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 September 26, 2020
“Obstacles are always there. They’re either obstacles or they’re opportunities. It’s up to you how you take it. And always, you have to ask yourself, is what I’m trying to do what I really want to be doing? That’s the main thing. It’s not what you do. It’s why you do what you do. That’s what important. I mean, we have to learn to really listen to ourselves about what we really need and really want in life, and how do we want to go through this life? How do we want to spend our time? What do we want to get? In what way? What’s the best thing I can do for myself and others that I meet?” -Krishna Das
Hi everybody. How are y’all doing?
If you’re here, you’re doing okay.
Q: Hi, Krishna Das.
Great to be here. Yeah. So, I don’t have a question, but I felt like I just needed to show up in the space, or in my heart, or something. I’ve been getting, staying up till 12 to 2 on a Thursday for the satsang and it’s been amazing, and spending more time with horses, that was something that came up the last time I asked a question on Zoom. So, there’s, I’m sort of quiet, you know, so I just, I felt, I think it was important just to try and you know…
Yeah, you know you can watch the Zooms, the Thursday nights replays?
It’s not the same, because even like where I live, it’s not so private, but like, it’s fine, but I’m singing quietly. Everyone else is asleep and I’m there with the light off, and it’s just like, bliss. I can’t explain it. I just have two hours of, I just feel so happy ,and then not much sleep or anything, and a lot of hard work the next day, but just like no problems, which is kind of strange, actually.
Actually, that’s your true nature. No problems.
No problem. Yeah.
The problems are in our mind and the way we interact with everything, but our true nature is perfectly okay, always, and that’s where we really live. So, we’ve been, because of our stuff, we were locked out of our own house, you could say. We’re like, living on the lawn of our own house, and instead of a bathroom, we have a porta-potty and a bucket to take a bath in and, you know, and the bed’s out there on the lawn, and we don’t even know there’s a house there, and then if we did, we wouldn’t know where the key was.
Yeah. But I feel like I’m kind of, maybe I’m on the porch? And that, and then it’s like, “Oh, it’s so different.”
It’s sort of like, I could surrender a little more, but it’s a bit like, “Is this okay?” Like, am I allowed to feel this okay?
What do you think?
Yeah. I feel it. Yeah.
Well, you don’t need to be allowed, actually, but we do need to allow ourselves. That’s the thing.
And that’s okay. I mean, growing up in this modern world, none of us have been allowed to be ourselves. We become identified with all the programming that, put into us from every possible direction. So, we need to allow ourselves to be at ease with whatever is there, because that’s our true nature. It is at ease. It is okay. And it’s hard to recognize that because we’re, it’s like we’re in free fall, and we’re grasping, we’re trying to hold onto something that breaks off, and it breaks off, it doesn’t work, but if you just lay back into it, it’s perfectly okay.
For me, it comes down to Maharajji, because emotionally, I don’t feel okay myself, for most of the time. I don’t feel at ease with myself. I don’t feel at home in my own self, but when I remember him and who he is to me, and when I enter into his presence more deeply, then I just naturally relax, because my experience with him and my relationship with him is that he is everything that I want, I am trying to see in myself, you could say. That way. So, I have that. I have that.
People have asked me, “Do you ever lose faith?”
And I say, “Well, I have very little faith in myself, but I don’t lose faith in him.”
I understand. When you were in Dublin, I was at the kirtan, and I hugged you afterwards, and it was it was a game changer, like total, just like stepping into another world, but that’s my point of reference. So inside, it’s not great, but when I remember what that felt like, then it’s never sort of being on my own. It’s never on my own. There’s always a presence.
Yeah. That’s true. And that presence is really you, looking in the mirror and seeing yourself.
That’s far out. Oh, my God.
Because there’s dust on the mirror, most of the time we don’t get a clear look at our face.
No, I was like creosote, you know?
Yeah. That’s nothing. Good. A little Creosote is no problem. But creosote keeps the bugs away, you know that right?
That’s true yeah.
So there’s no more bugs, you can take the creosote off.
Okay. Very good.
Yeah. Good. Well, nice to see you.
Yeah. Nice to see you. Thank you.
Take good care, huh?
Q: Ram Ram, KD. KD, I just wanted to ask you your fondest memory of Siddha Ma?
Of Siddhi Ma? I’ll tell you a story, and it’s not a story about Ma. It’s a story about Maharajji that Ma told me. Actually, she had Jaya, her disciple, tell me.
It was in 1995 in the temple in Kainchi. I was a not doing very well, and I sent a message to Ma saying that I wanted to talk to her. So, a couple of days later they came to get me and she, Ma had come out and was sitting in the back of the temple, in the ashram part of the temple. Things were being prepared for the Bhandara, the June Bhandara, and so she said, “What is it?”
And I said, “Ma, you know…”
I don’t know if you know my whole story, but you know, Maharajji had called me to come back to India. He had sent me home and then he had somebody write to me telling me to come back, but I didn’t get there on time because of my own stupidity and Tamasic nature.
So, I said, “Ma, you know, I don’t think I’ve ever recovered from not coming back to see Maharajji.”
This is already 23 years later, 22 years later.
And I said, “I feel like there’s a knife in my heart, and I can’t take it out.”
So, she was quiet for a minute, and she said something to Jaya, and Jaya said, “Ma asked me to tell you this story…”
Everybody was in Rishikesh, at the temple in Rishikesh, and they had made plans to go to South India for the winter, and they had 40 reservations on a train from Delhi to Madras, to Chennai, and just before, a few hours before they were getting ready to leave, all the devotees, Jivanti Ma had another heart attack. She was having heart attacks regularly. Not major ones, but small ones. But she had a heart attack, and she could barely breathe, and then, “What should we do? If we cancel the reservations, we will never get more reservations in time,” and so they all decided to go. Of course, Jivanti Ma wanted to go also.
So, they helped her get into the car and she could barely breathe, and all the way, had to drive from Rishikesh to Delhi to catch the train. So, they drove all that way. For everybody that doesn’t know, it’s probably a minimum seven hours of driving and the roads are about as good as they were before the Roman empire.
So, they get to the old Delhi train station and JIvanti Ma can’t walk So, they carried her on a dandhi. Underneath the tracks there’s a tunnel that you can walk through that goes up to each of the tracks, and that’s only used for the luggage, the bearers and the police and stuff like that. They carried her underneath the tracks and up to the platform and into the train and into the compartment, and they helped her into her berth, the sleeping berth, and the train takes off.
Somewhere in the middle of the night, Siddhi Ma needs to use the bathroom. Now, for those of you that don’t know, on these, in these train cars there are bathrooms at either end of the car, and you walk down the hall to the end of the car, and then you make a turn which goes out to the door, out of the train, but then you make a quick right turn to the bathrooms. So, middle of the night, Siddha Ma needs to use the bathroom. So, Jaya walks with her.
