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Call and Response Special Edition – Conversations With KD April 30, 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.
“Ram Dass, my best friend, one of my best friends, long-term spiritual friends and elders, just died a month or two ago. He’s so present. Any time I think of him, he’s present. I’m not looking for signs. I feel his presence. And you will feel your people’s presence if you just allow yourself to. You won’t be able to touch them physically. But that doesn’t mean they’re not here. Because we’re attached to our physical bodies. Because we identify with our physical and emotional parts. We can’t imagine something without that. However, there are many Beings, many many more Beings out of the body than are in bodies I’m sure. I’ve heard that many times. And if you want to feel those things, one has to open up to these realities through practice.” – Krishna Das
So, you know, when we add a practice to our day, it changes the way we sit in the moment. It just does.
It just changes the way we sit in the moment and it’s not about whether we’re doing it well or we’re not doing it well or we’re having any particular type of experience. That’s one of our biggest problems. We’re expecting something. We have an idea that we have to get something. You know, I remember sitting in front of Maharajji and I almost laughed out loud because I saw that I was sitting there and I was waiting for something to happen and when I thought about what it was I was waiting to happen, I realized I was waiting for a moment when I would not be here, when I’d be gone. And I laughed because I realized, or I understood at that moment that I would never be gone. There was no time. There was no moment anywhere, ever where I would be gone. There will come a time I hope when I am not attached and identified with my thoughts and my negative emotions, especially. But I’ll only be more here then. More present. So, this whole feeling of wanting to be gone means I wanted to be freed from my unhappiness and my crazy neurotic mind. It was driving me crazy. My self-judging, my self-loathing, all the programs.
Anyway, that’s the deal. Let’s see some questions.
Q: I would like to ask how to find hope in difficult times.
I know what you mean, but it’s really not hope that you want. It’s faith that you want. Maybe I’m picking at straws here but hope is like blind faith. Faith that you have no reason to feel hope because it’s out of your hands. It’s just like, you know, you put your hope in something else. You imagine maybe some time will come when you won’t feel so bad. But faith is something you get from… Faith means, in a way, it can also mean confidence in yourself. Confidence that you can deal with whatever arises in a good way and that’s a big thing. I was sitting with Maharajji in an apartment building in Bombay. At the time it was called that. Around Christmas 1972. And we’d been sitting for hours. He was lying on the bed. He was lying this way. He’d sit up. Then He’d lie down this way and He’d sit up. And I was just watching Him. Watching Him quietly. All of a sudden, He sits up and He looks at me and He says, “Courage is a really big thing.”
I was like, “What’s going to happen?” You know?
And the Indian devotee there, he was the only one there. He looked at me and he said… He looked at Baba and said, “But Oh Baba, but God takes care of His devotees.” Maharajji just shot Him a glance and He looked back at me and He said, “Courage is a really big thing.”
Courage is a really big thing.
There have been times in my life when… that it was enough to deal with life as it appears to us, as it arrives in our moment, in our life, in our space. So, if you don’t… what’s the sense of having hope without developing your own muscles to deal with life. It’s not always fun and it’s not always pleasant and sometimes it really hurts a lot. Those are the moments that, if you have developed a way to sit within your self with a certain kind of confidence from your own experience, and a certain trust in your self based on your own experiences dealing with this stuff, that’s what happens. You don’t, you don’t get lost in blind faith or hope. But you develop real faith, real faith. You know?
I remember when I was a kid, I was on the track team and I used to throw the discus and so I would sit around for hours waiting for my chance and so I had this book on Buddhism that I found somewhere and I remember reading in the book, I was sitting there on the field, I remember reading that Buddha said that your enlightenment is up to you. And I couldn’t believe it because when you’re 18… 17, 18… nothing is up to you. Everybody’s telling you what to do. You have rules. You have regulations. You’ve got to go to school. You’ve got all this shit that’s going on. That my enlightenment was up to me was a revelation. But, all these years later, we’re still working on it.
Q: why it is important to have a picture of one’s guru in one’s space?
