Ep. 31 | Find Out Who You Are, Maharajji and Buddha, Starting on the Path

KD with Ram Dass, Rameshwar Das + Dwarkanath - Summer 1971

Call and Response Ep. 31  Find Out Who You Are, Maharajji and Buddha, Starting on the Path

Do you have any advice for… I guess for someone who’s starting off or seeking their spiritual practice or spirituality all together.

“Relax. Take it easy. Watch some tv. Be good. Listen to music. It’s a ripening process. It’s not a learning process. It’s a ripening process and we ripen our hearts when we turn towards that love. And what turns us towards that love is the longing, the longing that’s in there, to really be in that love. That itself is the fruit of practice. The fruit of love is the longing for more of it. To be more deeply in that love. That longing is, it’ll ruin your life. But it saves your life.” – Krishna Das

Q: KD.

KD: Sir.

Q: It’s good to see you.

KD: I can’t see you so I can’t say the same thing. Aha. Hi.

Q: Hi, about six years ago I sat with your chanting and you put my ass down on the ground with your chant. And it’s been really profound because I wasn’t a big fan of kirtan. I was more of a japa guy. But…

KD: I’m a fucking Buddhist.

Q: Yeah, there you go. But the kirtan that’s offered has cause some really interesting things. And one of them is a relationship to the Names of God and all the unfolding that comes within me as we chant. I’m having this really interesting thing go on. I have an issue with Krishna.

KD: Really?

Q: I don’t know why but…

KD: Has He been screwing around again?

Q: Yeah, that’s it. But it’s, I’m afraid of Krishna. It’s so strange. And the question I would have for you is if, as you’ve gone through your practice and your experience, have you seen different aspects of relationship to the Names of God, or is it all just, like you said, grace?

KD: I have no idea what you’re talking about. You know? It sounds like a bunch of stuff to me and I think you should just keep repeating the Name and drop that shit and get on with it.

Q: Cool.

KD: You’re not scared of Krishna. You don’t know who Krishna is. It’s just a fantasy in your imagination. Krishna is not other than you are. And until you know who you are, you’ll never see Krishna. So, relax. Just let go of that stuff. It’s useless. Useless. The Name “Krishna” and Krishna Himself are not different things. So, when you repeat the Name of Krishna, you don’t experience Krishna, so what are you talking about? Find out who you are and as long as you’re dealing with all this fantasy and imagination, you’ll never find out who you are. Just let it go. Whether you sing or do japa or stand on your head or do nothing. You still have to find out who you are and what you are and how to be present in your daily life. There’s not somewhere you get to go where you’re going to find Krishna. He’s not waiting for you up in the sky. If He was, you’d get a rocket ship and go up there. He’s not up there. He’s in there as your own true nature. He’s not other than you. Your own true nature. He knows it. You don’t. So, you know, try to simplify your mind. You’re very complex. And nothing but thoughts and concepts. They don’t lead anywhere. You can’t think yourself out of a prison that’s made of thought and every thought is a prison because you identify with it, you’re stuck in it, you’re glued to it. Drop it. Little by little. Little by little, let go. Maharajji said, “Go on, sing your lying Ram Ram.” One of these days you’ll say it right once, Bam, the real Ram will come and you’re out of here, you know? So, keep lying but don’t think about it so much. Really, it’s not… it’s a dead end. And they’re infinite dead ends. And every thought is one of them. So just relax, take it easy, don’t try so hard. You’ll never understand it because you won’t be here when it is. You’ll be present but your whole schtick will be gone, hopefully.

Sooner than later, I hope.

Give us a break.

Oh, this is a good night.  Not too long ago, I was really cranky one time, at this one retreat weekend I did, you know? And they all put up, printed up t-shirts, “I Survived the Krishna Das Workshop.” I think this is a little bit more mellow. It is California, after all, but you never know.


Q: Hello

KD: Hi.

Q: I grew up in Freeport, Long Island.

KD: Praise the Lord.

Q: So, I wanted to say, thank you very much for coming out. On Saturday I got to sing Happy Birthday to Ram Das

KD: Oh good. He’s 88.

Q:  88 years old.

KD: I can’t believe there’s anybody older than me.

Q: And Sunday was Siddhi Ma’s birthday. So, what I understand about Buddhism and Hinduism is all from you guys and from Ram Das. I just, I’m in awe at how he was able to break it down and explain it to Americans and how all of you were able to transport it to us. My question is, am I right, is it correct that Krishna Das, or Ram Das found a way to kind of explain it and what was it like watching him kind of bring it from what you personally experienced to what we weren’t experiencing.

