Call and Response Ep. 44 | Share Your Story
Q: Could (you) share some of your story about what was going on before you decided to go to India
“Everyone has a Guru. Everyone has a lineage that they’ve been involved with, especially if you’re interested in this crazy stuff in the first place, and everybody is, every moment, including this moment, receiving the fruits of their karmas. And the motivation for a great saint, they only have one motivation, they only have one agenda, which is compassion for us, because we don’t know what’s going on. So, they’re here for one reason only. For our sake. So, that means that everyone is getting exactly what they need at every moment. There’s no slippage in the system. If you’ve seen, if you’ve met a guru, a real guru, not a wannabe guru, not a “hope it’s a guru” not a fake guru… don’t let me continue, because it gets worse… if you’ve met a real guru then that was the best thing, that was what you needed. If you haven’t, that’s what you need.” – Krishna Das
Q: I guess mine was just asking about if you could share some of your story about what was going on before you decided to go to India that may be whatever it was for you, and also, how did you find your Guru? You land in India and then also, from there, I like those moments, the transition moments of all the things, you know, playing music, you know, doing what you’re doing now, of all the things you could do, how did that, just…
KD: It was either this or pump gas. Those were the two options. Well, I went to India in August 1970. I had already been pretty involved in spiritual stuff for quite a few years. I read all three books on the stuff that were here in America at the time, Autobiography of a Yogi, Gospel of Ramakrishna and Zen and Japanese Culture. Oh, wait, and there was Yoga for Health. Something like that. Unbelievable. Thank you.
So, but you know, I was really, I was very unhappy. I wasn’t really a happy camper. A lot of, a lot of self hatred, a lot of self loathing, a lot of not being able to be happy and get what I wanted in life. It was really not a lot of fun to be me. And then, oh, I moved upstate New York to live on a farm that the brother of a friend of mine had bought. They were Jungian acid head mountain climbers. These people would take 1000 mics of acid and climb mountains like this, straight vertical, they were unbelievable. Very wild. And they had a group, they had a family they called the Vulgarians. Anyway they were great folks and they, one guy, a friend of theirs, had seen Ram Das when he first came back from India in late 1968, yeah. And then they, he gave a talk in New York in early 1969, I think, and this guy met, went there, and then he came up and told his friends about it and then they were going to go drive up to New Hampshire where Ram Das was living on his father’s estate. He was living above the garage. It was a huge beautiful house, but he was living above the garage in like a little… he had come back from India and had camped out there. So, I had just come, so, they said they were going to meet this guy and I, you know, I said, “I’m not interested in any white yogis” you know? Once an asshole, always an asshole. What can I tell you? So, they went off. They were supposed to come back the next day. But they didn’t come back for like, three days, right? And I had just come out of the goat shed. We had two goats, Alice Bailey and Madam Blavatsky, our two goats, and I was holding a pale of milk, right? And they came back and I saw the car cut through the field, it comes around, and he parked it and he gets out of the car and he looks at me, like, and there was light shooting out of his head. I had never seen anything like that. I said, “Write down the directions. I’m leaving now.” I ran out to my cabin and I got my stuff together and I got my stuff together and took off and drove all night. So, I got, I got there around, maybe around 10 o’clock in the morning and my car, the carborator, not the carborator, the exhaust system had a hole in it so all night long it was like… eehhhhhhhhh. I pulled in, I turned the car off. Silence. And there was snow everywhere. There wasn’t a sound. It was unbelievable. And I felt this little thing in the center of my chest go… what was that? Did I have a heart attack? What was that? That was weird. So, then I walked up to the house and knocked on the door. The door opens. This guy with long hair and a long beard smiles. And he just points up these steps and I thought, get me the fuck out of here. What is this? These people are weird. But it was too late. So, I walked up the steps and there was like, you walk up the steps and there was like a wall, you know? And I walked up, I got to the steps and I turned and Ram Das was sitting in the corner. He had his eyes closed like this. The minute I walked into the room, something hit me, right? And I knew all of a sudden, I knew that whatever I was looking for was real. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know what to call it. But all of a sudden, I knew that whatever it was, it was real, it was in the world and it could be found. That’s, it was just like that. And that was Maharajji. I didn’t know that at the time. So, I spent all day with Ram Das and one of the things he used to do was, you would sit opposite each other and look into each other’s eyes and he would say, “Whatever thoughts come to your mind that you don’t want to say, say.” And I thought, “right.” It made me so aware of my thoughts, and not one of them came out of my mouth. So, then, at the end of the afternoon or early evening he said, “Well, it’s getting late” oh, and at one point he gave me a mantra that had been given to him by one of his teachers. Not Maharajji but another teacher. He gave me this mantra and we repeated it for awhile. So then, later on, he said, “Ok, it’s getting late. If you want to stay, you can stay. We can have dinner and then spend the night. Or you could, but if you’re going to go, you should go now.” So, I’ve got to go because first thing in the morning, I have to drive a school bus. That’s what I was doing for Kingston High School in upstate New York. I was the hippie bus driver. So, I said, “I’ve got to go.” He said, “Don’t worry about it. Your mantra will protect you. Weird stuff. What is this guy talking about, you know? So anyways, so I get in the car and now remember, I’d driven all through the night, the night before, and then I’m all day with him, so I get into the car and I start driving. Somewhere along the line, I got really tired, like about an hour out, so I pulled off the road and I had one of those old wind-up alarm clocks, a baby Ben alarm clock. I wound it up, put it on the ash tray right by the front thing and I set it for, like, an hour, right? So, I go to sleep. The next thing I know, I’m driving. Where am I? I’m driving. I’m on the right side of the road. I’m not speeding. But I’m driving. I’m on the road. You know? It took me so long to realize what was happening. I’m driving. I had woken up. I had turned the alarm clock off and I had started the car in my sleep. The first thought that came to me was, “Your mantra will protect you.” All the way to New York I screamed that mantra at the top of my lungs.