It’s not important. You don’t have to, but when you love someone and when someone’s been so important to your life… well, that’s the way I feel about Maharajji. Meeting Him saved me. Meeting Ram Dass… totally opened up something else for me. So, it helps me remember. It helps me keep His image in my heart. That’s why I do it. I don’t know why you do it or don’t do it.
*Q: Behavior… Hate, incest… I do not want to respond in kind… (video glitched and question was cut off in video)
Inhumanity to man. Humans treating each other terribly.
There’s so many things to say about this. It’s not a quick answer. On one level, you do what you have to do to protect yourself, if it’s you we’re talking about. Protect yourself or a loved on. There’s a lot of trauma that we store in the body, in the emotional body and work with it. As far as stopping someone from doing that kind of thing, well it depends on who it is, but certainly if you can stop it, if you can prevent that from happening, do whatever you can to prevent it I would say. Difficult situation though. Especially in families when there are secrets and one or other or both of the parents refuse to deal with the situation. Very painful. Very painful stuff. But, if you are involved with that kind of situation anyway, I would say to try to find some counseling. There’s certainly wonderful ways of counseling that are open to us now that even 10 years ago weren’t available. But definitely try to find a way to work with it. Try to find the best way to work with it in your life. There’s no quick answer that I can give.
Q: Do I have any words on corrupt Guru-Student relationships, like what’s happening in different situation?
I’m sure I do.
You know, it’s a quality of the times. It’s a quality of the times. People some power in a situation, you know. What do they say? Absolute power corrupts absolutely. If one has any desires, the minute one gets power, one will consciously or unconsciously use that energy or that power to fulfill those desires and those desires are mostly selfish self-centered desires for fame, for money, for sex, for power over people, manipulative power. It’s really horrible. Those situations are unbelievably painful. But on the other side, let’s…
See, I was in a cult for a few years after being with Maharajji, after He had left His body and after I was back in America. I got involved in a situation which was essentially a cult and the idea of a cult is that you give up your own sense of right and wrong. You give up your own feelings and your own trust in yourself and you replace it with this person outside of yourself. And I did that for maybe three years. Maybe even longer. Until finally, I had enough. I had enough. I could no longer squelch my own feelings down like I had for those years. You see, I needed something from that person. I wanted… I felt bad Maharajji had left me, I thought, and I was lost in the world. I couldn’t find love and affection and this person was willing to pat me on the head and call me a good little boy and give me love and affection, but there was a price I had to pay which was, I had to give myself away. So, if I didn’t have that desire, I wouldn’t have gotten into that situation. If I didn’t have that unprocessed emotional need, neediness, I wouldn’t have gotten into that situation. So, there’s that aspect of it, too. It’s tricky. But, you live and learn, you know? You live and learn. And life is for learning and experiencing. And like I say over and over again, for me, it seems like the whole of spiritual practice and path is to learn to trust one’s self. And to be, and to be able to actually discern what your real feelings are about a situation and see all the different forces at work within yourself. It’s hard. It’s hard. So, there’s a lot more that can be said about that but ultimately it comes down to what we want and what we need and what we’re willing to do and willing to give away to get what we need. Now, truthfully, we don’t need anything from the outside and a real Guru will, for the most part, will not really take anything away from you other than your bullshit. So, I’ve just never been much, you know… very difficult situation. Because even in a valid tradition there are many so-called teachers who are not finished beings and they project themselves as if they are desireless and westerners, for the most part, humans for the most part, are easily led astray because of our own needs. You can bring the horse to water but if it is not thirsty you can not make it drink. So, we all need to take responsibility for our own actions, which we’re not used to doing. We always want to blame people for being, for this or for that, or this or that, we’re always blaming others. And we’re very unwilling or unable to actually responsibility for ourselves. So, I don’t think there’s any real damage for getting involved with a being like that. It may be a lot of pain but one has to deal with those situations as they arise. There’s a reason why we got caught in that situation. So, first let’s take responsibility for ourselves which is pretty much the only thing we can do.
