Call and Response Special Edition – Conversations With KD April 16, 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.
“We don’t know who God is, what God is, but he’s certainly not someone who sits in judgment of us. How could he even fit in there? We’re so busy judging ourselves. There’s no room for him to judge us or her to judge us.” – Krishna Das
Welcome back to the new abnormal, as somebody wrote. It’s good to be with you again. I can’t see you, but we’re here together on the planet.
Yeah, so we’ll spend some time together again tonight.
The chanting practice, for me, is the most powerful way that I have to keep letting go, coming back to some useful, reasonable perspective about things. Things tend to get a little intense when you’re locked in one space together, with people or without people. Even alone, it gets very intense because all you see is your own mind and at least when you’re alone, you can’t blame anybody else for your thoughts and your emotions. But when you’re with other people, it can get pretty intense. But regardless, alone or together, or whatever, sooner or later, we have to deal with our mind and our thoughts and our emotions.
As the previous Karmapa, the 16th Karmapa once said, “The only thing you take with you when you die is your state of mind.”
So, now is the time to begin, or continue working with that state of mind, getting to a place where it doesn’t push us around all the time, where we get some vote into how we go through the day, how we sit inside of ourselves.
The meaning of these chants is not to be understood intellectually. And what happens is, the more you chant, the deeper, the more often you come back to the chant. And so, you’re actually acclimating yourself to sit in the chanting and the flow of sound. And inside this flow of sound, many things will come, many understandings, intuitions, flashes of insight come from inside the chant, comes to the awareness, comes to our mind. Those are not thoughts. They are coming from inside the chant, their intuition coming from the heart, the seat of awareness in ourselves, our true nature, our heart cave, or as they call it, “hridayam,” the seat of consciousness in the body. It’s not actually in the body, they say, but it’s attached, it attaches itself to the body and pumps awareness into the body.
The mind is what lights up everything that we see. Just like the sun lights up the physical world, or lamps, flashlights, it’s the mind that lights up everything we see, everything we think. All the objects that we perceive are actually perceived by awareness. And this awareness is part of that Satchidananda, which is the way, one of the ways they describe reality or divinity, real divinity. Truth, consciousness, awareness and bliss.
Happiness is one of those things. Although if you’re from Long Island, you know, you might be disqualified from that last last one, but we’re working on it. Yeah. So as we chant, and Maharajji used to say, from going on repeating these names, everything is accomplished. Everything is brought to fullness.
That’s a very powerful statement and is something that we have to, at least, if not take on faith, not blind faith, but educated faith, if not then at least we have to suspend disbelief long enough to do the practice and get the experience ourselves. If you can’t do the practice, if you can’t look inside, you won’t see.
So, if we’re prevented from doing that by skepticism or by a negative take on reality or a belief that we could never be happy, there’s no way we could deal with our shit. If we don’t do anything, if we don’t plant the seeds of waking up, we won’t wake up. That’s the deal. And all of these names that we sing, these are the names of that place within us. True being, true love, reality. Now, how can that be a name of something like that? We don’t know. We have to just do the practice and have our own experience of it, see if it changes the way we feel about how we go through our day. And it doesn’t happen all at once, it takes time and trying to give ourselves more and more to the practice, trying to really be there while we’re doing it.
It’s very hard, you know, we’re not used to it. We’re just used to getting lost in stuff. When we watch a movie on television, we’re not aware that we’re watching, we’re just gone into it. When we’re reading a book, we’re not aware that we’re reading. We’re just reading. When we go through our day, we’re not aware, we’re asleep. We’re just going through stuff automatically. So, the idea of doing a practice comes to us as a result of our own karmas, our own good karmas, the karmas that create the longing to be free of negativity, of stuff, of suffering. Which is created by our own minds.
So, as we do these practices, even when we get caught in stuff, we don’t get caught quite as deeply as we used to. Little by little, gradually but inevitably, that the reality, the presence that’s hidden within us is uncovered. It’s like the lights go on and you see the way home and you start to move in that direction.
People say, Oh, you know, what’s the most powerful chant?
And I say, the one that you do.
What’s your favorite chant?
Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t. You sing what you feel and follow that feeling. Believe in that feeling trust in that feeling, the whole path is nothing but learning to trust ourselves and our own experience, and to let the clouds go, let the clouds that come between us in the sun, just keep letting them go as we trust our own intuition and experience.