KD: Well, we all, you know, we all talked about these things a lot in the old days when we still could talk and believed what we were saying. And we all, you know, we all studied with a lot of different teachers. But it comes down to this. One time I was sitting with Maharajji and He grabbed my book where I wrote all these prayers out and everything, you know? And He goes through the book. He passes the Hindu stuff, the Christian stuff, the Sufi stuff, and He stops at this page and He says, “What’s this?” and I look and I go, “uh-oh, it’s a Buddhist prayer. Here I am in this Hanuman temple with my little Hindu guru and this Buddhist prayer and He wants to know what it is, oh my, what’s going to happen.” I said, “It’s a Buddhist prayer.” He said, “Translate some.” I couldn’t, but the Indian guy there, he translated some. It was something called the song of Mahamudra. Mahamudra and Dzogchen. The two highest teachings. So, the guy translated about three or four verses and Maharajji goes, “Correct. Good.” I went, “What?” So, He keeps going through my notebook. He sees a little picture of Himself. He says, “Who’s that?” I said, “Baba it’s you.” “Nay. Buddha.” End of problem.  End of problem. There’s no problem. So, it’s a question of personality, it’s a question of karmic ripeness. It’s a question of what practices you’ve done in the past. What connections you have to what lineages. You know? You know, sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. It’s no big deal. It’s not a big deal at all. Is that ok? I could go on but that’s enough, I think.


Q: Hi. Do you have any advice for…?

KD: I don’t have advice for myself. What are you talking about?

Q: I guess for someone who’s starting off or seeking their spiritual practice or spirituality all together.

KD: What do you like?

Q: Everything.

KD: Then go for it. Everything. Just keep doing. Do whatever your heart tells you to do. If it tells you to do one thing, do it. If it tells you to do another thing, do it. There’s no, at some point, maybe you’ll be more attracted to one practice for a while and you do it. And if you’re not, don’t do it. Do something else. The whole path, as far as my understanding is, is finding out what you want to do. The whole path. Learning how to trust your heart. Your intuition. Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t listen to other people because somebody might tell you something that sounds right. Like this. And later you might say, “What was he talking about? He’s full of shit. I’m going to do something else.”  Ok. So, do something else. That’s ok. But really, you know, for instance, Maharajji never told me to sing with people. He didn’t say “Go forth and multiply.” If He did, if He had said that, how would I have been able to do it? I would be following orders; it wouldn’t be from my… I had to figure out what I needed to do for myself. And this is it. So, I do it. And so, I’m able to really do it, you know? Give myself to it. If you do what other people tell you and it doesn’t, you’re not listening to yourself, then you’re just kind of, it won’t bring fruit. You know, you have to be you. And people’s ideas of what’s spiritual and not spiritual, it’s just bullshit. It’s just ideas. It has nothing to do with reality. So, spiritual is Love. And loving ourselves and loving others. It’s not a different thing. We can’t really love and serve others until we really know who we are. We can work on it but, compassion is something that arises naturally when you start looking around and you see how much other people suffer. And then you want to do something to help. It’s just natural. And when you feel like that, you’re not worried about your own stuff. Where did all that go? It disappeared.  Don’t worry, you can go home later and kvetch to yourself, but for a while you’re freed because you’re thinking about other people. We always Him to tell us what to do. Give us a practice. Come on. You know. You’ve done it all. You’ve become the whole universe. Tell us, how do we find God? He said, “Serve people.” What?

What? Maybe He didn’t hear the question. We said, “How do you raise Kundalini?” “Feed people.” What? What? This is what He said. He never told encouraged us to do practice for our own, for the sake of our own enlightenment, so to speak. Never.

It’s subtle.

It’s really subtle.

Neurosis will grab your practice so fast; you won’t know what hit you. Most people do asanas so they have the best butt on the block. It has nothing to do with spiritual anything. That’s neurosis. It grabs you right away.

