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Call and Response Ep. 50 Sadhus, and Nirvana in Samsara
“For Maharajji, everybody was His near and His dear. Everyone. And in order to stay in that space, you couldn’t hold on to your stuff. It had to go.” – Krishna Das
KD: That reminds me of this story. One time, a wandering sadhu came to Kainchi and came to see Maharajji and he, he was, he didn’t have much stuff. He had like, a pot, a water pot, and just a couple of shawls or something. And he sits down in front of Maharajji and he says, “We’re really disappointed in you.” He says to Maharajji, “What is all these temples and all these people serving you and all this stuff. What is all this opulence? What is all this?” And Maharajji said, “Yeah, yeah, I know. Hey, can you give me ten rupees?” And the guy says, he gets very uptight. “No, no come on. You have, you have hidden in your lungi over there around the left side hanging there in the thing there, there’s, you have some money. Give it to me. Give it to me.” So the sadhu takes it. “Give me it. Give me it.” He takes his pouch of money. He drops it in the fire. All the money. And the guy flipped out. And he said, “What have you done? This was my retirement money. I have nothing and I’ve saved for years.” And Maharajji said, “Oh, what happened? Oh, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” And He takes these long tongs and He reaches into the fire and He pulls out brand new one hundred rupee notes.
Bob: Oh, really?
KD: And hands them to the sadhu like this. One by one. The sadhu just starts weeping, you know?
Bob: Really? That’s so cool.
KD: Yeah, there’s another story like that. You know, everyone who came to Maharajji, in order to approach, for most of the beings who approached Maharajji, you always had to give something up. You had to let go of something in order to really… So one time, Maharajji was walking in the street in Vrindavan. This is a long time ago, even, maybe in the 50s. And He’s walking down the street and coming the other way is this jungly sadhu with the long jutta hair and the ashes, a really fierce guy. And they see each other and they go, “Oh.” And they run to each other and they hug and they jump around and they’re dancing and they say, “Oh, it’s so great to see you after so long!” “Oh, yes, it’s been so many years!” “This is so great!” And it turns out they had spent much time in the mountains many, many years before, you know, doing sadhana together. So, they enjoy their company for a little while and then Maharajji says to the sadhu, “Ok, brother, now you should go now. I have to go.” And the sadhu says, “What are you talking about? After all these years we meet? I’m not going to leave you. I’m going to stay with you.” He said, “Oh, no. You don’t understand. I’m only with householders and worldly people now. You don’t, it’s not good for you. You don’t want to hang out with me. Really.” “I don’t care what you say. I’m not leaving you. I’m not leaving you.” “Ok.”
So, they began to walk from Vrindavan to Mathura, which is about 18 kilometers and it’s the middle of the summer. It’s about 120 degrees. The middle of the day. And in those days, there was nothing. Now, it’s like, built-up. But in those days it was like desert. So, they’re walking. And in the distance, and Maharajji told this to Mr. Tiwari who told me. He said, “We were dying of thirst.” And in the distance, they see a well and they go running towards the well and they get to the well. There’s a woman there getting from the well and Maharajji gets there first and He puts His hands out, and says, “Pour water for me.” So, the lady pours the water from the bucket into His hands and He’s drinking, you know, like this. And then, the sadhu arrives and he puts out his gourd pot, right? And the woman pours water into the pot and as she’s pouring, Maharajji starts chatting her up, because that’s what He does. He talks to everybody, 24-7, 365, all day long. So He says, “Who are you? What’s your name? Where are you from? What’s your village? What’s your caste?” Because that’s what they ask. In those days, they would, they needed to know who they were talking to, for whatever reason. So, the woman says she’s from this village, she says her name and she’s an untouchable. So, when the sadhu hears that, he takes the pot and he smashes it on the ground and he looks at Maharajji. “What have you done? Look at this? This was my only possession. I need this to wash and to do things in. Now, it’s become impure because of this woman who poured water in it.” And Maharajji’s going, “What? What? What happened? What happened? What’s happened? Oh, I thought you were a sadhu. I thought you were a sadhu. What is caste for a sadhu?” And the guy realizes what happened and Maharajji said, “He washed my feet with his tears and went off to finish his work. He went back to the mountains.”
For Maharajji, everybody was His near and His dear. Everyone. And in order to stay in that space, you couldn’t hold on to your stuff. It had to go. Whatever it was. It had to go. And He warned, and Maharajji’s so soft hearted, also, He warned the sadhu. He said, “No, you don’t want to be with me.” Right? “It’s not good for you. I’m only with householders. You don’t want to be with me.” He was, but the sadhu took it the wrong way. He thought, “No problem.” But Maharajji was warning him, if you hang out here it’s going to hurt. So, in order to go through that door, you’ve got to leave, you know, your stuff at home. You’ve got to leave your home. Your home and your me-ness. You’ve got to leave that. So…
Bob: Finding the nirvana in the samsara.
Bob: That’s the non-dual greatness of the great teachers.
