Call and Response Ep. 46 | The Meaning of Ram
“When you shape divinity, your notion of the Divinity, by saying ‘Ram Ram Ram’ and use the Name for ‘joy’ and ‘enjoyment’, ‘Ramaniya’, ‘to be enjoyed in that form’, you know, it’s a gerundial thing, ‘to be enjoyed,’ ‘Ramaniya’ means. And then, you are saying that, this great power that I want to merge myself with out of my devotion, I want to connect to out of my devotion and I want to feel the presence in me of that, then that is enjoyment.” – Robert Thurman
KD: When we were singing just before, it occurred to me to ask you, so this chanting of the Tara Mantra is, in India, they call this Nama Japa, the repetition of the Names.
KD: So, Maharajji used to say, “Ram nam karne se sab pura ho jata.”
KD: Ram Nam Karne Se Sab Pura Ho Jata. From the repetition of these Names, everything is accomplished. Everything is brought to fulfillment and completion.
Bob: Why not?
KD: Well, I would like you to tell them why.
Bob: Well, I said that in the meditation.
Bob: So, Ram, I mean if you think about Ram…
KD: Just, all the Names, any of the Names. He just meant the Names of God.
Bob: Yeah, but I thought it was especially Rama, though. He said, you can get everywhere just saying the Name “Rama”.
Bob: Ok? So, Ram is a way of expressing divinity. Now a lot of, a number of Hindu theologians today might still go for a Maha Ishwara idea. Which means to say, a creator deity who created everything. But not really. It’s not really at home in India, that idea. Like that Abrahamic type of idea. In other words, that there’s one guy that everything can be blamed on. All the “ness”. It’s not really a comfortable Indian idea, because like the, you know, ok, the Shaivites… I don’t think the Shaivites ever had a war against the Vaishnavites. They had wars against, actually in South India, Shaivites had wars against the Jains and the Jains fought back. I was surprised. They’re big non-violence people. They had bad wars between Jains and Shaivites. They never had a war against Buddhists in ancient times. Now the Tamil, they pretend that it’s a Buddhist and Hindu in the Tamil, in Sri Lanka, but it isn’t really Buddhist. It’s fake Buddhist and it’s stupid terrorist Hindus. It isn’t really Buddhist and Hindu. And many many Hindu kings… I was just in Sri Lanka and I was looking at the history and many Hindu kings from Tamil Nadu and other places came and then they ruled the Buddhists there without suppressing Buddhism. And the Buddhist kings were there and they never tried to suppress Hinduism particularly, but now and then they would have, they would… and the religion would be an excuse. So, I’m saying that India has a very strong idea of Divinity and so does Buddhism. You know, when Buddha was born in the Buddha myth, the two people who gave Him his first bath were Brahma and Indra. You know, Brahma was the Brahminical Deity and Indra was the Vedic Maha Deity, you know the king of the Gods in the Vedic idea, like Zeus. Indra was like Odin, actually, connects to Odin and Zeus and Brahma was like a, kind of a little bit monotheistic type, but really based, having to do with the Vedic ritual. Brahma. And Brahma means the sound of language and all this. There’s a whole story about Brahma. But not really a creator so strongly. And the idea that one Being created everything and is in control of it all is pretty much not the best flavor in India, actually. It’s not the normal flavor. So, the reason I’m saying that is, and I will talk more about that, some Buddhist sutra where Brahma meets Buddha, where they talk together. But, so Buddhists never, Buddhists are not atheists at all, but they just don’t think there’s one creator. That’s the main point. And I think that they don’t really, when they switch back and forth, you know, He, Brahma the Creator, the Destroyer and the Preserver, right? Vishnu the preserver, Shiva the Destroyer, Brahma the creator, but then they all kind of intermingle and then they all tumble into each other.
KD: Yeah, and then there’s the Maha, there’s the Great One.
