Call and Response Ep. 73 | Ease of Heart

Q: Two years ago, you used the phrase, “ease of heart” and I was like, “Whoa,” that’s it. That’s what I got. That’s what I need. That’s what I always needed. And so, I carry it, in my head, you know, all day, kind of. It goes in and out of my mind. Then today when I was coming, I thought, “I don’t know if I really know what you think it is.”

“You can’t cure anger with more anger. You can’t cure hate with more hate. The only transforming power in the universe is Love and real Love means… Listen to me, as if I know… Real love means accepting things as they are and including them.” – Krishna Das

Q: Hi. So, I heard you speak like two…

KD: Where you?

Q: I’m here. Two years ago, you used the phrase, “ease of heart” and I was like, “Whoa,” that’s it.

KD: I used the part… what?

Q: Ease of heart.

KD: Ease of heart, yeah yeah.

Q: And I was, “Whoa, that’s it.” That’s what I got. That’s what I need. That’s what I always needed. And so, I carry it, in my head, you know, all day, kind of. It goes in and out of my mind. Then today when I was coming, I thought, “I don’t know if I really know what you think it is.”

KD: What?

Q: I don’t know if I really understand what it really means to you, but I think it’s what you were just talking about, right?

KD: Yeah.

Q: Ok. That’s all I needed to know.

KD: It comes from the Metta, the Metta Loving Kindness Meditation practice, which was originally given by the Buddha to some monks. He had sent some monks to meditate in a forest and they went to the forest and they tried to meditate but the tree spirits were causing trouble for them and harassing them. So, they came to the Buddha and they said, you know, “Give us a weapon to defeat these angry spirits that are giving us a hard time.” And the weapon the Buddha gave them was the Loving Kindness Meditation and it transformed the whole forest, of course. That’s the only way. You can’t cure anger with more anger. You can’t cure hate with more hate. The only transforming power in the universe is Love and real Love means… listen to me, as if I know… real love means accepting things as they are, and including them. Like, once again, a heart as wide as the world. And so, this practice is really great and right near here in Barry, Massachusetts is IMS, the Instant Meditation Society. Insight Meditation Society. And they teach, they teach that practice there quite a lot along with Vipasana also. But Metta is its own practice and it comes in that phrase. So, it starts off, they teach you four phrases, four phrases, and one is, “May I be safe, may I be happy, may I have good health and may I live at ease of heart.” “At ease of heart in this world and with whatever comes to me.” And you’re asked to offer these phrases to yourself. And the first couple of days of the practice, they describe the whole thing to you and they give you these phrases and they’re doing now and the meditation practice is to sit there and not to struggle with your mind and your thoughts, but to sit there and offer these phrases to yourself, to repeat them, not automatically or mechanically, but to try to connect with them. You know, “may I be safe.” “May I be happy.” “May I have good health and may I live at ease,” and on and on. So, after two days I was ready to commit suicide. I couldn’t feel a damn thing. I was just like getting harder and harder and more destroyed. I was like flipping out. And then they say, now take the phrases and offer them to what they call the benefactor, which is somebody who’s always been on your side. Maybe your grandmother, maybe somebody or a teacher who’s just always been there. Certainly, usually not your partner. Somebody who’s really always been there for you. And then offer the phrases to that person, and you know, in like, in a half an hour you’re flying because you bring that person to mind and of course, “May you be safe, may you be happy.” Of course. “May you live at ease of heart.” You know, yeah, it’s easy, you know. And then, then they say, and now come back to yourself. And you begin to experience how hard it is to wish ourselves well. How hard. It’s really hard. And once again, they don’t try to solve that issue intellectually, analytically. They see, they know come, then they say, go back and forth, they give you a period, “Now the benefactor, now come back to yourself,” and it kind of loosens you up a little but not too much. Then they go to, there’s the enemy, you know? That person who, if you could get away with it, you know, you know, that’s the one who’s always just, always been on your case, never given you a break and now try to wish that person well. “Oh, may you be safe, you piece of shit. May you be happy, so you leave me the fuck alone. May you be healthy and live far away.” I mean, you really, it’s like you have to torture yourself to try to get the words out of your mouth. It’s like… then you come back to the benefactor, ok. And then you come to yourself, all right. So you’re back, but it’s very interesting. And then the last part of the practice, at the end of the five or six or seven days or whatever, you try to wish all beings well. Now, some of us are very, we’re really good at wishing all beings well. “May everybody be happy” and then somebody cuts you off on the Parkway, “You son of a…” It’s easy to be all… so, it’s those knee jerk reactions where the karma is. That’s… so, and it’s only through practice and every time you come back, every time you land back somewhere where you are, it’s a miracle almost, and you’ve planted a seed of coming back that keeps coming, growing and growing. So, yeah, the ease of heart is the fourth, the fourth… and like I said, this is a practice that Buddha gave to those monks and Sharon Salzberg has been really practicing this for many many many years. She’s really, she took it on as her own personal practice and she’s doing it for so many years. She’s one of the great ones. And she’s written a lot of books about this practice and believe me, it’s an incredible practice and you come out of there, even if nothing’s happened, you know, in your head, “Oh, that was ok.” Something happened. And you’ve carved out a slightly deeper place in your own heart where you’re just sitting, naturally now because you’ve gone through that process. Once again, you don’t need a stamp, the good housekeeping seal of approval on this stuff, you know? You go through the fire of doing these practices and our hearts are purified. Our kleshas are lightened, the obscurations, the dust on the mirror of the heart is thinned out just from going through this practice, you know, doing the practices. So, it’s a good idea. I love going off for a retreat, you know, a personal retreat where I don’t have to, where I can really just do the practice for awhile. I don’t have to be busy being me, too much. It’s a great thing to do. It’s a great, the fact that we can do that is really quite amazing, because as difficult as the situation is in this world at this time, we still have a lot of luxury to pursue this kind of inner growth which, in most places in the world, they don’t have that ability, they don’t have the luxury. They’re starving or they’re running or there are bombs being dropped on them or, you know, it’s brutal. Or, there’s no electricity, you know, or no food. And there’s no rain. You can’t grow crops. Can’t pay the landlords. Your kids are committing suicide because it’s so bad. This is the reality out there and look at us, we have so much here. We have so much. And we use so little of it well. That’s also karma.


