rao 21:28
Not only should you work hard with if you work definitely really hard right now our model is I worked very hard, and I didn't get what I wanted. So obviously, I did something wrong. Because if I'd done it right, then, you know, I would have been Jeff Bezos or

Alex Ferrari 21:41
Right! How many people are trying to be Elon Musk,

Dr. Srikumar Rao 21:44
Or whatever. Yeah, that's not so see, what happens is the mistake we make Alex's, we think that the benefit of setting a goal for ourselves and working hard to achieve it is achieving the goal. achieving the goal is an outcome. It is beyond our control, we may get there, we may not get there any of a number of things could happen to prevent you from achieving it. Okay, how many movies have you seen where it's, you know, there's a criminal and he's gloating. And you know, it's a done deal. And all of a sudden, something comes on stack, and their entire facade falls apart. Many local is great for that in the series, you know, the here's a criminal, he's done the perfect thing. And Colombo always finds that one little hole, which you forgot to flood, right? It happens all the time. So here's what you have to understand the benefit of setting a goal and try your level best to achieve the goal is not achieving the goal. The benefit is the learning and growth that happened in you and to you as you try your level best to achieve the goal. If you actually achieved the goal, that is a bonus, be immensely grateful. If you don't achieve the goal, the learning and growth have already happened. So you're ahead of the game, it's a no lose proposition. And that's why you go off, you set a goal and you work very hard to achieve it. Because regardless of whether you achieve it or not, the learning and growth have happened to you and in you.

Alex Ferrari 23:26
So I'm coming from a spiritual point of view, then, you know, from my understanding of my spiritual studies, and speaking to a lot of spiritual masters around the world, we are we come down here to learn lessons, we come down here to walk a path. Many say that we create this experience for ourselves to learn certain lessons in the evolution of our soul.

Dr. Srikumar Rao 23:49
That is a model, by the way,

Alex Ferrari 23:51
Right! It's a model. So that's exactly that's, that's a mental model, correct. So if we look at life that way, then, you know, if you keep going towards a goal, and it keeps you keep bumping into walls and bumping into walls and bumping into walls, that is the universe, or whatever you want to call it, pushing you in the direction of where benefits you most in the evolution of your soul. It might not be what you want, but it's what you need. And I always tell people, if you got everything you wanted in life, your life would be a disaster. Would you agree?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 24:27
That's actually something that Einstein said we revere Einstein because he was a great scientist. He formulated the theory of relativity, he discovered the photoelectric effect. But Einstein was also a philosopher who had a very intimate understanding of the universe. And he said the most important question you are ever going to ask yourself is, is the universe friendly? Yeah. Let me repeat that Einstein said the most important question you are ever going to ask is you is the universe friendly? The vast majority of us believe the universe is neither friendly nor unfriendly doesn't know I exist in concave less. Here I am going around doing nothing. There's the universe going around doing his thing. Sometimes it seems to help me sometimes it seems to work against me. But essentially, it's a random process. Not true. What if the universe was aware of your existence and the universe was well disposed towards you? Well, if the universe was your friend, friends, don't shaft friends, right? If the universe was your friend, why does it give you stuff you don't want? Well, what if it gave you stuff that you don't want, but which was exactly right for your learning and growth. It's like a small child, you're a small child, and you wanted to have ice cream and your parents give you fruits and vegetables, and you don't want fruits and vegetables, you want a tub of ice cream. But the universe through your parents gives you fruits and vegetables. And it isn't until you have a much greater level of wisdom and maturity that you can say Thank God, I got fruits and vegetables. So what are the universe was like that it doesn't give you what you need. But it gives you exactly does doesn't give you what you want. But it gives you exactly what you need for your learning and growth.

Alex Ferrari 26:23
And that's in that's difficult for a lot of people to understand. Because again, the whole goal,

Dr. Srikumar Rao 26:27
So you have to cultivate the knowledge that this is a friendly universe. That's why Einstein said the most important question you will ever ask is, is the universe friendly. Because my friend, if you live in a friendly universe, your experience of life will be ever so much better.