Even the belief that we can’t progress on the path without a Guru and without getting something from a Guru… you know, I remember I saw this movie, what was it called? It stared Kate Winslett as this young woman from Australia who went to India and got involved with this guru scene, a big scene, and her parents were scared and she stopped coming home. She stayed there and her parents were afraid she was caught in a cult or something like that. And so, they sent a message to her saying that her father was sick and was dying and please come home and they sent her a ticket. So, she came home and then it turned out her father wasn’t sick at all and they, they brought in this deprogrammer who was Harvey Keitel, Bad Lieutenant, the Baddest guy on the planet, this programmer, brings him in from America and he gets off the plane all dressed in black and they keep her captive in this cabin with Harvey. I loved it. Anyway, so at one point she screams at him, “You’ll never take away what my Guru’s given me.” I laughed out loud because I thought, “What did Maharajji ever give me that could be taken away? Nothing. He only gave me my self and the love that lives within me.” Which, how could you… you could forget about it but it can’t be taken away. I just thought that was great. I think they wound up screwing and whatever. I don’t know what happened with them. Crazy thing.
Q: I was in a relationship with a girl but her love ran dry. Now those thoughts come up while doing sadhana. How to deal with that?
Come back to the japa. Come back to the chant. Let go of the thoughts. Again and again and again.
In a relationship but her love ran dry… You know, I remember I was very much in love with a woman once, many years ago, I was telling my Indian father, Mr. Tiwari about her and I was going on and on and he was listening… when I finally finished blurting, he looks at me and says, “My boy, relationships are business. Do your business. Enjoy. But love? Love is what lasts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.” I hated him. I hated him for that. It took me a long time to get over that, how much…. How angry I was at him for that. But you know, what he meant was that, in relationships, the way we, human relationships, there’s give and take. You give somebody something and you get something in return. You give somebody a little pat on the head and they give you a pat on the head. You push their button. They push your button. Is that love? That could be friendship. It could be affection. It could be sense pleasures. It could be so many things. It could be comfort and kindness. Everything. Beautiful things. But, Tiwari was saying, “Love is not something that comes and goes.” It’s not something you fall in. It’s not something you fall out of. It is our true nature. Relationships come and go. These days, that’s the way it is. So, you deal with it by just doing your practice and living your life and seeing how much, seeing what you expected to get from that relationship, seeing how needy we are, you are. Noticing all those things. And you keep… the main thing is to just keep breathing. You keep breathing long enough, you’ll forget about it. Guaranteed.
Q: If by death you get moksha, then why did Hanuman immortal?
Who says you get moksha by death?
All you get is another body. There’s no moksha from just dying. What you take with you when you leave your body is your state of mind. If your state of mind is moksha, yeah, you get moksha. You already have it. If it isn’t, you don’t. That’s a strange belief.
And as far as, it was Sita who blessed Hanuman… no, it was Ram. He said, “As long as my Name is remembered in this world, Hanuman, please keep your body to help people.”
So, that was grace, the grace of God to help us, to help us out of our suffering and our illusions.
Q: My sister is near the end of stages in her physical body from battling cancer. She’s in extreme physical pain. She’s afraid of dying and does not want to let go. How can I help her get peace?
Well, talking to her is not going to help. If anything is going to help, it would be sitting with her, holding her in your heart, talking to her in your mind and creating a space where, if there’s any part of her that’s able to, she could enter into that space or at least feel that space.
But, we westerners mostly and now most people in the world, we live like we’re never going to die. Like, it’s just an afterthought. Oh, you know… and so when that moment arises, we are not ready to let go. So, one has to do the practice now. One has to understand what life is about now or make the effort now because later you may not be able to. So, for someone who’s suffering like that, you can just, you can, I mean there are some techniques called Tonglen which is exchanging the pain of others and taking it on yourself, but this is something that one has to be initiated in and one has to really understand how to do it correctly. And even then, we may not experience, in that moment, that it was any help. We just don’t know because we don’t know what death, what really happens, what it feels like. It’s not nothing.
