How To Stop Moralizing

By Leo Gura - June 6, 2016 | 56 Comments

Removing the SHOULDs from your life.

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Jorge says:

Hey Leo,
I have been meditating and not thinking lately and it does seem like things are falling apart for me. I have not been completing work because of how useless it is. I have been attempting to enjoy every moment intensely though. What are emotions? They don’t seem to be anything. Well…


Maureen says:

Truly profound, thank you Leo. I feel a little bad for your ex but we all know people who just can’t make the leap from where they are. I want to show this video to my sister very badly but I’m pretty sure it would mess with her mind. Or maybe just do it and hope for a good outcome?

Mary says:

I have a question.

So you are saying we CAN do whatever we want and we CAN make reality better, but do we have a choice to do X or not to do X, cause you say we don’t have free will and it’s all already predetermined?

I can’t reconcile predeterminism with having a choice.

Leo Gura says:

A choice will be made by the mind. But you have no control over this choice because you do not exist. But this doesn’t mean what you think it means because you still have no idea what the future will be like. And how you think about the future influences the future. You just can’t control what you think, because again, you do not exist.

Have you noticed yet that you do not have any control over your thoughts? Try it. Try to stop thinking. Or try to guess what your next thought will be.

Be careful about interpreting this in a victim sort of way. Remember that all the greatest accomplishments of mankind, from building the pyramids to landing on the moon were accomplished without free will. So it doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish great things. In fact, everything you’ve ever accomplished in your life occurred without free will. So as you can see, you’re quite capable.

Ann says:

In regards to “Try to stop thinking. Or try to guess what your next thought will be.”… Gee my next thoughts tended towards I SHOULD statements more often than I cared to admit. This is freeing.

Ann says:

I was going to send this to my BF who gets so frustrated because his son ‘should not’ smoke weed…. Then guess what? I found this applies SPOT ON to me! Grew up with extreme Shoulds, especially applying to being female…. It was troubling watching my father not being able to reconcile his Shoulds before he passed on, he and I discussed this over the years many times by he could not reconcile his regrets.

Best existential example I have is seeing 9-11 attacks happen live and being in shock, then later watching a rerun but crying and panicking because as I said out loud, “that should not happen- planes should not break apart buildings”.

Anyhow, humbly, I have in many ways lived how I wanted, but as I watched your video am actually surprised at how many Shoulds I continue to cling to! I can use the counter-phrasing, I should be doing LESS of this or that…. Because, having just retired this year, that is what it is for the time being. (Perhaps I really SHOULD be doing more fly fishing in reality Thanks Leo- quite valuable!

Ann says:

3rd sentence should read “…this VIDEO applies spot on to me” (I don’t smoke)

Darren says:

So we strip away the should / shouldn’t mindsets and are left with our Authentic Desires, AD then we model each individual AD on a graph – what might that graph look like? is it normalised when accounted for basic human needs? …. and “should” we at least present that average AD to those outliers?

Leo Gura says:

Present that average AD to those outliers???

What does that mean?

nic says:

Wow, bravo…. The deep research, presentation, the in depth explanation, the “real life” examples, answering possible questions, homework, and how you tie in past videos into this one. Well done Leo. Your link has been facebooked.

Fire says:

I can’t get enough of your videos, Leo! They are so helpful to me. Thank. Certain videos require more then one viewing to fully grasp it’s information and to apply it in real life.

Much love and appreciation,

isabel says:

I always did and do what I feel, sometimes people said to me, ooooh you always do what you want, as saying you don’t act as you should…Well…yes.

Adam says:

Leo ,

Follow you

Johan says:

Consider the universe as a conscious mind with an ego; a will to exist.
Thru your reasoning that right/wrong needs a ego to exist there could then be universal rules of negative and positive. However They might not be at all what we put in to the right/wrong categories. So perhaps connecting with common sense is connecting whith that universal negative and positive. Just a thought.

Leo Gura says:

That would be to ascribe your own disease onto the whole universe, making it neurotic, hehehe…

johan says:

Are you suggesting we are not part of the whole universe? hehe

johan says:

So in a way.. Having the strictest ideas of right and wrong is in perfect order.
However the opposite is equally right. We Should choose one of them wisely.. Hahaha

Leo Gura says:

Ego doesn’t exist at all. It’s an optical delusion.

Being delusional is part of the universe of course. If you want to be delusional, you can stay that way. Most people do.

Johan says:

Well, ego is a concept and it is your opinion that this concept is false.
However. What made the universe come alive to start thinking about itself in this manner could be an expression of something similar to an omnipresent ego. That’s my opinion

johan says:

Or another way to look at it..
A resistance, inconsistence, or will, in an otherwise symmetrical equation.