So, then, I started to get closer to Ram Das and then I wound up spending a lot of time the next year and a half and then I wanted to go to India to be with Maharajji, because he would talk about Maharajji all the time. And I began to understand that what I was feeling, which I thought was coming from Ram Das, was just coming through him and that it was Maharajji. I shouldn’t say, “Just coming through him,” that’s not the right thing. It was coming through him, which was a big thing. So, I said, he said, “Well, you know, when I left india, Maharajji said “not to talk about him”” but of course, that’s all he did, was talk about him. But he never said His real name and he never said where to find Him. So, Maharajji’s like, it’s a.. everyone’s, so many people, are called Maharajji, just so you know, you could call anybody, “Oh Maharaj” so it doesn’t really tell you who He is. So, I said, “Well, I’m going. I don’t care. We’ll find Him.” “Ok, ok, wait, wait. I have a friend named KK Shah, so you write to him and maybe he’ll help you.” So, KK lived up in the mountains, so I wrote to KK and I got a letter back saying, “Wonderful to hear from you and”, you know, “Maharajji is not in the hills at His temple in Kainchi at this time.” Ok, we’ve got a name and a place. “But when He returns, I’ll bring your letters to him and” you know, “I’ll write back to you.” Because I had said, we want to come meet Maharajji.” He said, “Well, He’s not there.” So, about a month later, I got another letter from KK and it said, “Maharajji has returned to His temple and after a few days, I was able to go and see Him. As you know, Great Saints like Maharajji do not encourage the devotees to come to them. But, their doors are always open. So, if you’re traveling in India, you can come see Him.” Great. Here we go. Right? No hesitation at all. Ok, fantastic, we’re going. Not exactly.
Many years later, KK said to me, “Did I ever tell you what really happened that day?” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Well, I came to the temple and I took your letters. Maharajji, there was a couple other people in the room. And I took your letters and I put them down next to Maharajji. There were three letters. Three of us. I put them down next to Maharajji on His bed. And He was just talking to people. So, I began to peel an apple and cut it up in small pieces and feed it.” Maharajji had like three or four teeth. So you get a soft apple and cut it up and he would gum it. And so I was feeding Him the apple, and He was talking to these people and he happened to notice the letters. He said, “What’s that?” And I said, “They’re letters from students of Ram Das, they want to come see you.” “Nay. Tell them not to come. What do I have to do with this?” And he goes back to His conversation. So now, here’s the beauty of the whole drama, right? You see, KK had grown up in Maharajji’s lap, from the time he’s 8 years old, Maharajji was like, his grandfather. They had the closest, sweetest relationship. There was no, like, you know, no distance. They were very, it was very close and sweet. And KK’s like a spoiled brat. If you tell him to sit down, he stands up. If you tell him to eat, he fasts. If you tell him to go away, he stays. This is the way he’s made. So, even with Maharajji, he would act, like, the same way. And furthermore, when Ram Das came to India and met Maharajji, KK was there. So, Maharajji, Ram Das told, Maharajji told Ram Das to go home with KK and told KK to serve Ram Das. So, KK was serving Ram Das by showing Maharajji our letters, right? That’s how he felt about it. Now, Maharajji was interfering with the very service that he gave KK to do. And KK would not stand for that. So, KK told me, he began to pout. And he stopped feeding Maharajji the apple and looked down like this. Maharajji looks at him and said, “What’s the matter? What’s the matter?” KK wouldn’t look at him, wouldn’t talk to him. “KK, what’s the matter?” And KK said Maharajji pushed his head up like this. KK said he’d look away. Finally, Maharajji throws his hands up in desperation, he said, “Ok, tell them what you want.” “Tell them what you want.” Now, is he going to lie? No. But, being a good devotee, he won’t lie, but also, serving Ram Das is helping us. So, he writes, “As you know, great Saints like Maharajji do not encourage the devotees to come to them. But their doors are always open.” That’s how it happened. My whole life, on a thread, you know? It seems, from our point of view, but not from His point of view. He knew exactly what was going to happen and how it was going to happen. And in fact, let’s see, so that was in, spring, spring ’72, so four months later, five months later, there we are in India, we get up to Nainital, which is where KK was from and it turns out, he’s at the temple with Maharajji that day. So, we got in a taxi and went to the temple and that was the deal. Here we are.
