Ep. 56 | Hearing the Name, Chanting the Name, and A Talk About Gurus

Call and Response Ep. 56 Hearing the Name, Chanting the Name, and A Talk About Gurus

Q: Thank you for being here. I want to know about your Guru.

“That Body died in 1973. So, does that mean that for these last years, these last, what, how many years is that? 46 years? That He’s been gone? He’s not available? I don’t have Him anymore? Is that what that means? Because that’s what it would mean if a Guru was a physical body. Gone. But that’s not the case. He’s more present to me now than He was when I was sitting in front of His physical body.” – Krishna Das

Q: What about the idea of humming the chants throughout the day?

KD: Humming the chants? You mean, without the words? Why? Why?

Q: It just seems to come natural.

KD: Well, you think imagining doing headstand is the same thing as doing it? Do you? Ok. There’s your answer. But even when you’re humming, your mind is hearing the chant, right? Yeah. That’s ok. As long as you’re paying attention to what you’re hearing in your head. That’s the mantra going on inside. That’s fine. You don’t have to necessarily sing out loud. Take the mic.

Q: Isn’t that the idea of what to do other than your hour in the morning?

KD: Hour? You do an hour? Wow. I do three minutes.

Q: No. Whatever it is in the morning your practice is. If this is in your head during the day, that’s the idea?

KD: That’s not the idea but that’s good. The thing about doing it out loud is that it adds another way of paying attention. It helps you stay more centered, that’s all. It doesn’t always have to be. The idea is to just be aware of the Name. So, when you sing it, you hear it and that’s awareness. When you hear it in your mind, when you’re repeating it mentally, you hear it mentally. But it’s harder to hold on to that, at least at the beginning. Otherwise, there’s no problem. Ok?


Oh, it always takes so much to get you people here to talk. We should give you coffee. How about coffee? Want some coffee?  Let’s all go down to Starbuck’s for tomorrow’s session.


Q: Can you be present and connected to the One, the Divine and still have thoughts?

KD: Can you? I don’t know. I’ll let you know when I get present and connected to the Divine. Maybe next week. Thoughts are not going to stop coming, but they’re not going to grab you once you’re really connected more deeply to your Being. The thoughts will just flow through like birds through the sky. They may poop on you a little bit, but they’re not going to hold you. So, there’s less, you don’t identify with them immediately like we do in our daily lives. But, if at that moment you’re thinking, “Wow, I’m not really attached to that thought”, you were attached to that one. So, when a kid is playing, when a young kid is playing, do you think they’re going like, “Wow, I’m really playing, this is fantastic. I’m totally into it.” No. They’re just totally into it. Those metta thoughts and that that that that… it’s not existing. They’re present, totally involved. And that’s what it’s like when you… you’re not going, “Wow, I’m totally involved. This is fantastic. I’ve finally made it.” Next. You know? Not that.

Q: Thank you.

Q: Yeah. As soon as there’s something you notice, as soon as you notice you’re back, you come back to yourself again. Whatever it is, whether it’s when you’re driving in a car, hanging out or talking to people, the minute you notice that you’re kind of like, “Oh, I’…” you just woke up for a second and then you’re gone again. You can’t old on to that, because you didn’t do it. It’s underneath the you that wants to hold on. You just notice it, let it be and then you’re gone again until it happens again. But doing these practices, all the practices, any practices that brings you back to what you’re doing and where you are, that creates this, this automatic response, this wake-up response that happens all the time during the day. Once you start noticing, you’ll notice it a million times a day, but you can’t hold on to it. Eventually, through practice and through devotion and sincere, sincerity and creating good feelings and compassion and kindness. Through all that, we wind up sitting more deeply in ourselves more of the time. Naturally. Because it is natural. The way we live is unnatural. It’s programmed responses. Learned responses from one lifetime at least.


Q: What about if…

KD: Where are you? Hi.

Q: Hi. What about if… you can’t chant Names of God in the Jewish Faith.

KD: If you can’t what?

Q: Chant Names of God and the Jewish Faith.

KD: It’s totally correct. We’re just faking it because God…

Q: God’s name is…

KD: You can’t say what God is. God is not a concept. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t do a practice to bring us back home. You may not believe these are the names of God. If you’re Jewish, you have a certain agenda and a certain way of seeing things and that’s the reason, you know, in Indian philosophy they call it, “Neti neti” “Not this and not that.” God is not this and not that. Not this, not that. Not that and not this. You just keep doing it. That’s a practice. And then eventually, what you’re left with is That, which has, which is beyond Name and Form. But the Name… in India, they believe, some of the people believe, that one can not reach the formless or the Nameless except through the form because you’re a form already and you’re identified with your body and your mind and your thoughts and your emotions. That’s form. So, within that form, what you want to do is release the identification with all that stuff and finally go into your true nature and at that point, you’ll be beyond form. But it’s only by releasing, it’s by gathering yourself and moving towards that Oneness within you by letting go. That’s what the practice is about. So, Ram is not necessarily, from our point of view, in this reality, when we say “Ram” we don’t experience “Ram.” Even when we say, “God,” we don’t experience God. That doesn’t mean it’s not there. It just means we don’t experience it. We’re not aware of it. So, how do we get those awarenesses? Through the repetition of the Name, we’re actually, we keep releasing everything, all the thoughts and the feelings, the emotions, the memories, the fantasies, the dreams, and we keep coming back to being here and then, at some point we go through the door. So, what you’re talking about is a philosophical issue which I don’t know much about. I just know Sri Ram Jai Ram.  That’s all I want to know.


