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.
Call and Response Special Edition Conversations With KD May 28, 2020
“Any mantra will work for you if you do it, and any mantra you do will work for you, but we bring so much to the practice, our hopes and fears, our anguish, our desires, all our emotions. We bring our fractured will and a million little pieces. We can’t even do one round of mantra without, you know, thinking about 4 million other things. So, it’s not the mantra’s fault. It’s our fault. It’s our situation. Let’s not blame ourselves because we are who we are, but it’s our situation. It’s very hard to do practice.” – Krishna Das
Welcome back or forward or upside or downside. We’re here again. And, we get a chance to hang out together. If you’ve sung with me before, you know that I always start with a prayer that I introduce as an invocation to the love that lives within us, as who and what we truly are. And, what I’m going to do today is I’m going to tell you the translation of that prayer and tell you what it’s about. It is a prayer to Hanuman, and in India, Hanuman is considered to be the perfect servant of God, of Ram He has no agenda of his own, only to serve Ram’s agenda, which is also very simple, which is compassion for us. To help us overcome our suffering, our negativity, and of course, in the story of the Ramayana, Hanumanji helps Ram win the war against Ravana and his demon hordes, the personification of evil and negativity and selfishness, and if you don’t know the story of the Ramayana, it’s a very wonderful story, and, one of the, one of the two great Indian, well, I don’t want to call it a myth because it’s supposed to be real… It happened at some point many, many thousands of years ago. So, Hanuman is, you know, Maharajji used to say to us, “Who is Hanuman?”
And we would give him all the pat answers, you know, “The perfect servant,” this and that.
And then He would say, “Nay, Hanuman is the breath of Ram, the breath of Ram, the breath of God.”
The breath is very powerful. You know, in the Greek rendering of the gospels, the new Testament, which was written a hundred years after Jesus left the body, it was one of the first times that it had been written down what is now and later was translated as “holy spirit,” in the Greek, it’s “holy breath.” And the breath connects us to life. It connects our bodies to life. Without breath, we have no life. Without prana, we have no life. And the life of our soul is connected to the Paramatman, the Supreme Being, the Supreme Soul through the breath of God, which is Hanuman. And as that breath moves through us, it cleans our hearts, it removes obstacles from our path. It destroys our suffering and mitigates all kinds of calamities and stuff like that.
So, I’m going to read you the translation of this prayer. Much of it has to do with the stories of Hanumanji from the Ramayana, and much of it is description of his qualities, which on the deepest, deepest, deepest level are our own qualities, are the qualities of our real, our warrior hearts to overcome all limitation and merge with love, fully.
This is called the Hanumat, the Sri Hanumat Stavan.
I bow to the son of the wind, which is the name of Hanuman, a fire to consume the forest of evildoers, destroyer of the darkness of ignorance and whose heart resides Sri Ram, the holder of the bow and arrows. I bought to the son of the wind, the abode of immeasurable strength, possessing a body’s shining like a mountain of gold, a fire to consume the forest of the demon race. The foremost among the wise, abode of all virtues, chief of monkeys and the most, most beloved devotee of Sri Ram. I worship Hanuman, who made the great ocean resembled the furrow of a cow’s hoof. In the Ramayana, Hanuman jumps across the ocean to search for Sita, Ram’s wife who had been kidnapped. So, he makes that ocean, he literally jumped across the ocean, which was 800 miles wide and he made that huge ocean seem as small as the water that’s collected in the footprint of a cow in the mud.
Who killed giant demons as if they were mosquitoes and who is like a gem among the beads of the rosary called the Ramayana, a gem on the mala of the Ramayana.
I worship Hanuman, the brave son of Anjani, the dispeller of Janaki’s grief, the Lord of Monkeys, slayer of Akshakumar, who was Ravana’s son, a great demon, a great warrior, and the Terrorizer of Lanka, which was Ravana’s kingdom. I offer homage to Anjani’s son who leapt easily across the oceans waters and with the fire of Janaka’s daughter’s grief, burnt Lanka.