Nothing is actually something, which it couldn’t be nothing. So, you can just sit with her and breath her in and out and wish her well and see her in light. All those things. I don’t know what else one could do in that situation. Try to make her as comfortable as you can. You know? Yeah. Someone once asked the Dalai Lama about painkillers when one is dying, if it was bad to take those to alleviate the pain and suffering while someone is dying and He said that the part of the being that reincarnates is not affected by painkillers, one way or the other. And so, if there’s any way to help that person who is in pain with more pain killers, there’s no problem there as far as I can understand. You know, Western medicine seems to have this strange thing that they should withhold painkillers for dying people. They’re worried that they’ll get addicted. If you don’t have a body, you can’t get addicted. So, it doesn’t make sense to me. So, you do whatever you can to help her and wish her well on her journey and don’t hold onto her. She has her karmic fruition that’s happening and all you can do is love it and offer that love to her unattached, unconditional love.
Q: When I cry, I listen to spiritual songs, prayers or speech. Why do I cry? Especially when I remember my family and the lost ones?
Well, I don’t know why you cry. We all cry.
Maharajji said, “Tears of…” What did He say… You know, when I was going to kill myself, He said to me, “The fruit of attachment is tears and you’re reaping that fruit now.” The fruit of attachment is tears and you’re reaping that fruit now. And He said, “Someone dies and people cry and they won’t eat but after a few days, they’re laughing and drinking again.” He said, “One attachment replaces another attachment in this world. One after the other after the other after the other. This world samsara. This world is the flow of attachment. No attachment, no world.” And then of course He said, “You can’t die. Worldly people don’t die. Only Jesus died the real death because He never thought of Himself.” What do we do? All we do is think about ourselves all life long. So, only you know why you cry. If it’s tears of attachment, that’s the fruit that you’re reaping. Tears of love are different. Tears of love include everybody. Everything is unbearably extraordinary and bearably full of love. There’s nothing you can do but cry. But they’re not sad tears.
Q: So many questions about these things… recently I lost someone very special to me. Can you talk about how you stay, feel connected to those who have passed? I feel like I’m searching for signs everywhere.
Now some people say, there are many signs, that you can ask for signs and they’ll show up. You know, I’m from Long Island. We don’t do that. However, Ram Dass, my best friend, one of my best friends, long-term spiritual friends and elders, just died a month or two ago. He’s so present. Any time I think of him, he’s present. I’m not looking for signs. I feel his presence. And you will feel your people’s presence if you just allow yourself to. You won’t be able to touch them physically. But that doesn’t mean they’re not here. Because we’re attached to our physical bodies. Because we identify with our physical and emotional parts. We can’t imagine something without that. However, there are many Beings, many many more Beings out of the body than are in bodies I’m sure. I’ve heard that many times. And if you want to feel those things, one has to open up to these realities through practice. It’s only spiritual practice that brings the fruit of awareness of these other realities. It’s not something you can think yourself into. Nor is it something you can convince yourself of. If you don’t feel it, you don’t feel it. But, the emotional sadness is what’s preventing you from feeling it. I think that will pass as time goes on. Or at least the volume will go down so you might be able to recognize that the love that you feel for these beings who are physically gone, is still right within you where it’s always been. And the more you focus on the love, the less you focus on the loss. That’s just the way it works.
Q: Is it still beneficial to say the Hanuman Chalisa if I do not know the four fruits of life? The three worlds? The four quarters? The four ages? The eight powers and the nine treasures? And if you don’t know who you are?
What else are you going to do?
It’s beneficial. But don’t do it if you don’t feel like it. You know, we have to find some depth in our life. There is a reason why we bounce around, one thing to the next, without roots. And those are emotional issues that we have. One has to work on that on the level that they exist within us in order to find why we can’t find roots somewhere. Deep roots on the earth. Deep roots within humanity. Connecting us to others. Find out where that connection is and why, what we’re afraid of in terms of making a connection and facing certain parts of ourself. The kingdom of God is within us but we don’t know how to access that. We’re being prevented from accessing that by our own stuff. No other reason.
Q: How do balance your practice, the need to provide financial support and comfort for your family? How much money is enough? And what do I do with the rest?