Q: Thank you, KD. I saw you on Friday night. Everything sounded great. I was talking to David, he said the soundcheck wasn’t good but it sounded great. It was amazing. But speaking with this nice lady…

KD: Hold the mic a little closer.

Q: I’m sorry, how’s that?

KD: That’s very good.

Q: Ok. They always told me I talk too loud at home so now I can be myself.

KD: Hey, you’re talking to a deaf person here. Talk up.

Q: Right.

KD: Yell.

Q: Last year, you gave the same talk and you spoke about the Guru had been taken prisoner for a very long time and I guess He had been tortured and they asked, somebody asked Him, “What were you most afraid of?”

KD: Oh. The Lama.  Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Q: And I think there was a very good story that goes along with that and if you could share that again and also, the fellow with the banana, the Guru who said, “Everything’s going to be ok,” who would always tell people it was ok. I never forgot that.  If you could share a little of that, that’d be great. Thank you, KD.

KD: Well, the first story is about, it’s something that happened, a very old Tibetan Lama was released from prison in Tibet. Chinese Prison. After many years, 20, 25 years and the conditions are beyond brutal. I mean, you can’t imagine. We’re not going to go into that. But He was released and He was, His body was broken. He was in much… you know, He had been beaten and tortured and all these things and He finally gets to India and He gets an audience with the Dalai Lama, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Holiness asked Him, you know, how was, “Were you ever afraid?” His Holiness asked, “Were you afraid for your life?” Right? And the Lama said, “Oh, yes, I was afraid. I was afraid I would get angry at the Chinese.” We can’t even imagine, you know, if I stub my toe in the morning, I would say a week is ruined and this guy, tortured, beaten, starved, you know… and his one worry was that He would actually get angry at the Chinese, at these torturers. We can’t, you know… there’s another color. What do we see? Red, orange, yellow, green. ROYGBIV. I learned that in High School, right? Red, orange, yellow, blue, indigo, violet, right? Hey. But there’s another color we don’t see yet. We don’t see it. It’s everywhere but we don’t see it because our senses can only pick up those colors. But we develop a different sense after a while which can see this other color and this other color envelopes all the others. It’s the background against which all the other colors exist. It’s like, you don’t really see space. Right? Most of the time. When I look out at you, most of the time I’m looking at you. I see you. I don’t notice the space we’re in. But the minute you kind of back in there a little bit and look at the space, look to see the space, you see that all of us are held inside of this space. All of us. In our own little bubbles. Right? So, the sky, there’s a phrase in India, in Sanskrit, Chitakash. Chitakash.  The Sky of Consciousness. So, just as the sky holds all of us, everything within its own space, which is everywhere, everything is held inside of that space. But we, we’re identified with our little bubble and those colors. As we do these practices, as our hearts open, as our knee jerk reactions to everything in our lives lighten up a little bit, we become aware of this deeper reality. Little by little. And slowly, our hearts are transformed and opened up and wide, widened. And we don’t, we just naturally, the sting and the tortures that we’ve gone through in our lives, they don’t hurt us the same way. We still feel them but we don’t, they don’t elicit the same response that they have been getting from us. It’s not magic. It’s the result of practice and it’s the result of, you know, we used to ask Maharajji, “How do we find God?” We figured He liked us a little bit, He’d tell us, right? So, we asked Him. And He said, you know, “Serve People.” Serve people? What? Serve People? What is He talking about? Maybe He’s a little spaced, you know? So, “Baba, how do we raise kundalini?” You know? Til you break your nose or something… He said, “Feed people.” Feed people? It was beyond our understanding. We could not, we literally could not understand what He was talking about. I mean, we heard the words. He said “Love everyone. Serve everyone and remember God.”  