For my own karma, I would like to resolve those things that I’ve felt that I could have done better. Situations I could have handled better and I just wondered what your thoughts were on that, like, if you’ve hurt people in your past that you want to redress the situation but, I just wondered what your thoughts are, because sometimes people don’t want to be, a situation, you might be in a different frame of mind but they might not be, I’m just speaking very generally, but I just mean with respect to your own karmic situation.
“Well, you know, there’s the inner and the outer. In the outer world, not everybody we’ve hurt wants to forgive us. That’s their problem. Our work is to release all that energy that’s blocked up in those intense emotions and I don’t think we need to try to forgive other people right off the bat. I think we need to first kind of calm ourselves down” – Krishna Das
Q: Thank you. I’m really enjoying being here. My first time experiencing something like this.
KD: Me, too.
Q: I wanted to ask you about karma because you were saying about, when you get a negative thought, you have different options, the way, you know, you can let it go, or get more angry, or just fall into it, so I know for myself and my past, I’ve made some, you know, I’ve been the rollercoaster where I haven’t been really thinking about my emotions and I’ve been reacting rather than going forward and there’s probably a whole lot of people that have been affected along the way.
Q: Yeah. So, for my own karma, I would like to resolve those things that I’ve felt that I could have done better. Situations I could have handled better and I just wondered what your thoughts were on that, like, if you’ve hurt people in your past that you want to redress the situation but, I just wondered what your thoughts are, because sometimes people don’t want to be, a situation, you might be in a different frame of mind but they might not be, I’m just speaking very generally, but I just mean with respect to your own karmic situation.
KD: Yeah. Well, you know, there’s the inner and the outer. In the outer world, not everybody we’ve hurt wants to forgive us. That’s their problem. Our work is to release all that energy that’s blocked up in those intense emotions and I don’t think we need to try to forgive other people right off the bat. I think we need to first kind of calm ourselves down and learn how to kind of get back into our bodies a little bit, because with trauma we’re really blasted into outer space and it’s physical, too, I mean the adrenal glands go on alert and they’re pumping adrenaline into the body and they don’t stop. There’s not an easy way to change that physical response and then around the adrenalized self, a whole, other storylines are built up, but they’re all built up based on that wall of adrenaline so you’re already outside of yourself and building more outside of your Self, our Selves. You know? Just sit down, relax. You’re never going to figure anything out, so it’s ok. Relax. Take it easy. Let yourself Be Here. Because you’re nowhere else, might as well be here. Watch your breath come in and out. That’s going to be there no matter what you’re experiencing. And just be with that. Let it come, let it go. And then you notice it. Ok. You see, it’s not easy. But it’s the beginning of pulling that energy out of the trauma responses, out of those programs and letting it be. Sit inside yourself. And then, you reach a certain point, you may need, you want some help, you need some counseling, somebody to talk to, because talking really helps open up some of those places where we’ve been wounded and hiding from that wound ourselves. So that can be very useful. Or not. It’s completely an individualized, you know, experience. But on the other hand, people can talk all day and never let go. Yeah.
My father was a therapist. That’s how he made his money. People talked all day and never let go and came back the next week and did it again. He didn’t want them to let go. No actually, he did, he was a very unusual guy.
But for the most part, you have to kind of cultivate that letting-go response. The releasing response. So, you just sit there, five minutes, whatever, whatever amount of time you, you just make a deal with yourself, “Ok, I’m going to do my best for the next few minutes to just release, just sit calmly and release.”
And you’ll see how little you can do that, but that’s a good, a good wakeup call. I mean, that shows you, because, that shows you how much the trauma is really still grabbing you. So, all you can do is let go. You can’t solve it. You can’t rewind it and live it again. So, the most, the best thing, it seems to me the best idea is to try to really be here with it as much as you can. Don’t judge. “Oh I’m such a schuck I did this.” That’s a thought. That’s just a thought. Right? But it’s a knee-jerk, it comes from, it’s just living inside of us, that view of ourselves.
“I’m no good. I hurt all these people. I did all this. And blah blah blah.”