First, they went to one side of the train, one bathroom, and it was really dirty. So, they turned around and they went, walked down the long walkway to the other side of the train car to use the other bathroom. When they turned the corner at the end of the hallway, they were facing the door outside the train, and there, huddled down at the foot of the door was a, she used the word “fakir,” which is a word, it essentially means like a Sufi or Muslim Saint. She did not say “Sadhu.” She said, a “fakir,” because he had a black blanket or black shawl around him, covering his head, and you couldn’t see his face. He was looking down. And when they turned the corner and came in front of this fakir, he, still looking down and his face covered, he goes like this, “Jai.”
“Jai” means “hail,” “victory,” or “respect.” Jai.
So, Siddha Ma goes like this, bows to him, and then she goes into the bathroom. So, then Jaya comes back and she says to the Baba, she said, “Baba, do you know this woman?”
And again, still covered, completely covered, He says, “She is the mother of the universe.”
And Jaya goes, “Whoa.”
But then Siddhi Ma comes out of the bathroom, and once again, she pranams to the Baba, and walks back with Jaya to the compartment. Now Jaya decides that Jivanti Ma has to see the Baba, has to meet the Baba. So, with great difficulty, because she can’t breathe. She’s had a heart attack. With great difficulty, they make their way down the hallway, and they come in front of the Baba and Jivanti Ma silently bows to the Baba, and still the Baba is not looking. He can’t see her. He’s covered. He reaches into his Jhola, his little backpack kind of thing, and he pulls out fresh, hot, pooris, and he breaks them in pieces and puts them like this, feeding Jivanti Ma, in her mouth like that.
Once again, you can’t see his face. He’s breaking the fresh, hot pooris and putting them in her mouth and she’s crying. Jaya’s crying. So finally, Jaya takes, by the way, this was exactly the way that Maharajji used to feed Jivanti Ma. So, then they go back to the compartment and Jaya wants to come back to see the Baba. So, she gets there. As she gets there, the train is coming to a station, and by the time she gets to the end of the thing, the Baba has opened the train door and is standing facing the platform, and his back is to Jaya, and he took one step onto the platform and disappeared right in front of Jaya’s eyes.
So, Jaya finishes telling me this story and Siddhi Ma looked at me and said, “Krishna Das, no one can understand Maharajji’s Leela, Maharajji’s play, since He left the body.”
Then she sent me away. No one can understand Maharajji’s Leela since leaving the body.
One time we’d been sitting together, just me and her for quite a while in silence, and all of a sudden she looked up at me and she said, “Krishna Das, Maharajji can do anything for anyone at any time.”
I just don’t know if he can make a good cup of coffee. We’ll find out.
Thank you so much.
Thank you. Boy, Siddhi Ma must be hanging out. This week people have been asking me about her, and you know, when she was with us physically, we were not prohibited, but we were definitely not encouraged to talk about her to other people. She didn’t want publicity. She didn’t want people coming. She didn’t send people away. I mean, she didn’t forbid people to come, but she, I really feel she hid herself better than Maharajji hid himself, and he hit himself from everybody, but she didn’t want… She never took anything personally. People would say, “Ma, my daughter’s sick. My son needs a job.”
She would only say, “Pray to Maharajji. What are you asking me for?”
Every once in a while she slipped and said, “Everything will be okay, don’t worry.”
But most of the time she just said, “Pray to Maharajji.”
Of course Maharajji said, “Pray to Hanuman.”
Hanuman says, “Pray to Ram.”
Q: Ram says, “Just do your shit and get outta here.”
Q: We are really your die-hard friend. We love your old bhajans, Hanuman Chalisa, Devi Chant. One note, I have read your book, Chants of a Lifetime. I want to thank you for everything because you are with us in happy times and sad moments. If we listen to you, everything, we just get settled. We’re so, so happy to see you. This is the first time I am seeing you and I’m so happy.
Thank you. Wonderful to see you too.
And no journey starts without your Hanuman Chalisa.
Ah, very nice. Very nice. You said you liked the old bhajans. What about the new bhajans? You don’t like those?
Yeah. I like every bhajan, but my favorite is Devi Chant, Hanuman Chalisa and Rupam Dehi. That touched my heart. I just truly feel that I can feel your devotions, everything. So, I’m so grateful to you. I just want to thank you.
Thank you. Thank you. So nice. Wonderful to meet you. Thank you. Good. Be well.
Thank you. All the best for your journey ahead.
Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Ram Ram. Be well.
Q: Hari Om. I don’t know what drew me towards you. I just came across your bhajan yesterday and something in me just told me that, you know I had to just see you. And since yesterday night, I and my wife, we listened to your Hanuman Chalisa and Om Namah Shivaya, and today, whole day I was just hearing it. There is something really magical in your voice. So, I just thought of being hear to say thank you and that’s about it.
Wonderful. Thank you. Thank you so much. Nice to meet you. Where are you in India? Which place?
I am from Bombay.
From Mumbai. I spent time down there. I spent time there. I sang in Mumbai a few times. Twice I sang, maybe a few years ago. I was there. I sang there. But next time we meet.
Sure. Definitely. Whenever you’re in India, we’ll definitely catch up.
Thank you. Nice to meet you. I didn’t know today was Krishna Das appreciation day. I would have been put on a new shirt or something.
Q: Hello, KD. How are you? Well, I have a question. I don’t know if it’s a question or not, but I was dating an addict and he has a beautiful soul but he rejects the fact of being loved and tries to destroy the relationship constantly. So, I have to put a boundary to protect myself because it was very difficult, and leave him, but it’s so hard to accept the fact that some people can’t change and feel loved. You know? I don’t how to make a question out of that, but maybe you can help me. I don’t know. He sometimes hears you and he gets so emotional and when he hears the mantras, he cries and I don’t know, I think he really gets in touch with that, but I don’t know. It’s hard for me to put that boundary.
Well, being an expert on relationships that I am… Ha. You know, ultimately you just have to let people be who they are. What else can you do? Right? But you also have to let yourself be who you are, which is, we don’t know how to do that. We can’t change other people. We can’t make people be who we want them to be. “Love” really means seeing people. Well, “love” means letting people be who they are, doing, making whatever offering you can make. But if they don’t take the offering, what can we do really? Our strength comes from making the offering, from wishing somebody well, from wanting somebody to be happy, to doing whatever we can do to be available to somebody, if and when they have hunger for what we’d like to give them. But on the other hand, what can we give anybody when we don’t know how to give ourselves? Right? You’re having a lot of emotions stirred up now. Work with those emotions. They’re not wrong. It’s not a question that these type of feelings are wrong, but where did they come from? What are they really about? Right?
Once I was very much in love with someone, and I was telling my Indian father, Mr. Tiwari, who was my greatest friend in the world and my teacher and a great Yogi, a family man. So, I was going on and on about this woman and he was listening. “Ah, very nice. Yes. Okay.”
And when I was finished he says, “My boy,” he said, “Relationships are business. Do your business. Enjoy. But love?” He said, “Love is what lasts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
Love is who we are. We don’t get it from somebody. But we identify affection, emotional love with real love, and they’re two different things. Love is who we are, and when we really touch that place inside of us, we see the love everywhere, and it’s not something that we feel we have to get from somewhere or someone, but relationships? “Okay, I push this button for you. Okay. And you push this one? Okay. Yeah. It feels good. Thank you. And now I’ll push that button. Ok. Will you push it? Oh yeah. Okay, good. And then, I push this button for you?”
