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Call and Response Special Edition – Conversations With KD April 02, 2020
Taking time to look back and move forward. Conversations With KD episodes are derived from the recordings of KD’s online events from his home during the 2020/ 2021 days of social distancing and quarantine from the onset of COVID and beyond.
“You know, all this craziness in the world is our doing. Nobody else is doing this. It’s us. We human beings are doing this. All of us. So, we human beings can change it. But not everybody believes that. Not everybody believes that there’s a better way to live. Most people live in fear, shame, guilt and selfishness and greed. And that’s what drives us and when we’re in that mode, it’s us and them and we’ll do anything we have to to protect ourselves and our small circle of people. That’s the kind of thinking that kind of has to go. It has to loosen up a little. Will it happen? I don’t know. I hope so. “ – Krishna Das
It’s amazing how connected I feel these days. Every time I turn my computer on, there’s forty people checking in or putting up something online. It’s really amazing. All my Lamas from, living in Nepal, they’re online today and every day there’s teachings, so many teachings available, it’s incredible. So, really plug into those if you’re home, instead of sitting around worrying and panicking. It’s wonderful to get these teachings from these wonderful Beings, these Great Beings. It’s extraordinary.
So, we’re here. The same place. The next week. And next week. And next week. And next week. The chanting is so important to overcome the habits of thought, the way we, we shutter ourself inside this dark, this dark room that we call ourselves, our emotions. It’s just, we’re brought up that way. Our parents were that way. Our grandparents were that way. It’s very rare that we meet people in our growing-up phase that are at all really plugged into something really deep, you know?
It happens. But so, it’s extraordinary. You know when I was first getting interested in this stuff, there were like three books on yoga and meditation. There wasn’t, I don’t even think there was any yoga studios anywhere. Maybe a few people teaching yoga here and there. So, now so much is available and we need it, as you know. We need it and it’s there. So, use this time to get deeper into your own being and to open your heart and let go of fear and embrace feeling, wishing this world and everybody in it, well. Breaking down the barriers that we have: shame and fear and sadness and betrayal and broken hearts and all that stuff. We’ve got to get over that stuff. We’ve got to digest it. You can’t push it away but we’ve got to digest it and use it as fuel, as food to move on into a deeper, a deeper love. And the chanting, it’s just so powerful, too, because either you’re paying attention or you’re not. It becomes very obvious to you. So, every time you’re not, you keep coming back. And little by little, there’s a, you know, when you drive towards the ocean, like out in L.A., on the Pacific Palisades and you’re driving towards the ocean and the windows were open in the car and I went, “Oh… I smell the ocean.” Just then there’s a street, what was it called? I forget, but it was like, you could, that street was where you could smell the ocean and then you know you’re moving in the right direction.
So, as we do these practices, as we chant and meditate, pray and do whatever we do, we touch that place where we can, we can taste it just a little bit. We can smell that fragrance of sweetness just a little bit. You can’t hold onto it. But you cultivate it through your practice.
So, let me see, there’s some questions here.
Q: How does Ram Das come to me now?
You know, I can’t even say it’s a memory. It’s not a memory at all. It’s a living presence. He’s so, he’s such a natural part of me. We bonded so deeply towards the end and especially in these last years, but especially in the last couple of years. I feel like he’s always around and just smiling. Where’s that picture? I love this picture. This was our, this was a picture of us. Can you see it? That’s how we were at the end, like two crazy little kids. You know? Just having fun in our hearts. It was really, really deep. Really deep. We’ve been through tons of shit together over the years and all that was left was this real joy in each other’s presence.
Q: How many times do I chant?
I don’t know. I don’t count. I chant and then I stop chanting. I don’t know how long. You just do what you can. You don’t have to memorize things. You can read them. You can chant them as you go. Read them as you chant. You don’t have to memorize the Chalisa. You’re not preparing for an exam. So, read it, sing it, read it. You don’t have to try to memorize it. It’ll come to you. Do it a few million times. You’ll remember it. No problem.
Q: Can I talk about staying strong and courageous in these times?