So, Not really. You’re not, it’s not that you’re not good. You’re just, you, yourself are, we are all been programmed by our lives to do certain things. The fact that we’re all interested in releasing the energy of those programs and freeing ourselves from the programs, and then the program about judging ourselves for being caught in the program and then the program about that program, you know? Because everything, most of our lives, are just programs. Automatic responses based on reactions to situations that are purely subjective. We all live in our own version of reality. So, get familiar with yours. And just give yourself a break and sit for 5 minutes, 3 minutes, and just watch your breath come in and out and every time you, you know, you find yourself, you know, on that train of that program, “Ah ok.” Come back. Just little by little. Whatever helps you come back is good, so chanting helps you, if listening to chanting helps you while you’re sitting there, but pay attention, because you can be listening to chanting but still be lost in those programs. You’re not letting go. You can not be aware.
We don’t chant or listen to chant to have any particular type of experience. We’re not trying for any particular type of experience, some kind of bliss, some kind of happiness, some kind of ecstasy, you know? We’re using the practice to help us come back because here’s where everything is. You want bliss? This is where it is. You want happiness? It’s not there, it’s not in the past. It’s not in the future. It’s here. So, we have to get back here. So, and then once you kind of get a little familiar with that feeling of letting go, that action starts to happen by itself through the day, where a situation will arise and you’ll go, ah, you know? And you’ll just go to the other direction. Or you’ll start to make different types of choices about where you go, what you do, who you do it with. Because all of a sudden it doesn’t feel quite right. Nobody has to tell you. We just have to listen. So…
Q: Thank you. I sort of do a lot of that now, but it was more in the past where I’m, oh, ten years ago, 20 years ago, but
KD: But that’s all right here, isn’t it? We’re doing it to ourselves even right now. What happened 30 years ago, so once you notice that a little bit more, and you get to notice it when you slow down. Now you can either just watch your breath or whatever practice helps, asana practice if you do it with awareness and if, you know, you stay with the feeling of the body, with it, not if you’re just like trying to be the best whatever, you know? So, anything you do with the right intention will help and then you start, and then your intentions are clarified the more you practice, too, because you get a hint. Oh yeah, this is what it feels like when you let go. When you’re not totally immersed, obsessed, you know? We’re so used to being obsessed with ourselves that it’s ridiculous to even think about it. But through practice, it becomes a little bit possible. Little by little.
Q: Thank you.
KD: Or so they say. I’m still waiting, myself.
Q: Hi, I have a question about the benefits of chanting. Specifically, I know we talk a lot about the pain management, removing the negative, not robbing banks, doing away with pain and helping that. I actually don’t want to talk about that part. I want to talk about the benefits that are on the positive side.
KD: No. Why? Because anything I say will then be something that you aspire to and it will be in the way of actually getting here. If I say, as soon as you can watch your breath for like, actually, five breaths in and five breaths out, you will experience such bliss that you’re going to fucking go crazy. I guarantee you, you will never, it will never happen. I don’t do that. I just say, you remove the darkness from your heart, you will feel what you want to feel. But if I say what it is, first of all, that would assume that I’d know what I’m talking about, which I don’t. If I say what it is, then you’d be looking for that. And it’s very hard not to look for that.
You know, my friend Bob Thurman, he’s one of the Dalai Lama’s closest disciples, I’ve known him for so, so many years, but his first guru was Geshe Wangyal, who was a Mongolian Lama who had a little place in New Jersey. This is back the 60s and Bob met Him and totally just… he realized this was his Guru, he was about to go be a monk somewhere or something like that and he gave it all up and went to study with, be with Geshe Wangyal. Geshe Wangyal would never let him meditate. Bob wanted to meditate, you know? And he would sneak out of his room in the middle of the night and go into the temple in the dark and he’d sit there and he’d just start to meditate and all of a sudden the lights would go on and Geshe Wangyal, “What are you doing? Come on let’s go, let’s have some tea, what are you doing here? Come on, let’s go let’s go.” Because Bob wanted a certain experience. He wanted this bliss and he knew he could get it through meditation but his Guru knew better. His Guru knew that if he even got a taste of that bliss, he would never be able to let go of it and go past that. Because bliss is only one type of experience. Real bliss is another thing. Most of what we call bliss is just a little less pain, you know? But the real bliss of our true nature is unending. But we can get stuck in very pleasant states of mind and never let go of them. It would be impossible to let go of them. I was just going to use an example which I won’t use. So you can imagine. Very hard to let go of pleasant experiences. Very hard. But it’s just another experience. So, you clean the mirror of your heart and everything you see, everything you do will be full of bliss and happiness and don’t worry about what you experience during the practice or from the practice. The practice is meant to transform your life and make you a good human being. A caring, kind, compassionate, strong, powerful human being in the world. It’s not meant to give you a little of this, a little bit of that, that you just sit in your room and meditate and you don’t give a shit about anybody else. That’s the way I present this practice. I just told you more than I should have.
