Call and Response Ep. 62 The Spiritual Heart, Addiction, Longing
Q: I was curious to hear about your experience with your sobriety…
“If I had to fight with my desire for drugs, I would have lost. That’s the deal. That’s the way I was made. If it had been up to me, every day to fight that desire, I couldn’t have done it. I just, you know, I’m being honest with you. So, I have such respect and honor so much the people who really do have to work with that every day and do work with it. Whether they’re successful every day or not. It’s a fierce battle for survival. And it’s very difficult. And truly, I don’t think anybody can do it on their own. I think if a person is doing it, it’s coming out of some kind of spiritual strength, inner strength which is not ego-based. Which is not based in the separate self, it’s based in the real self and that real self, your own self, your own true nature, is strengthening you to fight that battle.” – Krishna Das
Q: Over here.
Q: Hi. There’s some talk in quantum physics community or whatever, for really some years now, maybe 10, 15, 20 years that consciousness is non-local and we are more like satellite dishes and it’s about, you know, your thoughts or absence thereof would be more about tuning into different channels, so to speak, almost like the radio. Like you get tuned to the channel of love or you know, or you could get caught in some just train of thought that is just in the vicinity or just happens to, you know, tune or something and then you could choose to maybe change it if you’re able. I don’t know. Have you heard anything about that? I was just curious if that resonates or anything like that.
KD: Well, Ramana Maharshi who was one of the greatest saints that ever lived, said that, like you say, “Consciousness is everywhere all the time,” but there’s one spot in the body where we connect to it. It’s called the hridayam or the spiritual heart. But it’s not the heart chakra, He says. It’s on the other side, He says. I don’t say because I don’t know. So, that’s what He said. And there’s like a little kind of thing that connects us to the universal consciousness and that, the seed of that consciousness is here and when the body dies then that connection, obviously, dies with it. The body is no longer connected to consciousness. It’s just what it usually is, as in, inert. The light goes off. The light was not in there. It wasn’t coming from the body. It was coming from the connection to the light, so to speak. That’s what He says.
Q: That’s beautiful.
KD: And He says, “That’s the seat of the Self.” That’s where the Atma, the connection to the Paramatma, the Supreme Being, the individual connection is there through that spot.
Q: Beautiful. Thank you.
There’s one over here.
Why are you sitting out there?
Q: Hi. I asked you a couple questions yesterday.
KD: Good because I don’t remember.
Q: It’s ok. I gave you a high five on the beach… and I, instead of asking you about that, I asked you other questions and it was just kind of, I was curious to hear about your experience with your sobriety and like, the longevity you have there, like that, and your relationship to…
KD: I don’t think of myself as sober.
Q: Ok. Yeah, I just want to hear it because I’m going to be coming up on 12 years.
KD: Yeah. Good.
Q: And I don’t really… my relationship with it has changed over the years. In the beginning I was like, proud of it, and now it’s just become part of my lifestyle and I just thought I’d ask you
KD: Sure. When I say, “I don’t think of myself as sober,” it’s not, in other words, it’s not a way I identify myself, in that way. But, in fact, I am sober. Very sober. Sober and boring. For many years. And sometime in the 80’s I was strung out on freebase cocaine for about a year and a half and I was going down. There was no possibility I was going to make it. And my Indian father, Mr. Tiwari, he came to America to visit Maharajji’s devotees here and he first came to Canada and I flew to New York from California where I was living and I stayed up all night smoking freebase and in the morning I got on a plane to go and see him up in Canada. And when I walked into the room, he was sitting on the other side of the room with his back towards the door, ok? So, I walked into the room and I kind of went… and I really, I was starting to back out of the room. I don’t know why. But I just felt this like, and I just started to back out of the room. And he turned and he said, “You. Promise me now you will give up cocaine. Promise me now!” Like that. Now, I loved this guy more than anything. He’d been my best friend, my teacher. He kept me alive after Maharajji left the body, he and his family. And there was no way I was not going to do what he asked me to do. So, I didn’t really have a choice. I just said, “Ok.” And that was it. From that moment to this moment, nothing. It was grace. It was grace and it was his love for me and his spiritual power, because he was a great yogi. So, it was his blessing to me. From that moment, a pile of shit and a pile of cocaine… I really couldn’t tell which one was better. So, if, completely honestly… if I had to fight with my desire for drugs, I would have lost. That’s the deal. That’s the way I was made. If it had been up to me, every day to fight that desire, I couldn’t have done it. I just, you know, I’m being honest with you. So, I have such respect and honor so much the people who really do have to work with that every day and do work with it. Whether they’re successful every day or not. It’s a fierce battle for survival. And it’s very difficult. And truly, I don’t think anybody can do it on their own. I think if a person is doing it, it’s coming out of some kind of spiritual strength, inner strength which is not ego-based. Which is not based in the separate self, it’s based in the real self and that real self, your own self, your own true nature, is strengthening you to fight that battle. Ok?
Yeah. But what was taken from me at that moment until this moment, was the desire for cocaine. It was gone. Don’t. I can’t say “I let go of it.” I didn’t let go of it. It was taken from me. And so, we’re here today. Otherwise, it wasn’t going to be long before I killed myself.