Alex Ferrari 26:47
Right! Because we've all met those kinds of people who walk around like everything is horrible. We're all going to die. This is bad, bad things happen all the time. If you just look at the news that's being spewed out to us out on just a constant 24 hour basis. So it's difficult for people looking at someone like the news saying, Oh, we're in a friendly place when you just see the negative, negative, negative, negative, negative.

Dr. Srikumar Rao 27:11
Remember that the news channels have a vested interest in making you feel bad and fearful. When you feel bad, then you spend more time there and you feel down. And that's a great time to say, you know, you can feel better if you buy X. So whatever it is. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. They have a vested interest in making you feel not good.

Alex Ferrari 27:36
Right, exactly. And same thing goes for social media for that matter. Yeah. All the social media. Absolutely. Those algorithms are built to get you to that place. It's it's disheartening to say the least. Now, which brings me to my next to my next question. So many of us live in a stressful state all the time, especially in the West. And it you know, before it was the tiger that used to scare us, but now it could be our boss, it could be our spouse, it could be not paying the bills. It could be but we're in a constant fight or flight. Mom, you know, the place in our lives, and that stress is killing us. What do we do to relieve some of that stress out of our lives Dr. Rao?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 28:16
Understand why you have stress in your life. I've asked this question of 1000s of people on six continents, do you have stress in your life, and most people say they have more stress in their life now than ever before. So of course, I asked them, Why do you have stress in your life, and they come up with dozens of answers and I boiled them down into a few major categories. They have stress in the life because of financial problems, relationship issues, health reverses scarier setbacks, problems with children and other relationships, etc, etc, etc. Wrong. There's only one reason you have stress in your life at least let me repeat that. There's only one reason you have stress in your life. And the reason you have stress in your life is because you have a rigid demand that the world unfold in a particular manner. And the world is paying no attention to what you want and going it's very vase, and you resist it, and you resent it. And in that resistance and resentment, you create the stress in your life. And that's the only reason you have stress in your life.

Alex Ferrari 29:35
Again, it goes back to trying to control and wanting things to be you're basically a child. I want it I want it I want the tub of ice cream.

Dr. Srikumar Rao 29:43
Wow. Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 29:45
I just want that some ice cream. It's just not working for me. Which then leads me to my next question in regards to stress because I love your example of the traffic jam. Can you give that can you give that so he told the story of the traffic jam to everybody?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 29:59
Absolutely! And I would invite you, as well as everybody who's listening not just to listen to me, but to put yourself in the situation that I am outlining. So you're going to be reading and it's a very important meeting, a really important meeting. You're driving, you are running late. You're stuck in a massive traffic jam. It's a beastly hot day, and the air conditioner in your car has broken down. So get all of this, you go to a really important beating, you're driving, you're running late, you're striking a massive traffic jam is beastly hot bait, and the air conditioning in your car has broken out. Now all of a sudden, someone cuts, all of a sudden someone puts it in front of you and almost causes an accident. And then it cuts in front of another car in front of you and almost causes a second accident. What are your feelings towards the driver of that car? Parts are pretty good that your feelings towards the driver of that car or not those loving kindness. So you're thinking unprintable thoughts, you might give him a finger. If you were, if you did carry firearms in the car, you might be tempted to go lethal. But now I share with you the information that the guy who cut you off was a father who had been informed that his son had been involved in an accident and had to be operated on. And he was desperately trying to get to the hospital with no knowledge of whether or not he'd ever see his son alive again. So when I share that information with you, you can feel your rage drained out of you to be replaced with compassion for a fellow human being in an unfortunate predicament, right? You don't really know whether the guy who cut you off or the distraught father, or an inconsiderate jerk. So Alex, here's what you're going to do, you're going to go hire a private investigator to look into the matter and report back. And as a private investigator reports back to you, the guy was distraught father, you will feel great compassion. But as a private investigator reports back to you that the guy was an inconsiderate jerk, you were really pissed off. But until you know for sure you're going to remain neutral. Is that what's going to happen? Very unlikely, you're not going to hire a private investigator, nor will any of the good people listening to this podcast. But this means that you'll never know whether the guy who cut you off was an inconsiderate jerk or distraught father. The more important point is it really doesn't matter. You have the choice of determining what is the emotional domain you occupy. And you made a decision. Here's what you need to understand you had a choice and you made a decision. Normally, it happens so fast that people don't even recognize that. But now that I peeled it back, can you see that you had a choice, and you made a decision. And the reason that's important is because you have such a choice 1000s of times every day, let me repeat that you have you come to such a juncture, dozens of times every day. And the vast majority of those junctures you choose to occupy an emotional domain, where you feel angry, heard, fearful, anxious, nervous, and you never recognize that this was a choice you had at a decision you made. And the reason you make the particular decision decisions you do is because of the mental chatter that you entertain, and the mental models that you hold. That's how important these things are. They run your life, they construct the matrix in which you live.