Q: I liked that last part about the caring, compassionate…
KD: That’s what practice is. It transforms your life. You don’t experience that. You can’t because it’s the evaluator. It’s the evaluation machine that’s being turned off slowly but since we identify with that evaluation machine, we don’t notice that it’s evaluating less and less until at some point, it becomes apparent that we’re less obsessive, we’re less angry, we’re less selfish, we’re less guilt-ridden, we’re less fearful. That’s what happens through practice. And it all happens off the map. I mean, you very rarely sit down to meditate and have an epiphany. It’s usually when you’re putting gas in the car or watching a movie or something. You go, “oh.” And then everything’s different. So, it’s not the best, the best method is not to have in your mind something that, you know, well, if I do this then I’m going to feel that. You can do that. But usually, certain practices are taught by a guru when they’re with the disciple for a period of time so they can lead them through the places where we will get caught. You know, it’s very hard for us not to want to feel pleasurable experiences. But it’s very hard for us to recognize that “my pleasure,” “my pleasant experience” whatever that might be, doesn’t necessarily benefit anybody else. My eating ice cream doesn’t help somebody in India who’s starving to death. But my caring about people might help somebody who’s starving to death. So most of us tend to use spiritual practice as a way to eat more ice cream and get, feel better about ourselves, because we’re so needy of love and affection and so that’s a good thing to notice as we go through our lives because that’s not necessarily the best way to go about actually becoming a good human being. The, certain of the Tibetan lineages, look at other lineages, “Look at that guy, sitting on a rock, looks like a frog,” you know? Just because the guy’s in samahdi, you know? Well I would take the fucking samahdi, you know? I don’t care if I look like a frog. But these other lineages have a different way of looking at it. And they avoid getting stuck in those kinds of places. Because they see it as a dead end. Because it’s not the goal. Ultimately. For real happiness. For real love. It’s to be who you are. It’s not a state of mind. So.
Q: So just one quick follow-up. So how does chanting and having a practice of chanting lead you to be a better person? What’s the relationship between doing the chanting and then somehow, you are more compassionate, and you are a better person, how does that work?
KD: Because when you’re chanting, you’re training yourself to let go of whatever you’re thinking or feeling or imagining. You train yourself to be here and it’s all those thoughts that arise, we don’t know where they come from, that we think all day long that we believe all life long, we obsess about all the time, those are the things that push us around and create suffering for us. So, when we’re chanting or practicing of some kind, we are agreeing with ourselves, “Ok, when I notice I’m not paying attention, I’m going to come back to the chant. And every time you notice, you come back, and that creates this inner reaction to being stuck in something. And you notice more quickly, little by little, you start to notice more quickly how stuck you are again and you come back and that functions all through your daily life as well. Like you could be driving and you just be like, “Oh, jeez I just spaced out for an hour and a half. I haven’t been present at all.” Which you would have never noticed if you didn’t start doing your practice. And then once you’re spaced out like that, in Dreamland, somebody cuts you off, you get no vote over your reaction, for instance, or somebody calls you on the phone and breaks up with you, you get no vote, because you’re not here, you’ve been in Reactionland and you just stay in Reactionland. So, it’s a training program. But it’s also about just calming your asses down and coming back again and again. And breaking the cycle of mindless reaction to things. Knee-jerk reactions. We don’t get a vote over knee-jerk reactions right now. But eventually, we might be able to see our knee starting to move. And we go, where are you going? Come back. Ok. And that makes us a better person, because then that jerk at work who does all the wrong things all the time, it pisses me off, you just look at him and you see other people also just like you, get, have no vote. And they are also creating suffering for themselves, just like we create suffering for ourselves. And so, there’s a little bit of compassion that just naturally arises. “Compassion,” meaning, you see these other people are “just as stuck as I am, how can I, you know, if I don’t want to judge myself, I can’t really judge these people either.” Once you start being better to yourself and not hating yourself for being such an idiot, then you see other people are just like you. And you know, if I don’t have a vote and I’m trying, what about these people who aren’t even trying? Then you start to feel, “I wish something would be better for them.” And you don’t take it personally, their actions. You are not the target.