So, Sita was in terrible desolation in her separation from her Lord, from her love, and Hanumanji took that grief, the fire of that grief, and he burnt the whole kingdom down. Now, you have to also recognize that Sita and Ram are not two separate things. They are like fire and heat, fire and its heat. Without fire, there’s no heat and there’s no heat without fire. So, you take one, they’re two sides of one coin. They appear different, because of qualities, manifestation, but one without the other doesn’t happen. So, in this case, Hanumanji took Sita’s… the other thing about this whole story is it is Lila. Lila. Ram Lila. It’s the play or the drama that God lives out in order to cleanse the world of darkness. So, well, there’s a lot to say about all that.
I take refuge at the feet of Hanuman, who is fast as the mind and strong as the wind, who has conquered the senses, who is the most exalted among the wise ones, son of the wind, chief of monkeys and the messenger of Sri Ram.
I meditate upon Hanuman with ruddy face and a body that glows like a mountain of gold, who can bestow all boons and fulfill all desires and who resides under the Parijata tree. It’s a tree that grows, as they say, in heaven.
I bow to Hanuman, who goes wherever Ram’s name is chanted, bowing in reverence, eyes filled with tears of love, head bent in adoration, and who is known as the Slayer of demons.
So, Hanumanji goes wherever Ram’s name is sung.
Maharajji used to say to us, “From repeating these names, going on repeating these names of God, everything is accomplished. Everything is brought to fullness and completion.” Purna. He didn’t talk to us about the meditation. When we asked him, how do we find God? He said, “Serve people.”
When we asked them, “How do you raise Kundalini?” He said, “Feed people.”
From his, where he was sitting, it was all about taking care of all of us, including all of us in our open hearts. This practice of the repetition of the name is a very powerful practice and most of the saints that I met would say that, in this age, in this Kali Yuga, in these dark ages, when the light is buried very deeply within us, this practice is the best practice to do. There are many practices and really, whatever practice you do is the best practice to do. But obviously this practice must have tremendous strength and power and efficacy. And in fact, these mantras, these names are the sound form of the deity itself. This, the being is not visible in this world at this time with physical eyes, but the name is here, and the name is the form of that being, now the sound form, the vibrational form of that being. So, through the repetition of the name, gradually, but inevitably this presence within us is uncovered.
Aiim. Aiim is a bija mantra. There are some mantras that have no meaning at all in the conceptual mind, but they are like sticks of dynamite, so to speak, for your thought processes. So, aiim, hrim, klim, hlim, all of these mantras, theoretically, they also have some meanings, but really they are sounds that are meant to manifest the deity, the presence of that deity in your mind stream.
And “aiim” is the bija mantra for Saraswati. Shreem is the bija mantra for Sri, Lakshmi, et cetera. So, there are many bija mantras.
Q: Why do you think Neem Karoli Baba wanted, when they saw a couple and asked if they would get like, if by doing it, the attachment is so big that difficult…
No, Maharajji said that if you’re with one partner for your life, there’s no problem with, it’s no obstacle to finding God. And, you know, we would be sitting around with HIm day after day. There was a lot of love, a lot of juice, and then we would go back to town at night and I would just go to my room after dinner and go to sleep. I later found out everybody was partying. And so, we’d come to the temple and Maharajji would look at these two people and go, “Oh, you’re friends, they’re friends. Isn’t that nice? They’re friends. Oh, that’s so nice.”
A couple of days later, “Oh, you’re good friends? They’re good friends. That’s so nice. You’re good friends.”
A couple of days later, Boom. “You’re married. Go home to your parents.”
So, he honored what was going on and people getting together and falling in love. And so, he married them. I don’t know how many marriages were arranged by him at that time, so to speak. But I think there’s only two people, two or three couples left. One of them came, already together, after all these years. So, it’s interesting. But whatever karmas they had to work out together, they’re working out.