Alex Ferrari 34:04
So if you're in a position of loving gratitude and good space in your own model, and that people are generally good and all that your first instinct when that happens to you is like, Oh, I wonder what's going on in their life that they felt that had to do that. But if you feel like everyone's out to get you in the second someone does that like that son of a sob. i He must have met and your ego gets bruised and, and then and then when you honk the horn, he flips you off and then it starts to escalate

Dr. Srikumar Rao 34:35
You put it on right there. That's exactly how it happens. So the catch is, you got to recognize it, the instant it is happening. And the only way you're going to do that is to live a life of awareness. And that's the core principle in my coaching. It's a core principle in the work that I do, you have to live a life of awareness.

Alex Ferrari 34:57
But like I like I said earlier, though, I have noticed that, you know, something that used to take you, you know, months of your day that worried you, let's say, went down, two weeks went down two days went down two hours were down to seconds. So something like that someone cutting you off, literally could knock you off for a full day, and then affect your family affects your relationship affects your job. But as you, I've noticed that at least in my world, I'm not sharing yours. But when something like that happens, like we all get someone cutting us off. And now, it upsets me for literally a few seconds, and then I completely let it go. But I'm still, I'm still here, I'm still dealing with being human, I'm still dealing with my ego, I'm still dealing with everything that we have to deal with in this reality. But it's getting shorter and shorter and shorter and shorter, until it hopefully becomes non existent. But that's when you start getting to a much higher place than I am at this moment. Get it, I still get angry, I still get angry, but it gets but it's so much quicker than it used to be. And that's you found that as well as, like even,

Dr. Srikumar Rao 36:04
I have to, I used to get really steamed up about it just goes now you know, that's it

Alex Ferrari 36:13
I have to imagine that one point or another, you know, Jesus or Buddha, they had to have gotten angry, they had to go through these, these kinds of experiences, because they're human, they were human. And they were evolving on a path to become a spiritual master or an Ascended Master eventually. And they had to go through this. And so many times we look at the spiritual masters that we look up to, and and study and, and pay tribute to as perfection walking the earth. And they might have gotten to that place. But at a certain point, they all had to go through a journey Buddha went very historically through his journey. And he made mistakes along the way. He was like, nope, the aesthetics are not the way I'm gonna go. I gotta find this other way. And things like that. So it kind of liberates us all to like, Oh, yes, we all have the ability to get to that, which is what someone

Dr. Srikumar Rao 37:02
That is the beauty of these great figures. They show you the pinnacle, if you will, or what a human being is, and can be.

Alex Ferrari 37:18
Exactly, without without question. Now, a lot of the things that we've been talking about, and I think this goes back a little bit to the mental models, is that inner critic, that monkey brain that's constant, constant constant. Why is that? Who's Who's the voice who, who is telling, like, and I've said this so many times before, but like if you had a person who talk to you, like you talk to yourself, you would never want that human being in your life,

Dr. Srikumar Rao 37:48
Shoot that person.

