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Ep. 16 Spiritual Practice and the State of the World
How do we live a spiritual life in today’s political climate?
“When Maharajji was around physically… something was going on, some upheaval, political problems, and one of His devotees came to Him and said, “Oh, if there was only a king like King Janaka”, who, in the history of India, was an enlightened King, you know? “If there was only someone like Janaka to fix up all this political stuff.” Maharajji said, “there’s a King greater than Janaka now who is taking care of all this.” There is somebody running the show. “And if it has to go this way now, let it go.” That doesn’t mean we don’t do everything we have to do in regard to this, but the most important thing is to remember that, when you take your last breath, whatever karmas you have, whatever programs are still running in there, are going to keep running into your next incarnation. So you do your best work right now…” – Krishna Das
Q: When Maharajji was around physically, one of His, something was going on, some upheaval, political problems and one of His devotees came to Him and said, “Oh, if there was only a king like King Janaka”, who, in the history of India, was an enlightened King, you know? “If there was only someone like Janaka to fix up all this political stuff.” Maharajji said, “there’s a King greater than Janaka now who is taking care of all this.” There is somebody running the show. “And if it has to go this way now, let it go.” That doesn’t mean we don’t do everything we have to do in regards to this, but the most important thing is to remember that, when you take your last breath, whatever karmas you have, whatever programs are still running in there, are going to keep running into your next incarnation. So you do your best work right now and difficult times, it shows us a lot, but it’s very difficult. You don’t have to solve the whole thing, but just be aware that there’s an inner and an outer and what you can have some say about, on one hand, is your inner and whatever you can control on the outer, you can do, too. But if you do it with anger, like I always hated John Lennon, “Give Peace A Chance.” He was just an angry motherfucker. He was an angry cranky drug addict motherfucker and he would sing, “Give Peace a Chance,”damn. You know he was arguing with you. I’m telling you, “Give Peace a chance, goddammit.” That’s what it sounded like to me and you know, there’s no peace in that. It was a nice, “give peace a chance and let me shoot up later, ok?” “And if I can’t get my stuff, I’m gonna kill you.” It’s not real. That whole gloss of culture is just completely bullshit, you know? People cover up their stuff and they act like this, but that’s not really helping anybody. He didn’t deal with his demons until much later. Let’s deal with our demons now. And luckily, we’re getting a lot of help with that. So, who knows what’s going to happen. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. It’s horrible. Most people I hang out with agree, it’s not very pleasant, but there a lot of people who are just as happy as pigs in shit. This is what they wanted. They finally got it. It’s kind of humbling, you know, to recognize that so much of America wanted this. Enough to make it happen. So, we’ll do what we can to try to get it back to, or get it forward to another way that we think is better for us and everybody. We’ll do that but at the same time, we can’t lose sight that every minute is right here. If we’re lost in blind reaction to this stuff, we’re just creating more suffering for ourselves and others. Period. You know? I sneak little peaks at things and I go, “Aw, shit.” So, I don’t bring politics into this stuff because I think, this is what I do, right? And everybody’s welcome. If I say, I’m for this one or that one, that’s just my own personal thing, but this is not personal. Everybody should feel welcome to come sing and that’s, I feel very strongly about that. I’m not, it’s pretty easy which side of the line I’m on, but still, everybody’s welcome, that’s the way I want it to be. Maybe I’m not very successful at that, but that’s what I feel. And people are just people. Remember how easy it was to hate George Bush? G.W.? Don’t you wish he was back? So things change. He turned out to be the Dalai Lama’s best buddy. Who knew? He was probably a Buddhist monk last time and wanted to be president. Ok? “You can have America.” So, we only see the most superficial level of stuff. And it should, but it needs to be dealt with the best way we can. There’s no escaping it. You can’t run through a cave. You’ll be bringing it with you. So, in order to do the best we can on that level, we have to be as conscious and as caring and as kind and as open as we can be inside. And, just to try to generate that wish that all beings be free of suffering. Just generating that wish is a very powerful thing. I mean, it doesn’t maybe seem that way, when it’s late at night and you’re getting those flashes from the New York Times or Facebook and every one is like a slap in the face. It may not seem like that, but just generating, to understand that everybody wants to be happy and look at these people who, by everything they do, create more suffering for themselves as well as everybody else. They have to pay for that. You have to live through everything. That’s the sad part. When people don’t understand the real results of their own actions. Then, you begin, compassion just arises because you’ve seen, we can see in ourselves how we do that and we can see it in others, that their own actions are creating more and more suffering for themselves, their loved ones, their close people they’re supposedly