Back in the old days in India, I was staying at the Tiwari’s house, Mr. and Mrs. Tiwari, my Indian parents, and I had heard somewhere, someone was singing this thing that had these words, “Narayani Namostute”, which means I bow down to Naryani, the goddess Durga. So, I asked Mr. Tiwari, “Baba,” as I called him, I said, “Baba, have you ever heard this? Narayani Namostute?”
“Oh really? Could you teach it to me?”
Well, so we were in the living room, drinking tea. So, he was having milk. I was having chai. And so he started to recite this prayer, just sitting there, no books or anything. And I was trying to write it down. He was going slow. And then he just kind of closed his eyes and went off faster and faster and deeper and deeper. And after about 20 minutes… So, I just had it after about 20 minutes, he’s going, “Om Narayani, Om Narayani, Om Narayani…”
He went into samadhi. He merged with the goddess. And he’s like this, and he’s not breathing. Not breathing. Not breathing. Okay? And tears are streaming down his cheeks just like this. So, I thought, “Shit, I killed him.”
Just then, Ma comes into the living room to get the tea cups. And I say, “Ma, look, it’s Baba. When’s he going to come back?”
And she picked up the teacups. She just looked at me and she said, very sweetly… that’s her over there, I don’t know if you can see her right now… She said, “Don’t know,” and then went into the kitchen, leaving me with this crying corpse,
The thing was, it really pissed me off because he wasn’t even trying, he was just singing to the mother, calling the mother, calling the goddess and he just went.
So, we’re working on it. Okay.
All right, let’s see what kind of questions do we have here.
Q: How did you overcome the sadness of having the Guru in the body? Does one ever overcome the longing to have him in the flesh, to see?
No. No, you never overcome that longing, but at some point, you see… because we identify with the body and the mind, and not the mind, but the body and the thoughts and the emotions. We see the Guru as the body, thoughts and emotions. And so, if that body’s not there, we get very upset, like me. I got very upset, very depressed, very suicidal, very screwed up, but at some point, I realized that… I came from one room to another in my apartment, in the city at that point, in New York, and I was struck like a lightning bolt with the understanding that if I did not chant with people, I would never clean out the dark corners and the shadows in my own heart. And it was obvious to me that at that moment, that those shadows and those dark corners were the only thing that was causing me suffering, and that I had to do that in order to reconnect more deeply with Maharajji. I had felt, I felt that I had let go of his hand. And he had said many times to us. He said, “Once I take your hand, I never let go. Even when you let go of mine.”
And I had let go out of my sadness and my emotional attachment to being with his body, I broke my, from my side, I broke the connection. I lost the connection and I recognized the only way to get it back was to start chanting with people. So, I started and as time went on, I began to feel his presence in a different way. And so I don’t miss him that way anymore, the way I did when he first left the body. I mean, it was the best show on earth. Totally fascinating, totally joyful, blissful a lot at the time. And amazing. So, you’re going to miss that, but that wasn’t the deepest part of it. And I had to recognize that and find that deeper presence in my own being and in everyone around me too, because he’s not limited to being inside of me, so to speak. So, part of practice is seeing that presence, that love, that beauty in every being around. And like it says in the Gita, I read it the other day. I’ll just read it again if I can find it.
Krishna, Sri Krishna says, “when he sees me,” that’s me Krishna, Guru, God, “When he sees me 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.”
I just had that stop moping around and get with the program, because that’s the deal. And coming from Long Island, it wasn’t very easy, but that’s the deal
Q: Did Maharajji have children?
Yeah. He had three children. He left home at a very early age. He had been engaged to a village girl when he was like eight or nine. They get engaged very early, and then, later on they get married. Many years later when they grow up more. So, he had been engaged to a village woman, a village girl and then he ran away from home, they say, because his mother, his stepmother, his mother had died and his father remarried and his stepmother, they had a son and she wanted the son, her son, to take, to inherit the land. His father was a landowner, a farmer, and he had a lot of land apparently.
So, she wouldn’t feed him and treated him very badly. So, he split and he went to the jungle for many years, and years later somebody recognized him and told his father and his father came and brought him back home, and he married the girl and they had three children, and he pretty much stayed around home until his daughter, who was his youngest child, went off to a school at his brother’s house. And at that point he kind of left home and never much really lived there again, at home.
