Call and Response Ep. 39 Bad Aim and the Importance of Spiritual Practice
“The key to doing a spiritual practice is actually doing it. Every day whether you feel like it or not. Because if you only go with your, “You know, I’m tired today, I think I’ll skip it”, then the habits that are already pushing us around just get stronger and stronger. We have to create new habits that turn us within, that make us more available to our own inner self.” – Krishna Das
KD: Well, so, what are we doing? Why do sing, “Sri Ram Jai Ram”? Why do we do these practices at all? And, ultimately, the reason is that we’re not happy as we want to be. We have suffering in our lives. We have, we don’t know how to get what we want. We don’t know how to get rid of what we don’t want. And the reason for that is that we believe what we think. Very simple. Right now, you believe that you’re hearing what I’m saying, which is pretty interesting. But we believe what we think and we believe how we interpret what our senses, the information our, we, our senses bring in to us through the course of the day, the course of our life. So essentially, we’re living in a prison with one little window way up high, which we can’t see out of. But we can hear and we get some idea of what’s out there but we don’t really see what’s really out there. But we want to. And the prison we live in is the prison made of thought, our thoughts, all of our thoughts, and the way we believe our thoughts and you can’t think yourself out of a prison that’s made of your thoughts and your beliefs, our beliefs. Believe me, I include me in “us.” There’s no way out of it through thinking or emotional manipulation or trying to, you know that joke about not wanting to join any club that would actually let you join? That’s what it’s like. We have some version in our minds of what it’ll be like when and if we feel the way we want to feel and have the experiences we want to have of freedom or God or nirvana or happiness, whatever you want to call it, love, real love. But because we don’t know what that is, conceptually, we all share one major problem: bad aim. That’s the deal. Bad aim. You think it’s over there but you wind up over there. How did I get over here? Bad aim. We go after what we think we want and it’s not what we want when we get it for more than, you know, ok, sixty seconds if you’re really good. So, why, what do these practices do? Well, it’s very simple. You don’t know, I don’t know what who Ram is or what Ram is. But they say that through the repetition of the Names, gradually but inevitably, now that’s the deal. “Inevitably” is the kicker here. Inevitably, what lives within us, our own true nature, who we really are underneath all the things we think and feel and believe, gradually but inevitably, through the practice of the repetition of the Names, that’s uncovered. You can’t know what it is before it’s uncovered. We’re digging. But you don’t know what it is until you hit something. And even then, you just get a little glimpse. You think, it’s like digging out a corpse from underneath the ground. You hit the foot. “Oh, that’s what it is.” No. That’s just a part of it.
That was kind of a gross… I’m sorry.
I can’t help myself.
So, that’s it. So, the idea is you sing and because it’s a spiritual practice, that means that we have one job only, that’s to pay attention. That’s the beginning. Without some attention, there’s no possibility of ever being here or ever recognizing our true nature or ever finding real love or merging with the divine, because it’s all here and we’re not.
We’re lost in our thoughts. We’re lost in our day dreams. We’re lost in our knee-jerk reactions to things. All day long, all life long, boom, then we’re dead.
And we have to do it again in another body. It’s a pain in the ass. And you’ve got to deal with your parents all over again, a whole new set of bullshit, you know? First, you have a Jewish mother, then you have a Hindu mother. Oh, my God. You have to cry in a new language, you know? It’s like, terrible. You ask for milk, she doesn’t know what you’re saying. So, that’s why we have to add a practice to our lives. There’s just no other way to do it, I’m sorry. None of the saints say anything different. Well, some of them talk about sudden enlightenment, but they don’t mention that sudden of enlightenment takes millions of births to happen. So, we sing “Sri Ram Jai Ram”. What’s Ram? We don’t know? Who’s Ram? Is it some Hindu god up in the sky like what’s his name, Jehova? It’s not outside of us because there is no outside of us. It looks like that and that’s why we’re screwed. Oh boy. I’m going to tone it down. I had too much caffeine. Maybe if I have some more, I’ll go over the top and slow down.
