Ep.09 ~ Surrender

Surrender happens by grace. It’s not an act of personal will. That might be a hard thing to understand because we don’t, you know, grace is such a foreign concept to Westerners, but you know, Ramana Maharshi said, “If you ask the thief to be the policeman, there will be a lot of investigation, but no arrest will ever be made.”  That’s the thing about surrender. If you ask your ego to surrender, it’ll make a good job of looking like it’s trying to do that, all the time it’s getting bigger and stronger.” – Krishna Das


Q. Could you talk just a little bit about, in regards to your own personal experience then in regards to how it would apply to the rest of us, the process of letting go?

KD. It might sound funny to point this out but whenever you’re, let’s say you’re sitting or chanting or doing some practice, or let’s say we’re chanting together, so you might feel something for a minute, it might come, it might go after something else. Where is this experience happening? I’ll answer. It’s happening in here. In each one of us. It’s not outside. It’s not somewhere else. It’s happening within each one of us. Having our own experience. Very different from the person next to you. And if you think about it, we go through our whole day, our whole life having our own experience. Each one of us. And that experience, what we experience, we, is and by our stuff, our, who we think we are, the stuff we like, the stuff we don’t like, the things that happen to us in life, the things that didn’t happen to us in life. Everything that makes us, everything that makes me, me, is what’s having these experiences, and that “me” is what spiritual practice begins to dissolve. So that gradually, the subjective bubble that we’re imprisoned in, and it is prison, the subjective buble that we’re imprisoned in begins to melt away. When Maharajji would say, “All one,” what he’s pointing to is that place when the bubble’s broken and there’s no, and you don’t think you’re that person anymore, you experience yourself in a different way. You don’t disappear, but you experience yourself in a much different way, you’re not limited or imprisoned or defined by your thoughts and emotions but you’re very much here, more here than you are when you’re thinking about shit all the time, Much more here. I mean, it’s inconceivable who much more it is, because it’s inconceivable by definition. You can’t conceive of it. It’s not a concept, it’s the experience of Being. And these Names that we sing, they’re calling us. We think we’re calling them out, but they’re actually pulling us into our Self. We’re being pulling pulled into ourself. Human beings experience being pulled within by your own Being as longing. Longing. That’s the killer. Longing is the killer. That’s what ruins your life. Wanting something we don’t, we think we don’t have. The longing for that, to be in that place, to be That. To feel That. That’s what drives us forward. That’s the saving grace, actually, is the longing. It’s a tough one. It’s very hard to just, to really surrender to That. Accept that. We still think we’re going to squeeze out a little bit of happiness. “I know, it’s just around the corner, I’ll grab it, you know, I can do it, yeah, this is ok, but I’ll get that.”  Good luck. Good luck.

I mean that. Good luck. I hope you do.

You’d be the first since time began. But you know, anything could happen.
All right, any questions or anything? Anybody want to say anything? Talk about anything?
I know I’m not like Lama here. I’m not very erudite, but I can bluff my way through it.

Sir. Give him the mic.

Q: Could you talk just a little bit about, in regards to your own personal experience then in regards to how it would apply to the rest of us, the process of letting go?

KD: What does that mean? What does letting go mean? Or?