But that, it may start here, but it has to come down to the real, it has to become real. That’s how it makes you a better person. You’re less self-centered. You don’t go through the whole day as if the whole universe revolves around your life and what you get and what you don’t have and what you want and what this is like now. That there are billions of people out there just like you who don’t have what they want.
So, you know, Maharajji never told us, never instructed us to do practice for the sake of our own enlightenment or whatever. For our own sake. He literally said, “Don’t think about yourselves.” How? Well, when you’re doing practice, when you’re doing Sri Ram Jai Ram, you’re not really thinking about yourself the same way. And then you see yourself, you catch yourself, or you recognize that you’ve just been dreaming about something and you come back. So that’s very different than just going through the day completely asleep. You’ve introduced something into your life that can keep bringing you back from sleep, from Dreamland, again and again. It’s a very, it’s really a very gentle practice over time. There’s not a lot of bombs that go off and bright lights and everything like that, it’s just becoming a better person and more at peace with yourself and with everything that comes to you in your life.
And on the devotional side, a devotee will say, “Everything in my life is here because my guru wants it here. And so, everything in my life is his teaching to me. And so, I will take this as His prasad. I will deal with it as if He gave it to me.”
It might be a broken leg or it might be a pain in the back. It might be, you lose your job. It doesn’t mean you don’t feel bad about it, but you have a context for it because that’s who you are. You are somebody who believes that God or Guru is running the show from the inside out. And so, everything that happens has to be surrendered to. Not capital “s” “Surrendered”, in other words, that means, accepted in this bigger context. You can still fight against it. You can still go look for a new job. You can still go talk to your boss. But the edge of self-survival isn’t so strong. It gets easier to go through the day because it isn’t all about “me.” Even if it looks that way. It’s just a change that happens through practice. It’s a maturing. A ripening is actually what it is. Really, these practices are ripening practices. They ripen us. It’s not like we have to learn anything. We just have to move ourself into the sun and then our souls are ripened. Our lives are ripened. And in that ripening, we become sweeter and more caring and better people. I hope.
Q: Thank you, that was beautiful.
KD: Thank you.
Q: So, I can feel this softening thing happening in my personal relationships and my every day life. I’m having a really hard time with the world stage, how to not either not run away from it or like, bring just furious disgust and I’m not sure how to handle, like, what do you suggest with that?
KD: Well, what can come from furious disgust except more furious disgust? And what can come from running away? Just keep running? So, neither one is very useful. Now what?
Q: Go on twitter and practice, I guess?
KD: One time, somebody came to Maharajji, you know, Janaka in Indian stories, King Janaka was a raja, a king, also a rishi, a saint, a realized Being. So He was a Rajarishi they called Him. He was a king that was a fully realized being, but he was still a king. So somebody came to Maharajji once and said, “Baba the world is so screwed up.” This was 40 years ago. Can you imagine? “But what’s going to happen in, you know, I wish there was some king like Janaka who could…” Maharajji said, “There’s a king much greater than Janaka.” We don’t know, you know. The ones who know seem to know. All we see are the results of everybody’s negativity.
Q: All the suffering which is so hard to watch.
KD: Yeah. But you know the story in the Ramayana, right? You know the story of Ram. So, Ram was an incarnation of God who took form to destroy the negativity in the world. And the negativity in the world was represented by this one demon king named Ravana, so however, the whole story was essentially written by Brahma, the Creator. The whole, the story about the release of negativity, the destroying of the negativity in the world, this whole story, the drama was written out by Brahma, so Brahma was looking for somebody to play the role of the demon, so there was this great yogi who had just three lives left before he was fully enlightened. And Brahma came to him and said, “Hey man, we need somebody to play the bad guy, and if you agree to do it, Ram is going to shoot you in the heart with His arrow and you’ll be liberated and just, it’ll just be one birth.” He said, “Fantastic, I’ll do it.” So Ravana was actually a great yogi who agreed to play the part of the bad guy so that all that negativity can be destroyed in one shot, so to speak. So, we don’t know who anybody is. We don’t know what’s going on. We have, Western culture is a few hundred years old. Modern science is a couple hundred years old, maybe, at the most, and we think we know everything about everything. We don’t even know who we are. How are we going to know who anybody else is. So the best idea is to become the best human being that you can and everywhere you go and everything you do should be from the best place you can do it from. What else can you do? And the less you react, the less you allow the world, you know someone once asked the Dalai Lama, “Your Holiness, are you happy?” And He said, “Well, I guess you could say I had a really hard life. I had to take the reigns of my country at a very early age. And then I had to watch the Chinese invade and take my country and kill millions and millions of my people, and then I had to escape and now I live as a guest in someone else’s country, but I’m happy.” He said, “the Chinesse took everything from me. Am I going to let them take my happiness?” And that’s the real bottom line. Do we allow ourselves to suffer because of external events or do we find a way to keep our hearts open, really, really, really open and caring and not let it destroy us? If we let it destroy us then what are we going to do? Then we’re destroyed. Who can we help? We can’t help ourselves.