Q: Hey, I wanted to ask, I’m just 18. So, should I search for a guru for me, or should I just meditate and chant?
So, you don’t search for a guru. The guru shows up in your life in a body if that’s what’s best for you, if that’s what it’s going to take to move you on in your path, but don’t look outside of yourself for a guru. Meditate chant, do your practice and become a good human being, a compassionate human being, a kind human being, a strong human being who can help other people. Become someone who doesn’t, who overcome self-hatred, who overcomes shame, who overcomes grief, who overcomes selfishness, be that kind of a person. And then you you’ve already found your Guru because Guru, God and Self, true nature, your true self, they are not different. Those are not three things. They’re one thing. And they are who you already are in your deepest place of your heart. Which we are not aware of at this point in our incarnations. However, through practice, meditation, chanting and loving all beings and developing that kind of generosity of spirit, which overcomes fear and anger and all those things, you’ll find what you’re looking for. You don’t know what it really looks like yet. You think, “Oh, I want a Guru in a human body,” because you think you’ll recognize your Guru, but you might not, you might’ve met your Guru 20 times already, but until, and unless the Guru wants you to know who he or she is, you won’t know. And there’s no way around that. That’s the deal.
So, what are you going to do? Watch TV and eat ice cream for the rest of your life? No. Do some practice become a good person. Develop good qualities. And become a real human being, a good human being.
Q: I find it very hard to practice loving kindness with my brother-in-law. He likes to make people angry and push people’s buttons. I get angry before he even walks into the room. How can I not let him get to me?
I think your brother-in-law is standing right here. Did you hear what you said? You know where the loving kindness practice comes from? At one point, Buddha sent a group of monks to meditate in this forest and they went there. But there were these tree demons, these kind of small level, low-level kind of beings that were causing a lot of confusion and it, they, they disturbed their meditation wouldn’t let them meditate. So, the monks came back to the Buddha and said, you know, you know, “This is what’s happening. Give us a weapon. Give us a weapon against these tree demons,” you know?
And Buddha said, “I will give you the most powerful weapon in the universe.”
What was that? Loving kindness practice, Metta meditation.
I would, if I were you, I would look into it more. You know, it takes practice. You don’t do it, just because you want to. It doesn’t happen because you want it to happen, it happens as your heart ripens through practice. So, your brother-in-law right now is a great teacher for you. He shows you exactly where your bullshit is. We don’t like that, but unfortunately that’s the deal.
So, it’s not like you’re doing anything wrong. You’re acting the way most of us act, you know. We don’t like people who piss us off and we only like the people who are nice to us. You know, that’s not actually going to work in the long run. That’s not a good strategy for moving along the path.
So, Ram Dass used to say these people are just God in drag, and they’re fooling us into thinking that they are that way and pissing us off. So, we have to see, we have to transform and transmute that situation. Very difficult. But, you know, as we grow up and mature a little bit spiritually, we begin to notice how our suffering and our fear and our shame and guilt and grief and selfishness, how those things cause us to act in certain ways. And we find mostly it’s very hard not to react to situations with those knee jerk reactions. So, if it’s hard for us, who are supposedly so spiritual, right, imagine how hard it is for somebody like your brother-in-law, who doesn’t have any concept that there’s any way to live in this world in a good way. Either that, or he’s just fooling you. Maybe he’s your guru. And once we notice our own suffering and how hard it is not to hurt ourselves and others, we start to feel, we start to see that these people who are difficult for us and seem to be aiming their shit at us, they can’t help themselves. Isn’t that terrible? All they do is go everywhere and they create suffering for themselves and everybody else. That’s a horrible place to be. There’s no happiness in that for them ultimately, really. No peace of mind. No love, no joy, even though they might seem to enjoy pissing you off.