Q: So, I have seen you together with Sharon Salzberg who I absolutely love…
KD: Keep the mic by your mouth, please.
Q: I have seen you with Sharon Salzberg who I absolutely love and I listen to a lot of Ram Das’s programs and his podcasts and stuff. But you all studied under the same Guru.
KD: Not true.
KD: No, Sharon never met Maharajji.
Q: But Sharon, she meditates all the time and I love her meditations. Do you meditate or do you chant as a way of meditating? Is that your meditation? I’ve never heard you talk about actually sitting quietly.
KD: I’ve done a lot of practices over the years. A lot of practices. I’ve meditated with Tibetan Rinpoches. I’ve meditated with Theravada Buddhist Teachers. I’ve done Sufi dancing. I’ve sung Christian chants. But what I do mostly is the repetition of the Name.
Q: So that’s what you use for your form of practice or meditation. That’s how you connect. So Sharon does Metta…
KD: Sharon does a lot of things, too.
Q: Yeah, right. So, but I know that when she…
KD: Yeah, chanting is meditation. What else would it be? There’s tv and there’s chanting. They’re not the same. Probably. Unless you’re watching chanting on the tv, then that’s meditation. Hearing the Name is meditation. Chanting the Name is meditation. Thinking about the Name is meditation. Anything that has the Name in it is the Name remembering you in the first place. So, it is meditation. There are Many different types of meditation. Many different types. Because there are many different kinds of people. Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t. And when you don’t, you can’t be a nut. So, you have to do something else. So, that’s the deal. It is meditation. It’s most definitely meditation. But there are many different ways to meditate. Just like there are different people, different kinds of people.
Q: So the 20 minutes or 30 minutes meditation that some people sit on the mat and do silently or guided or however that is, is it something you would do, like 20 minutes or 40 minutes a day?
KD: How about just a really good five minutes? You know? Anything more than that gets scary. Then you start to think, “Ok, I’ve got to sit here.” Then you’re not paying attention. Give it a good three minutes. Don’t worry about what I do. But you, give it a good one minute and then go have a cup of coffee and come back and do another good minute. One good minute is worth like 500 hours of nonsense.
Q: Is that true? You know I always thought it was about discipline of actually just sitting there and ignoring the fact that you’re saying, “Get up.” You don’t really want to do that.
KD: That’s just a thought, isn’t it?
Q: Yeah, so I thought, yeah.
KD: Unless the house is burning, sit your ass down and don’t get it up.
KD: And then just, just doing that is so ridiculous. How many people do that? Nobody. Because the minute you sit down, you’re facing everything. That’s when you… so, just to sit there and just remember to just like, “Ok,” just watch your breath. You don’t have to try anything too hard. Don’t try to make anything happen. It already happened. They called it, “The Big Bang.” We’re here. How amazing is that. Let’s just be here. But we can’t. So, we do some practice. But don’t try too hard. Just keep letting go. How can you let go if you’re trying too hard. “Ok, I’ve gotta let go now! Aargh! Oh, no. Ok!” It doesn’t work that way. You let go. You relax.
Q: If I had met you 25 years ago, my mornings would be a lot easier. Because I really prefer chanting over sitting on the mat for the half hour.
KD: No time is wasted. No time is wasted. Start now. You’re not starting but you’re learning. You, yourself are asking the questions so you’re ready to, you’re feeling the need for something deeper. So, it’ll come. It’s already come and you’re feeling it. So, now follow that feeling.
Q: Thank you.
KD: You’re welcome. 25 years ago you weren’t asking these questions. You weren’t, you weren’t in touch with the longing to be here.
Q: Your story that you share is filled with moments of such grace and receiving.
Q: And the devotion that I think hear, it has allowed you to develop, has been supported in satsang, in many different ways, Mr. Tiwari showing up at the right time and so on. My question has to do with how to keep the faith, how to keep the devotional aspect to the practice and to, you know, for lack of a better a word, keeping your eye on the prize in terms of focus. When the messengers might not be as absolutely astounding as maybe some of yours may have been, given that a message could come anywhere anytime from anyone or thing…
Q: My question is, can you share with us how to keep that connection? How to keep that devotional aspect in an everyday world without, you know, yeah… that’s my question.
KD: Well, first of all, cherish it and recognize it and appreciate it, what you do feel in this kind of a world, in this kind of situation. The fact that you’re here, the fact that you asked that question and that’s something to cherish inside yourself, in yourself, that you want that. That the longing for that means that its already, you’re being pulled towards it already. So, it’s up to you to find what helps you live more of that kind of life. You don’t need someone to show up and bang you on the head with something. We do enough banging ourselves. Everybody has their own storyline. People say, “Oh, you’re so lucky to be with Maharajji.” I say, “Well, we were the people who weren’t going to make it.” You know? Maybe the darkness isn’t so intense for you. You don’t need that right now. So, if you don’t need it, you won’t get it. We only get what we need because the underlying logic or agenda of the universe is compassion. And so everything in our lives is there because it’s supposed to be there and whatever messages our life has for us, is what we need to work with. So, don’t be looking for something to come from the outside. See what you have now and nurture it, cherish it. It’s a little plant. Water it. Feed it. Fertilize it. Don’t let the dog piss on it. You know, take care of yourself.