So, you repeat the Name. My guru used to say, “Just repeat the Name. When you’re angry, when you’re sad, when you’re happy, when you’re, anything, just go on repeating.” And if you don’t, then what? If we don’t do the practice, then what? Then we’re just floating out in the ocean with no direction, and whatever winds come by blow us around.
If we want to slow down, we have to sink an anchor down into the bottom and that anchor is the Name in this case. Or, any other spiritual practice that you like to do.
The key to doing a spiritual practice is actually doing it. Every day whether you feel like it or not. Because if you only go with your, “You know, I’m tired today, I think I’ll skip it”, then the habits that are already pushing us around just get stronger and stronger. We have to create new habits that turn us within, that make us more available to our own inner self. I mean, we didn’t have much of a vote in developing the habits we already have, other than our karmas that brought us into this life with those parents, to that school, with those friends, in that culture, in that country at that time. But we didn’t get a vote, who we are now did not get a vote in that. If we’re even going to get a vote now, then we have to start paying attention and that’s not so easy to do. But it’s not that hard, either. For instance, let me ask you a question, are you breathing? Yeah? Oh. That’s how easy it is. You’re always breathing, whether you’re paying attention or not. So, you can always come back to the breath if you make the breath your object of awareness, you can always come back because it’s always there, then if you, if you add the repetition of the Name to the breath, also, you’ll find that shows up in your mind and then you can come back to that and then the breath, or just stay with that. We have to figure out, we have to find some way to keep coming back from Dreamland. All day long, Dreamland. Where are we going? And we wake up in the morning and we start writing, producing, directing and acting in the movie of me. The movie of me, all life long, the movie of me. All we do is think about ourselves. How am I doing now? How am I doing now? Is there too much stuff on my elbow, are my pants long enough? Do my shoes fit? Is my hair ok? Are they going to like me? They won’t like me. Maybe I’ll go there. Maybe I’ll eat this. Maybe I’ll just take rest. Maybe I’ll watch tv. What’s on? Nah, never mind. Ok. All day long, we’re never here, we’re just like, totally lost. And, how can you make a good decision if you’re not here? How can we pay attention to what we really want if we’re not even paying attention to where we are? So, it’s not so easy. Really, it isn’t. Little by little. You can dress up in holy clothes and you can wear beads and wear white clothes and act spiritual, but that has nothing to do with it. Nothing. It’s just something else to let go of. Another identity. You’re trying to build another identity that you could like. Already, when you don’t like yourself underneath that. So, what’s the sense of adding more stuff on top of stuff. I did it. So, I know. It’s just, it just comes out of self hatred. It all comes out of not caring enough about ourselves. To really live fully, to really be sincere with ourselves and with the people in our lives and nobody ever trained us to give ourselves a break. So, how are we going to train, how are we going to, how is that going to happen? We have to step up to the plate and make a stand in life and get here. Or it ain’t going to happen. And when the stuff gets really hard, when you get sick or someone in your family gets sick or somebody dies close to you, how are we going to live through that and not have our hearts completely destroyed? It’s very difficult. Very very difficult. But on the other hand, unhappiness is not required. It’s not required. A recognition of dissatisfaction in our lives is required, but unhappiness about it is not required, that’s just neurosis. And neurosis comes, it just grabs you so fast. And it’s right there in your so-called spiritual practice. Am I sitting straight enough? Neurosis. Wow, this is a really good meditation. Neurosis. I mean, it’s just ridiculous, but that’s ok, you understand? All that’s ok, that comes with the program. That comes with the body. That comes with being born.
But you have to add a practice to that or how will we ever get out of it? How will we ever wake up?