She said her name is Girija. She said that he was the ideal father. He used to walk her to school with an umbrella when it was too hot and the sun was shining. She remembers that he was just always there. But that’s part of his, the word is “leela”, which means “play,” because he wasn’t always there, but people didn’t miss Him. Very strange stuff. Once you start getting into this, it’s really…
One of the things that happened is for many years, he would just sit inside the house. He wouldn’t travel, he wouldn’t go anywhere. And people would come to the house, Sadhus and yogis would come to see him how they knew he was there, no one knows, because he didn’t advertise, you know. He just stayed in the house, but they found him.
So, yeah, so many stories. Yes. He was married. Three children.
Q: Did Maharajji give me the name, Krishna Das?
Yes, he did. All the other Westerners had Indian names, after a year or so. I was the only one who didn’t have one. My name, He used to call me “driver.”
Ram Dass had had bought a Volkswagen bus. And Maharajji said to Ram Dass, “You’re a Saint, you have to travel the lowest way,” on the buses, the state buses, public bus transportation.
And he took the keys from Ram Dass and he gave them to me. He said, “You’re the driver.”
From that point on, he called me “driver” for about a year. And finally, he’d go “driver!”
So finally, one day I get called into the room and he looks at me and He says, “Krishna. Nay, Arjun. Nay, Krishna Das.”
And I looked at Him and I said, “Krishna Das?” You know? I’m a Hanuman guy, what is this Krishna stuff?
And he just laughed. He said, “Nay nay, Hanuman served Krishna too.” So that’s how I got my name.
Q: What can someone do if they live in a very small town in the USA and may never be able to have a guru find them?
Sweetheart, the Guru can find you anywhere, any time, any day, any year in a minute, in a second, if that’s what’s supposed to happen for you, if that’s the best thing for you and your development.
You know, you gotta get with the program. It’s not about you. It’s not about what you want. It’s not about how you think it should be. It happens to be a certain way and it’s the gurus who run the show and they find us when we’re, when it’s, when we need that. If we don’t meet a guru in the physical form, does that mean that you don’t have a guru? Not at all. Everyone has a lineage that they’re part of. Everyone. Whether they’re aware of it is irrelevant. Look at yourself, see the work you have to do and get with the program. That’s all.
It’s not about us. The program is running. Work on yourself. Be a good human being. Give up, work with your shame, your guilt, your fear, your anger, your selfishness. Guru is always with you. Guru, God and self are not different. That’s what they say.
So, don’t mope around. It’s not useful. Get to work and do what you have to do to find who you are, and then Guru will be everywhere.
Q: Tell us how Mr. Tiwari came back from samahdi.
I’ll let you know when I go there and come back. Actually, you know, he was a schoolteacher and the headmaster of a school later on and in India, the family usually waits and they eat together at night when they’re finally all home. So, he would come home from work and he would start doing His Puja, His practices, and he would go into samadhi for hours and everybody would be waiting to eat and they couldn’t bring him down. So Mrs. Tiwari, she went to Maharajji and complained, actually. And Maharajji told her something to do to bring him back from samadhi. I don’t know what it is, but she knows.
So, you know, I spent so much time with them. We used to sleep in the same bed when I stayed with them. He’d get up at 3:30 in the morning, go pee, come back to bed, sit cross-legged, boom. Gone for hours until tea time. I would roll over in bed and go back to sleep. I think to myself, “Krishna Das, why didn’t you try to meditate? What is wrong with you?”
But you know, he never even intimated like, “Would you like to meditate?”
He never said that. He allowed me to be just as stupid as I had to be. And he never pushed me that way. Every once in a while, when I was sitting, he’d come in and say, “Why are you leaning against the wall? Sit up straight.”
How did he know that? You know, he was amazing. He had all these, he had a lot of siddhis himself and he seemed to know a lot of things that couldn’t really be known.
Q: People who had near death experience described that they were sent back because they haven’t finished their work. Do you know what kind of work we are expected to finish?
Yeah. You’re expected to finish thinking you are who you think you are. You’re not who you think you are. And until you learn that lesson, we’ll keep reincarnating until we recognize our true nature and become one with the universe. We will keep taking bodies of one form or another. That’s the way it is. And there’s no hurry. You can’t go faster. You can’t go slower. You can only be who you are. So, deal with all that stuff. Learn to take care of yourself and to be good to yourself. Learn to listen to your heart and trust yourself in life and in your interior work as well. That’s what we’re here to learn. We’re here to learn that only God is real.
Q: How can I let go of fear of upsetting God and fear of going to hell for being on a new spiritual path different than Christianity?