Well, if there’s the rest, then it’s too much. In this culture, you know, you can’t walk around begging like in India. Sadhus go around, they put their hands out, people put food or money. Here, you get thrown in jail. So, one has to have a job somehow, some way of supporting one’s self and those who are dependent on you for support and it’s up to each person to figure out what’s enough and what’s too much.
You know, they say, it’s obvious, too that people with lots of money tend to spend a lot of time working with that money, protecting that money, organizing that money, making that money more, and they don’t really enjoy life that much. There’s a lot of fear about losing those things. It’s a generalization, I’m sure, but there is some truth to that. You see these sadhus in India. They have nothing. A couple of pieces of cloth. An asana. Something to sit on. And they’re happy. They’re free. Not all of them. But it is possible to have absolutely nothing and be free and be happy and have every millions and billions of dollars and be totally depressed and unhappy. So, it’s an individual thing of how much is enough. And it’s also an individual thing of about who do you take responsibility for. Where’s your circle of people. Is it your immediate family? Is it your extended family?
Maharajji fed everyone who came to Him because in India, food is like money here in the West. Most, there are so many people in India and in the world who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. They don’t know. And especially in a time like this, so many more people are living with no savings and no job and no food. So, a very difficult time. Very difficult time.
But, once again let me, all I can do is keep trying to point us in the right direction. Someone once asked His Holiness the Dalai Lama if He was happy.
And His Holiness responded. He said, “Well, I guess you could say I’ve had a hard life. I was taken from my parents and raised in a monastery. I had to take over the reigns of my country as a teenager and I had to deal with the Chinese trying to take over the country and then I had to escape and now I’m living as a refugee and I watch the Chinese government murder millions of my people. Millions of my people. And helpless.” He said, “The Chinese have taken everything from me. Am I going to let them take my happiness, too?”
Big time. Big time.
What we’re trying to do is develop enough presence so that we don’t let what happens in the outside world destroy our hearts. We’re not going to be able to push the stuff away. It happens. You can build huge walls that will also crash. We’re going to have to find a way to deal with it within ourselves so that it does not destroy us and that also makes us available for other people as well. So, at the same time as we’re developing compassion for others, we’re also developing a way of remaining at ease, at ease of heart with whatever arises. This is real time stuff. This is big time stuff.
Q: Why do we get so far away from who we really are to begin with?
Who says we’re far away? This close. You’re right there. You’re just not looking. Why do we have to get lost only to spend lifetimes trying to find our way back? Why any of it?
Why any of it?
Well, you know, in the Rg Veda, which was the first of the four vedas, the oldest, there’s a hymn called the Creation Hymn and it talks about how creation happened, how this all happened. And it says, “This happened and then this happened and then this…” It goes on for pages and pages I think. And then finally at the end it says, “And why? Why did all this happen?” It says, “Only He in highest heaven knows. Or perhaps, He knows not.”
I guess you could say, “why” is not the right question. Who cares why? If you step on a nail, you don’t ask, “why?” You want to get that nail out of your foot. Which brings up an interesting thing, so, where’s my phone? I have to read you something.
Many years ago, of course, we were in Vrindavan and every day we were going to see Maharajji at His temple and one day while walking in the market, I stepped in a hole and my leg snapped like that and my knee, when I woke up the next day, my knee was like out to here and I could hardly put any weight on it. So, I thought, well, you know, I’d better go to Mathura, which was the nearest town, and go to the hospital and see a doctor because this is bad. But, I thought, “Well, if I do that, you know, I won’t be able to see Maharajji later. So let me go to the temple to tell Him I’m going to go to Mathura to see the doctor.” Now in those days we were forbidden to come to the temple until the late afternoon, because the visa guy, the visa official who was in charge of extended the Westerners’ visas was asking for bribes as was giving Maharajji a hard time, so Maharajji sent us all away and told us only to come late in the day. So, Raghu helped me walk to the temple. I was, like, had to put my hand on his shoulder because I couldn’t put weight on my leg. I limp into the back and we walk up, Maharajji’s sitting there with one devotee in this huge courtyard, empty courtyard, and He’s right in the middle of it and I walk up and I pranam and I sit down and I had to put my leg straight out underneath the bed He was sitting on and He didn’t say anything. He kind of hardly looked at us. So, and He didn’t send us away. I thought for sure He was going to send us away right away.