Alex Ferrari 37:50
They are brutal, that voice is brutal to us. So why do we do that to ourselves? What is the purpose of that? And how can we break free?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 37:57
Recognize that we're doing it to ourselves. One of the more powerful teach teachings of the Buddha is the parable of the second arrow. Do you know the parable? I don't think so. The Buddha has done under his disciple Lana de if an arrow would have hit you in the arm, would it not be very painful? And then nodded his head? Yes, Lord, it would be very painful. And if a second arrow would have hit you exactly where the first arrow hit, you will not be even more painful. Yes, Lord, it will be even more painful. And then the Buddha has a simple question. Why then do you shoot the second arrow? And this will probably perplex most people. So let me explain the story. I got this from actually one of the wonderful tech stocks that are up on the web. There was a woman beautiful accomplished, and she had a very messy divorce. And it broke her up and took her a long, long, long time for her to recover. But in bits and pieces, she put her life back together and decided she was ready to explore. So she went to the internet sites and filled in her profile and she met this guy who was funny and witty and an entrepreneur and well off. But most of all, he seemed really into her. So after a few weeks of messaging and talking on the phone, they decided to meet in an upscale Manhattan cafe and she was all excited and she went out and got a new dress and the men and 15 minutes into that meeting, he gets up. He throws his napkin on the table and says I'm not interested and walks out and she was crushed. She was so dispirited that the only thing she could do was stop to call her friend. And a friend says Why are you surprised? You have fat hips? You have nothing interesting to say why would a handsome intelligent man pay any attention to you? You're shocked that a friend would say Something like that right? Would you be less sharp? If I said it wasn't the friend who said that? It's what she told herself. That is the second arrow. And the second arrow is always delivered by means of mental chatter. Let me repeat that the second arrow is always delivered by means of mental chatter. is bad enough being rejected? Does it make matters better to tell yourself that you are physically unattractive and socially maladroit? Obviously not. We do it all the time. For most of my clients, if I could get them at the second row, they'd be way better than they are. By the time I get to them. They're on the fifth six the 297 arrows.

Alex Ferrari 40:56
It's so true, we are. So if we can stop that second that because the first arrow was something that we had no control over, but the second to the 250th arrow is within our control.

Dr. Srikumar Rao 41:06
No matter what situation, you're concerned about our legs, no matter what situation any of the listeners of this podcast are concerned about. Your mental chatter about that situation makes it at least an order of magnitude and probably many orders of magnitude worse.

Alex Ferrari 41:28
Now, we've discussed in this in this conversation, a lot about mental models, and a lot about programming. And, you know, we aren't like we said, we're, we are the product of our own upbringing, culturally, societal, all that stuff. Let's say that that is not serving us anymore. That the idea that we were raised with that money is hard to find. Love doesn't exist, these models that we might have seen in our own parents, or on our family, or unknown society, societal environment, are not working for us anymore. And we're aware of this. How do we rewire our brain to have a more successful and happier life?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 42:11
That's what my course and my coaching is all about Alex, I'll give you the short version, the short version is come up with different mental models which you better and implement them in your life. It's easy to say it's not quite as easy to do. How do you go about doing it, I actually give a step by step process in my first book, are you ready to succeed? So if your readers are interested, they can get a copy of that from Amazon? Are you ready to succeed? But essentially, what happens is, okay, let me back up. Every time you have a situation in life that you find unpleasant, and it persists, not some of the time, not most of the time, every time you have a situation in your life that you find unpleasant, and it persists. You are using one or more mental models that are not serving you well. And the moment you make appropriate changes in those mental models, poof, the situation will leave just like that. It works every time. How you go about doing that? That's what I discuss in my book, are you ready to succeed.