Oh Jesus. So to speak. The fear you have is not about God. We don’t know who God is, what God is, but he’s certainly not someone who sits in judgment of us. How could he even fit in there? We’re so busy judging ourselves. There’s no room for him to judge us or her to judge us. The whole thing about hell is very interesting. Hell is in a sense, a state of mind and eternal damnation is a state of mind that, when you don’t have a body, it’s as real, it’s like a dream. And if you have negative karmas, if you’ve done a lot of, caused a lot of suffering for others and yourself, perhaps, I don’t know this for sure, but perhaps you might have to spend some time in that state of mind and that’s called, “eternal damnation.”
The thing is, it’s not eternal. It feels eternal when you’re in it, like a depression can feel eternal, like you’ll never get out of this. And then when the karmas that brought you to that state of feeling eternal damnation are exhausted and paid for, so to speak, burnt off, you leave that state and enter another one.
You might even enter a heaven world, but heaven is not eternal either, but it feels eternal when you’re in it. That’s the nature of the state, so the fear you have, the fear we have, that’s one lifetime kind of fear that’s brought, that’s given to us by people who believe in that kind of stuff and indoctrinate us with that kind of false belief.
And they do that so they can control us, so religion can control us. Just like reincarnation was taken out of the Christian teachings, I think, I forget… it was called the council of Trent, I think, or was that… there were two big councils and they threw out everything that would allow people to control their own destiny.
Jesus taught about reincarnation. It’s in the original teachings, but they took it out because the church wanted power over people. That’s what they say. That’s what I’ve heard. So, the fear you have is not from God. It’s your own fear. And that’s good news because, and bad news, it’s good news and bad news because only you can let go of that.
And there’s no God up there judging you. Everybody has karmas and everybody creates karmas constantly. And those karmas bring fruits. If you’re selfish and nasty and angry and you beat people up and cause people suffering and create wars and are responsible for the deaths of many many people and stuff like that, yes, there’s a price to pay for that. Definitely. They say there’s a price to pay for that. And on the same hand, if you’re generous and kind and compassionate, and you think about others more than yourself, the fruits of that are joyous and open. We don’t need any help from God to feel bad about ourselves. Our parents did a good job and organized religion does a good job of that.
So, there’s no God up in the sky, hurling thunderbolts at us. We’re hurling them at ourselves. So, calm yourself down and try to deprogram yourself from the kind of fearful stuff that you absorb from the community, which is hurtful and soul destroying and has nothing to do with God at all. God is love, love that doesn’t come. It doesn’t go. You don’t fall in it. You don’t fall out of it. Love that is our true nature. That’s the deal. So, but if everybody knew that, then you know, you wouldn’t have to pay the priest to pray for you. And they wouldn’t be able to be the biggest real estate company in the universe. So, this is all worldly bullshit. And find out who you are, who’s feeling all these things? Let go of that fear. Let go of that fear and fill your heart with truth and love. And only you can create your own happiness, can allow yourself to be happy, clear out those clouds of judging, of anger, of fear and let yourself be who you are.
Yeah. It’s just such a shame how many people suffer that way, and that’s not just Western religion, all religions to some degree get corrupt and get power issues, all of them, because people are in religions and people that are like that. So, yeah, I hope that helps a little bit. Maybe I’ll burn in hell for that.
Q: Is it okay to change gurus? This person had a guru, but then the guru’s successor didn’t didn’t do it for that person. So, this person wants to change, is now attract to another teacher, another guru.
You know, Westerners don’t understand “guru.”
Guru exists for only one reason, to lead us, to find out our own true nature and become one with them. And they are one with the universe. So, they are leading us to overcome this false belief that we are a separate entity, different from everyone else. When we get over that, we merge with the universe.
Whether that first guru of yours was really a guru or not, who knows, but I wouldn’t even worry about it. Follow your heart, listen to your heart. Do what you feel you have to do and do what you want to do and learn whatever lessons you have to learn along the way. You won’t burn in hell. You will learn who you are.
So, and any real guru, doesn’t give a shit if you’re there or not. They don’t need you there. They don’t need you to be bound to them. They don’t exist for your pleasure. I mean, you don’t exist for their pleasure. They exist for your pleasure. So, if you’re not attracted to someone anymore, so called spiritually, just be at ease with that. It doesn’t matter.