Well, what are the options? What are your options? You know, many years ago I was in, me and a friend of mine had trailed Maharajji down to Bombay. They called it “Bombay” in those days. And we actually found Him. I mean, it was crazy that we found Him. But we did. And, long story, but anyhow, so one day we were in this building, an apartment building with Him in someone’s apartment, and He was lying on the bed in the back of the room and I was sitting on the floor next to Him, just doing my practice, which is staring at Him. And there was an Indian guy there, an Indian devotee and many hours had gone by. Maharajji was just lying on the bed. He’d sit up. He’d lie down. He’d sit up. He’d lie down. Then all of a sudden, with great intensity, He sits up and He looks at me and He said, “Courage is a really big thing.”
Now, the Indian devotee said, “Oh, Baba, God takes care of His devotees.”
Maharajji just shot Him a glance like that and He said to me again, “Courage is a really big thing.”
It is. It’s a big thing.
We need courage.
We need courage not to, not to give up. Because life goes on. Everything’s going to go on whether you’re there with it or not. It’s best to try to stay with it as best you can.
Don’t give in to fear. Don’t give in to too much worry. And do what you can to overcome that. It’s not courage for nothing. It’s for courage for the sake of your own heart and the hearts of those around us. It’s not like courage in battle and you’re going to go kill people. The battle is, you’re going to kill your own limitations. You’re going to kill and conquer the things that drag us down, that prevent us from allowing our hearts to be open and wide and prevent us from being who we really can be in this world.
So, courage is very important.
You just have to talk yourself down, you know? I mean, even Hanuman had to talk Himself down in a slightly different way. One time, Hanuman was, He’d jumped over to Lanka to try to find Sita who had been kidnapped by Ravana and Lanka was His Kingdom. And He had to go all through the kingdom looking for her. So, at one point, looking in, and he came across Ravana’s harem. And He looks down, and Hanuman was not, He was brahmachari. He was celibate and He was looking at all these naked women in various degrees of undress and He stopped and went, “Oh my God, I’ve sinned.” You know? “I’ve done something wrong. I’ve looked at these women.” And He started to have a meltdown. If monkeys can melt down, He was having a monkey meltdown, and then He says to Himself, “Now, wait a minute. I didn’t do this of my own volition. I did this in the service to Ram to try to find Sita. This was not, there was nothing in this of ‘me’. This was all to serve Ram. So, there’s nothing for me to worry about.” You know? And then He went on His way. But He was having a meltdown. He had to talk Himself down. Sometimes, we just have to talk ourselves down. Like, “Let go of this. Let go of this. You’ll deal with it some other time. Just let go of it now. Chill.” Sometimes you just have to do that. And of course, the things that help us do that is our regular practice. Regular connecting again and again coming back home to our hearts.
When I Chant The Chalisa, it feels very mechanistic and lacks joy, love and all the sweetness that it once did. What gives? What’s the fix for this? Should I move on and cultivate other practices?
Sweetheart, my friend, it’s not the practice. It’s you. It’s not the practice. It’s us. At the beginning, we had an excitement. “Here we are. We’re singing the Chalisa. Oh, it’s so great, I’m in so much love.” But that superficial excitement passes. Of course. It has to. Then you get down to the nitty gritty of seeing your own mind and the bullshit that’s going on all the time in our heads. But you still practice. You just do your best to pay attention. The Hanuman Chalisa is a mantra. Maharajji said every line is Mahamantra. So, Mahamantra is Mahamantra. Do it. Give yourself to it as best you can. It’s only our own stuff that keeps us separate. I have the same thing. That happens. You think I’m in total bliss all the time? I’m singing and floating off the ground? I don’t think so. You keep doing. You keep doing. You keep doing. In this case, the way you asked that question, the answer is, “Just keep doing.” And notice your emotions. Notice the inability you have to give yourself to it. Just keep noticing. Let go and come back. Noticing. Let go and come back. That’s the deal. You don’t have to manufacture some kind of feeling. What happened at first wasn’t, it’s not the real thing. It’s only a temporary little hit. The real thing is always here and that’s why doing the Chalisa will uncover within us. All these practices do the same thing like that. So, keep chanting.
Q: If were Baba were here physically in the same form that I knew Him in, do you think He’d still live in Kainchi?
No. I don’t think so. He might be here in the same form that I knew Him in, but He’s not in Kainchi as far as I can tell. He’s not anywhere that I know. When we start talking about Maharajji, it’s like stepping, it’s like diving into a pool. We don’t know how deep it is. We’re trying to get to the bottom but we don’t know how to and we never can find the bottom. There are so many stories about Him, so many stories about Him. There’s no way to know.