Alex Ferrari 43:24
That makes a lot of sensor. Now you also talk about, I saw a video of yours online that talked about a quantum leap in your life to take a quantum leap. Can you explain what that means? And what do we and what can we do to get that quantum leap Sir?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 43:41
it's very simple. You start systematically looking at the mental models you have that you're holding back. And one of the biggest mental models we have is, you know, if I have to be successful, I have to work hard and it is going to take time, I have to climb the ladder of success, one rung at a time. Perhaps you don't have to perhaps you can leapfrog several rungs and do it again and do it again. One of the great things about the internet and the technological age we live in is we have all so many young people who become so wildly successful, certainly in financially material talent, but some in other ways as well. So it shows that success does not have to be run by run, it can happen much, much, much faster. What do you have to get rid of is the mental model that this is the way to go. And also remember what I said earlier? Just because you think that you can get rid of it doesn't mean you can because you know we run into the old control paradigm again, you know, I have to get rid of my mental models and I'm going to adopt that person's mental model because he became a zillionaire when he was 30 So maybe I won't become a millionaire, but I will become a half zillionaire maybe you will, maybe you won't. But if you set that as a goal and go, what will happen is the learning and growth that will happen in you will happen. And ultimately you recognize that whatever it is that you need to be happy and fulfilled is right with you right now, you do not have to have external markers anytime. And that is the biggest learning that you can have in life is door flow full and complete as you are right now you don't need anything to make you happy.

Alex Ferrari 45:45
Now, in you were saying the younger, the younger generation coming up, I always found that, that when you're young, you don't know what you don't know. And that is your greatest strength and your greatest weakness all at the same time. Because there is something to be said, about experience. Like we know, like, you go down that road, this is the door you're gonna run into. But a lot of times being so young, and not understanding how the rules are laid out as as models that we've set for ourselves, you go, Well, I don't want to walk down that road, I'm gonna go down this road that no one's ever walked down. And I don't know how insanely dangerous it might be, or, or stupid or whatever. But that's how all these great people that you've spoken about in study. You know, from every great entrepreneur that's ever walked the earth, they all went down different paths, and Jeff Bezos selling books on the internet in the 90s, saying, I'm going to create a spaceship that lands, Elon Musk, that's insane. You know, I'm gonna create a social media platform. What is that? Do you have that it's called MySpace? Why would we need another one? Like there's so all these things. But these are these are people who think differently, just like that old Apple commercial. Those people who think they're crazy enough to change the world are the ones that do. Yeah, it's about taking those big swings sometimes. And that's why we we idolize a lot of these people. Also, in the spiritual sense, also in many other aspects, not just money, entrepreneurship, but they take risks, they take the swings at the at the bat, that you're more likely going to strike out. But every once in a while, they hit that hit that home run, right?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 47:35
But here's the point, don't look at this as what I'm going to accomplish. And especially don't look at somebody else who's been wildly successful along the dimensions that you think are important. And say, I want to be like that. Because the first thing we have to learn, Alex is to recognize that you're on your own individual journey, you're not on anybody else's journey. And every time you look at somebody else and say he did that she did that I want to do that. You're basically letting yourself in for a life of frustration and despair.

Alex Ferrari 48:11
I did that for so many years in my in my filmmaking world. I tried to go down the path of so many successful filmmakers, and it just doesn't work. And then I get to speak to some of these filmmakers on my other shows and, and I go, Oh, they didn't know what they were doing. They were just they were just walking a path that made sense for them. And it's something that you can't replicate. It's something that's very specific to them. You can take inspiration,

Dr. Srikumar Rao 48:36
But it's all directly to recognize, like is that one size fits one.

Alex Ferrari 48:43
That's so true. It's It's so true. I could never walk the path you walked, you can never walk the path I walked. It's just not the way the world

Dr. Srikumar Rao 48:52
One size fits. One. Always bear that in mind, and you'll be okay.