All gurus, all real gurus are the same anyway. They’re all one. That’s why they’re gurus in the first place. They don’t want anything. They don’t need you to be there. They don’t need anything from you, from us. They give us freedom, not bondage. They give us love. Not emotional manipulation.
Teachers are different. Teachers teach and we can learn things from them, but they’re not necessarily gurus. And not everybody with siddhis is a guru. Many people who have siddhis, use them to manipulate things for their own pleasure, their egoistic pleasure, egoistic needs and desires. So, siddhis are not, don’t prove that a person is a guru.
So, don’t worry about it. Just be happy and find out where you want to go and follow your heart.
Q: What’s my favorite spiritual books to read?
Well, the Ramacharitamanas by Tulsidas, which is a, the story of Rama and Sita and the battle against the evil forces, the negative forces, the demons. It’s all poetry and it’s all devotional. It’s so beautiful. It’s the Tulsidas Ramayana. That’s my favorite book to read.
And I also read biographies of saints from all different religions. There’s an incredible, I’ve been reading about this Christian mystic from the 1800s, yeah. Russian Orthodox Christian mystic, unbelievable. Saint Seraphim of Sarov. St. Seraphim. Phenomenal. I, it’s, he could have been from any culture, the most amazing Saint I’ve ever read about. And he was a Christian hermit in Russia in the 1800s. It’s an incredible story.
I read about Ramana Maharshi. I read autobiographies of all the saints. That’s what I like the most. Really. I like to see how they went through their day, what they did, how they saw people, how they saw the world, how they lived in the world, what they did. It’s amazing. I love those things.
Q: Can you talk on this challenge? If you go on chanting a mantra, you will cling to it like a shelter, and whenever you become afraid, you will chant it again.
I don’t understand. Why is that a challenge? What’s a challenge about that? There’s nothing wrong with clinging to a mantra as long as you stop at the red and go at the green. And as long as you don’t beat up everybody around you and you’re good to people, what’s the problem with the mantra? I don’t know if clinging to a mantra is really… that implies egoistic need to hurt yourself. That’s what it means.
So, I don’t… A mantra is a shelter. Absolutely. It’s a shelter from the rain clouds of thoughts and emotions, but you don’t do a mantra with willful aggressive ambition. You do a mantra with ease and in a relaxed manner, you don’t try to crush it with your attention. You’re simply aware that as you’re singing it or saying it. It’s not a power trip. A mantra is shelter. A shelter of the name. We should all we should all be able to take shelter in the name. We need shelter from this, in this world. We need shelter of peace and of kindness and compassion and caring for others and ourselves.
So, I don’t really know exactly what you mean.
Q: How do we know that the soul exists? How do we know the law of karma holds?
I don’t know. I don’t know how you know, and until you’re enlightened, I don’t think we really know for sure, but if you plant a seed of one type of flower, that’s what’s going to grow. So, the law of karma is law is cause and effect. Essentially. That’s basically what it is. Every effect has a cause. So, if one is selfish and greedy and fearful and lives their life putting up walls around them to protect them from things, that creates an atmosphere and out of that atmosphere, all your actions are tinged with that. So, where will light come? Where will kindness come in that situation? So, you’re planting seeds of selfishness and seeds of fear. How do you expect it to grow anything else?
I think when we don’t really have the direct experience of the truth of these things until we’re pretty much far along on this path, which I’m certainly not, but I’ve been around enough to see certain things and have my own experiences that lead me to believe that it’s probably true. And based on that, I try to live my life a certain way. But you have to find your own way into it. Karma is not blind. It’s not fate that can never change. It’s actually the key to freedom, because how we meet each moment, how we greet each moment as it arrives, how we react to the things that happen, that creates, that plants many seeds.
So, you can see if you’re fearful and tense and angry, you’ll see things a certain way and you act a certain way and you create more and more of that. So that on that very simple level, you can see how those things work. When you start talking about karma though, you, then you start to think about other lives, et cetera. And that’s a whole other ball game.
So, there’s a great book about karma. It’s called “The Laws of Karma”. And it’s by my friend, Robert Swoboda. Dr. Robert Swoboda. It’s part of a series of books that he wrote called “Aghora.” And the third book in that series is called “The laws of karma” and it’s exquisite.