Love, serve, remember. The “remember” part is the practice part. The particular practice in this case, He used to talk about the repetition of the Names of God, in India they call that, what we’re doing, what we chant. But the loving and serving, He never told us to do practice for our own sake. He said, “Don’t think about yourself.” When I was going to kill myself, that time. There were a number of times, but this particular time, I figured, I was living in the temple with Him and I figured, you know, if I jumped in the river, it was only six inches deep, but I figured, you know, if I got my head caught by a rock or something underneath, I could probably get the job done. So, finally He called me over and said, “What are you going to do? Jump in the river?” He wasn’t taking this very seriously. He said, “You can’t die. You can’t die. Worldly people don’t die. Only Jesus died the real death.” What? What? Only who? Only Jesus the real death. Why? Because He never thought of Himself. In other words, thoughts of “me”, the planet of “me” around which all our bullshit revolves, orbits, didn’t exist in that being. The real death is the death of the so-called “ego.” The separate sense of self. Who we think we are. The death of that. The death of those thoughts is the real death. Because when you don’t think you’re you, guess what? You’re not. If we didn’t think, if I didn’t go through all day thinking, “Me, me, me, me. I’m me, I’m me, I’m me. And this and this. How do I look? Where am I going to go? What am I going to do? Will they like me? They won’t like me? Should I wear this? Should I do this? Should I cut my hair? Grow my hair? Wear these clothes? Wear these shoes? What should I do? This kind of car?” If I didn’t think that all day long, those thoughts would not exist in the whole universe. But I would be here. Completely present. And not thinking, “I’m me.” But how are you going to stop those thoughts? You can’t. Are you going to shoot them as they go through? There’s no gun big enough. Practice. That’s what we’re talking about. Let them go. When you notice you’re stuck in it. When you notice you’re thinking of it, when you notice you’re lost in dreamland, you’re actually already back, by the way. Now that’s an interesting moment, ok? Here we are. “Shree Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai, let me see what am I going to do when I get home… Jai Ram Ram… I think I’ll watch that tv show… Shree Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram… what is it, it’s on channel, I think I set the thing, I set the thing, I set thing… oh, Sri Ram,” So, how did you know, how did you recognize that  you weren’t paying attention to the chanting that you came here to do in the first place? Right? So, that’s how hard it is to do practice. Ok, but we all got here together to do this practice today, of being together, but here we are, “Sri Ram Jai Ram” and you’re thinking about what you’re going to do later. Then you’ve noticed  you weren’t paying attention. Right? How did that happen? We were lost in dreamland. And when you’re lost in Dreamland, you’re not here. How did it happen that we got here enough to notice that we were lost? Isn’t that amazing. I think that’s amazing. I’m a little weird but I do think that’s amazing. Because we didn’t do that. You didn’t do that. You didn’t say, “Ok, now I’m going to wake up. Oh, my goodness, I haven’t been thinking, I haven’t been chanting.” That’s not what happened. You were gone. And then, “Oh, Sri Ram Jai Ram.” Right? That moment arose as the fruit of seeds we ourselves have planted. There’s no other way it could get here. So, we’ve all done the practice before in some way. We’ve all brought all those karmas into this life, so they say. And those karmas just fructified at that moment when you noticed you were lost in thought and then you were here. And then you started singing again and of course you’re gone again in a quarter of a second. But that’s ok. But every time you come back and then every time you get, you say, “Ok, Sri Ram Jai Ram,” you’ve planted another seed of