So, it’s really your work. It has nothing to do with him or, but you need to just calm your heart down, let it settle. Let it settle. Let it settle. Let it settle. And I don’t know how much you know about Metta practice, the loving kindness practice, but the idea is to offer friendliness. Offer acceptance. Offer loving kindness to other beings, as well as ourselves, but we’re not trying to change anybody. We’re trying to just simply offer them this friendship, which expands us, expands our hearts and relaxes our hearts and unwinds our hearts, which allows us to ultimately not feel as if we’re the target of those people’s actions, which we’re not, even though it seems that we are. They’re just blurting out over everything out of their own pain.
So, that’s our work. Our work is to grow up. Not easy. Nobody wants to grow up.
Q: Why do some gurus and enlightened beings eat meat and dairy? Does this conflict with the practice of ahimsa?
Well, it would seem so. You know, the Tibetans in Tibet, there was no, they don’t grow anything there. It’s like 12,000 feet. They don’t grow anything. So, they had to eat meat apparently. However, the way they need is they have certain people, a group of people who do the slaughtering, but they also do a lot of prayers over that. Not that that makes it okay. But it’s a survival thing. There’s no food up there. So, it’s very hard to, to survive if they didn’t eat meat, you know. And I was once at a dinner, having dinner at a friend’s house and there were some wonderful Rinpoches, some Lamas there and we were all sitting around the table and one of the older Lamas looked at me and said, “You’re not eating?”
I just had some vegetables on my plate.
“You’re not eating?”
I said, “Rinpoche, I’m vegetarian.”
He went, “Oh, thank you very much. Thank you.”
He was honoring the fact that I didn’t want to eat other beings. So, well, it seems so, that it’s against ahimsa, but the last time you wanted to kill somebody who cut you off in your car was also against ahimsa, and that anger might’ve created more toxin in your body than eating, than a Saint eating some meat. So, and as Jesus said, it’s not what comes in the mouth, it’s what comes out of the mouth that’s more important. So…
Q: Did neem Karoli Baba teach you to do yoga? Is it effective to do so?
By yoga you mean Asana practice? No, he did not. He asked us to love everyone, to serve everyone and to remember God. He liked to sing. He liked to hear us sing, chant and do kirtan and bhajan, but he did not teach us or encourage us to do asana practice. I had done a lot of asana practice and meditation before I went to India. And when I got there with him, I just stopped doing all of it. Because, it was funny, I was home. I was exactly where I wanted to be in the universe. So, I hadn’t, I felt no need to do any practice, so to speak, other, any formal practice that way. It was a funny situation.
Of course, years later, I started to do more asana because my body was getting old and decrepit and I wanted to keep it working. Right? So, you have to do something, but he did not encourage us to do that. In fact, he, one woman was doing a headstand in the temple and he saw her and he told her not to do that. He said, “Unless you’re eating a very pure sattvic diet, when you do a headstand, the impurities in the food go into your brain.”
That’s what he said. So, he’s, he asked her not to do that.
Q: There were two incidents when I saw Maharaji: First in my dream, he was sitting in bed in my home and just staring at me and the second time while I was running and he was smiling at me. Was it real?
Are you real? First find out if you’re real and then you’ll know what anything else is. They do say that when you have an experience of a Saint like that, or even in a dream that they have come to see you, because they say we can’t conjure up the form of a Saint with our own, out of our own willful egocentric desires to do that.
If we can bring the name or the form of a Saint into our consciousness, it’s because they are, they’re coming to see us. So, when we repeat these names, you see, we think we’re doing the whole show. “Yes. I’m going to sing kirtan.”
That’s not actually reality. The reality is that the name is doing us. We are not doing the name. We are not remembering the name. The name is remembering us. So good luck.
Q: How long do I have to practice on the path until I feel peace in my heart? It’s been a while already and I feel so many emotions.
You know, give up. It ain’t going to happen.
How long? You know, that’s like saying how long do I have to hold my hand in this fire before I can take it out? You know, I can see my skin is burning off and I smell the flesh burning, but you know, how long do I have to keep it in there? Well, take it out.