Alex Ferrari 48:57
Now, a lot of the things that we've been talking about, I think that if we had more gratitude in our life, there's that place where you that's that basis of like if someone cuts you off, if you've got more gratitude in your life, it becomes a lot easier to navigate. Can you give any advice on how we can incorporate gratitude as almost a default in our lives?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 49:19
Yes, I can. I want you to consider this proposition. Alex and I'm going to lay it out to you. Your awareness is like a flashlight. What does a flashlight do? It lights up whatever you shine it on. It illuminates wherever you direct it directed the ceiling. It makes the ceiling bright directed at the floor. It lights up the floor right. I'll prove it to you right now. I want you to take the flashlight of your awareness and shine it on the chair in which you are sitting. What would you do? As you become aware of the pressure of your vortex of the seat of the chair, you feel the fabric or the leather against the back of your thighs Correct. 30 seconds ago you're not aware of any of this. But now you are. Why? Because you shone the flashlight if your awareness or that what do we typically do with a flashlight of our awareness, we shine it are the two, three or four things that are wrong in our lives. More precisely, we shine it on the two, three or four things that we have arbitrarily decided is wrong in our lives. And the 40 5200 things that are pretty damn good about our lives will never shine the flashlight of our awareness on them so they pass by unnoticed. The guy cuts you often the traffic jam almost causes an accident you're driving a brand new BMW it could have got banged up, could certainly have been disfigured several $1,000 to work on a body shop. And that didn't happen. About feeling grateful for the fact that that didn't happen. I would feeling grateful for the fact that you have a car to drive in. Or be grateful for the fact Yeah, my air conditioner is down. But I know I can you know there's good Joe's a good friend of mine, and he's a mechanic and I'm sure he will fix that up. And you're grateful that you have Joe in your life whom you can go to can turn it right. Or how we're feeling grateful for the fact you know, I'm getting too hung up on stuff like air conditioning, and here's a great time for me to wean myself out of it. And not feel down. There are so many things we can be grateful about if we shine our flashlight of awareness on it. Do you have a bed to sleep in? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have to worry about whether you're going to have dinner tonight? Any one of these is a big deal and a big part of the world outside, right? So when I pointed out you say yes, yes. And you know you're incredibly privileged, but you don't feel incredibly privileged you feel put upon and stressed out. And the reason for that is entirely because of where you shine the flashlight of your awareness on Star start by shining the flashlight of your awareness on the many, many ways and many things in your life for which you are truly grateful and fortunate. Do this constantly do it. Last thing before you go to bed. When you get up in the morning. Don't go to the space of oh my god, there's too much to do and I don't have enough time to do it on. Constantly shine the flashlight of your awareness of the many ways in which you are truly blessed. And it's my hope that you will eventually occupy the default emotional domain of appreciation, gratitude. Because when you're in the day for a more emotional domain of appreciation, gratitude, you're not angry, you're not nervous. You're not fearful. You're not anxious, the two cannot coexist.

Alex Ferrari 53:14
Very, very well put my friend you should do this for a living. Doctor. I'm just saying you're pretty good at this.

Dr. Srikumar Rao 53:21
Dave, your podcast listeners hire Dr. Rao.

Alex Ferrari 53:27
Now you've studied so many spiritual masters throughout your career and it's helped influence your work. Who are some of your favorites? And why?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 53:37
Well, there are many and I don't mind sharing them for you probably preeminent about them is Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi Ramana. Maharshi was an Indian sage who lived in the early 20th century. And he lived into the mid 20th century. So it's very contemporary. There are lots and lots of people who have personal firsthand accounts of their interactions in meetings with Ramana Maharshi contemporarily. There was a ROM das who was initially Richard Alpert Harvard psychologist and he went to India met his teacher Neem Karoli Baba and became Ram Dass. I was doing my PhD at Columbia Business School and Ram Dass used to be in an apartment on Riverside Drive. So actually spend some time with him and one of my treasured possessions is a book copy of Be Here Now, which was personally inscribed to me by rhombus, so very grateful to me that he's had a profound influence on my life. Then, there is a Jesuit priest called Anthony de Mello. And he was realized being himself and his teachings are both funny and deeply, deeply, deeply profound. So these are some of them and then many more if you're interested in that, get a copy of my syllabus. For my course creativity and personal mastery. It's on my website. And if you go through that syllabus, there's a large bibliography at the end. And one of them is life changing books. And all of the people who had an influence in me, probably they're

Alex Ferrari 55:13
Fantastic. Do you have any big lead some of the biggest lessons you've picked up from the spiritual masters?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 55:20
The biggest lesson I picked up is that it's all a game you are not who you think you are, you're not this particular body, mind intellect complex that's doing what you think it is. That's a soap opera. That's the story that you tell yourself, who you really are is pure awareness. And you can identify with his body mind and try complexes, Alex is going around doing podcasts and so on, or he can identify with, that's a dream that's going on and who you are is pure awareness, witnessing the soap opera that's playing out on this beautiful screen. So enjoyed my friend.