Bob: And they avoid, the developed the kind of ancient religious pluralism by saying, “Well, the one I like emanates as the One you like.” And then, “You think the One that You like emanates as the One that I like.” And the Buddhists and the Hindus did that sort of thing in the ancient time. So, what I’m saying, Rama therefore is a version of Divinity, His Name means “to play” and “to enjoy”. “Rati” means “delight” and it can mean “sexual delight”, as well as, you know, eating food. “Bhoga”… some Bhoga can mean “orgasm.” “Bhoga” can mean “eating food”. Some Bhoga means “orgasm”. So, the Indians were not anti-pleasure like a few other people we know about in history. They were not. And even though they had tremendous asceticism and they had monkey monks and monk monkeys and monk people but they were not anti-pleasure, really. And so “Brahma” means that the most powerful thing in the world is joyful, wants to play. Ravana, in the Ramayana for example, interrupts that by running away with Sita, which is His fault because joy is, of the male, is the female, you know, like the female and the male. That’s also ancient an thing, you know? Most of the Hindu deities have a Mrs. Rama and Mrs. Vishnu a Mrs. Shiva, they do. They don’t have the poor Yahweh. Where’s Mrs. Yahweh? She’s just a ghost. She’s a Holy Ghost. Shekhina. Where’s she? She’s a ghost. Well, you can’t have that much fun with a ghost. And it sucks. So, naturally He gets grumpy. He’s sees people having fun and, in Sodom and Gamorrah, and blasts them. “If I can’t have fun, they’re not going to have fun.” You know? So, India was never like that. So, “Rama” means “joyfulness,” “graciousness” and then there’s this little interruption and Ravana’s like, destroying it, and He conquers that and then He’s back together with Sita, you know? That’s the whole theme of that, you know? But the divinity, that the Divine wants to come through you. Even this thing, Krishna, that Krishna and listen, they had color problems in India. Don’t believe some Brahmin who tells you, “Oh, no, we didn’t have that. No way. We don’t… all you and the slaves and the racism in America.” They have the caste system.
KD: They do.
Bob: Totally white and dark. Malcolm X read about white virtue and dark sin. He would know that there’s already a color thing from ancient time in Sanskrit. Definitely. And yet, Krishna is the dark God and He loves you and then your soul is a gopi loving Him, I mean, that’s like, that’s pretty intense. That is intense. And the Indian achievement of taking in the whole Krishna thing, Krishna-Radha thing, once they passed Rama and Sita, actually, and Krishna-Radha and this sort of erotic, the unification of the erotic with the sublime spiritual, so bringing all the fully erotic energy into the spiritual. Instead of like, “Oh, the spiritual is not erotic. Oh no no that’s the dirty stuff. Dirty. Dirty. Ooh.” No way. India achieved that. Where the eros and agape where the eros and agape sit together, actually. The proper eros, proper eros is opening to the Beloved. Some pathetic one is grabbing and using the Beloved. That’s pathetic eros. That’s some kind of European pathetic armored sex, you know? Like Wilhelm Reich freaks about it, he doesn’t like it. But India, they saw through that, you know? And so, Jai Rama or Jai Sita, but I like “Jai Sita”. I like “Jai Radha” you know? I’m a recovering chauvinist wasp, you know, and I really, you know, the female element, is, now is the time to arise and put a stop to this nonsense. We were cheated out of our mom president. Totally cheated. She did win the election 100%. She’s like Al Gore. She’s president in exile. In Westchester. But you know, that can be exile. But you know, it doesn’t matter even, gender, who does next, but we’re going to get back there. So, I’m just saying that that Rama thing, so everything is there. Now, one thing I have to say about the Name, you see, the Jewish tradition has a very brilliant thing that I like where the Name of God, because they were semi-nomadic and nomads have a better, they get less stuck on hierarchies than urban people, and they had this great thing where YHWH, you can’t pronounce it. There’s no vowel. This is something you never even know in English. We don’t know that. Without a vowel, consonant has no sound. Did you know that?
Bob: I only discovered that when I discovered Sanskrit. I went to all good schools. And in Grammar, nobody ever mentioned that.
KD: It was obvious.