How long do you have to practice? You don’t have to practice. You don’t have to do shit. Don’t do anything if you don’t want to do it. When you notice that your hand’s in the fire, you’ll try to find some way to get it out of there. And if the practice isn’t working for you, don’t blame the practice. Blame your own intention, blame your lack of sincerity, blame… and I’m not saying just for you, I’m talking to myself… blame my own laziness, my own inability to conjure up any real love, any feeling of connection. Yeah. That’s your mind. That’s our mind. That’s the vasanas of our mind. Vasana means the, the tendencies of the mind, the channels that the mind is used to running in. Until you change that, it’s always going to be like that. So, complaining ain’t going to help. Find a way to help yourself. I don’t know what that’s going to be, but it’s up to you to find it. Find what works for you. And if you don’t want to find what works for you, then don’t. I mean, there’s, nobody’s forcing you to do anything. However, Maharajji said this, I’ll read this quote to you.
“Constant repetition of God’s name, even without feelings of devotion, in anger or lethargy… constant repetition of the name, even without any feeling of devotion or love, in anger or lethargy, it brings out the grace. It will bring out grace.”
Once you realize this, then there’s no misunderstanding about things anymore and you don’t worry about anything. This is what he said. Now, I don’t expect you. I don’t expect anyone to go, “Oh yeah, fine. That must be true.”
Because you don’t, you weren’t with him. Even me being with him, if I really believed this, why would I waste my time watching television? Why wouldn’t I repeat the name all day long, every day. Because of the vasanas of my own mind. Because of my own dullness.
What can I say? This is who we are. So, accept that you’re somebody who’s not very happy about all this and see what you want to do. But he said that. “Constant repetition of God’s name…” Or as constant as you can do, “even without feelings of devotion, even in anger, even in laziness and lethargy,” and not even hardly paying attention, “even that will bring out the grace,” bring the grace into the heart, make us aware of the grace within us.
So, if you believe it, get with it. If you don’t, then find something to do, because you got to do something. You’re always doing something. You’re always planting seeds. When we chant for half an hour, most likely nobody who was chanting with us was robbing banks, was beating anybody up, was banging their head against a wall. And that’s good. We avoided all kinds of negative behavior for a whole half an hour. And at the same time, we planted positive seeds in our own hearts.
Q: How can I find a mantra that’s right for me? And do I have to stick with one mantra once I pick it? Or can I use any mantra or any name?
Yes. Next question.
Any mantra will work for you if you do it, but, and any mantra you do will work for you, but we bring so much to the practice, our hopes and fears, our anguish, our desires, all our emotions. We bring our, our fractured will and a million little pieces. We can’t even do one round of mantra without, you know, thinking about 4 million other things. So, it’s not the mantra’s fault. It’s our fault. It’s our situation. Let’s not blame ourselves because we are who we are, but it’s our situation. It’s very hard to do practice.
Do you have to do one mantra? No. You don’t have to do anything.
How do you find the mantra that works for you? I don’t know. You do .You just pick one, unless you’ve been given one by somebody you respect like a teacher or a guru who initiates you or suggests a mantra to you, you might want to give that one a try. If you don’t have a teacher to do that, then find something that kind of works for you that you like, that you think you like, and then like, it might be “Ram.” So, you’ll do “Ram Ram Ram,” and then you’ll start to feel, you know, “This is just not working.”
Well, really? That’s your mind. That’s… let it go. Come back. It doesn’t matter what mantra it is. You have to come back when you go away. So, when you notice you’re not paying attention, you come back and little by little, you’ll probably finetune your heart a little bit, maybe over 30, 40, 50 years or 50 lifetimes or more, so there’s no hurry. Don’t rush. Find something you’d like to do and do it.
Don’t give up just because you can’t pay attention. Nobody can pay attention. And when you start to pay attention, that’s when you recognize how little attention you can actually pay. So, you keep coming back. Use that mantra to ground you and keep coming back, coming back, coming back, whichever mantra it is. They’re all the same on one level.
Q: Somebody is asking, who is Maharajji?