My Guru was really strange, you know? I’m still working on trying to figure out who He is. He never told us what to do except, “Go away.” “Jao. Go.” He didn’t tell me to sing with people, He didn’t say, “Go forth and multiply.” He didn’t tell me to spread the gospel. I had to find out what I had to do for me. And this is what it is, as strange as that may seem. We each have to find out what we need to do with our lives and be the best person we can be. That’s what spiritual practice is about, by the way. It’s not about becoming God, you’re already God. What we’re not is good human beings. Ok, everybody out but her. I’ll give her the secret teaching.
We’re self-centered and selfish and greedy and nasty and cranky and we don’t give a shit about anybody. We pretend we do. That’s nice. But don’t step on my toe, dude. Really. You see, you can think you’re really Holy and then somebody cuts you off, you know? One time, I was in a car, there was a radio station in New York that wanted some of my cds, so I was driving them into the city to drop them off. So, they were on the car seat, right? So I thought, well, why don’t I listen to this? That’s where everybody else listens to me, in their car. So, I put it on and I’m going, “Hare Krishna… hey this is not bad. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna” and then somebody cut me off. “Sonofa!… Hare Krishna…”
So, I pulled up in front of and I sped around. “Who is that? Trying to hurt me and trying to kill me!” And I pulled up and there in this little old Toyota Corolla, right? Was a tiny little woman, like 90 years old, like this, couldn’t see over the windshield, you know? She reminded me of my mother. Was she aiming at me? No. She wasn’t aiming at me. She didn’t even see me. She wasn’t aiming at me, but I took it like, “Who’s that? What do they want? What are they trying to do to me?” Right? We all do that. Like, we’re the target of everybody else’s stuff. Why am I being so nice today?
Anyway, those knee jerk reactions are what we live, that’s the world we live in all day long. We don’t think about how we feel about things. We immediately feel something. We believe it and we act on it. So, we’re creating all kinds of unconscious karmas, all day long. That goes with the program. You can’t stop that on the level it happens. That’s why you sing one of these chants, or you watch your breath or you do some other mantra or something because you’re training yourself to come back. “Ok, Sri Ram Jai Ram, what time is it? You know, The UConn women’s basketball team is starting at 3:30, did I set the tape recorder? I don’t think I did. Damn it. Ok, I can watch it on, oh… Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram”. You don’t notice how far, how gone, we don’t notice how gone we are. You’ll be singing, but you’ll be thinking about something else. So, that’s ok, you don’t have to judge yourself for that, that would be more neurosis. You just come back. That’s all. You don’t spend time putting yourself down. That’s something else. That’s neurosis. Just come back. That’s all you have to do. Let go and come back, so we’re training ourselves again and again to let go and come back. It takes a long time to get used to that and the more we do it, the more it happens through the day as we’re going through our life in Dreamland. We’ll notice. You know, you’ll be driving somewhere and you’ll just recognize, “What am I doing? I’m just not paying any attention to any of this,” but yet you’re driving. You’re stopping. You’re going. You’re watching the speed limit. But you’re not really present. The thing about being with a real, a great saint or a great yogi or a great Being is they’re here, all the time. Right now, they’re here. They’re always here. All of them. But we’re not here. When we get here, we meet the whole party, the whole posse. They’re here and they’ll always be here. We’re not here. And to develop the strength, the inner strength to sincerely desire to be free and present, it takes time to really recognize what we’re doing. We all have a lot of motives for what we’re doing, a lot of different reasons that we think about practice or whatever you’re thinking about. Whatever it is, just keep doing it. Maharajji used to say, “Go on, sing your lying Ram Ram. One of these days you’ll say it right once. You’ll call out once and the real Ram will show up and then…” you know? So, we’re practicing. That’s what they call it. The real Ram is always present but we don’t recognize that. The real God, the real love is always here but we don’t, we don’t allow ourselves to feel that. Little by little our hearts can soften and we will allow ourselves to be good to ourselves.
It’s a radical idea.
Ok. So, let’s have some questions or comments or whatever. We have a microphone that you have to speak into…