Bob: Seriously. We have, no, you try to say a mantra without a vowel.
KD: No, you can’t. But in Sanskrit, everything consonant has a sound.
KD: In Sanskrit, every consonant has a sound.
Bob: No, but that’s a vowel. “ah” is a vowel. “Ah” is the primal vowel. Brahm-ah.
KD: All right.
Bob: “ah” is the creation.
KD: Ok, go ahead. You were saying.
Bob: So, that, you know the, in the Indian cosmology in the time of Pralaya, when the universe is in a state of, there’s multiverses, actually, when a local universe within a multiverse is in a state of dissolution, when there’s no sort of Earth and whatever, at that time, they don’t have an idea that’s there’s energies or atoms or quarks or something lying around. They don’t have that idea. They have an idea that there are consonants hanging around and the vowels have taken a break. And the consonants are lying around soundlessly and then when “ah” comes, the “ah” comes and picks them up and then articulates the mantras that then create all objects and the planets. That’s Indian. So India really had the thing about words create everything. So that’s the thing about the Name. But I just wanted to praise the Jewish thing because, then some of the more mystical Jewish writers, in English, they go G-D. They don’t put an “o” in there. So, you can’t really pronounce that. And that’s a very good vision because, also, when human beings say a Name of something, they think they’ve controlled it.
KD: And they think they know it.
Bob: So they think that’s a way of acting arrogant about it.
KD: And they think they know it.
Bob: “God told me to do this or that” or something, you know. So, then that sort of, that’s a way of sort of absolutizing and acting like they are the mouthpiece of God. So, when you can’t say that Name, it means you acknowledge that the universe is not something you can control, the power of the universe. So, that’s kind of very cool. On the other hand, even in that, you can shape different with sound and language, so when you shape divinity, your notion of the Divinity, by saying “Ram Ram Ram” and use the Name for “joy” and “enjoyment”, “Ramaniya”, “to be enjoyed in that form”, you know, it’s a gerundial thing, “to be enjoyed,” “Ramaniya” means. And then, you are saying that, this great power that I want to merge myself with out of my devotion, I want to connect to out of my devotion and I want to feel the presence in me of that, then that is enjoyment. You’re not saying, you’re not saying, you know, “Jai Dukha (suffering)”. You know? “Dukha Dukha Jai Dukha, Om Jai Dukha Dukha” you don’t sing that. You’re thinking “Jai Krishna,” “Jai Rama” and “Jai Krishna” is like, “Krishna” means “black.” Right?
KD: Dark like a cloud. Ram was also dark.
Bob: So this would be like, “Jai Krishna” is like somebody, like the guy in “Black Klansman” thinking He was talking to a white guy. “Oh yeah, I know when I’m talking to a white guy.” “Oh really? Is that right?” And a black guy’s talking there. You know? That was so cool. Or it was like the kind of joy that Chris Rock emanated one day. I happened to be at a dinner where he was present and he just couldn’t restrain himself. He’d just seen Black Panther and he said, “They used to say that black movies couldn’t really make money. I was just at a movie and the hero was black and everyone was black and the director was black and the cinematographer was black and everyone was black and in one weekend we made a billion dollars. And all you had to at that time in New York, you’d go around and you’d fist bump anybody. The guy in the street, you’d fist-bump him and mention Black Panther and it felt good.” And they knew that they would. They did. So in India, by loving Krishna, India is transcending where they had a light and dark in their uncaste, outcaste people were the dark ones, and somehow over centuries, that’s the love of God coming there with Radha and Him and the Gopis and the whole thing. That’s beautiful. That’s a huge, huge cultural achievement which we need, we need now. We can do it faster. Just go watch Black Panther 50 times. Anyway never mind. It’s ok.
KD: No mind.
Bob: Or blue people. You know we love blue people. Blue-black they associated the blue-black Krishna with the thunder cloud of the monsoon, you know. The color of the monsoon thunder cloud.
KD: Yeah. Dark cloud. Very dark.