He just put out a new edition of them. This is not for everybody right away. This is the advanced course here. You have “Aghora: at the left hand of God.” It’s about a tantric sadhu, his guru, his teacher, who did very extraordinary practices in graveyards and things like that. Very unusual but extraordinary practices. The second book is called Kundalini, which is also amazing, but the book, the one I’m talking about is called “Aghora Three, the Laws of Karma. That’s it. And it’s really quite amazing. And once again, this is not a Spirituality 101. This is the advanced course, but still, it’s quite amazing. Very deep, very beautiful, really great. So, you can try reading that about it. It’s very good.
At some point, when you look at yourself and you see how little vote that we have over our lives and how little vote we have over our own emotions, and we try to try to figure out how we got to that place. So, we can see that we were born in a certain culture, that our parents believed certain things, that our friends believe certain things. We were indoctrinated by the culture in a certain kind of way: how we see ourselves, how we experience ourselves, what we believe about ourselves. All that’s programming that came to us as we entered into this body into this world. When you try to soften up that stuff and slow down the knee jerk reactions to life and get a vote about how we respond to situations and people, How do we treat people?
Usually, we don’t see people at all. We’re too busy with our own version of things, but when we try to open our hearts and soften our hearts, and we see how hard it is, then we can look out at other people and recognize, well, if it’s hard for me, it’s gotta be hard for them too. And if I can’t stop creating suffering, then other people must be having a hard time doing that as well. And then you start to give people a break a little bit as you begin to give yourself a break.
So, Ramana Maharshi said that everything that’s going to happen to us is written when we’re born. And the only moment of freedom that we have is right now, is in the moment. This is the moment when we can have the opportunity to make choices about how we respond to things, but even so, we can’t control the past. It’s done. But in the future, we don’t know what’s coming. Right now is the moment that we have to exercise whatever freedom we might be able to scrounge up to treat people better in a better way, and to treat ourselves in a better way.
Anyway. Not very clear, I’m afraid, but what can I tell you?
Q: Did Maharajji initiate me into his lineage to be a kirtan wallah? Do you believe we need to be initiated to teach other simple mantras like “Ram”?
No, I don’t believe that. I believe that you just do what you have to do and do what makes you happy. He did not initiate me as far as I know. He never did any, he doesn’t do stuff like that. He didn’t do stuff like that. He would just change everything in your life and you wouldn’t even know it. He didn’t make a show of making initiations and mantras and things like that. And he never told me to do this. He just wanted, we just wanted to sing to Him because He liked it, and also it got us more time with him, which is what we wanted. So that was the deal.
And so just as it used to bring us into his physical presence, for me now, when I chant, it brings me into his ephemeral presence, into his presence, his real presence right now. And I learned that in some way back then when we were singing to him. So, there was never any, as far as I know, any external initiation ceremony.
Now, as far as leading kirtan, which is what you’re asking about, the only thing that matters is your motivation. If you’re doing it because you don’t know how to write songs in English and you have a few nice melodies that you can do “Ram Ram” over, and you want to be a star and you want to have attention and you want to have a job and you want to make some money, you want to be famous and you want people to look up to you, then you’re going to create a lot of bullshit for yourself that you’re going to have to live through, one way or the other. So, the most important thing is having good aspiration or good intention. And you just do the best you can. You can sing with people or you can sing at home. If there’s a difference, work on it, because that means you’re getting something from the people that you don’t have yourself, that you think you don’t have yourself. So, that’s good work to do.
So, the thing is you can’t hide from yourself. You can pretend you don’t know what you’re doing, but you’re always here and it’s up to us to do the best we can. So, because you’re not just transmitting, you’re not just singing a song to people, you’re chanting. You’re praying, you know. You’re not singing to people when you chant, you’re singing to God in that person.
Siddha Ma used to say to me, “sing to the siddhas on the Hill.” They used to believe that these ancient yogis lived on this Hill opposite the temple.
“What can you get from people?” she said, “Nothing. Sing to the Siddhas.”
As you sing to those, to the great beings, you sing to the saints, you sing to God, that divine presence within.
So, it’s up to you. What you do.
Q: Is crying a lot in Cureton. Just the phase that bhakti yoga beginners go through? And will eventually calm down over time? Or do criers become increasingly unhinged?
Well, I certainly hope so, as Groucho Marx used to say. I want to be completely unhinged. I want the doors to fall off and all the light to come in. A lot of times you cry for a lot of different reasons. When you chant, you have many different experiences open up from within. A lot of times, it hurts when you let go of stuff, it hurts to relax the heart. We’re used to being so tight and tense. And the relief of just being able to, you know, that can cause tears. There can be so many things that happen.