Q: I think we all can understand it in some, to some varying degree, the word “surrender” or at least the way you’ve been using it, and so, yes, what it is but also how to do it?
KD: How to surrender? Just fill out this form.  I seem to be out of forms, sorry. Surrender happens by grace. It’s not an act of personal will. That might be a hard thing to understand because we don’t, you know, grace is such a foreign concept to Westerners, but you know, Ramana Maharshi said, “If you ask the thief to be the policeman, there will be a lot of investigation, but no arrest will ever be made.”  That’s the thing about surrender. If you ask your ego to surrender, it’ll make a good job of looking like it’s trying to do that, all the time it’s getting bigger and stronger. So, it’s not… Surrender is something that, you know, there’s this line, “Purify and wait for grace.” “Purify your heart and wait for grace.” That seems like very passive kind of practice. But it’s actually not passive at all. Purifying the heart means cleaning the mirror of the heart, just like I was saying last night about the Hanuman Chalisa. First, you clean the mirror of your heart so you see what’s really there. The mirrors of our hearts are just covered with stuff, you know? Shame and guilt and fear and anger and greed and selfishness. That’s what’s covering the mirror of our heart. So when we look and see what’s looking at us… I once had a grand mal seizure in an airplane flying back from New Orleans to Los Angeles. They had to land the plane in Albuquerque. Luckily it wasn’t Gallop. I don’t know if you know those towns, but anyway, if it was Gallop, I probably wouldn’t be here today. But Albuquerque, they took me to the hospital and they, whatever, and then they gave me some medicine and later in the day a friend of mine came down from Santa Fe and took me back to their house, and I stayed there for 10 days and I remember when I could finally walk, I got up to go to the bathroom and I walked by the mirror and I looked in the mirror, you know, what was looking at me out of that mirror was somebody I did not know. I just looked at my, I looked in the mirror and I saw there was no personality around my eyes. There was no stuff. It was just like.. argh. So, it came back, don’t worry. When we fall in love, part of us surrenders, naturally to that space, to that presence and we think we’re surrendering to that person, that other person. However, that’s one type of love, that has certain qualities to it but there’s another love, a non-personal love that’s more intimate than a personal love. Personal love is between two persons, right? There’s bodies in the way, there’s all kinds of weird stuff. You know? But a non-personal love, there’s no me and you, it’s just this, it’s like an atmosphere that you walked in and it’s oh, you’re in it. So, that’s a deeper place within us and when, when we surrender, when we let go of what keeps us clinging to our stuff, our thoughts, our emotions, all the clothes we wear over our personality, as we let go of that stuff, we actually move deeper into that place within us. That takes practice because we were born and nobody told us to do these things. By the time we started suffering enough to look within, all the programs were running already and had been for so long that it’s very hard to disconnect them. We forgot where the plug is. So, the more practice we do, the more we get in, kind of, harmony with what Tulku Sherdor calls the dharma or these teachings, this path. The more, a part of us relaxes because we’re not asked to be somebody else or something else. We’re asked to just let go and be ourselves. Which is scary enough, you know? Because we don’t like ourselves. Why would I want to be somebody I don’t like? You already are. So get over it. So the whole, it’s the process of getting over all that stuff. With our will, with our personal will, with our intention, we sit down or get up or whatever we do to do some practices and the practices always revolve around some type of paying attention to one thing and not paying attention to other things. They all have that, mostly all of them, except very final practices. We try to pay attention to what we’re doing. You don’t have to sit here and try to manufacture some kind of feeling, or try to make something happen. It already happened, you know? We’re here. That’s the big bang. Now we’re just trying to live through it. So we simply chant. We keep coming back. That’s the miracle. Why do we even come back from where we’ve gone, right? Why should we just wake up in the morning and think and then die? Why? Why? Why? You know? What is that? It’s very interesting. Why should a thought, why you should you be able to let go of a thought? Actually, we can’t. To tell you the truth. We don’t let go of thoughts. They let go of us and then we recognize that’s what happened. So you’ll be singing and then you recognize, “Oh, I haven’t even been listening to what’s been going on.” You didn’t let go of that thought, the thought let go of you. And then, at that moment, you have an opportunity to rededicate yourself to become aware again of the chanting that’s been going on, even while you’ve been gone, you’ve even been doing it while you’ve been gone. The miracle is that we come back at all to here. You’re back for a billionth of a second and then, “Sri” and then you’re gone. And then we’re doing Hare Krishna, and how did that happen? So that’s really amazing. So what we need to do is slow down enough to participate in that happening more deeply and the more we… there’s space… believe it or not, there’s a lot of space between the thoughts, if we’re really paying attention and as the mind gets finer and finer and quieter and quieter and more receptive, you begin to experience that.