I mean, if KK, if it had been a different devotee who wasn’t as close to Maharajji, who didn’t have that kind of sweet, long-time relationship, he might have written back and said, “You know, Maharajji says not to come.” Then, I wouldn’t be here. I don’t know where you would be. It probably wouldn’t be here. So, this is all, these, it’s all grace, but we we don’t really see it clearly so we have to, we have to work our way through our nonsense until we can see things and be who we are.
I often think about, I kind of feel like, I was on the train, a train of my life, right? And it stopped at some station and, I looked out the window and there was Maharajji. So, I ran out of the train and I was just like hanging out with Him. “Hi.” Yeah. And then, He sent me back on the train, you know? But without having met Him, that train ride would have been a hell of a lot different. A lot different. But that’s me. I always, people say, “Oh, I wish I had a guru.” I said, “What are you, kidding?” I was the one who wouldn’t have made it unless I saw him physically. You don’t seem to need that. That’s great. Have a good life. Leave me alone.
You’ve got to understand, you don’t have to understand but I’ll just tell you the way it looks to me. Everyone has a Guru, everyone has a lineage that they’ve been involved with, especially if you’re interested in this crazy stuff in the first place. And everybody is, every moment, including this moment, receiving the fruits of their karmas. And if and, the motivation for a great saint, they only have one motivation, they only have one agenda, which is compassion for us. Because we don’t know what’s going on. So, they’re here for one reason only. For our sake. So, that means that everyone is getting exactly what they need at every moment. There’s no slippage in the system. If you’ve seen, if you’ve met a guru, a real guru, not a wannabe guru, not a “hope it’s a guru” not a fake guru, don’t let me continue, because it gets worse, if you’ve met a real guru then that was the best thing, that was what you needed. If you haven’t, that’s what you need. You’ve got to, you can’t think yourself into a corner and then sit around and mope for the rest of your life. It just won’t, it’s not the best thing to do. If you’ve met a guru, either, and ok, so I, after I met Ram Das, now up until that point, all I saw was a little, maybe four by six black and white picture of Maharajji, an old picture, ok? He didn’t even look, in that picture, the way he looked at that time. But I dreamt about Him. And I had this incredible dream about Him before I went to India and met Him. Ok? And in the dream, I saw Him walking. This was a long dream, by anyway, He had a very unusual walk. It was like a two year old bouncing from one leg to another. So He would always hold somebody’s hand when He was walking. So, about a year and half into my visit to India, I came to the temple late one day, I don’t know why, I had something to do in town, and usually, when we came to the temple, we’d be sitting outside and He would come and sit right down on His bed and we would be sitting around Him. So, when I got to the temple, I walked into the courtyard and there He was, all alone, walking across the courtyard, and I just stopped like, because He was walking the way He walked in my dream. I had never seen Him walk before. It was like, and He just stopped in the middle and looked at me and He goes, “Oh, these westerners, come here!” You know? I didn’t even offer Him the apples I had. He just looked at me and laughed. He grabbed the apples and threw them to somebody. My mind just stopped. So, I really met Him before. And so, if I could meet a Guru before I met Him physically, so can you. They’re not limited. We’re limited. And we only need one thing, which we already have. That’s longing. The longing to connect. The longing to deepen our relationship with real love.
That’s all we need. That’s the only qualification that’s required. Because that’s how we, as human beings, experience being pulled into our true nature. It feels like a longing for something outside, but there is nothing outside. It’s that desire to be free to be real love, to be in love 24-7 365. Not just for a minute or two here and there. And that longing, that’s what saves our lives. And what ruins our lives.
Because nothing is going to be enough. It’s never going to be… stuff was not made to be enough. This is what Buddha said when He came out of the jungle after recognizing His enlightenment. He said, “Yo, monks. Stuff ain’t enough.” That’s what He said. Or something like that.
We keep trying to squeeze water from a stone, but there’s not, it ain’t going to happen. We keep trying to squeeze happiness out of pleasure. Not gonna happen. We keep trying to push pain away, to find happiness. Not gonna happen.
So, the more we understand that, the more we understand that, that everything we need is within us already and all we have to do is slow down and start pulling some of the energy away from the programs that are running in our heads all day, all life long, that’s all we have to do. And, as that guy that Maharajji mentioned, said, “Do unto others the way you would have them do unto you.” That’s all that’s required. It ain’t easy. If you can do that, you’re a God in Human form. Jesus. On the mainline. All right, who’s, somebody else, over here…