So, I thought, “Well, if He doesn’t send us away, I don’t care if they care if they cut my leg off right at the knee. I’m not leaving. We’re having darshan. That’s it. I’m right where I want to be.” So, after a few minutes, He gets up and He takes the hand of the Indian guy and they walk towards the back of the temple and the further He got away, the further away He got from where we were sitting, He started leaning on the guy, leaning on the guy like this. It was like He couldn’t walk. He was just leaning. And I had this thought, “Oh, my God, He’s taking on the karma of my knee.” As soon as I had that thought, He turned around and basically ran back to the tucket, the bed, and He plops down on the tucket and He looks at me, pats me on the head and says, “You thought I was in pain? You wanted to help me?”
So, He, we just sat there with Him for hours hanging out. And over time, some of the other Westerners came and Girija was sitting there and all the time I’m sitting there I’m thinking about the karma of my knee. Why did this happen? What does this mean? What kind of karma is this right here in Vrindavan? My knee hurts and everything. So, Maharajji leans over and He reaches into Girija’s shoulder bag and He pulls out her bible, because He started talking to us about Jesus. We started carrying Bibles around and reading. And He… now you understand, He’s not supposed to be able to read English, and He hardly looked at the Bible. He opened it up like this and He points to this, and He says, “Read this.” Hands it to me and says, “Read this.”
So, I opened it up and I looked at it and I read the following: Hold on…
“It was given to me…” It was from Saint Paul, Corinthians. And it said, “It was given to me a thorn in the side. In order to save me from the abundance, save me from being too exalted by the abundance of revelations, it was given to me a thorn in the side. I beseeched the Lord three times to take it from me, but the Lord replied, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee. My strength is made perfect in your weakness.’”
My grace is sufficient for me. My strength is made perfect in the fact that you can’t do shit to help yourself. Something like that.
Interesting. Right? So, a couple of years ago, I was with Ram Dass on Maui and we were talking. I was reminding him of this and he said to me…. So, what that means to me after many years of thinking about it is that the grace, it is… but when we understand our own inability to do anything except surrender… that we can’t help ourselves, we can’t lift ourselves up to the heavens, we can’t open our hearts with our will, we can’t destroy our minds with our minds… our will is not going to enlighten us but surrender on this path is surrender. Surrender… we recognize our helplessness and in that recognition, the power and the beauty and the extraordinariness of grace is revealed to us. So Ram Dass and I were talking about that and after that, he said, “Yeah, we’re proof of that.” So, I actually made two t-shirts, one for him and one for me that said, “Proof.”
Rameshwardas wrote to me yesterday. And he’s working on Ram Dass’s book. His biography is going to come out. And.. because he heard me… I think I said something about this last Thursday, so he said, “What are the details of that story?” So, I wrote to him and told him the details. He had gotten an email from Parvati, who was there with us at the time and she said, “I opened my own India journal for the first time in a long time and this is the first thing in it, I can’t remember where I got it from.” And this is Ram Dass talking. He said, “I know accept that His grace is sufficient for me. I need nothing more. Though I have no powers, no great visions or astral contacts, no super energy which frees me from sleep, nor am I yet purged from all wordly desires, yet his grace is sufficient for I am coming to know the power of love. My strength is made perfect in your weakness. I am coming to suspect that I have been seeking and expecting the wrong sign and that who we are to become, we already are. But the humbleness of the sign of the spirit leads us to overlook it. I think, in my Western desire mind I have wanted great powers to heal and impress those who are impressed by power, that the spirit exists to impress myself, but as faith grows, I come to see that power attracts power, but love attracts love. And I’m blessed enough to transcend the need for power. Then I shall become love and know only love in all whom I meet. That is heaven on earth. That is the true teaching.”