That’s Maharajji. His name is Neem Karoli Baba. He lived, he left the body in 1973. He was mostly in North India, in U.P. mostly. And, yeah, here I was with him for two and a half years.
Q: I am a vegetarian and meditating and practice yoga and at home right now, finding it hard to keep calm around my daughter. What do you suggest doing in the moment when anger and frustration comes up? When she pinches me it’s so triggering.
Your daughter is just being your daughter. And it’s up to you to find a way to use the teaching she’s giving you to overcome your knee jerk reactions.
You know, one day, a farmer whose son had become a monk under Buddha, came to Buddha and started yelling at him and was very angry because he lost a son who was going to do the work on the farm with him. So, when he was finished, Buddha said to him, “Old man,” he said, you know, “If I gave a gift to you and you don’t accept it, what happens to the gift?”
And the farmer said, “Well, it stays with you.”
And the Buddha said, “Just so old, man, I’m not accepting your gift of anger. Where does it stay? With you, it’s your work.”
So, your daughter is giving you many gifts that you don’t like, and by reacting, of course you’re accepting those gifts. But most of us don’t have any vote in our reactions. They’re just instant knee jerk reactions. And that’s the whole point of practice, is to get a vote. There’s no button to push to make it happen right now. This is not, you know, this is not instant gratification. This is long-term commitment and practice to finding a good way to live in this world.
So, you ever tried talking to your daughter? O are you too angry? It’s hard. Kids, especially adolescents, they don’t want to talk to their parents. Their parents don’t know nothing. And of course, we’ve pretty much proven that to them. Hare Ram.
Q: Is it right that we move away from family responsibilities to attain something, meditation, truth, which requires overcoming these worldly things like love, affection, charm, and grief?
Where are you going to go that you’re not going to take that shit with you? You want to leave the situation that’s causing you suffering because you, you’re not, you’re not advanced enough to deal with it. There’s no place you can go to get away from your karmas. And if you have family responsibilities, the worst thing you could do is to run away from that. That’s not, that’s not a good situation. If you were meant to be living in a cave, you’d already be there. If you tried to move to a cave now you’re actually bringing your whole family with you, inside of you, and they won’t leave you alone because they’re inside of you. So, while they’re in this world, there’s no better way to purify your heart than to find a way to love them and include them in the so-called love that you think is a problem. All love is good. It’s clinging and attachment to that love, and wanting to keep it, and afraid of losing it, and all that stuff, and use it to control people, that’s not good, but that’s not the Love’s fault. That’s our fault.
So, you know, there are times when you can go on retreat to try to calm your ass down and find a better way to interact with the world around you. But there’s no way you’re going to go where you’re not taking your stuff with you. This is a big misconception.
There’s no worse place to go than an ashram to deal with political stuff and intrigue and power trips, and people are more important and people are less important. This guy’s higher and this one’s lower. It’s a horror show. You know, it’s no different than the world. And, not every ashram, of course, but any institution brings out the worst in everybody in it. Guaranteed.
And besides on this path, the path, the lineage of Hanuman, it isn’t about Sannyasin, it is not about renunciation. It’s actually the opposite. It’s about embracing life. Hanuman actually makes it possible for us to realize and satisfy the desires that we have that are our karmic situation, to satisfy them and fulfill them so they don’t eat us alive. He makes it possible for us to get what we need to get and at the same time, get rid of the things we don’t need, but it’s not a renunciate path in the, in the strict sense of the word. These aren’t, we are not, Hanuman bhaktas are not necessarily swamis. And more than that, when those basic hungers are fulfilled, then you are ready to be liberated from your delusions.
Maharajji used to say, “You can’t talk to a hungry person about God. Feed them first.”
So we have many different hungers, hungers of the body, hungers of the heart, hungers of the mind. They need to be honored because they cannot be destroyed. You can’t go around them to get somewhere. You have to transmute them and go through them, recognize them and give yourself some love and attention. This is not easy because nobody teaches us that, because our parents didn’t know that, their parents didn’t know that.