Bob: You know, and avatar is a blue hero, you know. The Indians, an avatar Blue and they were nice. Did you notice that? When they won, they were nice? They didn’t kill those people. In the war, the casualties happened, but once they, they sent them home. They sent the little corporate guy home.
Bob: Ok. Why are they laughing?
KD: I don’t know.
Bob: Are they laughing? That’s the whole point. “Jai Rama” means “cheer up.”
KD: I think because they just went on a long trip and found themselves back just where they were. That’s why.
Bob: It means, “cheer up.” Cheer up. It means, “cheer up.” Instead of committing suicide.
KD: I can’t be miserable around Bob.
Bob: Bajarang Bali. Bajarang Bali. Cheer up. Look how cheery he is! He’s super cheery! That’s India. It is.
KD: It is. It’s Indian.
There is No Nothing
Bob: What time is it?
KD: Time to go to sleep.
Bob: Yeah, I think so.
KD: Yeah. Ok.
Bob: There is a special sleep yoga I want to share with you. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on.
KD: There is. Yeah. We’ll do that tomorrow for three hours in the morning.
Bob: I want to say something. I have one more thing, one more small thing. We do have a few minutes according to the schedule and this is that. When you fall asleep tonight, you, as you’re muttering “Ram Jai Ram, Rama Rama Jai Krishna, Hare Krishna Hare Hare” then when you do that, as you fall asleep, right, your lights are out and you close your eyes and hopefully, you know, this, your roommate isn’t noisy if you have one. This and that. In my case, it’s easy, I just turn off my hearing aids. And, but you don’t think that even though your last moment of consciousness is slipping into a darkness, you don’t think that that’s where you spend the night because the clear light of the void, the bliss energy of the universe, of Ram and everybody is transparent. It’s not a bright light, and it’s not a darkness, it’s a gray light. But it’s like an infinite energy of transparency. And the reason I say that, is that we are all educated to think that, at the bottom of the universe is nothingness and that when we die, we’ll be nothing. And even if we believe in reincarnation, or even if we’ve done Hinduism or Buddhism, we have a subliminal feeling that this is the only life, because we’re educated like that. We hear it from all the supposed authorities, not in churches but in science classes, and you know, they write popular books, you know, Steven Pinker and people that you know, that they assure us that that form, that future life stuff that some weirdos in California, you know, telling your fortune, you’re going to be reborn as Cleopatra or something, I mean, really, they make it sound ridiculous. Whereas, actually, it’s obvious that we’re, nobody gets to die and stay dead because there’s no nothing. We all know for sure, there is no such thing as nothing. Is anybody unsure about that? They think nothing is something? Well, the scientists do, and they assure us that nothing is something and not only is it something, it’s some place, and it’s where we go when we die. So, subliminally, we reinforce that force view, very crippling view that it’s a belief to our spirituality, very crippling. We reinforce it by falling asleep and thinking we lay in dark nothingness and then we wake up. Because there’s no sense of time when you’re sound asleep, right? Isn’t that annoying? If you don’t sleep long enough, you wake up, you’re still tired? Terrible. But if you really have a good sleep, you wake up all energized, right? You couldn’t have got energy from nothing. Could you? Nothing has no energy to give you. Where would the energy have come from? If you lay in nothingness? So, the thing is, you lie in the transparency of the predawn twilight grey light of infinite energy. You lie in a bath of infinite energy and that’s why you’re so ready to go and chant and meditate and understand new things in the morning. Ok? But you don’t see that. Because you are that already so you can’t see it. What you see is, you go into dark. You let go of everything to rest in darkness. And that’s very nice and darkness is also friendly. Because it’s not nothing, either. Ok? There is no nothing. Don’t worry. But it’s always something, so do worry. What kind of something? What kind of something is it going to be is very key. So, with that, sweet dreams.
KD: Good night.
Bob: Ok. I’m so happy. I’m so happy. And remember to pray for Sharon.
Bob: Before you dream. Please say some chants for Sharon. This is all for Sharon, this weekend. Ok?