I’m going to put this up somewhere on the website soon so you can read that. I don’t know when Ram Dass wrote that, but it’s so beautiful. Ramana Maharshi used to say, “Asking the mind to kill the mind, or the ego to kill the ego, is like asking the thief to be the policeman. There’ll be a lot of investigation, but no arrest will ever be made.”
Now Maharajji used to say, the higher states or the more subtle states of consciousness can not be entered through the use of your personal will, that they will arise within us as we are ready. This is what Siddhi Ma told me.
That’s a big thing. So, I… one time I asked Ma, I said, “Ma, so then, is it all grace? Or is personal effort needed?” This is the famous question: grace or effort? And She looked at me and said, “Krishna Das, it’s all grace but you have to act like it isn’t.”
It’s all grace, but we have to act like it isn’t. Which means, it’s raining everywhere, but if we want to drink, we have to cup our hands and catch the drops.
We’re so stuck in achieving and doing and that’s all based on self-loathing, really. Wanting to fill up that place inside of us that is not loved and doesn’t know love, won’t let ourselves love or be loved.
And it goes on all day long.
All day long.
So, what we can do is plant seeds. Seeds that will bring the fruit that we want. Those seeds, for me, is the repetition of the Names. Repetition of the Divine Name. Kirtan. Chanting. Sri Ramakrishna wrote about this, or spoke about this back in the 1850s, something like that… 70s? When did He die? 1880s, I think. He said, “Every repetition of one of these Names is a seed. Just like the seed of an oak tree might be very tiny, but inside of that seed is a huge tree, the potential for a huge tree.” So, He said, “Just so, with the repetition of the Name, it has within it potentiality, potency and strength.” He said, “Every repetition of the Name is a seed and the seed gets caught by the wind and is blown about and it lands on the roof of an old house in the jungle and it gets stuck between the tiles on the roof of this old house and over time and seasons, wind, rain, snow, whatever, sun…those tiles begin to break down, decompose and they get softer and at that point, the seeds of the repetition of the Name begin to root, take root. And the roots grow. The roots keep growing and they destroy the roof of the house. And they keep growing and they destroy the walls of the house.” Ramakrishna said, “That house is who we think we are.”
When we no longer think we are, we are open to, we are, we’ve… the walls are destroyed and we’re everywhere. We’ve merged with the universe. Did we actually merge? No. We always were the same. The space in the house is no different than the space outside. It’s just separated by the false belief in a “me.” All those thoughts, “Me, me, me, me, me…” That’s the walls of the house. So, through the repetition of the Name, this house, this old house is destroyed and we recognize the whole universe. So, we have to do some practice.
The Gospel of Ramakrishna was one of the first books I read, this life, about spiritual stuff. I read it before Autobiography of a Yogi.
Q: How do you deal with politicians and their cruelty without being angry?
KD: Vote. Vote them out of fucking office. Get busy. Vote.
Q: Which author of Gospel of Ramakrishna?
KD: Only one author, it was written by, accumulated by a devotee of His named M. Mahendranth, I forget his last name. It’s from the Vedanta Society. Yeah. There’s only one book called that. “Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna” published by the Vedanta Society.
Every question, so many questions about grief and dealing with dying.
Hard times. Hard times.
The Loving Kindness practice is a very powerful practice for these situations. If someone has died, from our point of view there’s very little we can do for that person, but they say that our feelings regarding that person, especially if we’ve been close to them, have an influence on them and actually causes them suffering if we’re grieving. Because from their point of view, once they’re released from the physical body that we know, well… I’ve only read a little bit about this. There are many books these days on death and dying and the travels that the soul or the Being goes through after death between reincarnation. There’s a lot of things to read about that and I would suggest looking into it. But from one point of view, they really haven’t gone anywhere. They’ve just left the body and because we identify with the body and we don’t see them, we think they’re gone. But that’s our situation. And our situation is not, is not ripe. It’s not matured. We are identified with the body, so we see bodies. We don’t see the soul within that person. We don’t see the awareness looking out of that person’s eyes, which is the same as our awareness looking out of our eyes. One awareness only. Consciousness. Satchidananada. Truth, consciousness or awareness, and sublime joy. Unbearable joy. That’s our true nature. So they say. So, as somebody from Long Island, I find it a little bit hard to believe, but that’s what they say. So, one thing that’s very important, offer that being who has passed out of the body, offer them love and kindness and friendship and compassion and wish them well. And then wish yourself well because we’re hurting ourselves with our own negative emotions. So, we can extend kindness outward but we also have to extend it to ourselves. Once again, if we did only one thing, each of us, in this world, there would be no suffering at all. If we would treat other people the way we would like to be treated. End of story. No problem.