Bob: So that’s why in Sri Lanka, my mind was so blown by that sutra that I read this morning. When after, you know, I skipped over the, When you do mindfulness on mental objects and you go through all these different things and then when you do the four noble truths, you do mindfulness on the truth of suffering. And truth of suffering, you see every pleasure, possible pleasure, you’re mindful of the fact that it’s called the suffering of change, because it doesn’t last. So, you know, then, that’s sort of the usual, that’s what people assume is the usual thing and that’s very much the dualistic Buddhist thing, where they think nirvana is some state of leaving town, you know? Samahdi that’s outside the world. You know, you go way off. And but then when you come to mindfulness of the truth of nirvana, the third noble truth of nirvana, of happiness, of joy, of freedom from suffering, he says, “Where is it?” And He doesn’t say it’s off planet, it’s off the universe, It’s on another plane. He says, “It’s right there in every pleasurable sensation.” And then He lists all sense pleasures, all the body itself, everything that has gone before, He lists that. The pleasurable sensation, everywhere in the ordinary interaction of everything is where nirvana is. And so what that does, there’s two treatments of pleasure, one where it’s the suffering of change and one where it’s nirvana, and what’s the difference? Of course, it’s so simple and obvious, the differences, the one that’s suffering of change, it changes because when you grasp at it, and you say, “This is mine. Oh, I want that pleasure,” and then you create more and then you crush it. And it’s changing because you destroy it. But the actual pleasure of when you let it happen and you let go of it and give it away and that to me, that’s what I learned in this weekend so far. That’s devotion. That’s your devotion yoga, which is where you’re happy in the presence of Rama. Rama is there, here. When you chant “Rama” He is here. “Krishna” is here. They’re not off someplace. They are, and especially when you invoke the Name that evokes them and there’s no limit. “Vishnu” means… “Vishnu” is translated in Tibetan as “Kabjuk”. “Kabjuk” means, “pervasively present,” “all pervading,” “omnipresent,” and you know, any deity worth His salt, definitely any Buddha, is everywhere. They are everything. So therefore, you say the Name and then they pay attention, but they’re there anyway, even if you don’t say the Name. But especially when you say the Name. But the point is, the Bhakti thing means you give away your pleasure. At the last Carnegie concert, I wanted to tell the people, when you enjoy something, when it blows you away, the key is you offer it at the same time. In other words, instead of grabbing it and swallowing it down and “I got some pleasure,” you know? You think of everyone else, you open your heart and let it flow through you to everyone. So that’s your Bhakti thing. And it goes to Buddha and it goes to God. If you think of God as that omnipresent, loving power that surrounds everything and wants to see it all do well and wants to take care of it and so forth, That’s what it is. I know, I thought I knew one Abrahamic Holy person myself, just lately there’s one thing he used to say and it, I used to kind of like it but now it disturbs me because he was talking about someone who was very pious about God, you know, another fellow, Abrahamist, and then he said, “I don’t know you’re right about God,” he said to him, because he was trying to make something powerful and immediate and he had his own vision, this guy and he said, “Why, God’ll just as soon kill you as look at you.” He said that. Because, you know, Yahweh, gets like, you know, thunderbolts, you know, there are notions of God where it’s like a thunderbolt happens, you know? Things like that. You know, you know the funny story in the midrash about Yahweh when he got mad at Moses? You know? Maybe I won’t… I’m not going to tell that story, never mind. I won’t tell it. But I’m just saying, you know, that’s not nice.
Bob: You know? The divine, if they are really Divine, then they love… They should be love… They should be capable of loving everybody.
Bob: They shouldn’t be condemning them and doing stuff like that. That’s like somebody else’s idea. Some imperfect thing, you know? You know?
Bob: So, that’s too bad. That’s what I didn’t like as a child in church. I didn’t like the idea of the fierce nasty deity. Even the fierce deities in Hinduism and Buddhism, they’re fierce against ignorance, hatred, greed, jealousy, arrogance. They’re not fierce, actually. They’re just showing that form. So, like, fierce compassion. Tough love, you know. A mother’s ferocity to protect her child.
KD: Yeah, that’s what it is, yeah. Yeah, one time..
Bob: I’m sorry, but so just coming back, so Maharajji’s attainment was present in the ordinary things with the ordinary people and it wasn’t some sort of sacred weird thing off a mountain necessarily, I mean, it wasn’t not that. They loved each other. He liked the guy. But then He realized the guy was kind of stuck.
Bob: You know, like the guy who’s meditated for years and years and goes in and someone steps on his toe and he gets upset, you know in the marketplace. There’s many stories like that. That’s non-duality.
KD: Yeah. The temple where, where Maharajji stayed at Kainchi is now called, they had to build a new bridge and rebuild the entrance to the temple and they wrote, “Now it’s the Sri Sri Neem Karoli Baba Temple and Ashram.” But that’s not what Maharajji called it. When it was originally built, it was called the “Sri Advait Sankata Mochin Hanuman Mandir”.
Bob: Ok. Advait, yes.
KD: “Advait” means “non-dual.”
KD: It means, “only one.” “All one.” So, the non-dual sankata mochin, the destroyer of suffering Hanuman temple. Non-dual. It’s not, it’s that all inclusiveness, the all one-ness of it all. That’s what He called it. But then the next level is the worship of Him as a form, which, that’s what devotees do. But that’s not what He called it. And when someone would come to Him and say, “Oh, Baba, can you heal me,” He said, “No, I can’t do anything, you go pray to Hanuman.” And what would Hanuman say? “I can’t do anything, you have to pray to Ram” you know? So.
I was sitting once with Maharajji and I almost laughed out loud because I was sitting there and I realized, I had been thinking that enlightenment would be something else, somewhere else, something else other than me. Right? And then I saw, how could that be? You know? I’m here. I’ll always be here. And I realized that came out of my own self-hatred or self-loathing and identification with my stuff, my programs. That love is right here, always. But we don’t let it in because we’ve been trained not to let it in. That’s how I was trained. You know? And most of you were probably trained the same way. Even though you’re not from Long Island, all of you. You might as well be. So, that’s the thing, you know? That’s why, yeah. And when we think of others, we can’t be obsessing about ourselves. It’s so simple but it seems so non-intuitive actually, but it is.