You know, these great Beings, this world is a dream. This body is a dream. And you’ve heard about conscious dreaming, right? Which is the ability to enter into your dreams consciously at night and then you can do all kinds of things in your dreams that you can’t do in a physical body. So, in some way, for the Great Beings, this world is their dream. If Maharajji wants to have three bodies, He can have three bodies. In fact, Tiwari told me a story. There was a new temple being inaugurated in Delhi, just outside of Delhi and Maharajji was asked to come and bless the inauguration, but He said He wasn’t going to come. And He was way up in the mountains, maybe twelve, fourteen hour car ride from Delhi, way up in the mountains with Tiwari and other devotees at this house. Way up. And at about, I think it was about like 11 o’clock in the morning, Maharajji says to Tiwari, “Let’s go, let’s take a walk.” So, they walked out on this ridge, which is one of these, like, the Himalayas are kind of right there, you know, like a few ridges away. And He says to Tiwari, “Sit down and meditate.” So, Tiwari sat down facing the Himalays, closes His eyes. Boom. He’s gone. So finally Maharajji hits him. “Let’s go let’s go let’s go. Come. I have work to do. Let’s go.” So, they walked back to the house and then they spent the rest of the day. The next day, a car arrives from Delhi and it’s the people who, the trust, the temple trust. They came into the house and they said, “We wanted, Maharajji left before taking prasad. So we’ve come from Delhi to bring the food for Him, the prasad from the temple.” And the house owner says to him, “What do you mean ‘he left?’” And they said, “Well, He was there in the morning, but then just around 11, He was there around 11 and then we went to get Him food and He disappeared.” And the householder said, “What nonsense you’re talking. He was here all day. Here in the house. What are you talking about?” And the people from Delhi just looked around and they saw Tiwari sitting there in the living room and they said, “Look, and he was there, too.”
So, Maharajji had gone to Delhi and taken Tiwari with Him while they were both here in the mountains. So, what can be said? What can be said? But I doubt He’d be in Kainchi.
Q: Do I think that after COVID-19 blows over, if it blows over the way we hope it will, as a society we’ll see there’s more to life than money and consumerism?
Or will things go back to the way they were?
Well, one would hope that at least the people who had the karmas to wake up, did; will wake up and manifest more strongly in the world for sure. This is a very powerful time. People don’t wake up without difficulties. When you have difficulties, you have to overcome them. And that’s when people start to pay attention. Maharajji used to say, “I love suffering. Suffering makes me remember God.”
So, yes. I think that maybe there will be, the people who are ripe enough and have been, whose karmas allowed them to ripen even more at this time will be more active in the world and help and be more open and more, more helpful in making good things happen. But you know, we’ll see. One can only hope and do what one can.
You know, all this craziness in the world is our doing. Nobody else is doing this. It’s us. We human beings are doing this. All of us. So, we human beings can change it. But not everybody believes that. Not everybody believes that there’s a better way to live. Most people live in fear, shame, guilt and selfishness and greed. And that’s what drives us and when we’re in that mode, it’s us and them and we’ll do anything we have to to protect ourselves and our small circle of people. That’s the kind of thinking that kind of has to go. It has to loosen up a little. Will it happen? I don’t know. I hope so.
I hope so.
Q: Maharajji gave me darshan in a dream. Am I imagining it? Playing a trick? Or was it real? How do I know?
Well, they say that we can not create the form of a Saint, a real Saint with our own minds. That if we see a Saint in a dream, they have come to see us. They have given us darshan. That’s what they believe, or what’s believed. So, I think that feels right to me. We can’t conjure up that form in our mind. We can when we’re awake. We can visualize. But when we fall asleep, we don’t have that will to visualize, so if we have that darshan, see a Saint or a Yogi in our dreams, it means they’ve probably come to see us. In most cases, I think that would be true.
Q: What is Maharajji’s big form?
You know, Dada, who was a great devotee of Maharajji’s, he used to say Maharajji had two blankets. He had an outer blanket to hide his physical body from us because, Dada used to see Him with sores that would manifest and then go away. All kinds of things going on as He was taking karma on and eating people’s karmas up, burning it off on His own body. But Dada also said He had an inner blanket that hid His true being from us because we could not handle it, we could not, it would burn our circuits up. So, Maharajji’s big form is the Big Form, the Universal Form. He is One with God. He has become the Universe. And like Krishna shows Arjuna His Universal Form, the whole Universe, everything within Him, this is Maharajji’s Big Form as well. Outside of that huge, vast Being, Being-ness, Presence, there can be nothing outside of That. Everything exists within that Presence. Just like the clouds float through the sky, the birds fly, the pollution pollutes, the wind blows, all inside of this vast sky.