In India, just a couple of generations ago, there was, it was a very different situation. The traditional culture was still very much alive. But now since Asian MTV hit new Delhi, and now you can watch TV shows from all over the world in India, the whole, the culture has been very watered down with Western influence. It’s very different now, but still it’s, there’s an incredible amount of spiritual energy in India. They say it’s actually in the soil. It’s the magnetism in the earth there that makes it possible for saints to live more easily in the body, in that place. But anyhow, so that’s the deal.
Q: If everybody is Atman, why is there any evil in the universe?
The evil’s in our minds, “our” being humanity’s minds, that’s where the evil is. Greed, fear, shame, guilt, anger, selfishness; this is evil, and this is within us. And it’s manifesting in the outward world. And, everybody is in truth, Atma. Atman. That’s our true nature, but you don’t know your true nature. Neither do I. So, we keep on creating negative karmas as we go through our days, because we act out of those other things; fear, shame, guilt, anger, selfishness.
So why? Because that’s, that’s what human beings do. It’s not who we are, but it’s what we do it because we’re identified with our bodies and we think we are separate beings. And if we’re separate than “I need to get as much stuff that I can get so I can stay okay. And I need to keep you out of my area and keep safe.”
So, we start to divide things in countries, make all these weird lines, and “This is this country. That’s another country.”
It’s crazy. And of course, how did this all start? Well in the Rg Veda, there’s a hymn that they call the creation hymn, and it’s very clear. It starts off, “In the beginning, there was this, and then there was this,” and it goes on for a couple of pages. “And then this happened, then this, this,” and then it says, “and why, why did, what, what, how, why is this? Why did this all happened?”
It says, “Only He in highest heaven knows, or perhaps he doesn’t.”
It really says that. So don’t worry about why, just worry about how to purge that selfishness out of your own heart, to purge that hurtfulness and that self-hatred, and not letting yourself be at ease in your life. That’s our work.
Okay, well, let’s do maybe one more.
Q: My parents and brothers don’t tolerate the fact that I invest time in meditation and chanting mantras. I live with my parents and it’s really difficult for me to be free and work and feed my spiritual life. They all prejudice me and think is better if I’d have other priorities, like finding a job.
Well, first of all, I would imagine you’re trying to prove something to them, that there’s a part of you that’s showing off and that’s a part of you that thinks you’re better than them because you’re doing spiritual practice. So, you’re higher. You’re a higher being than they are, and they should let you alone so you can do what you want to do.
It doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t work like that. You need more love. And when you have more love, you won’t be showing off to your parents. You won’t be trying to prove anything to them. You won’t be pushing their buttons.
I had an old friend named Fred in the old days when we first met Ram Dass. He was a Zen student, mostly and we used to sit together at the San Francisco Zen center.
One day he said to me, “You know, when I go home and see my mom, she just hates it when I’m a Buddhist, but she loves me when I’m Buddha.”
That’s a big thing. So, you give up your self-righteousness and your thinking that you’re better than anybody and more advanced. And if you’re living at home, you have responsibilities. You’re living off your parents’ money, you’re taking their food. You have to be reasonable. You’re in relationship with them. If you don’t want to be around them, go ahead and go move somewhere else. But then you need a job anyway. So, it’s all in your own mind and your own head, all this stuff. And you’re using your so-called spiritual practice to just be like a cranky teenager who doesn’t want to give his parents a break. I don’t know how old you are, but we’re teenagers until our fifties or sixties mostly. So, give everybody a break and give yourself a break. Why do you want to create all the situations? You are the one creating the situation. Why do they have to know what you do? What do you meditate in the living room while they’re trying to watch TV? Go upstairs to your room. Meditate in the bathroom. They don’t have to know anything. Hide your stuff, because if it’s going to bother them, why would you show them what you’re doing? Why would you flaunt it?
It’s just a very unskillful. So, get it together.