I like that. “Unhinged.” I liked that. I liked that.
Q: What could it mean when the sheer instant you wake, a mantra is playing inside your body?
Well, it’s not playing in your body, it’s playing in your awareness.
Q: I wonder sometimes if I engage with the souls in the mantra, in the subconscious while asleep….
I don’t know what you mean by souls in the mantra. You mean the great beings, maybe, that have chanted those mantras and whose energy and presence is in the mantras? Of course. And when you do enough, japa practice, mantra practice, you’ll find that the mantra surfaces in your awareness as you’re going through your day. Without you doing it, it’ll come back to you. You’ll notice that it’s going on. And they say that, eventually the mantra goes on by itself and pulls you into it, invites you in again and again, and then no matter what you’re doing, you’re always aware of that mantra. And they always give the example of the village woman in India, carrying a huge basket, a big clay pot of water, balanced on her head, carrying her baby and talking with all the other women coming back from the well. No matter what she’s doing, she’s aware of the pot on her head. Otherwise it would fall. And that’s they say that’s how much awareness you need to use at the very, at the beginning. You don’t grab onto it, but whatever else you’re doing in your day, the mantra is with you, just like the pot of water. The clay pot would be balanced on the head. If you go like that, you lose the pot. So, in this case, you don’t go like that. You’re aware of the pot and you’re doing all the things. So, as the mantra deepens, as your heart opens, as your awareness deepens, you can be aware of that mantra all day long and all night long, eventually. Even when you go asleep and you’re asleep, the mantra can be there.
Now, you might not be aware of it at that time because there’s your unconscious, so to speak, but the mantra can keep going. Even in that state, they say.
Q: What routines helped me center myself before I chant?
I make a cup of coffee. I warm up my voice a little bit. I take a couple of deep breaths. I don’t… nothing, you know. I’ve been doing this so long that the minute I sit down, that’s it. I’m just in it. It’s like, so much, so many years of singing. It gets deeper every time. All the time, it gets deeper. But that letting-go muscle, that letting-go muscle that we develop by constantly coming back to the name, the sound of the name as we’re chanting, we’re gone. we’re back, we’re gone, we’re back. Every time you come back, the neural pathways in the brain are deepened. They’ve shown this and it makes it easier, as time goes on, to relax into the presence, into your true nature.
So, whatever I could say, however poorly I live, my life is getting ready to chant. That’s what it’s about. You know, that’s what it’s mainly about, getting ready to do practice, to let go of the stuff and come home again. Like go, come home, let go, come home. That’s really, we’re all doing that to one degree or other.
Q: Why did Maharajji build Vaishnavi Mandir at Kainchi?
Because, he said up in the mountains, where Kainchi is, in the foothills of the Himalayas, traditionally they worship Kali, the goddess Kali, and they do sacrifices. They’ll kill goats and chickens and offer to the goddess because certain forms of Kali traditionally, accept that kind of Tamasic or dark offerings. So Maharaji said, “I have to build Vaishnavi Devi, the Vaishnav Shakti instead of Shiva Shakti, because if I build Shiva Shakti, they’d be dragging the goats in there and killing them in the courtyard.”
That was his way of talking. So he built a temple to Vaishnavi Devi, Vindhya Vasini Durga Devi. the form of the goddess that lives in the Vindhya Hills and is a form of Vishnu Shakti. And for Vaishnavi Shakti, no sacrifice is allowed. You can’t even break a coconut, theoretically, in the temple grounds. You can bring it it out and then you bring it in, break it outside. So that was the theoretically the main the reason, but another level of it is that Siddhi Ma herself was of manifestation of the goddess Vaishnavi Devi. In fact, one-time Maharajji was in Allahabad at Dada’s house and they all got in a car to drive up to Vindhya Vasini, which is near a Allahabad to do Puja to the goddess there, in the temple there. But they started so late that halfway up the Hill, Maharajji said stop. So, they pulled over. Maharajji got out of the passenger seat in the front, took all the supplies that they were going to do the Puja with, you know, the arati lamp and the offerings, and he opened the back door of the car where Siddhi Ma was sitting and he sat on the ground there below Siddhi Ma, and he worshiped her as Vindhya Vasini Durga Devi right there. And then they turned around and went home. So on one level, that temple is Siddhi Ma’s Temple. It’ a temple to Siddhi Ma.