Q: How do you keep your heart open and still not be destroyed by all that?
KD: You’re still here. It hurts but it hasn’t destroyed you yet. That’s good. Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s not that you don’t feel the pain. You do feel the pain, in fact, somebody like Maharajji or these great saints, they feel all the pain in the whole universe all the time because they have become every one and everything in the universe. It’s not like they’re, “I’m happy. I’m happy. I’m happy all the time. This is so great.” It’s not like that. They have ultimate compassion because they feel the pain all the time but it doesn’t, when the deeper you go, when, your true nature is ok, so that’s where you have to go, that’s where we have to go. And when we’re on the road to that so we can’t expect to be ok, you can’t make it ok up here, it has to, you have to recognize the ok-ness through the dharma, through these kinds of spiritual ideas and practice and if you don’t, you don’t. You can kind of full yourself, but hey, it comes out, you know? Your relationships suck, your kids hate you, the car doesn’t work, the bank takes the house back. All these things happen. If we let them destroy us, then we haven’t done anything for ourselves or for others, then we don’t know the truth about things. It’s not that it doesn’t hurt. It hurts. It hurts more. Maharajji said, “A Saint’s heart is like butter but not like butter. Butter melts when it’s put on the heat, but a Saint’s heart melts when somebody else’s heart is put on the heat.” But it doesn’t destroy them. It motivates them to do compassionate actions. So, don’t expect it all to be ok right now even though it is, but that’s in here, that’s here. It has to be ok here. But the real underlying program that’s going on is our own personal unhappiness is projected onto the world. That’s what, that’s the real situation. And so, we take the world’s suffering as our own suffering, but it’s really our own suffering, our own unhappiness that we’re projecting. Buddha looks out at the world, it doesn’t destroy His peace, but He sees everything. Maharajji looks out at the world, it doesn’t destroy His peace, but He sees everything. We see one little thing and we want to go hide. So, and that’s because of our own issues that we’re projecting on the outside world. You know? It’s not that it’s not happening. I’m not saying it’s not happening. It’s happening. Really. And it’s pretty weird and very painful but, if it’s destroying us, if it’s crippling us then that’s because what we’re seeing out there is really our own projections. Our own unhappiness. Because when we don’t have unhappiness, we don’t see it out there. And the Dalai Lama is not destroyed by having to run away from His country, by having the Chinese completely, the Chinese government, not the Chinese people, being on His case all the time, etcetera etcetera etcetera, so that’s the deal. On one hand you say, “Oh that’s selfishness. Not letting, not feeling that.” Well, that’s the backwards way of looking at it. Self-caring is different than selfishness. Why would you let yourself be destroyed? What reason could we have for that? But we do. We have a lot of reasons. I know my parents. I know what I went through as a kid. I know what they went through. So it’s very hard to blame them for just transmitting their own pain to me. They couldn’t help it. So, I know. I have some clue about this, the programs that are running, and I have some clue about why I see them out there all the time. They’re not out there, but it’s my projection of my stuff. And the more you, the practice you do, the more you dedicate yourself to learning how to take care of yourself, in a good way, the more sense this will make to us. There’s a period where it seems like, you know, sitting down cross-legged for 19 minutes a day is selfishness, you know? “I’m not doing anything. I’m not protesting. I’m not demonstrating. I’m not helping people.” Well, you know, that’s not exactly the case. Sitting down and quieting your mind makes you more open to being able to help other people and be with other people as they are, not as you need them to be.