You say, “What do you mean you don’t want to push my button? You have to push this! What’s wrong with you?”
You can’t. What can we do? But it’s all good. Once you recognize that you’re really alive, that you’re here, what you want to do is clean your heart. You want to be able to sit more deeply in who you really are. Relationships will show you immediately. Well, not immediately. Give it a few days, right? They’ll show you, very quickly, where you’re at with what we really identify with and what we feel we need to get to feel good about ourselves, because we didn’t get it from our parents, because our parents didn’t have it. They may have cared for us and loved us in their way, but they did not love themselves. So where are we going to catch that from? You know? Devotion or this kind of real love is a disease. You catch it from the people who have it. But who has it in this world? Very few people.
So, in the middle of the pain that you feel, right in the middle of this fire, expand yourself. Don’t crush yourself. Open up, be with the pain. You’ll learn so much from it. You’ll see so much from it. Unhappy circumstances and painful circumstances are our best teachers, because when things are going easily, we’re just totally asleep. We like to be asleep. It’s comfortable. You’ve got the covers on. It’s all so cozy. Maybe there’s somebody you’re holding on to, and you like that feeling. But as soon as that person, when he turns in bed, puts an elbow in your nose, then you wake up. “What is that?”
That’s when you’re really alive, believe it or not. So just keep breathing. That’s the best thing you can do. Just keep, no matter what you feel, keep breathing, and I guarantee you, within a few thousand breaths, it’ll be different, and it keeps changing. Everything keeps changing. And the more you embrace and accept and allow yourself to feel this pain, the more your heart starts to grow and get radiant, because the pain can’t destroy you. It just can’t. It can hurt, but it’s… Say you get out of bed and step your toe on something, do you cut your toe off? No. So? This is the same thing. You can’t close yourself to these things.
When you make a deal with yourself… “Okay. All right, I’m going to, I’m going to live through this. I’m going to deal with it the best I can. I don’t fucking like it, but Goddamn it, I’m going to just be here no matter what happens.” You start to feel different. You come out of hiding. You come out of that black hole, and then you start to feel alive again, and you see, the next thing you see, if it’s so hard for you who are supposedly spiritual, to feel okay, your partner, who has no clue, how hard must it be for him? And what about all the other people in the street that we see? Who may look at us weird and not like us, and don’t like the way we dress or this or that? How hard is it for them to be real or to come out of there their hole? Right?
So, when we see how hard it is for us, what happens is we start to, despite our best efforts, we start to feel compassion for people, and we realize we’re all in the same boat, all of us. So, keep breathing, things will change.
Q: I’m calling from Dehradun, which is very close to Rishikesh.
I know Dehradun. So many times I’ve been there.
It’s beautiful. Do you like it?
Very nice. I used to go to Kankhal where Andandamayi has an ashram. Just outside of Dehradun, on the road to Rishikesh.
When did you visit last?
Before you were born.
I’m sure. I’m sure. Thank you for having me. I have been listening. So, I’m a yoga teacher and I practice and I teach in Dehradun, so I was running my own place for about two years, but then for about three years, then COVID happened this year and everything’s done online. So, I have been doing sessions online. So, the question I wanted to ask you was that I just, I think there is, I’m just going to ask it… After you continue feeling lost for quite some time, even though you practice and you meditate and you are trying to motivate other people into practicing or trying to lead a good life, but because of stuff that has happened in your own personal life it’s been some time that you have continued to not feel that grounded. You have not been able to figure out a way to come back and feel settled. How does one get back to that place? In a nutshell… So, for where I’m coming from is just from solely experiences. Let’s say in the past two years, the previous year has been very difficult because I called my wedding off and that was a nightmare, keeping a lot of Indian mindsets in mind and on for months and months. So, I think one thing that I pulled out of that was that it’s not usually the decision that takes a lot of strength. It’s pulling the decision through that takes more strength out of you. And I feel that it, the entire process just took something out of me, which I have been unable to bring back, and I try to hold on to faith and I try to practice more and everything, and while I talk in my yoga sessions and while people talk to me through COVID, because this year has been so difficult for everyone, so sometimes I feel that what comes out of my mouth while trying to motivate other people, I have sort of, I need to find my own place while I do that.
Yeah. First of all, your observations about me are not entirely accurate. First of all, I’m not trying to do anything for anybody. What can I do for anybody? What I can do is share my practice with anybody who wants to share my practice, which is to chant. That’s my main practice. So, all I want to do is make that offering to anyone who wants to sing, come sing. And when I’m singing, when I’m chanting, I’m not chanting to people. What people are you talking about? I’m chanting to God. I’m chanting to the soul. I’m chanting to my own soul. I’m chanting to my guru who lives within me as who I am. So, I’m not chanting to people or trying to make them have any kind of experience. That’s their problem. I’m sharing my practice, what I do for myself, with anyone who wants to share it. I am not responsible for your state of mind. You want to be depressed? Fine, Chant. Be depressed. Do you want to be happy? Fine. Chant. Be happy. That’s your life. Not mine. I’m sharing my practice with people because that is my practice, sharing it, actually.
My guru did not want me to stay home alone and chant. He wants me to chant with people. So, but that’s his business, not my business. People have dreams of him. They have nice experiences. That’s great. Wonderful. What do I have to do with it? Nothing. I’m just chanting to him, not to you, except that you’re a part of him.
So, you have this idea that you’re the doer that you’re doing all this, and you’re identified with that. And so, you’re identified with all the feelings that arise from those interactions.
“Well, I’m getting drained. I can’t maintain a good feeling here. I don’t even know if I’m helping anybody. And this is hard times.”
Thoughts. It’s nothing but thoughts. Come back to the name, come back to the breath. Let go. It’s not your job to run the universe. It’s somebody else’s job. Let them do it. You take care of yourself, that’s your job.
Why worry? It’s not your problem. Your problem is dealing with your own stuff. That’s enough. And how do you do that? Well, one can… You know, somebody once told me that what you do for other people is different than what you do for yourself. So, that’s true and it’s not true. It depends how you see it, but let’s put it… When you do your practice, you have to maintain your practice. Especially if you’re sharing that practice with other people. You can’t be arrogant and think that whatever comes out of your mouth is good for everybody. You have to be constantly turning towards that place within, from where comes everything. Right? But thinking about it and then judging it and feeling good or feeling bad? Let go. This is all to be let go of. This is not your business. This is thoughts. Thoughts, emotions, feelings, thinking about the past, worrying about the future… You have to develop the ability to let go of all that stuff, because it does not matter what you think about anything. What matters is how you live in this moment.
So, when you do whatever practices you do for yourself, really be there. Don’t think about the past or the future. Be with yourself when you are practicing, when you are doing what you do for yourself. Feed yourself and you’re training yourself to let go and to dilute the glue that holds you to all these stories that you tell yourself about yourself, all lifelong.
“I’m this. I’m that. I’m this way. I did this. I didn’t do this. I’m doing this.”
