Given that we often refer to our minds as a wild monkey, that thoughts come up that we have no control over, it seems that, to be held responsible for thoughts that come up, that are not coming up because we intend them to come up, if there’s no intention, are we really responsible for the karmic consequences of our thoughts?
“You don’t have to believe blindly in karma… you’re not required to believe anything. Blind faith is not useful in any way whatsoever. But when you look at certain situations, when you look at your own behaviors, you can kind of see where certain things are coming from, you know? You can see where you were born, you can see how you grew up, you can see how your parents treated each other. You can see how they treated you, you can see how they treated themselves, and you can feel, kind of the effects on that, of that, in who you feel you are, and out of who you feel you are, that’s how you will meet every moment that arises, whether it’s a mental moment of thoughts arising or it’s a moment in the physical world of stuff happening. How you greet each moment, every moment, every second of your life is not only an effect of certain causes, but also, becomes the cause of certain effects at the same time.”
– Krishna Das
Q: I want to comment on your remark that our thoughts also instigate karmic responses. Just two quick thoughts, one…
KD: Be careful what you’re instigating.
Q: Given that we often refer to our minds as a wild monkey, that thoughts come up that we have no control over, it seems that, to be held responsible for thoughts that come up, that are not coming up because we intend them to come up, if there’s no intention, are we really responsible for the karmic consequences of our thoughts? A., and B., I tended to think that our thoughts were the result of our karma.
I’ll leave it at that.
KD: Lot of thinking. Well, it’s interesting how you say, “How can we be held responsible?” Who else is having the thought? That person is having a whole different thought. So, the thought you say you’re having, must be individual for you. It must be a part of you somehow.
Q: I accept that but… I’m not intending it. In other words, sometimes a thought will come up
KD: Sometimes? Every thought you have comes from somewhere else. You have no idea… you don’t think them.
Q: And I’ll say, “Stop thinking… that’s a terrible thought.’ You know? And I recognize that it’s some
KD: You have options at that point. You can let it go completely, which is very difficult. You can notice it and work with it, try to release it, release that energy that’s clinging to that negative feeling or you can go out and shoot somebody. All three levels, if not more levels, have karmic consequences. But the thought itself doesn’t come from nowhere. Where does it? Does it come from nowhere? If it came from nowhere, everybody’s thoughts would be more or less the same. They’d come from the same nowhere. Our… each individual stuff is a result of waves we’ve created in the ocean, many… who knows when. And they’re individual for us to some degree. We share also many of the same karmas of being born, the same culture, of speaking the same language or different languages, of being born in, at a time when people view themselves a certain way, you know? Individuals. It might not have been that way a few thousand years ago in another culture. So, somebody born in that culture, wouldn’t, would be, being born in a different culture is a result of different karmic situations in the past. Because, you’ve got to understand, I mean, you don’t have to believe blindly in karma but, you’re not required to believe anything. Blind faith is not useful in any way whatsoever. But when you look at certain situations, when you look at your own behaviors, you can kind of see where certain things are coming from, you know? You can see where you were born, you can see how you grew up, you can see how your parents treated each other. You can see how they treated you, you can see how they treated themselves, and you can feel, kind of the effects on that, of that, in who you feel you are, and out of who you feel you are, that’s how you will meet every moment that arises, whether it’s a mental moment of thoughts arising or it’s a moment in the physical world of stuff happening. How you greet each moment, every moment, every second of your life is not only an effect of certain causes, but also, becomes the cause of certain effects at the same time. So… Yeah?
Q: Yeah, I like what you’re saying. It inspires a greater effort to purify our thoughts.
KD: Absolutely, but purify is an interesting word, you know, it all has, that can be very judgmental as well. Just let go and don’t judge yourself, that’s hard enough. That’s purification also. But if you start… “well, I have to have only pure thoughts” what does that mean? What does that mean? To different people, it means different things. And all of it’s essentially a programmed response to something or other. Just let go of the identification with the thought. We think that we’re thinking. Oh my God. That’s completely ridiculous. We’re not thinking. If you were thinking then you’d have some control of what you were thinking and out of the thoughts that arose in your mind, but we don’t. They just come. We don’t know where they came from. All we know is that, “I’m thinking. This is what I’m thinking.” Oh, really? So, we’re already glued to the thought as it arises or to the emotion as it arises, right? So, all we can do, the only moment we get a vote is that moment when we notice what’s going on. How we’re feeling. If we don’t notice how we’re feeling then we just, we just avalanche into the next moment, completely out of control, which is what most of us, all of us, do.
So, when you’re chanting, you’re trying to pay some attention to the mantra, to the name, to the music, you’re singing along, you’re hearing other people, it’s kind of keeping you somewhere in the room for a minute or two, and then you realize, “Oh, I’ve been gone. I’ve been thinking about…” You might not even know what you were thinking about, you might have forgotten already, but you just notice, “Oh, I haven’t been here.” So, in that case, the thought let go of you. However, the fact that you were sitting here in the room, physically chanting, physically hearing the Name and the music and sitting here and having come here and bought gasoline in the car and got your GPS out and got here, all of that contributes to how quickly you come back from being gone. And when you come back, you’re here. So, and when you’re here, you try to actually do the practice with some intensity, with some heartfelt involvement. It shouldn’t be just “Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram” although that’s better than going out and kicking the dog, but not so much better. But it’s better, because it’s not a negative thing.