Leo Gura says:

You’re anthropomorphizing Absolute Nothingness. It has no will. It has no shape. It has no ego. It doesn’t want anything. It doesn’t need anything. It doesn’t care about anything. It doesn’t have emotions. It isn’t nice or kind or anything like that. It has nothing you can latch onto with the ego.

It doesn’t even exist! It’s not even an it!

This is why the Quran forbids the depiction of Allah. So that you don’t commit the error you’re currently committing.

It’s not merely my opinion. Find out for yourself.

johan says:

Absolute nothingness is only possible to be experienced when it’s divided in two. one + and one – side. Together they become nothing but divided they become something. As long as something is observed the nothingness must remain divided. So if + and – sides are merged and become 0, it will split in an instant though nothing can’t exist on it’s own because it can’t be observed. So who’s the observer? There must always be an observer and IT’s will is to exist rather than not existing. This way we are both correct.

johan says:

And Leo, yes i did find out for my self and it’s been heaven and hell. So right now it’s all about handling and finding purpose for the insights and experiences i’ve had. I find your stuff really good for this. Thanks!

joah says:

And.. that is why i’m wondering.. Is our collective experience a resistance or fluctuation, a force, between the + and – that creates a consciousness for us to experience the nothingness as something? I really don’t know which half of the brain to use thinking about this hehe…

Mary says:

Sometimes there are situations that I don’t know wheteher I SHOULD do sth or I SHOULDN’T. You know there is a sort of confusion there. I would feel bad either way. It doesn’t matter what I do.

My father is a strict religous man. I have lots of problems with him. When we get into a fight and I stand up against him and tell him all those nasty things about how he treated me in the past and how I hate a lot of his opinions, I feel awefully guilty cause of the way I acted. I hate that angry version of myself amd I feel like I have mistreated my father and that I should have been more respectful of him regardless of his aweful opinions about me, my mother and brothers.. But I also feel bad and weak when I just kinda ignore him and won’t answer all his nasty remarks. Most of the time I don’t answer cause I know he has no power over what I do. Is there any moralizing going on around here?

Leo Gura says:

Right, so that means you should feel confused at times.

And your father should be an asshole sometimes.

And you should hate him at times.

And you should hate yourself at times.

Isn’t that what’s REAL?

Mary says:

Wow! That was just like a weight coming off.

Mayur says:

So is neurosis communicable ?

Flavian Popa says:

Leo, I appreciate a lot the material you put out for free, all the dedication and hard work you invest into organizing this information in a useful format and disseminating it to the world. I have one question related to this video. You said countless times that we do not possess control over our thoughts, because we do not exist. Well, sure this is an insight one can get only through enlightenment, its useless to try to comprehend it intellectually, it could only degenerate into intellectual masturbation, just like you previously said in other videos. However, how do you comment what Napoleon Hill said, that man (as in mankind) is endowed with control over nothing, except the faculty to direct his thoughts and mind towards the goal he wants to achieve through definiteness of purpose (the concept of “definiteness of purpose” is key and central to both “Think and Grow Rich” and “Outwitting the Devil” by the same Napoleon Hill.

Do you agree or disagree with Napoleon Hill? If there is no “self”, then there is no way you could choose “free willful ” to direct your minds towards a goal and achieving it. So who achieves the goal? The Universe, all the factors that concurred and intersected up to the moment of achieving that goal?

Leo Gura says:

Very simple. Napolean Hill was wrong.

He didn’t have access to nondual truths. He just used conventional thinking.

No one achieves the goal. The body-mind is chiefly responsible, but don’t confuse it with you. It ain’t you.

Gavin says:

Hey Leo,

Mindbending stuff this, in a good way! Although I am struggling to grasp some its subtleties.

If you have moved away from the should/shouldn’t paradigm and have identified your authentic desires, does not acting upon the authentic desires have negative consequences on your own authenticity? For example, if a man authentically wishes to murder someone, knows that morality doesn’t really exist and knows this is an authentic desire of his, would it impede his own alignment/congruence/path to actualization if he chooses not to follow through on his authentic desire?

Is acknowledging the desire enough to help him grow? Can he move towards unity/integration by loving this sin to death?

I guess I don’t get how to handle the darker aspects of oneself. What happens after loving such a sin to death? Does the desire dissipate?

FYI, I have no immediate plans to murder anybody I merely have a habit/inclination that could be considered bad, but don’t know whether to accept it as part of myself and honour it or to take measures to deny this part of myself to become a “better” person.

Sorry for the long winded message!