So, just be yourself. Let yourself blossom and bloom and do practice. You have to do practice. You have to do spiritual practice, real spiritual practice, whatever that means. Now, asana practice, pranayama, those are good practices, but for the most part, the way most people do them, they tend to be just physical, and they can relax you a little bit, but you need to work… Listen to me, telling you what you need. One can work more directly with one’s mind and one’s feelings and learning how to let go, because all that stuff is what covers the jewel that lives in your heart as who you are, your soul. All those identifications, all those stories, that’s how we cover ourselves up. So, we need to let go of that. So, you sit down. You think you can count from a hundred to zero without thinking about other things? You can’t count from a hundred to 99 without thinking about something else. So, that’s the first thing, you know? Start to let your mind calm down. You have to do that. Nobody can do that for you. And that’s how you find what lives within us, our true nature, our soul, and then, when you go out into the world from that time of practice, you just try to be the best person you can be. That’s all. And you try to treat other people the way you want to be treated. That’s all you have to do. Nothing more than that. You don’t have to help anybody. You don’t have to try to teach anybody. You can share it, share techniques, but you do your practice where you calm your mind down and you try to connect with something deeper inside of you, and then you try to treat people the way you want to be treated. And that ain’t easy.
And it’s good to be a teacher. It’s good to share practices and techniques that can help people, but whether they do them or don’t do them, or whether it helps them or not is not up to you. Krishna says very clearly, over and over in the Gita, “You do what you do, but the fruit of your action is not your job.”
It’s not up to you, and if you’re worried about the fruit, if you’re worried about helping people, it cripples you. Your job is to do the best you can right now, this moment. Now this moment. Now this moment. Every moment. And what effect it has on other peoples, their life, is their karma, not yours. How you live in this life, this world right now, is your karma, is your situation. And that’s where you have and can find real strength to be true to yourself.
And, as you say in, in Indian culture, there’s a lot of stuff to deal with. As in every culture. That’s different, but you know, being a strong, independent woman in Indian culture is not an easy job, because traditionally, women’s place has not been empowered in India, just like the rest of the world. On the other hand, in India, they have the worship of the goddess, but then they’re nasty to their wives. So, what good is that? They go to the temple and worship a stone and then they come and yell at their wives. You know? But that’s the dichotomy of this world. That’s the craziness of this world.
You have created a very incredible thing for yourself so far, and just keep going. Get deeper. Get more real. Really empower yourself with love and compassion and that, for yourself and others. So speaketh at the Lord.
Thank you. Thank you. That really helps and thank you for everything that you put out for us. Thank you. Big love from me to you.
Q: Hello, Krishna Das. How are you? So, for me, my question today is, so I’ve been leaving my drums and I’ve been working on the harmonium and chanting, and I’m wondering, is there a particular drum machine that is something that I could use to have some beats going behind?
There’s two apps that I use for the, for iOS. One is called iTabla Pro. That’s the easiest one. The other one is a little bit complex. The rhythms are good, but not so easy. So, iTabla Pro is good, and they also have tanpura in that, and the bells, manjira. They have them in that. That’s a nice one. And you just have to go through and find the right, simple…. The two beats that you probably want to use, one is called Bhajani, and the other is Keherwa.
So, experiment with those two. That’s probably the ones that will work for you.
Okay, great. Thank you. Thank you so much.
And one more thing. Don’t quit your day job.
My day job is a music teacher.
Oh my God. Really? Where?
I teach special needs children music in a residential school. When I talked last time… I used to be a professional musician. I was on tour with Phoebe Snow back in the day. So, now I teach music.
Beautiful. Special needs children really like chanting, because it’s repetitive and musically is not very complex, and I have a friend who teaches a special Asana practice for special needs children, and she uses my chanting in her classes, and so she wrote to me once and she said, “When I put your music on the kids just go right in. But when it speeds up, they get anxious.”
So, I said, “Oh, okay. I’ll make a CD that doesn’t speed up.”
So, my last CD, what was it called? Peace of my Heart. It doesn’t speed up. It just goes deeper and deeper. So, but they love chanting. Those kids really respond to that and it’s repetitive and it’s easy, and as long as you don’t say anything about it being part of any spiritual or religious kind of thing, you’ll be safe.
Right. That’s a big thing. The biggest challenge to my chanting is getting my musicianship out of the way, because it’s not about music.
Well, that’s what you say, but on the other hand, unless you’re doing it, you don’t get a chance to work with that part of you that keeps taking everything over, the big ego. So, when you chant, it makes it very obvious when you’re fucked up, and that’s good, because the rest of the day, you don’t see it.
It’s not that it’s not there. You just don’t see it. So, it’s good. Good work.
Thank you. Thank you so much.
Q: Hi Krishna Das. You had mentioned that you spent some time with Anandamayi Ma. Can you tell me some experiences with her?
Well, first of all, let me, She had an ashram, has an ashram just down the road from Maharajji’s place. And so, when Maharajji would kick us out, we’d go see her at her place, and then we’d come back to the temple and Maharajji would say, “You went to see Ma? Did she feed you? No, I feed you.”
But they knew each other very well. My, my Indian father, Mr. Tiwari had been with Maharajji in Nainital the first time Mataji, Anandamayi, and Maharajji met this life. They just looked at each other and laughed. You know, they laughed. She was so beautiful, just so immersed all the time. Anandamayi. Just immersed in Ananda.
Westerners weren’t really, we weren’t really invited closely into the scene, you know? But still we used to sit in the darshan and just watch her and it was so beautiful. Very beautiful.
Oh, that’s nice. So, I have a question. So, you know, sometimes you do things and there are so many obstacles. Does that mean that some Supreme Power Almighty is telling us not to do that, or it is just our bad karma that’s why we have so much struggle. So, we decide, like we have to move forward in that direction? Or should we take it as a red flag from the almighty?
Well, the easiest thing to do is ask your daughter what you should do. That’s the best thing I can advise you.
No, obstacles are always there. They’re either obstacles or they’re opportunities. It’s up to you how you take it. And always, you have to ask yourself, is what I’m trying to do what I really want to be doing? That’s the main thing. It’s not what you do. It’s why you do what you do. That’s what important. I mean, we have to learn to really listen to ourselves about what we really need and really want in life, and how do we want to go through this life? How do we want to spend our time? What do we want to get? In what way? You know, what’s the best thing I can do for myself and others that I meet? So, but basically the first thing is to find out what you want to do. And if you’re trying to do something that you don’t really want to do, then there are obstacles. But if you’re trying to do something that you really want to do and have to do, then those are opportunities to work through, and work with. And what are these obstacles and why? Not, why? Never ask why. Because nobody knows. Why ask a question no one can answer. And besides your daughter knows everything. She won’t tell you though, that’s the thing.
But the more deeply you connect with your own heart, the more strength you get in your life and the clearer your intentions become about how you want to live, where you want to live, how you want to live, what you want to do with your life. Because most of us are just working, we’re just reacting still to everything that’s happened to us in our life. There were programs put into us as we grew up. We absorbed ways of seeing ourself from our parents, from our teachers, from our friends, from all our experiences in our interactions, and we’re still in reaction mode to all that. Either we want more of it or we want to push it away, but we still don’t know who we are, and apparently that’s what this life is about, trying to find out who we really are and who everybody else really is.