trying to protect. They’re creating hell worlds for themselves. You know, it’s kind of a question of, how much are you really going to buy into with this stuff, you know? Unfortunately, I’ve been in India so long, I’ve actually, most of my Long Island programming is gone. You know, I’ve been going so long. I’ve been so involved in this stuff, reincarnation seems perfectly reasonable to me. For most people, it’s not perfectly reasonable, it’s kind of a little bit out there. But that doesn’t mean I believe it 100%, it just seems like, hm, yeah, could be. And if it is then you have to start, the next thing is, you know, our actions, what do our actions do and what are the results of our own actions? You start to look at yourself and your stuff. Karma is something, they say, that no one but a perfectly enlightened Being could understand. It’s so complex. But it is basically a cause and effect situation. Our intentions, when we act, are the most important thing. And so, if we’re lost in all this emotion and all this negativity that’s surrounding us at this point, it seems, then we’re not capable of really having good intentions about ourselves and others, you know? Because we want to escape from the pain of that. There’s no escape from the pain, other than creating and cultivating compassion for ourselves and others. Like, Tulku was saying this morning, you know, sometimes, when that Being shows up that’s really difficult, you can say, take that Being as your guru, as your teacher. Because he’s showing you, showing you where you’re really at. And there’s this great Lama who went on a long pilgrimage. And He took this attendant with him who was a complete fuck up. I mean, a complete… and one of His disciples said, “Lama, why are you taking this guy, you know what’s going to happen.” He said, “Oh yes. That’s why I’m taking Him. How will I learn patience, if not for Him.” See, we’re not really dedicated. We’re kind of, we’re not into getting free. We still want to be comfortable. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But ultimately, it’s not possible. It’s not possible to be comfortable for more than a minute. Sooner or later, something’s going to happen. And hey, I remember when I was young, 65, and I thought, “Hey, this is a piece of cake.” Then, 66 came around. So, shit’s going to happen. How are we going to deal with it? Right? We have to get real. We have to recognize, we’ve been dropped in a pot of boiling oil. We’ve got to find our way out of here. There’s no sense pretending just learning how to swim is going to be enough. We’ll be cooked. I wish there was another way, but there isn’t. That’s the good news and the bad news. There is no other way. We’re doing what we can do. We’re doing the best we can. So, and these guys, these great beings know what’s going on, I mean, at one point after Indian Independence, Pandit Nehru became the President of India, the Prime Minister or the President, and as he got older, he got a little bit crazy, and if someone would criticize him from a crowd, sometimes he would jump into the crowd and try to get to the person. He wanted to fight with him, and his people were very concerned about him, because they thought, something’s going to happen to him, so they secretly came to Maharajji, and they said, “We’re very worried about Nehru and we think somebody might, something bad’s going to happen,” and Maharajji said, “No one, for five years, not a hair on his head will be touched…” never could be touched, right? So they went away feeling very happy and in fact, nothing, for five years, everything was fine. Then he died. Five years. So there are Beings that know what’s going on and they have the power to change it but they don’t change it necessarily because we have our karmas to live through. We have to change it inside of ourselves. And if we’re looking outside, if we think that, you know, we have to start paying more attention to what’s going on. Not outside, but inside. And then whatever we do in the world, the quality of it will change. Peace comes from within and if we want peace outside, we have to really be at peace inside. Or at least be working on it in a certain kind of way. In an honest, sincere way. It’s messy in there. You know? It’s messy. But the more acquainted we are with ourselves and all that mess, the easier it is to deal with the stuff that comes out. And the strength to deal with it comes from these letting go practices. The ability to let go of, first very simple thoughts, eventally you can let go of big emotions. By letting go, I mean, you don’t take them in. Like, you’re just about to get angry, and then you release it. And it just passes by. And then all those things that you were going to do when you were angry and that you would do, which would create such intense causes of more suffering, just don’t happen. But that’s not easy. You’ve gotta start where we are. We have to start where we are. Which is just singing. And coming back and getting the feeling, what that feels like to just be involved in that. And then you, your heart recognizes that and it pulls you to that more. Even if you’re busy wanting to watch the rest of Fringe. Your heart wants you to go sing kirtan. So, you go sing for 10 minutes and then you watch Fringe.
Suggestions for your practice: Hungry Hearts Chant & Door of Faith Album
Door of Faith
An unusual recording, a departure from the call-and-response (kirtan) style, the deep longing to connect with his guru that comes through makes one feel as if you are listening in on Krishna Das’s personal puja offerings. Also included is Bernie’s Chalisa/Gate of Sweet Nectar. Find out more in our online shop.
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