Ep. 24 | Paying Attention and the Guru

“We don’t know who we are. We don’t know what we really are. We don’t know what’s looking out of our eyes. We don’t know what’s experiencing the things we experience. We just experience, we wake up, drink some beer, go back to sleep and drink some more beer. That’s all we do. So, if we don’t know our Self, how are we going to know guru? How are we going to know God? Well, when your karma is ripe, to a certain point, I guess, the Self recognizes itself in someone that looks like they’re outside of you. Another human. Another Being. Another body. You recognize something in that Being and it’s something that comes from within. A recognition from within that is like coming home, you know?”   – Krishna Das


So, what we’ve been doing is called the repetition of the Divine Name. So, The deal is this: we are imprisoned within our thoughts and our emotions so we are imprisoned within our thoughts because we think we’re thinking. Don’t we? And you can’t think  yourself out of a prison that’s made of thought. Every thought is the prison. Every thought locks us into identification with our stuff. So through this practice of the repetition of the Name, all we do is we sing and when we notice that we haven’t been paying attention, we sing. That’s the whole thing. Nothing else is required. No visualization, no imagination, no anything, doing anything, trying to make anything happen. You just simply come back. Now, that’s an interesting thing. So there you are, sri ram jai ram jai jai ram and then 20 minutes later, you realize, “oh, I haven’t been paying attention.” How did that moment happen? The moment when you realized you weren’t paying attention? Right? You didn’t do that. We didn’t do that. It happened. We didn’t do that with our personal will. In other words, we didn’t say, “Ok, now I have to pay attention.” We were lost in thought and then we noticed we were lost in thought. How did we notice? Because we didn’t do that. It happened. So how did that happen? Well, that is the fruit, that moment of recognition or waking up from dreamland, is a result of the practice we’ve done in the past, our previous karmas. Or it would never happen. So, that’s what we’re doing. Every time, when that happens, and we notice that we haven’t been paying attention, we simply come back to the sound of the Name going on again and again. Because even while you were singing, the chances are you weren’t paying attention. But since you were singing, there was still a part of you that was doing it. And then you noticed, oh, wow, I’ve been thinking about that girl sitting next to me. Then you come back to the Name. That’s all. Any thought about that situation, you just let it go again and keep coming back and eventually, little by little, we get used to that feeling of coming back home. Coming back. And that mechanism, so to speak, keeps working during the day, the non-practice times. We’re cultivating awareness, presence and these Names that we chant are, they’re the Names of that place, so to speak, within us, that’s always here. The Awake Place. Presence, Being.

When I was with Maharajji, my Guru, He just kept bringing us back. Bringing us back, reminding us, waking us up again and again. And the, being in the presence of this kind of Love, it’s not like He loved us or loves us because He understands, He’s realized the oneness of the universe and we’re all part of that. That might be true. But on a personal level, He loves us because we are who we are. Because we are already who we are. That’s what He loves. He loves us just as we are. I had never met anybody that loved me that way. The people who cared about me, no question about it, but if I looked closely, I could see that they wanted something in return. They wanted some affection in return, some attention, some support. That’s ok, but this was different. So different. And it really ignited a place in me that wanted to live in that love all the time. There were a lot of other places I wanted to live and a lot of other things too. And I did. And do. But the place within me that kept longing for that Love got stronger and stronger.

You know, we don’t really believe that any of this shit really works. We don’t really believe that the practices we do are actually going to work. Because if we had that kind of faith, the way we went through our day would be completely different.  Completely different. We would be able to accept everything as a part of our spiritual practice, so to speak. The guy who cuts you off in the car or the person who curses you out and this and that. We would not, we would understand that this is, this is included in the practice.

But we’ve got to get at least one foot on the ground first. There’s no two ways about it. You’ve got to find some kind of anchor. And for me, the anchor is this practice of the repetition of the Names. This is what I do to save myself. It brings me back into that moment, into the presence of that love. See, when I say, love, then everybody has a different idea of what that might be, so maybe I won’t use that word. Because it’s not between two things. It’s your true nature already.

You don’t get it from someone. You don’t fall in it. You don’t fall out of it. It’s not like that. And these Names are the Names of that place. So, what does Ram mean? We don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I could tell you what it says in the books. I could tell you how you define Krishna or Kali or this or that but that’s not what they really are. That’s just a concept about what they are. What they really are is the experience of doing it.

Maharajji used to say, “Through the repetition of these Names, everything is accomplished, everything is brought to fulness and completion. It’s a ripening process.” It’s a ripening process. I never learned anything. I’m just too stubborn and probably too stupid but I figured out that bringing myself into the presence of this love ripens my heart. It makes my heart sweeter, just like a fruit, and so through these practices, our hearts get ripened. You don’t have to understand it. You can’t possibly understand it. Understanding is in thought. Intuition is a different thing. Intuition is not understanding, it’s recognition. When you, something comes to you from within, you recognize that it’s true and that’s very, very different than trying to understand something that somebody tells you or something you read in a book.

So that’s the good news and the bad news. The good news is that practice will work. It will bring you, bring us, it will wake us up and the bad is you have to do it or nothing’s going to happen.

I actually mope around less than I used to. That’s a really big thing, because I was a born moper. And if I look back, I can see that I spend less time in negative states of mind.  I don’t know that in the moment, but when I kind of think about my life, I see “wow,” I mope around less.