Ram Dass always talk about the difference between roles and souls, right? Everybody has a soul, but also everybody’s playing a role that is not necessarily in harmony with who they truly are. So, people can hurt us. People can turn away from us. People can create problems for us, and we might get angry with them, but that’s their role, and what happens, that’s our role fighting with their role, because we don’t know our hearts. If we really knew who we were, we would be able to see them in a different way, where they wouldn’t be obstacles aimed at us. It would be a situation arising, and you have a completely different relationship to it, a completely different way of seeing it, of feeling it. It’s not like you have to manipulate yourself into, or talk yourself into feeling a certain way. No. As you practice more, those deeper ways of seeing and reacting to things just happens naturally, but you must practice. I don’t know what else to tell you.
Yeah, no, that makes sense. That makes sense. Yes.
And if anything, it makes you a better person and it makes your relationships more fulfilling and your work more fulfilling and everything, because you’re not demanding that the outside world do what you tell it to do or be the way you want it to be. You’re able to be with it as it is because you don’t need it to be a certain way for you. There’s millions of people out there and everybody wants the outside world to do just what they wanted to do. How could that ever work? The outside world is the outside world, and our job is to clean our hearts, to slow ourselves down, to allow ourselves to be kinder to ourselves, not so harsh with ourselves, not so angry with our inability to be, to treat people well and treat ourselves well. It’s very difficult, especially now. I mean, this is an extraordinarily difficult time. Everybody’s heads are just totally compressed with the pressure and anxiety and fear and worrying about what’s going to happen. It’s really… and I would say more than half of what we feel as our own stuff, isn’t even our own stuff. It’s just the atmosphere we’re all living in. But that’s okay, because the intensity of the experience these days can turn us within, can force us to calm our asses down, excuse me, calm ourselves down, and learn to take care of ourselves. It’s not easy.
And if I ever drink this much coffee again, I’m just going to turn off the Chai and Chat.
Thank you so much.
Q: Hi, Krishna Das and everybody out there.
A repeat offender!
I’m a repeat offender, yes. As a repeat offender, one of the things that I’ve heard you say, I think in every Chai and Chat I’ve been to, the words, “the stories we tell ourselves,” is something that bring up each time, and I’m sort of struggling with what you mean by that. And I think in order to ask my question properly, I have to be very personal in letting you know what what’s been on my mind.
So, my whole life, going back to age five, I don’t remember before that, but I was aware of, from age five to seven, of being abused, sexually abused, by an older brother, and I was very alone in that. I knew it was not something I wanted to be happening, but I didn’t have anybody to turn to or help me. I figured it out myself over a period of two years, how to make it stop. But, my brother’s still in my life and my parents were, they didn’t help me, and they don’t, and I’ve talked to them about it in my adult life and they don’t… they hear me, they listen, they don’t get angry, but they don’t take, they don’t really acknowledge it in some way, or they don’t do anything with this information. Or, and it’s just, it’s all that’s present when I’m with my family, my parents, my brother, my other brother. It’s felt, it’s just like the most forward thing in my awareness when I’m with them, and so, the idea of like, “this is just a story I’m telling myself,” and why can’t I…
Don’t use the word, “just.”
Okay, whatever, but the idea that this is a story makes it, makes me wonder, is this like, what… how do I…?
It’s not like that.
It feels a little bit like, “Oh, I’m just kind of making something out of…”
There’s that word, “just,” again. This is you judging yourself, and you know that victims of abuse tend to, there’s always a part of a victim’s thoughts about it and feelings about it, that somehow, they are guilty of something. And when you say “just,” it’s your way of putting yourself down, it’s the doubt about the situation manifesting in your head, you know? The doubt that you didn’t get your parents’ help and support, the doubt that, how could this happen and why this happened and all that stuff. These are all undigested pieces of pain in our eyes, our hearts. Really. And you’re not alone. There’s so many situations like this, and in so many of the situations, the parents can never face it. They just don’t have the tools. They don’t have the tools. They don’t. Their emotions just freeze and they, it’s almost, they can’t, it could manifest as coldness and as non-caring and all that, but I think underneath it, it’s really a question of that, they’re facing the abyss and they cannot, they have to back away from that abyss, because they could not deal with it.
I’ve told this story many times and I’ll tell it again. Many years ago, when George W. was president, I didn’t like him. He seemed to me to be a terrible guy, causing all these issues, the wars, everything, the puppet of big business and all this stuff. So, one time I was channel surfing and I passed through CNN, and as I was going through CNN, they were showing a live broadcast, it was live, of president Bush on his way to meet the wives of the first group of soldiers that were killed in Iraq. Okay? The very first. There were maybe 20, 25 women waiting in this classroom, in this public school, to meet with Bush, and the camera shows him walking down the hall, “Hey, Joe. Hi Frank. Yeah, that’s me. I’m the president. Here I go. I’m walking down the hall. Yep. That’s me. Here I go.”
So, I was just about to turn the channel and he walks into the room where the women were waiting for him, and he burst out crying like a baby, weeping uncontrollably. I couldn’t hate him anymore, because I recognized immediately, this human being has created so much suffering for so many people, and he will pay for that. He, himself, has created situations that are going to be arising for him in his karma, that he will suffer the fires of hell, and I didn’t want to feel compassion for that bastard, but I could not help myself. You see where I’m getting?
Well, actually the problem is I feel a lot of compassion for these people, so much so that there’s more secret keeping than I would wish for.
I’ll use a phrase then a very great Lama once used. Don’t take it personally. It’s called “Idiot Compassion.” Once again, it’s your own feelings that you must allow to arise and pass away, and yes, you can feel compassion for those people, but you’re not really feeling compassion for yourself, and that’s the scary, painful stuff. It’s the dark stuff, the shadows that push us around, and we don’t see them. We’re not prepared to look at them. And that’s exactly why I started chanting with people, because I walked from one room to the other in my apartment back in 1994, and immediately I knew that if I did not start chanting with people, I would never be able to deal with the shadows that were pushing me around. I couldn’t see the dark corners of my own heart that were hidden from me. So that forced me to start doing practice.
Well, if I could ask another question related to it. Tell the truth, right? Everyone tell the truth. So, it’s the “tell the truth” part, because that’s my truth, but I can’t tell it. And it feels, I guess that’s another part of the stuckness somehow, because telling it would explain to my brother’s children, why I’m so distant or, it feels like it continues to go down generations, and I want to be able to sort of tell the truth in some way, but I haven’t figured out how to do that.
That’s okay, because “tell the truth” is one part of the phrase. The other phrase was, “love everyone and tell the truth.” So, you’re also included in that “everyone,” and loving everyone in this case would have to mean owning the situation in a deep way, and “tell the truth” doesn’t mean, “tell people things they don’t need to know.” There’s no reason to hurt those kids with that truth at this time. At some later period, if something starts, if you see something in their lives that this would be helpful, sure, maybe, but “tell the truth” doesn’t mean, “hit people over the head with a hammer.”