Leo Gura says:

Yes, although murder is not going to be an authentic desire. It’s a neurotic desire unless you’re doing it for something like self-defense.

Acknowledging your desires is a good idea. Otherwise what’s the alternative? Repressing them?

Make a distinction between acknowledging a desire vs acting on it. If you get an itch to murder someone, probably best not to act on that one. But you can fully acknowledge it and accept it.

All the work here is INTERNAL work. It’s not about acting things out. That’s mostly irrelevant.

To act out something like anger is NOT an acceptance of it! Not at all! It’s actually a denial. If you accept anger fully, you will not act it out. The reason something like anger gets acted is out is precisely so that it isn’t accepted by the mind. You act it out, it dissipates, you remain totally ignorant of what really happened inside you.

Anger is actually just non-acceptance.

Gavin says:

Thanks for you response!

Whoa, yeah, I never would have considered acting out something like anger to actually be a denial of it!

Would something like lust be similar to anger in this regard?

Thankfully, I don’t think anger is as big an issue for me. I guess I just need to work harder on identifying authentic desires vs. neurotic ones.

Evan says:

A profusely difficult & controversial message delivered masterfully with IMMENSE tact and wisdom!!! And with a powerful yet simple exercise to begin working with. Absolutely incredible. Thanks for your insights, Leo.

WingWizard says:

Could you please make more episodes on dating and sex for men?

sudu says:

Really nice. It’s wonderful to see how all of what you spoke now ties in neatly with some of the other profound self-actualization videos such as perfectionism, neuroticism, mind’s tendency to distort reality and self-acceptance! I can see the pieces of the Jigsaw puzzle coming together here in this video Thanks for the wonderful work Leo

Tia says:

I just want to share an experience I had today:
This morning, told my husband that he had to hurry up because our son would miss his bus, He didn’t listen and, consequently, my son missed his bus. I was pissed at first because I thought, “Mother fucker. He should have listened and now hes late and he has to drive to school instead of helping me, and… oh wait a minute. He SHOULD have NOT listened to me, because he didn’t, and that is reality” I was still angry but I just stayed mindful on my anger; my heart racing, my thoughts racing, my shallow breathing etc.
Eventually, I was not angry anymore.
I would much rather feel this way that I feel now than feel angry and bitter. The shift is unbelievable. I can’t believe something as simple as this can change the whole mood of someone’s day. Had I not done this, we would have had a huge fight that would have not gone anywhere.
If anyone has any doubts, just let them go and try this. It will change you.

Tom says:


I loved last week’s video and eagerly awaited this week’s, but am finding it confusing.

It should be noted that “should statements” also have other forms like “need-to
statements” and “have-to statements.”

If I say, “I should…” then I am not denying reality. The ones denying reality
are the ones who say, “I can’t believe that…” On the contrary, if I make a
“should statement,” then I am acknowledging the present and expressing a desire
for change to happen in the future. None of the “polar opposite statements”
feel more true, because none of them express the change I desire!

“Should statements” and other rules are short-hand for creating a high-quality
life. They reduce cognitive load. In an uncertain and sometimes hostile world,
they remind us to choose our “authentic desire” over temptations that may
naturally and temporarily arise, for example out of addiction. They let us
guide the actions of others, in a beneficial direction, without having to work
out all possible consequences of their actions. They help me, in the short
term, to choose the difficult action for desirable consequences over the easy
action whose consequences are undesirable (disease, death, suffering).

The neuroses and suffering come from expecting or assuming that you have
complete control over other people or even over yourself.

I do agree that no “should statement” applies in every situation. In
exceptional circumstances, some rules don’t apply. In modern circumstances,
many old rules no longer apply. If we follow the rules, or demand that others
follow the rules, in every circumstance, without question, then we are
fundamentalists, living in a “cartoon model” of the world. I am thinking that
this video is really a rant against _fundamentalism._

Leo Gura says:

Sounds like there’s something very big you’re missing here.

neil byrne says:

every time I pay attention for the the whole lot of one of your videos I feel like I deserve a gold medal for my efforts.

WingWizard says:

Leo, have you ever noticed that sometimes we behave in ways we consciously despise and subconsciously execute? We think certain thoughts or behave in certain ways that we later regret and know are ‘reptilian’ in nature (Of course there is no one thinking our thoughts and no one doing our actions). Is there anyway to completely surpass this lower self thinking and acting?

Leo Gura says:


That’s about it.

But don’t underestimate how powerful it is.

Wingwizard says:

Consciousness work is EXTREMELY difficult to learn. It is frightening to see how asleep and unaware we as entities are. We have zero control over ruinous thoughts that destroy our lives and undertake actions that are guaranteed to make us miserable.