Q: Thank you.
Q: I had an experience during the chanting today which I sort of hesitated about, whether to share or not, but a week ago, just exactly a week ago, a friend of mine, a 90 year old man that I was very good friends with, he lived in New York City and I would see him at least once a week and he died a week ago. And during the chanting, I thought of him and then I thought of other close friends that have died over the years as well as my main partner of 20 years who died, but that was 8 years ago, so I was thinking of all these different people and, you know, feeling like the sadness of the loss but then I felt like, I guess like a heart opening and I felt grateful that I had had all of this love in my life and so tears were coming out but it wasn’t like, it was more like gratitude than sadness and then I went from there to close friends that are in my life and daughters and grandchildren and you know, people I love in my life now and I felt gratitude for that, so it, I wasn’t, I actually had gone away from the chanting because I was having this experience but it almost felt like the chanting was like, like a heart opening where instead of focusing on the loss I was feeling the gratitude, you know? Of having this…
KD: That’s good. That’s a natural result of being here, being open. Yeah.
Q: Really lovely.
KD: And there’s no… that’s a natural feeling. That’s good. Very good. And when something like that happens, you don’t push it away. You don’t say, “that’s just this feeling.” When those kind of beautiful open feelings come, it’s not, they’re coming as the fruit of the effort you’ve made to, coming as the fruit of the efforts that we make in our lives to be good people. They’re not something to push away, nor do you want to get lost in them forever, but they don’t last forever but they don’t last forever anyways, so if you enjoy it while it comes, and you keep chanting, you keep chanting and you enjoy and you keep chanting and enjoy, and just like if your knee’s hurting, you don’t enjoy but you keep chanting. You don’t enjoy but you keep chanting, and then eventually you might forget about your knee for 10 minutes. And then you go, “Well what happened. It’s still my knee. It still hurts. Where have I been?” You’ve been chanting. The knee might still be hurting but it’s not grabbing you the same way. And you didn’t have to push it away, you just released naturally and then when these beautiful experiences come, those are wonderful. You don’t try to kill them and come back to the chanting. You allow to be what is, but you stay with the chanting as much as you can while these things come through, while they move through.
Q: I realized that over the past year I’ve been focused on trying to be more into gratitude rather than kvetching and
KD: Kvetching is a path in itself.
Q: I was always good at that so I try to, you know, even make gratitude lists. A friend of mine had suggested that and I think that maybe this is a result of that effort over the past year or two.
KD: There’s never going to be a time where thoughts are not arising. Probably. For most of us. So, what we tried to do when we talk about compassion and kindness and caring for other people is substitute those thoughts of kindness and openness for the thoughts of self-destruction and self-hatred and judging ourselves and all those other thoughts that are so common for most of us. We’re trying to create a positive flow of thought. There’s always going to be some thought flow. But for most of us, and many of us, it’s usually very limiting to say the least. So, when we start thinking about other people, then we’re not obsessing about ourselves. And we’re not creating more negative thoughts about ourselves. It’s very interesting. It doesn’t mean you start grabbing people and say, “Oh, what can I do for you?” You know, like everybody in the street. You can see the guy in the street. If you don’t give him 10 cents you at least don’t have to kick him as you walk by, so that’s a good thing. You just start to feel more naturally less obsessed with your own feelings and like, how I feel is the most important thing in the world. Because for most of us, that’s the way we go through our day. And we kind of map out our paths to have minimum pain and maximum pleasant feelings. It just doesn’t work. You have to be with it all the time. With anything that arises and that’s the idea when you chant, you simply release it and come back. You don’t push it away. You don’t judge it. It doesn’t matter what the thought was. It doesn’t matter what the thought was. It could have been a horrible negative aggressive terrible angry vicious thought, you just let it go. You just keep coming back. Just keep coming back. Just keep coming back. And then eventually we just wind up living here where we are. But this idea about gratitude and lists like that. Anything that generates positive, you know, as a depressed person, talking about positive thoughts kind of just makes me sick inside. I have to admit it, you know? I can’t barely stand myself talking about that shit. Unfortunately, it’s true. I can’t get away from that, either. We need, we’re going to be something all the time. If we’re just constantly obsessing about ourselves and how miserable we are, which is what people like me do, then what’s going to happen, right? So you try to cultivate some thinking about other people and about the situations in the world and radiating a kind of loving kindness outwardly to that and then you can’t be, you know, thinking about killing yourself when you’re doing that. As soon as you’re finished, you can come back to killing yourself, it’s ok. But at least you spent some time away from that. And then when you come back to killing yourself, then you know, then you don’t take it so seriously maybe. All right. But Right.