Since we’ve gotten personal, have you ever been to any groups where people discuss this stuff among victims of abuse, without the abusers around, who talk about ways to deal with the pain that they’re carrying? You don’t have to answer that, but I’m just suggesting that would be a very useful thing to do, because satsang, sangha, which on the spiritual path means, “the people who are moving along the path together,” is very important. We learn so much from those fellow seekers. We learn how to carry ourselves. We learn what’s okay and what’s not okay. We learn how to be in a new way with our stuff. So, in your case, your sangha, or one of your sanghas, could easily be groups of people who are dealing with this. There’s so many people who have been abused in so many ways, and I think one could possibly get a lot out of that, new insights into hidden feelings we have about it. And if you’re looking for a practice to do, I don’t know that you are, but if you are, I would investigate Sharon Salzberg, if you don’t know who she is, because she teaches Loving Kindness Meditation, which is an extraordinarily powerful practice, even though it could seem a little rinky dinky at first, like, “May I be safe, May I be happy, May I have a good health.”
It is one of the most powerful meditation practices ever on every level, and it’s a way of getting right in there where we don’t like ourselves, where we can’t wish ourselves well, but it doesn’t feel like a battle. It’s not a battle. It’s so beautiful, the way they offer this practice. Usually when we think of meditation, we think, “Okay, I’m going to sit down and I’m going to fight with my thoughts and then I’m going to go watch TV.”
It’s not like that. It’s an extraordinary practice, and I think it would be wonderful for you to explore that possibility, and I know that she does give, even online, she’s giving courses on that, and classes, and definitely connect with her somehow. She’s the greatest.
You’re not alone. And the thing about the stories we tell ourselves, I didn’t mean it on the level that you seem to have heard it. What I mean is, the unconscious way that we see ourselves. We don’t even notice how often we criticize ourselves or how often we stop ourselves from doing something because, or how many, how often we do certain things because, and what we’re doing is, we’re acting out this shadow version of ourselves that we don’t see. We only see it, we only can see it in our daily life, if we’re really paying attention. Why I don’t like myself, why I can’t deal with this, why I want this, why I don’t want this… This is the result. Those shadows are pulling the strings and we’re dancing to their tune. So, until we light that up behind us, bring light there, awareness, consciousness, love, compassion, insight into those shadows, they’re going to keep pushing us around. That’s what I mean by the stories we tell ourselves, not like, not the way you interpreted it at that point.
You know, welcome to earth, girl. You know? It’s tough. This world has, believe it or not, it has equal possibilities. There’s equal opportunity for love and there’s equal opportunity for suffering. We have choices we have to make. Everything right now that’s happening in our lives is a result of our own past karmas. We don’t know what that means, but let’s just say that, whatever it is, we have to deal with it, because it’s here. That’s all. That’s what that means. And we have to find the best way we can to deal with it, for each of us. You find your way. I find my way. But if we don’t deal with it, it keeps on going on in our heads and in our lives. So, see what’s there with you. See what you’re carrying around with you. See what would be nice to leave on the side of the road as you walk, and then find the way to do that because you can.
You know, there’s no, I’m blurting at an extraordinary rate, but it’s not like there’s an easy answer, but one of the modes in the Loving-Kindness Meditation… Do you know anything about it at all?
A little bit.
So, there’s essentially four types of phrases that you repeat. One is, “May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy.” And, “May I live with ease.” Okay?
So, the first part of the practices where you offer those phrases to yourself.
“May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease.”
Okay. So, after a couple of days of that, and you don’t feel a damn thing, they say, “Okay, offer those phrases to your benefactor, someone who’s in your life has always been on your side, always been there for you, never judged, always… et cetera,” and you start offering the phrases to that person and immediately you feel lighter. Then they say, “Okay, now come back to yourself.”
You crash. So, then they go back and forth a little bit, and then one of the modes is where you offer the phrase to your enemy. It’s called “The eEnemy,” but in our case, it means somebody who’s done us wrong or always wished us ill will, et cetera, and then you offer the phrase to that person and, you know, “May you be safe, you son of a bitch. May be happy.” So, and you can’t even, you can’t even do it. Finally, I, after like many years I got to the place, “May be safe, you bastard, so you leave me alone. May you be happy son of a bitch, so you don’t fuck with me.”
I mean, that was the best I could do, but getting to the place where you can allow yourself to wish yourself well, it’s a huge, huge, wonderful, I don’t want to say “accomplishment,” but it is, it’s a real accomplishment, because here we are in this world, and not even to, just look what’s going on everywhere. That pressure is right in our heads all the time right now, and it’s making everything worse, everything more intense. To allow ourselves to feel okay, as we are right now is, a really big thing, and it takes a lot of practice to get comfortable with that, because we don’t feel we deserve it, or we don’t feel we’re able. We don’t feel we can let ourselves go there, but we can. And because why? Because that’s what’s really inside of us underneath the stuff, underneath all the things that have happened to us, all the things we’ve done, inside there is a light, which is who we truly are, but that is covered up with our shit right now. We have to uncover that. And once you begin to take responsibility for your own state of mind, then things start to change, then you begin to take life and everything in it as your path, not something that’s happening to you, but something that’s happening here and you’re here right with it. It’s very different. It’s, in a sense, it’s happening within you rather than to.
But these are things that will come from the inside. You don’t have to hang on to them here so tightly. They come from the inside through practice. It’s good to have an idea of what we’re looking for, but everything I’m saying is stuff that you will see inside yourself. Definitely. You don’t have to be convinced by it. You don’t have to intellectually hold onto it, or make yourself believe, or manipulate yourself into acting that way. No, that’s all bullshit. You will feel these things because that’s what’s in there already, and we just have to find a way to uncover it, which is what the whole spiritual path is about.
So, sangha, satsang, very important. Really big. Huge. And next to that would be checking out what Sharon’s about, and beginning some practice that you do with sincerity every day, even two minutes. Two minutes. Three minutes. That you really do. Not like I do it, “Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram.” Really do it.
One Ram… Maharajji even said, “Go on, repeat your lying, fake ‘Ram Ram.’ One of these days, you say it right, once. Boom. The real Ram will come.”
How do we get to that place? Right? That place is here, right where we are in our own hearts, right now, and you have it like everyone else, but you’re looking for it, and that’s different than most people. Most people are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, and they die asleep, and they never get one look up at the sky in a whole lifetime.
So, you’re doing good. Just opening yourself to this whole issue is huge, really huge. Most people really can’t. Don’t, can’t, won’t, but you’re doing, and that’s already 99% of the fight, is being willing to engage. That’s a big thing. Very big. Alright. I wish you the best
You know, Buddhism is really misunderstood by most people. People say, “Oh, Buddha said, it’s all suffering.” No, that’s not what he said. He said, yes, in this world, there is suffering inherent in almost every part of life, but he also said, the end of that statement was that, “Here is the way to liberate yourself from suffering.”