waking up. You can’t, what Maharajji said, you can’t, “The higher deeper states, more subtle states of consciousness can not be brought about by the use of your personal will.” “Ok, I’m going to sit down and meditate myself into this samahdi.” No. It don’t work like that. Even if you got a little hit, it isn’t the real thing. The real, the uncovering of our true self happens through letting go of the stuff which covers it up. That’s all. But look, we’re very identified with that stuff, though, let’s face it. So, we have to do something, loosen up the stuff. Every time you come back, it’s a big thing. It’s such a big thing, we have no idea. We take it for granted because we’re kind of almost doing all this in our sleep. But when we wake up a little bit we go, “oh.” Just waking up for a second is a huge thing. I mean, it’s a beautiful day out. What the fuck are we doing in here? This somehow must be more important than a beautiful day and not everybody feels that way. Don’t go to Australia in the summer and try to sing with people. They don’t want to know. They’re at the beach. Really. But the beach is more important at that point. Ok. Fine. I’ll go in the winter. So, today, we’re here. Whatever, for whatever reason we think we came here, we got here and you know, that’s our desire to be free, to find a way to be free and live a good life. It’s always about becoming a good human being. What else are you going to be? You know? Are there any aliens in here? Please raise your hand. Ok, you be a good alien. You know, we’re human beings. Let’s really be human. Let’s recognize our essential oneness. One time, sitting in the room with Maharajji, you know, we used to take the bus to the temple from the town. It was about a 45, 50 minute ride and then we’d spend all day in the temple and maybe see Him for an hour or two and then, in the evening, the late afternoon, the last bus would come out of the hills on the way to the town where we were staying. It was the last bus. If we missed that bus, we’d have to stay in the temple, which He did not want. So, wherever we were, we’d get the message, “Bus has come. Go.” So, most of the time, we’d come in the room and just pranam and then get on the bus, so one day, we came in the room and He was sitting on the tucket and He was, I don’t know how to, He was just completely absorbed in some, some state and He kind of, He just looked and we came in and we bowed, and “Go.” But that wasn’t going to get us out of there and He knew that. There was the “Jao.” “Jao” means “go.” There was the “Jao”, there was the big “Jao” and then there was the real “Jao”. We talk about three. There were three levels of “go away.” The first one never worked. The second one usually was enough, but if we were really feeling it, we made Him really give us the third one which, there was no coming back after that one. “Get gone.” So, this was like the first one. You know, “Go, go.” And then He just disappeared again into Himself. And it was like the room… You ever make jello? So, sometimes when you make jello, you put grapes in the jello and they kind of like, get suspended in the jello, you know they don’t go to the bottom, kind of. That’s what it felt, sitting in that room. It was so thick. I felt, I remember thinking, “this is like a grape in jello.” That’s how weird it is when you’re born on Long Island. Actually, I was born in Manhattan, so that’s worse. So, it was just so thick, you couldn’t even move and He was just completely like immersed in this. It was such a beautiful soft sweet feeling. Nobody wanted to move. We hardly wanted to breathe, you know? And then after a couple minutes, He opened His eyes, He saw us and He said, “Go.” And then He was gone again for awhile, right? And then, finally, some Western woman, I won’t tell you who, said, “Maharajji, what is this?” That was it. “Jao!” And He said, He said, He said, “It’s in the blood.” “It’s in the blood.” We all have the same blood. You can’t tell what a person looks like from their blood. It’s the same blood. The same blood runs through all our veins. He used to say that all the time. We’re all one. We’re all part of one Being. “Now get out!”


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