Q: This is a little bit less philosophical, I’m trying to get the words in English in a better way. So, our Guru used to say, “You can not talk to God to hungry people” and the country where I come from there is a lot of hunger and a lot of despair. But a lot of times it’s not physical hunger.

KD: What’s that?

Q: A lot of times it’s not physical hunger.

KD: That’s your interpretation of it. What he was talking about was physical hunger.

Q: Yeah, the Guru said, “the physical hunger.” But in my country where I come from, there is people starving, some of them are like, physical hunger, but there is also this hungriness because there is a lack of social sort of, union, you know. There is this very very divided country for 50 year war, and my question is, actually, how can you chant to people that is starving? And how can you do that in a way that is also not just, you know, a song but something that can touch their hearts in order to awake people to feed each other or to be more kind

KD: You want to help people by singing to them? By waking them up?

Q: I think I got to first wake up myself.

KD: Exactly. Next question.


Q: I’m curious why the high notes are so difficult..

KD: I’m sorry?

Q: Why the high notes are so difficult to hit?

KD: Why the notes are? You mean in the singing? Difficult for who?

Q: Me.

KD: Oh. Sing lower. Wrong key for you. That’s all. I’ll see. If I sing down here you’ll hit all the high notes. Because I, that’s just a physical thing, you know. Everybody has a range that’s comfortable for them. You know, some people can sing high, some people can sing low, some people can do the whole thing. I’ve got about a five note range, so I sing right in the middle of it all. And that works for me, you know? If you can’t reach the high note, you can also sing it low, you know, like… you can sing it lower if you can’t reach the high thing. Nina has that trouble all the time because the key I sing is too, it’s either too low or too high for her, but it’s not in the middle. It’s not comfortable. So, just don’t hurt yourself, that’s all.


Q:  Thank you for being here. I want to know about your Guru.

KD: Me, too.

Q: When you met Him, I have a feeling maybe you were, how did you, when did you realize He was your teacher? Was it right away?

KD: Did you ever fall in love?

Q: Yes.

KD: Next question.

Q: But I want to know your story. How did it happen for you?

KD: Actually, for me, I had heard about this guy named Ram Das and I went up to meet Him and I didn’t know anything about Him and when I walked into the room where He was sitting, the second I walked into the room, I didn’t even look at Him, there was no eye contact, there was nothing. I walked into the room and all of a sudden something happened inside of me where I knew that whatever it was that I was looking for, I didn’t even know what to call it, right? But whatever it was, it was real and it existed and it was in the world and you could find it. That was what happened to me at that moment and that was Maharajji. Yeah. And that never changed. That understanding or that experience, that knowing, that’s the same right now as it was then more than 50 years ago because that was Him. I walked right into Him. Bam. So, do we need to talk about Gurus? Is that what we’re going to talk about? “I want a Guru. I can’t find my Guru. I can’t do anything until I have a Guru. I feel so bad, where’s my Guru.” You know, that’s a crock of shit. However, we have those feelings. Guru, God and Self are our true nature. Your true nature is not, they are not different things. I know it’s very hard to accept that. And I know that. I mean that. We think a Guru is a Human Being that’s somewhere out there in the world that we need to find and until we find it, our lives won’t be, we won’t be together, we won’t have it together. It’s not like that. Luckily, it’s not like that. Yes, Neem Karoli Baba, my Guru, was that body wrapped up in a blanket and I met It.

But that Body died in 1973. So, does that mean that for these last years, these last, what, how many years is that? 46 years? That He’s been gone? He’s not available? I don’t have Him anymore? Is that what that means? Because that’s what it would mean if a Guru was a physical body. Gone. But that’s not the case. He’s more present to me now than He was when I was sitting in front of His physical body. Because there’s less “me” around than there was 45 years ago. “Me” is all my stuff. “Me” is everything that prevented me from seeing Him clearly, which was all my stuff. I was sitting in front of Him but 90% of the time I was gone in my thoughts. I was in Dreamland. Then He’d hit you with a banana and you were back. For a minute. And He was so, you know, one of the Names of God, one of the Names of Krishna is Mohan. Now, “Moha” means “attachment,” right? But “Mohan” means the One who makes all hearts attached to Him. So, it’s the Divine grabbing us and holding us. And that’s the Guru. But we’re not ready to let go of our stuff. You can’t jump off the ground if you’re holding your house full of stuff. So, whether you know you have a Guru or you don’t know you have a Guru, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a Guru. Everyone has a Guru. Everyone’s a part of some lineage already, especially, even people who aren’t involved in this stuff are already… their paths are laid out, so what more the people, at least, who claim to be looking for something, like us… so we all have a lineage, we all have a Guru. We may not meet that Being in a physical body. Maybe that Being’s not in a physical body right now. What are you going to do? Watch tv for the rest of your life and do nothing else? Eat pizza and watch tv? Vegan pizza? No. Buddha said very clearly, He pointed out the reason we search for something is because we are suffering. We have unhappiness and so we want to be free from that. That’s the impetus for looking for whatever it is you want to call it. True Love. Real Love. Love that you don’t fall in or fall out of. Love that you don’t get from somewhere or give to something. Love that’s who we are every day all day all lifelong. That’s what we want. That’s God. That’s Guru. And if we don’t have it, it’s because of our stuff. So, how do we get rid of our stuff? We do a little practice.  Whatever that means to you. And that helps us release the issues and the programs that we identify with that are causing us pain. That are creating suffering for ourselves and others. Yeah. Over there.

Somebody here?


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