Many years ago, I was still in college or pretending I was in college. I had scored ten capsules of LSD. They were from Sandoz, Sandoz is the Swiss company that created the first LSD. These were from, it was still legal then, nobody had caught on yet. They didn’t know how much fun it was, so they didn’t make it illegal. So I had ten of these capsules and the first one I split with a friend of mine and we drove out to the beach and started jumping off these cliffs right? These sand cliffs, all day long, it was great, all night long. And then actually wandering through the suburbs of Long Island, we found the tree that Buddha was enlightened under. Who knew it was in Miller Place, right? Or was that Sound Beach? I don’t know, one of those.  It’s amazing, but we sat there for a few hours and said, “Well, I guess He’s not coming back, let’s do something else.” So, one weekend I, you know, I was home alone, so I did a whole capsule. 1000 micrograms, which is enough to put a horse on the moon. And I was, I didn’t know, I was in Playland for like 24 hours. I was out on the front lawn with the dog in the snow and rainbow lights, it was so great. So at one point, I found myself laying in my bed and I was just laying… and on the opposite wall there was a window, right? And I was just laying there and I felt something coming from like, through the window, way out, from the far distance away. What is that? And then I’d space out and it was still coming. Coming coming coming. And it came closer and closer and closer and just as it broke over me like a huge wave, I thought “Oh, no. It’s a thought!” Crash.  And then I was thinking. And I was thinking. And I was thinking. And then it was going away. “No, don’t go. Don’t go. Don’t go!” No thinking. And then after some indeterminate period of time, “Oh, no. No no no.” Crash. And I was thinking again. And then, it started happening more quickly. The space between the thoughts got smaller and smaller. And then, here I am. It was interesting. So I’ve had similar, I’ve experienced similar things in meditation where thoughts don’t grab you. They just go through like birds and they don’t… but most of the time, we are completely immersed in our thinking. I mean, we get up in the morning and it’s just already going, “Ok, what am I gonna do? Let me check facebook” while you’re still laying in bed. We don’t ever get a break from it. So, the first thing that we need to do in spiritual life is to slow down. To pay some attention to letting those thoughts go. Find something to pay attention to like your breath or a mantra or the chanting, something, a visualization. And every time you realize you’re not there, you come back. A million times a minute if you’re really paying attention. And eventually, you develop a new neural pathway in the brain. They’ve proved this now. The brain is, there is neural plasticity. The brain changes shape through these practices. So we’re creating new pathways in our brain. And it makes it easier every time, the more practice we do makes it easier to release that stuff and just be in present, be present. Be in awareness. The surrender is not an emotional thing. You can’t surrender, just like you can’t pick yourself up like this, you know? It doesn’t matter how hard you try or how much you want to, surrender happens when we’re ripe and we ripen ourselves by practice and by developing an understanding about what this is all about and why we’re doing it. Maharajji said, over and over, “From repeating these Names, the repetition of these Names, everything is brought to completion and fulness.” “Everything.” What He’s saying is, this is all you have to do. Now, I was with Him from ’70-’73 and I heard Him say this. I still can’t through Fringe. I’m watching all five seasons instead of doing Ram Nam. So, I don’t expect that anybody is able to do this, you understand? I waste so much time doing all kinds of nonsense and I have this, it’s written right on my harmonium, right here.  From repeating these Names, it’s all you have to do. Do I do it? Yeah, when I remember. So, this is the same thing as when you’re practicing. You’re gone and all of a sudden you realize you’re gone, so you rededicate yourself to the practice. So when I remember, I do the practices as much as I can. How much time do I remember? How much time do you remember that you’re even alive? You know? Most of the time, it’s just going from one thing to the other all day long, all week long, all month long, all year long, all life long. Waking up is what we’re talking about. But not in a cold way, we wake up to this to understanding what the path is about. Surrender is graduation day. Meanwhile we have to work. I don’t think I’m even in nursery school yet. Surrender is graduation. Surrender is when you recognize that you never were separate in the first place. You never were cut off. You never were isolated. You never were who you think, who we think we are. But since we think we are somebody, then we’ve got to do something. This is not something that you only know here, like “Oh, yeah, I’m nobody.” That’s a pretty big nobody. This is something we experience directly within ourselves through practice and through wanting, that longing that pulls us to do these things. It can manifest in many ways. Maybe we just want to be better at what we do. We want to be able to pay better attention to what we’re doing, we want to be more successful, we want to be happier. Whatever we tell ourselves, the practice will ripen us. It’s a ripening process. It’s not a learning process. I am incapable of learning anything. He learned a lot. Like, he’s a lawyer from Montreal. Of course he learned things. I’m from Long Island. We don’t learn things but we sing our asses off. That’s all. That’s all I have to do. I don’t care.

Suggestions for your practice: Devi Sadhana | Sri Ram Kirtan Sadhana

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