He did not say that there’s all suffering and that’s the end of it. He said, there is suffering. These are the causes of suffering. This is the path to free ourselves from the causes of suffering. It was life affirming, not life negating. Negation is when all we see is the suffering, and when we don’t believe, and don’t recognize that there’s a way out, and ultimately, our hearts are the way out, going, moving into our deeper, that place in our own hearts, which is where these names, the chants that I do, that’s where these chants come from. And they pull us right back into ourselves and realign the way our thoughts run and the way our feelings run, which is why practice is so important, because we’re getting in harmony with who we really are. We’re not trying to reprogram our thoughts. We’re actually trying to find, to experience directly the love that lives within us as we are already. It’s there. Of course, it’s there. It’s here, but we don’t know how to look. We are glued to our stuff. Practice dissolves that glue little by little, and we fall into the real place within us.
Q: Hi Krishna Das. Thank you for having this beautiful container here to share. I’m here in Northern California, and last March, I went down to Mexico City to see my family, just before the pandemic. So, my question is directly about, you having spoken so far about bhakti yoga and the offerings, and sometimes the spiritual part comes with a very sour pill, and sometimes the more we practice, the deeper peel gets bigger and sometimes I feel like, “Oh, I cannot take this pill anymore,” but it’s probably because that’s where I need to be.
So, I was visiting my brother, which is mathematician, and he has been, over his life, been extremely analytical and you know, so, we’ve been having dealings with situations with both of my parents already passing. So, my mother passed after a month I was there. So, and most of that part, and also personally shows in the family with health. So, my brother was taking, absorbing all that negativity from the family, and so I went there and he just like, he just dropped it. He had a huge crisis of hysteria, right in front of me, and I was just feeling like, I was just on my knees seeing him suffering. Because he still tried to help my family and everybody else. I saw that he can’t help himself. And he lives alone in a place that he can be, a lot of people can take advantage of him. So, I got to see all that in front of my eyes. And I was thinking like, “Well, you, should you supposed to be a spiritual person, you know? What service I can be to my brother?” So, I was there with him, and I stayed at his house and I told him, “Listen, I want to spend these times here with you, and I need to see if you can allow me to help you up,” but at the moment, I mean, when you offer some fruits, my brother wasn’t able to take that fruit, and I saw myself in panic because I was thinking like, “You know what? He’s not getting any younger and he lives alone and so…” But like how can he stop?
He is suffering. I am suffering. So, my question to you is how to detach? I can’t just talk to him, it’s just like a suggestion, because you can’t even tell him, you know, because he doesn’t listen to anything, because like, he needs help. And when you say something like when you’re admitting that you need help, that’s a huge part of recovery, that his mind is like in, he’s no longer able to see himself reacting like that and having these hysteria at that. So, and I feel like, you know what? Only I shared to him that to seek a medical advice or professional advice. So, I came back here in California and I keep him in my mind because I see here that I create a beautiful life. And I feel like, you know how unfair it can be, how unfair the world can be, because I can see real suffering and I can’t do anything about it. I can’t, so I need to detach myself from my brother, but I’m just saying, you know what? I love him a lot, but right now I don’t think his mind isn’t ready to see the light. So, I don’t know what I can do so. Listening to your music has helped me tremendously. I wish my brother can be a little bit able to accept something like that.
Yeah. You know, we should’ve, when they offered us the job to run the universe, we should’ve accepted, but we didn’t. So, the universe is running itself without our help, and people will be who they are, regardless of how we would like them to be. So, if the situation is that you can’t do anything for him, then you should really try to do something for yourself, which means to try to calm your heart down. You know, over and over, it’s said that real love is letting people be who they are and not trying to change them according to what we feel they should be doing or feeling. When we can’t even deal with our own stuff, how can we help somebody else? Other than loving them and accepting that this is who they are right now? It doesn’t mean they’re always going to be this way.
But one thing you could do is certainly offer your brother loving kindness, and caring within yourself. Now you can’t make him accept it, but he can’t stop you from offering it, and you can do that within yourself. You have a brother outside of you, but you also have this brother inside of you, just like we have our parents inside of us as well. You have this person, so inside of you, you are free to love him, and cherish him, and wish him well, and offer him strength and courage, and see him in the light, visualize him in the light, visualize him as being happy, and offering him this. Now, he may not get it, but what you’re really doing is, you’re purifying and cleaning your connection with him. Right now, your connection with him is blocked with emotion, and blocked with your own subjectivity. So, you want to free yourself from that to really connect with him, with his soul, and when you do that, you’ve liberated all the karmas between the two of you, which may or may not allow him to see things in a different way. And when you approach him, once you’re free of wanting him to be who you want them to be, and you talk to him, he won’t feel like you’re trying to manipulate him and trying to change him. So, he’ll respond to you naturally without defense. Right now, he’s going to defend himself against you, because you’re trying to change him.
And how dare you try to change him? Who do you think you are? Leave me alone. Get out of my life. He’s entitled to feel that way because you’re attacking him with your love. Why would you do that? Because you want something from him. You want him to be happy. He doesn’t want to be happy. Leave him alone. But inside of yourself, give him the real stuff, hold him in that light, hold him in your love and your heart and let it flow towards him, within you. You might find all kinds of things in there that you don’t even know exist from your side.
It’s so beautiful in here, and I feel like, I got to mother nature and just talk to her about questions and just seeing like, am I acting selfishless? And then just, you just mentioned something really important, that you cannot change somebody else. You need to accept them for who they are, for what they are. And yeah, so I was thinking myself, I live a good life, a healthy life, and I wish deep in my heart, that’d be a part of me, which is my brother, benefit from that side, which is me, because as you say, my family, my mother and my father live within me. And so does my brother. Sometimes it’s hard for me to detach, to think, am I acting selflessly in here? And you say something very important. Like I need to take care of myself.
And your brother is a part of yourself, too. But the internal brother is the only one that’s going to listen to you right now, but be with that part of yourself, right? I mean, wish him well, and that way you’ll overcome your need to change him, your need to make him happy. That’s your issues, not his. So, in the meantime, you can offer him all that love and kindness that you have in your own heart, and that will free you, and it has to have an effect somewhere, because every action has a result. If your actions are loving and kind, even if they’re not external, they still will create good karmas there, and also, you’ll feel better, and you deserve to feel better. It’s not necessary to suffer like this. Suffering is inevitable. We can’t avoid suffering, but like one of these great saints once said, “I feel pain, but not the way you do.” Even the great ones, Christ, Maharajji Sai Baba, Shirdi Sai Baba, Nityananda, these great beings, they feel our pain, but not personal like we do. Very different.
So, if we want to liberate ourselves from our unhappiness, we have to free those old karmas that we’re carrying around inside of us. And we do that by offering love and kindness and compassion, to your brother in this case, and everyone else you meet, and yourself. So, just include him. When you go for a walk, include him, bringing him with you in your heart, and you may find many things inside yourself that you’re not even aware of yet, things that might be difficult and things that will be very beautiful.
So, I wish you well.
Boy, a lot of stuff. Very intense. This is the world. This is the world. We’re all, we all have this intensity of feeling these days, and it brings out all the things within us, and that can be very useful for us as practitioners, because until you see something, you can’t deal with it. You can’t meet it in a good way. Until we see it, those things push us around from behind, but it’s very difficult to take, to keep our eyes open.
Maharajji used to say, “I love suffering. Suffering brings me close to God.”