Sometimes I do it just for fun. I miss it.

It’s like home base, you know? Sometimes, when nobody’s looking, I just mope around the house. You know, it’s so great. It’s a wonderful feeling. Being cranky and screwed up. It feels like home.

All right… anybody have any questions or anything you want to say? Ok, hold on.

Q: I thank you for giving the cheat sheet with the Names of God. Does it matter if you’re, I can’t remember all the chants.

KD: Neither can I.

Q: All right, thank you.

KD: You’re welcome. That was easy. Ask me something hard like, “What are the chants?” I don’t know.

Q: Hey, so you talked about your experience with your Guru.

KD: Yeah.

Q: And there’s a lot of people claiming to be gurus out there.

KD: I’m not one of them.

Q: I know, I know.

KD: Praise the Lord.

Q: It’s mostly a question about the benefit of having a Guru and how does one distinguish between all the noise that’s out there. It seems like there’s a lot out there…

KD: Distinguish between all the…

Q: All the noise that’s out there. There’s like people claiming…

KD: Guru noise?

Q: Yes. Yes.

KD: Well, if it’s noise, it isn’t Guru. That’s for sure.

You know, Guru and teacher are not the same things. Those books that I was just disparaging, they actually, most of the shit that’s in there is true. And one of the things they say is, “Guru, God and Self,” capital “S” Self, “Are One.” Not even the same. That’s a whole other thing. Guru, God and Self are One. So, what does that mean?

I don’t know.

I’m asking you. What does it mean? Come on. Give him the mic again. No I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding. But, so first of all, we don’t know our self, right? We don’t know who we are. We don’t know what we really are. We don’t know what’s looking out of our eyes. We don’t know what’s experiencing the things we experience. We just experience, we wake up, drink some beer, go back to sleep and drink some more beer. That’s all we do. So, if we don’t know our Self, how are we going to know guru? How are we going to know God? Well, when your karma is ripe, to a certain point, I guess, the Self recognizes itself in someone that looks like they’re outside of you. Another human. Another Being. Another body. You recognize something in that Being and it’s something that comes from within. A recognition from within that is like coming home, you know?

Most of these people that call themselves Gurus really, God bless them.  As my grandfather used to say. Of course he didn’t mean it. It’s just, it’s just very difficult, you know? First of all, on one hand, everyone has Guru. Everyone is a part of a lineage. Everyone is a part of this ripening process of our Souls ripening into One-ness. We’re all a part of that. Everybody in the universe. And at some point, it would be necessary or in our own best interests to meet another Human body in which the Guru lives. If it’s in our best interests. If it’s not, it shouldn’t happen. If it’s not in our best interests. And since an enlightened Being only has one agenda, which is compassion for us, a truly enlightened Being, there’s no planet of “Me” in there around which stuff could orbit, around which stuff could orbit. An enlightened Being has only compassion and kindness and the ability to awaken us to some degree. So if we meet somebody like that, that’s good. If we don’t, that’s good. Just because you want it doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

“I want it!” you know?

Sometimes you can’t have what you want and that’s good for you. But to think that you have to wait until you meet another body that you say is your guru or you feel is your guru is not accurate at all. Because the Guru is not separate from you and He knows that. She knows that. Nor has She ever been separate from you. So, it’s not like something you do. It’s very much like you’re singing Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram and you’re thinking about, you know, getting back home and having some tacos and beer and this and that and then you recognize “Oh, Sri Ram Jai Ram” and you come back. The moment when you woke up, once again, did you do that? It happened, right? It happened. We didn’t do that with our own personal will. Our personal will was involved in trying to remember the sound of the Name. It’s the same with Guru. So, everything in our lives is there because they’re supposed to be there.

There’s a great sloka, Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwara, Guru Sakshat Para Brahma, Tasmai Sri Gurave Namah. So that can be interpreted at least in two ways: One way is “the guru is the creator of the universe, the destroyer, the preserver. the Guru is the whole universe and to that Guru, I bow” Right? As if it’s outside of you.  The other way of looking at is is, “the guru is the creator, preserver and destroyer of my whole, of everything I see, my universe.” The guru is everything I see right in front of me all the time. To that Guru I bow.” And if you bow to that Guru, then everything in your life becomes something that helps you wake up. Instead of something that puts you to sleep.

It’s when we take responsibility for the quality of our days, of how we go through the day. You don’t wait for somebody to touch you on the head and you have a nice blissful experience, then you go home and kick the dog.  When we take responsibility for our lives, that’s the bowing to the guru. When we take the responsibility to become a good human being and care and kind about people, pay attention to other people and their suffering and not think about ourselves all the time, that’s bowing to the Guru. And I always figure that, the reason I met my Guru in a physical body was because I wasn’t going to make it. You know, if you haven’t met that, that means you didn’t need it. You were going to make it. You’re strong enough. You’re together enough. Not me. As it was, I almost killed myself two or three times. After meeting Him. He had to save me again and again and again. Luckily, He did.

So that’s what I needed. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.

Other people don’t need that.

You work with what you have.

You work with what’s right in front of you, what’s in your life.

There’s enough work to do there, believe me.

All our shame. All our guilt. All our fear. All our anxiety and anguish. All our selfishness. All our shame. We got enough shit to work with for 50,000 lifetimes.



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