Q: How would you find a Guru in Staten Island?
I don’t know. There might not be. They might be all over the place. Everybody might be a Guru in Staten Island.
Some of the Lamas I referred to at the beginning: Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche. Those are the three Rinpoches that I was just thinking about, that I saw today online. Also, Tai Situ Rinpoche was online today. So many are available, giving messages and hope and support for us. So many. Beautiful.
You know, somebody asked me once about happiness, you know, and I said, “Well, you know, someone once, some reporter I think it was, once asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama if He was happy. And He said, ‘Well, I know, I guess you could say I’ve had a tough life, really. I was taken from my parents at an early age to be educated in a monastery. Then I had to take over the reins of my country at a very early age. Then I had to escape from my country as was helpless as millions, millions of my people were slaughtered by the Chinese Government. And now I’m living as a refugee in another country. But, yes, I’m happy.’ He said, ‘The Chinese have taken everything from me. Should I let them take my happiness, too?’” That’s really deep. Because we, we’re so accustomed to getting all the things we want in the course of our life, in a day, in a week. We reach here, we amazon this and this and that. We get so used to being empowered that way and using and being so busy that way, we forget that happiness is an innate quality to our true nature. And it’s up to us to find that within.
You got me with that “big form” question. Once my mind went there, I was zoned.
There was a question just before about, how can I achieve spirituality and closeness to Lord Krishna?
Lord Krishna is God. And certainly, if you call His Name and Chant His Name, you will achieve closeness to Krishna. You will recognize divinity in yourself and everywhere because as He says, “And when He sees Me in All,” this is Krishna speaking in the Gita, “and when He sees in All and sees All in Me, then I never leave him and he never leaves Me. And he, who in this oneness of Love, loves Me in whatever he sees, wherever this man may live, in truth he lives in Me.” “And when He sees in All and All in me, then I never leave Him and He never leaves me. And he, who in this oneness of Love, loves me in whatever he sees, loves Me in whatever he sees, wherever this man may live, in truth he lives in Me.” So, that’s what we’re talking about. When we see Krishna in all Beings then Krishna is always with us. He never leaves us. And again, He says, “Who burns with the bliss and suffers the sorrow of every creature in his own heart, making his own, each bliss and each sorrow, him I hold as the highest devotee.” A heart as wide as the world. A heart as wide as the world.
Surrender is the issue here. Surrender is our path. Surrender of the separate self. Surrender of the ego. Surrender of our own subjective delusion that we call reality. And that’s what practice is for. Practice trains us as we keep coming back to the moment, coming back to the mantra, coming back to the breath, coming back to moment. We let go again and again of the thoughts that take us away, the emotions that take us away, the sensations that take us away. We’ve come back again and again. That’s surrendering. Every time you let go.
And as Krishna says in the Gita, “Do what you do, but the fruit of your actions is not up to you. It’s up to Him. It’s up to God.” That’s what He says.
So, we do what we do. We do as much good in the world as we can. We try to help everyone we can but whether we can change this world or not, we don’t know. Our job is simply to do the best we can. Every day. The best we can. Which is what we’re doing. But it could be better. So, and the surrender is very deep so I’m going to read this again, I read it last week.
From Ramana Maharshi: “Place your burden”, your burden, our burden, which is this heavy delusional “me” that we carry around… “Place your burden at the feet of the Lord of the Universe who accomplishes everything. Remain all the time steadfast in the heart, in the transcendental absolute, in the oneness, in the present moment.”
God knows the past, the present and the future. He will determine the future for you and accomplish the work.
What is to be done will be done at the proper time. Don’t worry. Abide in the heart and surrender your acts, your selfish acts, your self-centered acts to the Divine.
Surrender is the goal. Devotion is the path. Surrender is the goal. By letting go, we get everything. Nothing is lost. Everything is gained. And Maharajji used to say, over and over again, “Ram nam karne se sab pura ho jata.” From going on repeating the Names of God, everything is accomplished. Everything. The goal is reached. Which is, we merge, we’re merging, completely becoming one with the universe. Recognizing the onenesss of the universe, of which we are a part. Or so they say.