What is the most hardcore way to break down this dirty cycle of the mind and ego?

Also are enlightenments of different kinds? And are their other ways of being enlightened than direct enquiry or meditation, like real time life experiences or not?

Jerzy says:

Leo, I admire you for your progress with The Work .

Hace says:

Around minute 56 0 you describe how you think about eating a donut without and with an authentic desire to have a healthy body.
As if it were only that easy.
Lets talk about smoking here. Very seldom, I have the thought, kind of a desire to smoke a cigarette. In this moment, if I would ignore and inverse my SHOULD NOT, and tell myself, I SHOULD smoke a cigarette, well… I know what it leads to. It’s like the fucking dumbest thing I could possibly do.
As an example I took smoking, but I can also take drinking alcohol or going to the gym… WHENEVER I followed the advice in this video and ‘inverse’ the should, it lead to fucking desaster! No, there are ZERO moments when I should drink alcohol or sit at home and do nothing instead of going to the gym.
And Leo, if you are telling me that you are swishing all your short term idiotic temptations under the rug easily every single time they occur because they are conflicting with your ‘authentic desires’, I can’t really believe you.

Shannon says:

Love your videos. They really help jail break the mind. So with death things just continue as they are, nothingness? Is this a Truth that can be certain? How can we know without direct experience. I am trying to grasp our existential existence. This keeps coming up with mindfulness. Would love help on the next step.

Curious says:

Is this one of the videos intended to “rip the fuck out of our ego” mentioned in your spiritual enlightenment intro video?

Also would it possible to release your podcasts on the same day as your YouTube videos? I’ve noticed recently that The YouTube videos are released two days earlier than the email and podcasts.

Rania says:

I have seen many of your videos- have been watching for about a year now, have to say this is one of your best videos! I can really relate to it because I wake up to a should statement and my entire day is filled with “oh I should have done this instead of that” I didn’t prioritize my time right, I should be nicer, kinder, more organized etc. etc. I am now less hard on myself , but can also view others in a different light. Many people are supposed to lie, cheat and mistreat you, they actually should because that’s how it is. There are many people who I blame for having mistreated me and having acted “immorally” towards me. It is easier to accept the reality which is that some people will be good to you and others won’t- expecting everyone to be nice is more of a fantasy not reality.
Also I have grown up in an Asian culture where respecting parents (regardless of their actions) is of paramount importnace. While watching the video when I said “I should not respect my parents” it sounded wrong initially, but just the second time its sounded right! Because sometimes you shouldn’t!

Lin says:

I listen to each and every video from Leo!
He is amazing!

Alice says:


Thank you for this and previous videos!

Very interesting subject to explore. I’m curious to know your opinion on something.

Many homeless people make certain choices according to their reality and their desires. If you would do something to help them what would it be? I really need some insight from a knowledgable person like you!

What if a person has an addiction and his/her desires would constantly lead to making it worse? You mentioned to just let it be because if these people hold off it will only get worse… I Am not sure I understood you here… On following desires… Because it all depends on the desire.

With me it is – hard work on my weaknesses and it’s an ongoing process IMHO. For example I used to bite my nails and would probably still have this addiction if back in the day I wouldn’t stop. Now it’s no longer a challenge. Maybe it’s a bit moralistic but what worked for me so far is – to work on the weakness with true effort and as a results – my wekness becomes my strength. If I would just follow my desires I’d still be biting my nails but I think it would be much intence then before. If I start again because I have no scissors at the moment and the nail is in a way who knows I might start doing it again.
Your advice is valuable as well on letting the sotuation be and don’t act upon it in the heat of a moment cause later it usually seems silly anyways as one lady in the comments mentioned I know some people choose to do things that other people consider “against certain morals” and sure that’s just reality. But if nobody does nothing about anything IMHO this reality we have might change to the point where everybody will just fallow the most “you know what kind of” EASY desires. Because what is “moralistically good” is usually hard. I learned this while I teach music and most of my students don’t want to do anything slightly challenging. And all easy desires are “you know” egoistic. Ego is what’s causing all the “anti-moralistic desires”. You gave a few examples like cheating. Those things don’t happen out of love – they happen to please the body and hide it out of fear for someone to know. And people who cheat a lot they get cheated upon, it gets worse where it becomes not big of a deal anymore because that’s usually the reality because we people get used to doing whatever we are doing and become comfortable with it over time. Example I was watching horror movies a lot out of curiosity and as a result was scared to stay alone and had many nightmares and the list goes on. One day I chose to stop and ever since no more of that! No more ridiculous fears People only lable things to create order out of chaos, or what do you think? Why does the word moral even exists? What I thought that “moral” means “righteous”, “something that leads to positive circumstances”. Hm On the other hand without immoral we would not know what the moral is. It’s like + and -. Both have to exist. So we gotta except we have all kinds of things around us. From my experience as a child I was as open to explore the world. No black and white no good or bad just this reality. It was extremely hard to make choices because I really didn’t know many of the consiquences until I experienced them. I am grateful for those suggestions that I actually took in from people who loved me because everybody else just supported the idea of try this, try that and whatever happens oh well So I think personal education is extremely important – whatever people choose it to be Trial and error, The gospel, following people they look up to, or whatever else. Think of it you know so much because you studied it and practiced it. If you know that walking into the burning building with no escape will cause pain and kill you would you not create a “moral” for a person you love or you would just watch them go and shut the only escape door behind? Isn’t this the reason you ate making these videos for us? That’s what I’m the most curious about. Sure if it’s a stranger you might be oh well it’s up to you but what if that’s someone you personally catr for and was responsible for? And actually some people have so much love they would even run after a stranger trying to save him/her even risking their own body. This one man died saving a stranger. It’s an extreme example but it does apply to the little things too IMHO. People are so different I think I found for mysef one basic thing we have in comon – we all experience love. When in any reality we turn to love everything can turn into joy or a great lesson learned.