And I don’t know about you, but when things are regular and at ease, my practice is very lackadaisical, but when I’m suffering, “Help me, Goddammit!” It gets pretty intense. So, in that sense, this is a very deep, powerful time, and each one of us is going to be dealing with it in the best way we can. So, very hard times. Very hard times. No one knows what’s going to happen, and it’s easy to get caught up in worrying about it all. But that’s too crippling, and when we cripple ourselves, then we can’t help others and we can’t help ourselves either. So, really, this is the importance of practice, because practice connects us to that place within us that is perfectly all right, as Mr. Tiwari used to say, “Perfectly all right, thank you, perfectly all right,” regardless of what’s going on in the outside world. Now, I know that could sound cold and unfeeling, but it isn’t.
Q: Hey. Hi Krishna Das. Welcome to a rainy day in Miami.
Miami? Oh my Goodness. I’ll be there tonight watching the Heat get beat by the Celtics.
Oh yeah. I’ve seen them live, the Heat, not lately.
When you met Ram Dass in the late sixties, you talked about how you walked into the room and you sensed that it was immediately possible to enter the space where we truly live.
That’s a nice way of putting it. Let me think about that. Actually, the actual thought was, “Oh my God, it’s real.”
I knew without a word, even without any mental activity, all of a sudden it was like all the lights went on and I knew that whatever it was I was looking for, at the age of 20, something like that, 21, whatever it was I was looking for was real, it was in the world, and you could find it. Real. In the World. You Could Find It. Boom boom boom. That was it. And I’ve just been surfing the rest of my life.
Before that revelatory moment, did you have any sense, like when you were a young Das, really young, like when you were baby or that, about the presence of God, or hope that there was a possibility or any inkling?
You know, I’d like to say that when I was born, rainbows filled the sky and music could be heard in the heavens, but I don’t think so. I was just a normal kid. I had no, all I had was unhappiness. That was my revelation and depression.
You had no sense that there was a way out coming up at all?
No, none, but by the time I met Ram Dass, I had already been into spiritual step for a few years. I had been reading about Buddhism. I’d been doing asana practice. I’d been trying to meditate probably in some weird way. So, I was already doing things. I mean, I already was looking very strongly for something, but I wouldn’t have known what to say it was. I still don’t.
Interesting. Thank you. Awesome.
Q: Yeah. So, I guess my question is, just thinking about like, how do you have courage to do something that you want to do for yourself, but you find it really difficult to face it? So, for me, I was in tech for like, 13 years and I found it a very abusive experience despite doing some things that I thought were meaningful. Probably the highlight was seeing you, and I realized there was something else beyond suffering. But I really struggled. I’ve struggled to get over coping with my experiences there, and I guess part of me, I’ve thought about, like, I would like to write it up into like, some sort of book, and I’ve written some things, but I just get frozen from fear, and I do practice. So, I guess my question is like, like how, did Maharajji ever say anything, or Siddhi Ma say anything about courage or how do you like, I don’t know, not letting the past, which they say isn’t real, just stop you from doing something else with your life?
First of all, I think writing’s a really good discipline, and if you were going to write, I would write to yourself. Write, not to yourself as who you know yourself to be right now, but write to yourself almost like you’re somebody else that you want to share with, and not to teach or preach or anything, but somebody you want to have a heart to heart with. So, you’re writing to that person, from your heart to that person’s heart, and rather than, like mind spinning writing, writing, writing, but telling the story to someone you care about.
And as far as courage, yeah, Maharajji, you know this story. I was sitting with Maharajji and we had trailed him to Mumbai. It was a great adventure, and we found him there, and so every day we’d sit with him for many hours, and one day we’d been sitting for many hours. He was on the bed and I was on the floor, and there was one old Indian devotee with us, and me and another westerner, and all of a sudden He sits up and he looks at me.
He goes, “Courage is a really big thing.”
The Indian guy said, “Oh Baba, but God would take care of his devotees.”
“Courage is a really big thing.”
And then he laid down and went back to sleep, and I was just like, “What’s gonna happen?” You know?
Yeah, courage is a big thing, but it’s not the courage to go out and conquer the world, the courage to be here now, to be with ourselves as we are, to care for ourselves as we are, to imagine there’s no next chapter in your life, that this is your life now, and you’re not preparing for later or some other state of consciousness that won’t last anyway. You know, that kind of stuff. To be with what is now, as fully as you can, to be here with yourself, with all the beauty, and all the horror, and all the nastiness, and all the sweetness, and all the goodness, and all the selfishness, be with it, and inside of all that, to remember to let go, to come back, to let go, to come back, let go, come back, let go. That’s basically all we can do. Let go of the very stuff that pulls us out of ourselves, and then we won’t be pulled out of ourselves. Imagine that. The only thing taking us away from ourselves is our own stuff, nothing out there. There is no “out there.”
If we’re going to find anything in this life, we’re going to find it right here, right now, because next week it’ll still be right now. It’s always where you are, and trying to get somewhere else or have some… imagining that there’ll be a time when you’ll be free of suffering. It ain’t going to happen.
I used to go every day, I would go to sit with Maharajji, and I’d put on my clean clothes and sit down in front of him, and one day I was sitting there, and I almost laughed out loud, because I saw myself, that I was sitting there, waiting for him to touch me, and I would be liberated. I would be enlightened. And I laughed because I saw that my idea of being enlightened did not include me being here. Enlightenment was somebody else, somewhere else. I would not be there. I was waiting for myself to be gone. And I laughed because I understood that if there was one thing in the universe that was never going to happen, that was it. I would never be gone. I’m going to be right here always, but “here” deepens, and deepens, and deepens, and deepens as our thoughts don’t pull us out of it, as our emotions don’t pull this out of it, as our selfishness doesn’t pull us out of it, as our anxiety doesn’t pull us out of it, as our greed doesn’t pull us out of it, as our shame doesn’t pull us out of it, as our fear doesn’t pull us out of it. We’re here, and “here” is the whole universe. “Here” is the heart of God. So, courage means allowing yourself to be here and developing the strength to keep letting go of that stuff that pulls us away from ourselves. And all the practices, all they do is develop those muscles to let go.
So, where are you going to go? Where are you going to go where you won’t be? It can’t happen. Isn’t that great?
You don’t need to try anymore. You don’t need to drive yourself crazy anymore. You were already crazy. Why keep driving? All we need to do is be here, alive, this moment, with everything that appears in our life, moment after moment. Be here. And the wider our hearts are, that stuff just goes through like food from a certain country…
But that’s the big time. That’s the hardest practice, is just to be here and give yourself a break. That’s very difficult. There’s too many programs running. That’s why, if you write your story, which I think would be a great thing to do for everybody, you bring in that, as you write, you will recognize the space in which the writing is happening, and you’ll be able to communicate that, too. And that’s fantastic.
So, you see.
Somebody wrote, “Maharajji’s nothing special, but his body fills the universe.”
Thank you everybody. Really. Thanks for coming and being here, and opening your hearts, sharing the space with all of us. Take good care of yourselves and everyone around you best you can. Much love, and see you again. Ram Ram.