Q: Mine’s real quick. As yoga teachers, or really anyone in general, it’s easy to get burnt out.
KD: Say what?
Q: It’s easy to get burnt out
Q: Just protecting your energy. You’ve been doing this for quite awhile…
KD: From whom are you protecting your energy? Is there somebody out there?
Q: Oh, no, I was just asking if you get burnt out just showing up and doing this time and time again?
KD: Why would I get burnt out.
Q: Ok. That was the question I was looking for.
KD: I mean, here I am.
Q: Really? You don’t, really, just, no?
KD: What burns me out is traveling. Moving around. But being with people doesn’t burn me out. It might make me physically tired but it doesn’t… because I get to talk about Maharajji. I get to be with people who are interested in hearing about this nonsense and how would that burn me out, you know? I get burnt out from watching television for 40 hours but this doesn’t burn me out.
KD: You know. What do you call it? What do you call when you watch the same show for…
KD: Binging. Binging burns me out but it doesn’t stop me. And I watch the darkest Nordic noir serial killer murder mysteries you could possibly imagine. I love it.
Q: Me, too.
KD: It totally fucks me up. But I can’t stop. So when I’m doing this, this is great. Are you kidding me? Keeping me away from the television. Keeping me away from people who kill in different languages. It’s amazing. I don’t have to read subtitles. Jesus. This is wonderful. So, the burned out thing, if I was trying to do something for you, or to you, oh boy, I would have been burnt out a long time ago. But I’m not. I have no agenda for you, for anybody here. I’m happy to be here. Chanting is the best thing I could possibly do for myself. And I get to do it. You know? So it’s amazing. And then to sit around and share stories and you know, my favorite thing to do with, when Maharajji was in the body, besides staring at Him, was to stand just behind Him on the side and watch people as they looked at Him, right? You know, somebody would come, some crazy drug and hippie would come and sit there and he’d be like, and you’d see this miserable guy just, the shit just falling off him and his heart opening and all of a sudden he’s like,, feeling loved. It was the most beautiful thing in the world. And that’s what this is for me. We’re all bringing all our shit here. We’re bringing our lives and all our history and then we’re here in this place together and it just, a lot of it falls off and we just kind of blossom and that’s, it’s the same thing as me standing behind Him watching people look at Him. Because that’s what I see. How could I possibly get burnt out. I could find a way, I suppose, but I’m not looking to get burned out.
KD: On the other hand, I’m not trying to make that happen for you. I’m simply being here with you and with us and doing what I do. If you feel good, good. If you feel bad, good. There’s nothing I can do about it. I just do what I do. I’m not trying to make anything happen for you. I’m simply being with Him. But I still get plenty of time to Binge. I get burnt out on my own time.
Q: Hi. So, question for you. The first time I heard you perform was the first and unfortunately the last time I heard Dada Vaswani speak in New York and just really curious how you came to know Him and perhaps if you could share a story or two.
KD: Oh boy, He was so beautiful. You know, He died last year. He died, he was just 100, I think, just about to be 100. I was in Chicago and Jeremy Frindel, the one who made the movie about me, was there. I think he was still making the movie. So he told me that Dada Vaswani was at some of His devotees house somewhere in Chicago. And I’d heard about Him for a long time but I’d never met Him. So, we, Jeremy arranged that we should go over there and visit with Him. And so, we’re sitting there and He just comes out and this was like the sun coming out behind the clouds. It was so beautiful, I mean, so… I sang for Him. I sang Hanuman Chalisa and He just sat there the whole time really with His eyes closed like this, and then one of the Indian people there said, “Oh Dada, when Krishna Das sings it makes me want to sing and dance.” So Dada just kind of opened His eyes and looked at Him and said, “When Krishna Das sings, it brings my mind to peace.”
I just went ohhhh….
Killed me dead. Right?