Thank you for your time and these videos again!


Leo Gura says:

How would I help homeless people? I would give them a computer with internet and tell them to watch all my videos.

Creating a moral for others is like you pointing a burning man off the edge of a cliff.

If you want to help people, help them increase their awareness, don’t give them ideological rules. Ideological rules are the reason they need help in the first place. If they were aware, they wouldn’t need help. They’d be helping you!

Alice says:

Thank you Leo. I will do so. We plan a room available with resourses to read and watch. Computers (would be so wonderful to get as well).
Also we provide art classes.

Thank you for the work you do!

I also recently watched the documentary called “I’m not your guru” Tony Robbins. Thought you might enjoy and draw more inspiration for what you do.

All the best to you!


Tia says:

Have you ever heard of “Non violent communication”, by Marshall Rosenberg? The principles he speaks about are very similar to what you are saying here.

kyle says:

hey i notice something when i was doing this thinking about this last day i watched this video iv bin doing everything i notice that if u do your desires and tell the truth about your self because it happens your desires change u dont think about doing the should not i rush into right away i am waking up bit buy bit leo i cant believe how fast my mind is changing everything u told me from start i was watching this video i took it right away in thanks leo i notice something if i say i should not do drugs i did this last night i said in my head i should i did today i have no more desire to get high i watch your video about drugs and how u should watch your self this video is better then that over coming addiction think about it everyone lol dont beat your self up for doing something that u did u cant change anything its life i notice this for last 4 years thinking about it for 5hs do u know what i find is mind opening u should tell people to do drugs but meditate on them some drugs open your mind more i notice i am not saying all drugs do it but some do not necessarily lsd or shrooms open your mind more i was a drug user now i am not it dose not exist to me it the past now i am just a user following me desires of doing and not doing this video made my head crack open more then any other video i watched i do not feel angry anymore its only bin 1 day u said it takes years lol i dont know why people cant just get it iv bin smiling all day leo every drugs have a effect on u but u gotta go into your head and see why its so bed only reason why people get hooked i think is because of the shouldents u said reason being is u think is so bad u get scared i want have a real talk with u about a person who is getting your ideas fast reason why is i was a kid who never listen i always listen to me if i can get a little bit of your time please i got some major things u should know about a drug users who is becoming aware i am still a sleep but i am getting things really fast i only found u out a month ago i was using hardcore then i have the ida of meditating on drugs its not that drugs are addictive its u because your resting your desires i feel like my awareness is at 5 thousand now it was like at a 30 two months ago i was getting angry and kicking my self in the ass until i saw your videos i opened my mind right away it made me smile only took 3 months i even tried something different i found u can mediate with out even knowing u i notice that leo what do u think about what i am saying all i can do is smile now i have so meany idas i found that your over coming addiction video is good but how ever doing nothing is not always the best u should do all of the drugs u buy and keep strong say hey i am not doing anything bad then when u do that your desires change this video is more effective i think i did get anything tell i saw this i have another desire is to have a real talk with u i am not asking u to take me on is a student or anything i just wanna talk to u about this amazing experience i have right now its like nothing matter anymore u said it take years to even make a scratch i have made 2 good claw marks in my ego right now thanks i know i got still far i am not awake thanks leo your awsome i thought u might want know this guy right here is getting it but i just want know what are you thoughts on what i am saying

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