Alex Ferrari 55:58
And you speak of awareness, so much we've spoken about awareness, so much in this conversation, is awareness. Another word for consciousness? Or is there a different definition?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 56:09
You are consciousness, many people with this way of word start breaking down, because ultimately, this is beyond all words. So I liken words to a like a Ferrari. So you've got a Ferrari, and you love your Ferrari, and you want to meet your friend, Alyssa, they're there, the town, and the Ferrari will get you to your friend's house, it won't even get you to your friend's driveway. But then you got to get out of the Ferrari to meet your friend. The mind is like that it will take you a very large part of the way. But eventually you have to transcend it to understand because you cannot think you can only be the moment you think you create duality. There is this whatever it is, and there is me and I have to understand it. And I'm going to think about it. When you get to that stage words become the problem because there is no thinking thinking automatically implies duality there is only being not thinking.

Alex Ferrari 57:13
Now I'm going to ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests, Dr. Brown. What is your definition of living a good life?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 57:21
My definition of giving good ly good life as you get up in the morning and you're radiantly alive. As you go through the day, you can fall to your knees in involuntary gratitude for the immense good fortune that has been bestowed on you. You know that you are okay. That you have always been okay that you will always be okay. In fact, you cannot not be okay. And you just revel in that. Because that is who you are. And when you get there, that's a perfect life.

Alex Ferrari 57:58
What is your definition of God?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 58:01
Here's the funny thing. I don't believe there is a God in the sense we traditionally understand it as someone apart from us, who is all powerful and can grant all kinds of vision wishes wishes. You are God. And all you got to do is get rid of your reeking, shivering, intoxicated, crazy monkey mind. And when you want to mind is gone. The only thing that's left is awareness. And there's one awareness there's not Alex's awareness in three Kumar's awareness, there's going to be one awareness. And you are it and it is you and I am it an IMU. And when you get to that stage, you'll notice that there's nothing to fight against because you're all one anyway.

Alex Ferrari 58:53
And what is the ultimate purpose of life?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 58:57
The ultimate purpose of life is to recognize that that is who you are.

Alex Ferrari 59:04
And where can people find out more about you your work your books and so on.

Dr. Srikumar Rao 59:08
Website is a good place to start. It's theraointitute theraoinstitute.com. They can also email me my email is Srikumar Srikumar.rao@theraoinstitute.com. I would love them to purchase my latest book, it was only published last month. It's called Modern Wisdom, Ancient Roots. Oh, nice. I can go to YouTube and put my name in the search engine and dozens of videos of me will pop up

Alex Ferrari 59:46
And tell me Okay, tell me about your new book. What's your new book about?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 59:49
It's all the concepts that we've been talking about presented in very, very short snippets two to three pages each. So you read that it's quick you can dip into it and read whatever you want. But if you think about what you have read, it will alter your life. Can I show you the book?

Alex Ferrari 1:00:10
Please! Please! Yes. Oh, it looks like a nice cover I like that cover. Well, I'm I'm definitely getting that book and I expect I hope everybody gets a hope everybody picks up those books. I'm a big fan of your your work. And fine. Do you have any final words for our audience my friend?

Dr. Srikumar Rao 1:00:29
Yes, it's a beautiful life. Don't waste it feeling sad, sorry, angry, irritated, worried about the state of the world. Enjoy each day each day is your life and miniature Alex, you're born when you get up in the morning you die when you go to bed. So treat each day as your life in miniature and enjoy this day because it's the only one you got.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:52
My friend thank you not only for coming on the show, but for all the amazing work you've done to help awaken humanity and help people along in their journey. So I appreciate you my friend. Thank you again.

Dr. Srikumar Rao 1:01:02
Thank you Alex.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:06
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