So, let’s see, any more questions?
Q: When Maharajji said He would come to America, He didn’t say in a new body, He just “in the body, in a body”. He said He would come to America and Radha was there and said, “You’ll come in our heights.” He said, “Nay. In a body.” So, where is He?
How the hell do I know? If He wanted me to know where He was, I’d know. But I don’t. That doesn’t mean He’s not here or hasn’t come. So, don’t hold your breath.
Q: Is this the end of the Kali Yuga?
Well, that would be nice. That would mean that the Golden Age is just down the road, but I don’t think so. I don’t think so.
Q: Why do I wear red clothes?
I wear red clothes because I was told to wear red clothes. Maharajji made me dye everything I had red. And He said, “You’re Hanuman. You’re Bajarangbali. You have to wear red all the time.” So, I do, mostly. Red, red-orange. Orange-red. You know, whatever, as close as I can get.
Q: How can we support the dying and their families and those who may be dying alone?
Well, obviously, there’s not much we can do physically at this point. We can donate to the first responders. There’s many places to donate that help the first responders who are also getting sick. There’s plenty of places to donate to help. Different charities. Food to people. It’s very difficult because it’s not just a question of you’re not getting sick yourself. It’s a question of not spreading it to people that the virus will actually kill more easily. Old people. Although apparently many, most of the people who have it are between 20 and 50. That’s what I’ve understood.
And there was another question about, you know, should I read the news? It drives me crazy.
Well, “I read the news today, oh boy.”
So, the news feeds fear for me. We pray for ourselves and humanity but I feel guilty. I feel like I’m not witnessing as Bernie would say. Like turning my head away.
Well, you’re witnessing turning your head away. That’s part of witnessing. You witness your own reactions, too, and you let them go so you can become more present. It’s a practice. Don’t expect yourself to go straight to the whole, the end of everything. You have to do it step by step. That’s the way it works.
Witnessing is very powerful. When I went to Auschwitz with Bernie, twice, it was really intense, obviously. I don’t want to belittle the situation. It was a very powerful situation. Very powerful practice place. Very powerful. And we had come there to bear witness to the suffering.
Obviously, to be witness, which means “seeing something,” you have to be able to see it without coloring it with your own stuff. Otherwise, you’re not witnessing and in this case we were witnessing as an offering to those beings who suffered there. Not necessarily for ourselves but because to be with them as they are, to give our being to them, one had to drop your own trip. Not so easy. So, the first time I was there, the first few days, the sun was shining. It was autumn and the leaves were multicolored on the trees, all flickering gold, red, yellow. It was so beautiful. Grass growing. I walked around furious. Screaming, literally. Raging at God. And the sun, the sun was shining and I would walk around and inside I was going, “How can you fucking shine on this place? How dare you shine on this place? How dare you shine on this place?” Right?
I was nuts. It drove me crazy. And for two days, I was kind of out of my mind. “How dare you?” You know? And then all of a sudden, I went, “Oh, it’s your nature to shine.” It’s your nature to shine on all equally. On the shit. On the gold. On the good. On the bad. On the up and the down. The poor and the rich. The good and the evil. You know, it was like, the top of my head just blew off. That’s unconditional love. On all beings. All the time, equally. It was a very very very powerful situation, a very powerful experience for me. I was stuck in judging, which we do and my version of it. But the sun was just shining on all, even on me and my state of mind. This is witnessing. This is where witnessing and practicing being able to witness will open up for us those kind of experiences where we see from a different place. And you know, Bernie was all about that. All about that.
Q: What about charas, which is hash? Do I recommend it for spiritual…
I recommend it for lung infections and pulmonary disfunction.
No. You know, Maharajji said, if hash would bring you to God, we’d get a room full of it and we’d all go and smoke together, but it won’t. It will just destroy your health. And that’s what He said. And I haven’t smoked anything like that in so many years. I can’t even imagine. However, He did say that LSD, which He called the Yogi Medicine, can bring you into the room with Christ. Which means, God. But you can’t stay. The only way to stay is love. That’s what He said. So, I don’t think He was being judgmental from a worldly point of view. I think He was just simply telling it the way it is. So, you deal with that. Do as you wish.