One more little wrinkle on that, is if we would do unto ourselves the way we would like other people to do unto us, we would feel much better also. So, it’s kind of two things, but they’re not different. So, you can’t push grief away. You can only release it. It will pass as time goes on. And it can soften your heart. It can soften your heart so that you let the universe in there and we find a way to live with these things without it destroying us, which is why I told that story about His Holiness.
Q: I lost a friend a friend and her brother in homicide. What happens to your soul when an untimely death like this happens?
It’s only untimely for us. Their death was right on time for them. They say that your time is written and nothing can change that and more, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be when it happens.
I was very upset when my friend Shyam Das died in an accident in Goa and from my understanding, he wasn’t supposed to be there at that time. He was supposed to be somewhere else, but due to some kind of argument with he had with this other person, he decided not to go to that other place. So, he was in Goa and then he was in a motorcycle accident and was killed. So, I mentioned it to Robert Svoboda, my friend and he said when Mahakala, the God of Death, when Mahakala wants you, He makes sure you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. Apparently, there’s no slippage in the system and the manner of death can be very painful for us also because we tell ourselves a story about that and we’re allowed to do that. We’re allowed to grieve. We’re allowed to be angry. We’re allowed to have all our emotions about it. No question. But, what can you do ultimately but surrender to the way things are and wish your friends well? And they wouldn’t want you to be sad. They wouldn’t want you to grieve and be hurt. But it’s hard. We’re human, after all.
I’ve lost, see…
I’ve lost… I haven’t lost anybody but in the last two years, almost all of my elders, my spiritual elders are gone now from the physical plane. It’s like Muhammad Ali hitting you so fast, you can’t get out of the way. Boom boom boom boom boom. So many of the beings that I look to for the bottom line, for love and affection and support on this path have left, left the body.
So, in 1989, I was at the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad at Prayag, which is where the Ganga and the Yamuna and the invisible river from heaven worlds, the Saraswati, all meet and it’s called Triveni, the three rivers meeting and every four years there’s a Mela, every 12 years there’s, no, every 3 years there a Mela, every twelve years there’s a Kumbh Mela and every 144 years there’s a Maha Kumbh and 1989 was the 144th year since the stars were in a certain position. So, I was there with a Sadhu, with a Baba. He was a very old Baba. He was 163 I think, at the time and one day He said to us that He was going to visit His elder Gurubhai, His elder Guru Brother whose name was Dayoraha Baba who was over 270 years old and, you know, everybody knew it. He’d been in the same county. Dayoraha is a county. He’d been in the same county for all that time. He was the Guru of your grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather. Everybody knew it. So, He says He was going to go see Him that afternoon, that He was in another place on the Mela grounds. So, when He came back, He said to us He’d had a wonderful time with Him and Dayoraha Baba had told Him that Sri Krishna had come to Him and asked Him to Vrindavan to play with Him. So, He was going to go. What He was saying was that He was about to leave the body.
Sri Krishna had come and asked Him to come to Vrindavan to play, so He was going to go and He left the body shortly after that.
It just depends on how we live in this world. Are we going to allow our one life programming to destroy our peace of heart? Are we going to cry every time we stub our toe? I do. But eventually we have to get with the program and with the intensity of what’s going on now, it becomes very obvious that we have to get with the program.
This is an intense one, huh?
Well, as the days go by we see more of ourselves and it’s not easy to look at that stuff but we have to and spiritual practice is the one thing that will, over time, give us the strength to release the stories we tell about ourselves all life long, that hurt us and limit us and cripple us and crush our hearts. So, all right.