For instance, on the very basic level, while we’ve been sitting here singing for an hour or two, nobody robbed any banks, nobody beat anybody up, for the most part we didn’t create any negative karmas like we do all day long, so just that is a big thing when you think about it, when you realize how you go through your day like a bowling ball going downhill, bashing everything that’s in its way. So, for an hour or so we didn’t bash anything, except mentally we bashed a lot of people, mentally. But that’s ok, it’s not the same as actually going out and hitting somebody, or hitting ourselves, or creating situations where we create suffering for ourselves and others. That’s why they say that the chanting of the Name is a completely sattvic, pure action. Because no negativity comes from the actual chanting of the name. That’s not to say, in the perversity of human behavior, we don’t take that energy and strength we get from our practice and hurt people with it, or bolster ourselves up and shine ourselves up a little bit more, which is what most of us do. Most of us. Me especially.
Once I was with Dada Mukherjee, who was one of Maharajji’s great, great old devotees. And it was after many years after Maharajji had left the body, I was at his house, and Dada all of a sudden became worried about me. He thought I was going, I was being attracted to this Sadhu, this Baba who he felt was not very good, and so he grabbed me and he took me into Maharajji’s room. He closed the door and there was a cabinet in the room and he reached down under the cabinet on the floor and he pulled the key out and he unlocked the cabinet and he reached down on the bottom shelf, way in the back of the bottom shelf and he pulls out this old, something wrapped in this old funky newspaper, right? And he uncovers it like this, and it’s this old lota, a lota is a pot, like a metal cup which sadhus use to pour water, either for going to the bathroom or they have other lotas for pouring water for the pujas and practice ceremonies, so this was just an old funky, cheap old dirty rusty dusty lota and he holds it up to me and he goes, “Do you see? Do you see?”
I said, “No. I don’t see.”
“Krishna Das, do you see? Do you see?”
“No Dada, I don’t see.”
He was like, mad. Really. “Do you see? This is what He left for me.”
And this was Maharajji’s Lota, which He left there the last time He left Dada’s house, before He left the body, He never came back, He left this.
He said, “Do you see? This is what He left for me.”
“Ah ok. I see.”
And he could see, I didn’t get it at all. So he looks at me and he says, “You don’t have to shine.”
“You don’t have to shine.”
And he covered it up, put it back on the shelf, locked the thing, put the key on the floor and then he just left me standing there.
You don’t have to shine. How much of what we do in life is based on that we want to shine? We want to shine more. We want to be brighter. We want to be more attractive. We want to be more charismatic. We want to be more magnetic. We want people to like us. We want people to feel good about us. We want to shine. And so, a lot of what we do as a so-called spiritual practice, we just use to help ourselves shine more. Like, really. Asana practice. You know? Most people do it to just get the best butt on the block. It has nothing to do with God or Love or even calming our asses down. We just want to be more shiny and feel better because people look at us and we’re more shiny. So, that’s not really useful in the long run. But we don’t notice those things. We’re so used to it. Everybody around us is doing the same thing. Fancier cars, better jobs, bigger TVs, wireless noise-reduction earphones. Everything. The whole thing. And we don’t notice because that’s what this world is about. That’s what everybody does; shine, shine, shine. And if we’re not shining, we feel we’re not lovable. We just don’t have it. We’re broken. We’re no good. Why? Well, because that’s what this culture is about. So, and we were born here for a reason. Although, I remember I once had this dream where I was being reborn and I was floating right back to India, yeah, all right, and somehow, at the last minute I made a left turn and wound up in New York. Jesus. Who was driving that plane? So, yeah. Just do some practice. Don’t obsess about it. Don’t think about it. Don’t say, “How is it now? Am I doing good? Is this working?” Just forget it and do something for awhile, will you? And see how your life changes around it. Because that’s what happens. It’s not that when you sit down, all of a sudden, boing. It’s just that you hate less people. Which is a really big thing. And when you hate less people, you walk around happier. And you’re less afraid of other people and you’re less confrontational and you’re less defensive, and you think less that this guy hates me. “Why does he hate me?” Like that.
There’s a book, Laura Huxley, Aldous Huxley’s wife, wrote a book, “You Are Not The Target.” You know, like, you work in an office, and there’s this guy walking around and he never says anything to anybody, everybody seems to hate everybody. You find out the guy’s got brain cancer. It has nothing to do with you. And that’s the way it is.
It’s like when I was driving down to the city that time, somebody, one of the radio stations wanted some cds, so I was driving them down, and I’m going, driving along “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, this is great, I like this stuff. Hare Ram Hare Ram…”
Somebody cuts me off, almost, really, almost runs me off the road.
“Son of a…! Fuckin A!”
And I pulled out, you know, and I drive, “Who is that?! Who would do that to me?!”
And I see it’s this little old lady. She can barely see over the steering wheel. She had this look on her face like… Ha. She wasn’t aiming at me. Right? I took it as if she did that to get me. And we all do that. And she didn’t. She didn’t even see me, goddammit. There should be a limit on how old… 90 maybe. So anyhow.
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