“This is a great meditation. I should do this more often. How am I sitting? Oh, yeah. I’ll remember that. This is good. Let me write that down. Ok. Hold on. Wow. Ok. It’s already four minutes. This is ridiculous.” Right? Come on. Relax. Take it easy. Watch some tv. Be good. Listen to music. It’s a ripening process. It’s not a learning process. It’s a ripening process and we ripen our hearts when we turn towards that love. And what turns us towards that love is the longing, the longing that’s in there, to really be in that love. That itself is the fruit of practice. The fruit of love is the longing for more of it. To be more deeply in that love. That longing is, it’ll ruin your life. But it saves your life. Without the longing, what is it? You’re born, graduate from high school, drink some beer and you die. And that’s it. You were never here for a second. It’s the longing that screws all that up. You want something. You want to feel something stronger, more deep, more real. It’s not enough, floating around like in crazy land. In dreamland. I was in the jungle once with a yogi, a Baba who was, at the time, it was over 20 years ago, he was 163 years old. Really. He had the papers to prove it. Really. I remember, He said, “You’re from America? Ha. Remember when Lincoln was shot?” And then He goes, “Oh. We read about it in the papers. It’s ok.” Like that. And He had, He was, He had devotees who He had been the guru of their grandfathers’ grandfathers’ grandfather. And He had been in the same area for like, you know, 100 years. Everybody knew Him. So, one time I’m sitting with Him and… a couple funny things… One time He looked at me, now this was back in the 80s, ok? I wasn’t famous with anybody except maybe the FBI, ok? So, He looks at me and He says, He kind of looks… He used to sit in a little beach chair with shmata on His head, sit around all day just like… so He looks down at me, I’m sitting in front of Him on the ground. He says, “Oh, you’re going to be famous.” So, I looked up to Him, I said, “And rich.” And He laughed, he laughed and He came nose to nose, eye to eye and He goes, “Famous.”

I took my shot, you know? What the hell? I shouldn’t take a shot? I took my shot.

So, one day, I’m sitting with Him, He looks at me, He goes like, He gets this kind of weird look on His face. He goes, “You have to develop Willpower.” In Hindi, it’s Iccha Shakti.  Shakti… Power. Icccha… Desire. The power to manifest your desires. Willpower. And my first thought was, “Willpower? What do I need that for?” And if you don’t think that’s weird, you have a problem, because willpower is everything. You want to eat something. I’m picking up my arm. I’m grabbing the tomato. I’m throwing it in my head. Willpower is, you know, you have a desire and the willpower… I’m picking it up. I’m going into the freezer. I’m grabbing the gallon of ice cream. Willpower is everything. It’s a question of what we use it for and when He said that to me, I had that thought and He made even a worse face, and then He kind of did something inside me. He showed me what He was seeing inside me. He could do that. And I went, “Oh, Jesus.” Because I saw that I was doing nothing. Nothing. I was putting shackles around my own feet. I wasn’t going after what I wanted in life, myself. I wasn’t doing anything. I was floating and then I saw there were all kinds of reasons. You know, I worried about being judged. I was worrying about failing. I doubted myself. All these things. And I wasn’t going after what I wanted. How was I going to get it? And then I saw, “Wait a minute, there’s not like, spiritual life and worldly life, there’s just my life. I’ve got one of them.” And if I’m not living it, then what am I doing? It was a really, really big moment for me. It was very subtle but it really hit. From that moment on, something about me changed and it eventually led to this, singing.

But I really, I was, when He showed me that I was…

So, so you need, we need to live. We need to go after what we want. Don’t think, you know, it’s not spiritual to have stuff. It is. What’s spiritual? Being a human being. We’re humans. This is a body. It needs food. It needs all kinds of stuff. And you have to do that. If you deny yourself that energy, it comes around back and stings you and kills you. Look at all the problems with the priests and all that stuff. They don’t deal with it. And so, it deals with them. It’s a terrible situation. We keep secrets from ourselves. We’re ashamed of our desires. What if you were actually supposed to have everything you want? Wow. Ok. Why not? Who told you you can’t have it? Our self-loathing. Our self-hatred. Nothing else. Nothing else.


  • J says:

    This longing is eating me alive. I constantly feel like I’m searching for something and I just can’t seem to find it. I don’t even know where to look. I’m longing for something more but what is it? And I can feel the urgency of the situation in my bones.

  • Prabal Panjabi says:

    This was so good
    An epiphany by the end of it
    ‘What if you were actually supposed to have everything you want? Wow. Ok. Why not? Who told you, you can’t have it? Our self loathing. Our self-hatred. Nothing else. nothing else.’

    I am moving to New York in a couple of months, i am gonna come and sing and document these Kirtans. With all my heart.
    Love you Krishna Das

  • Larry Schwartz (Sitaram) says:

    Love these exchanges!!

  • Edda says:

    this is amazingly magical! Love in form of images, going around my innerself and universe itself simulteneously. Inspiring chats, jolts together with a slighly and subtle correction of course, Live life with Love, unconditional Love, go for it!

    I do bow to your being that is completing tou as a whole human being like everyone else but it hppanes that in this moment it is you!!

    Love you, Love Myself, Love life

    Hari Om Namo Narayana

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