He was so beautiful and so then He started, His people would start asking me to come and sing and I was so happy to do it. Last time I saw Him was at Carnegie, Town Hall, and He would always give His talk and then He would sit just off stage while we sang. And then so the evening was over and most everybody had left and I went over to see Him with a bunch of people. Some of the band came over and His Indian devotees were there and so we’re just sitting there. I’m sitting on the floor looking up at Him and He’s in His wheel chair kind of looking at me and smiling, so He tells one of the people, “Bring some of those books for Krishna Das.” And the woman said, “But Dada, they’re in the back of the hall.” “That’s ok, just go get…” So this woman goes. So for 10 minutes, we just sat there. There were people standing around and I was sitting out in front. We just sat there and just looked at each other and then somebody said, “Dada, you’re not talking to Krishna Das, he’ just sitting here, you’re not saying anything.” And He looked over at Her, He looked back at me, and He said, “Henry David Thoreau was a very great Saint. And He wanted to meet this Englishman,” I forget the name of the guy, “who was also a very great saint, so He traveled from His home by cart, horse cart, and He got to Boston, and then He took a ship to England, then He took this to that, and He finally got to this guy’s house, and they spent an hour together and not a word was spoken, and then He turned around and went back to America.” Then He looked at me, and He smiled and He said, “Krishna Das and I have said everything there is to say.”
He was extraordinary. I mean, there was nothing but Love in this guy. He was just amazing. And you know, He was so sweet and so kind and loving and one day, one time in New Jersey there was one of those big gatherings and He took some questions and answers at the end. So, this India woman who lives down near Atlanta said, “Dada I live in this community where all the people get exterminators for the bugs and the mice and everything. And if we don’t do that, not only do all the bugs and the mice come to our house, but then all the people in the community get very angry because then the bugs and the mice just go back to their place. What should I do?” Right? And I thought, what kind of a question is that? Right? So He was quiet for a minute, and then He says, “Ok. I’ll take the karma of all that. I went, “whoa. What?” Because He never said things like that. I never heard Him say anything like “I’ll do this,” or “I’ll do that” but He just said to this woman, “Ok, I’ll take that karma. You just do what you do.” So He had something going on that, you know… He was really really beautiful Being. They’re out there, you know? They’re out there. And we’re here. So, they’re Here, they’re around. They’re around, you know? And when we’re ready and when it’s the right thing for us, they’ll show up in our lives, whether inside or outside, it doesn’t matter. You’ve gotta get over that. You think that Guru is something outside of you. It’s not that way. And you don’t need to meet a physical body that is a Guru. The Guru is not limited. We are limited and they don’t care about our limitations. They’re not limited by our limitations. They can do what they have to do for us and are doing that already. Or we wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t be interested in this stuff at all. It’s not by our own efforts that we’re attracted to this, it’s by grace and grace alone. Nothing else. If we had our way, we’d binge 24-7 365. Believe me. But because of grace, because we have grace and blessings already, we are, we only binge 23-7 362. Ok, see you later.
Q: Can I, may I ask?
KD: Yeah you may. Oh sorry.
Q: No that’s ok. Thank you. I have a one and a half year old baby whom I love so much and I have a job that I love so much and I work with kids who have a lot of trauma and I want to know how I can balance taking care of others and taking care of myself.
KD: Well, try not to see taking care of others as different than taking care of yourself. You think you have a self that needs certain things, that if you’re taking care of others, you’re not taking care of yourself. That’s not the case. But that’s what you think. And so you get burnt out by being with others. You think you’re not with yourself? Just remove that line and you have nothing to think about. Nothing to worry about. Just live. Be happy. Take care of others. And then you’re taking care of yourself, too. Where is the Self that you have to take care of it that’s not there when you’re with others. Where? It’s right there. Right then. So when you’re taking care of others and enjoying that, why is your Self not enjoying that? Is there some Self you left home that you have to get back to? And feed it? No. It’s just you.
There’s no place that you’re not, so, and there’s no one that you’re not. Don’t try to, it’s not about how you feel, it’s about how you don’t feel, which means, when you don’t feel that you’re avoiding yourself and you don’t feel that you’re, you know, you’re not giving yourself enough time, you’re there when you’re taking care of others. You should really be with it 100% and then when you’re home you’ll be 100%.
Q: Thank you.
KD: Maybe. You’ve gotta work on it. You keep thinking there’s some “me” somewhere that they have to give certain things to that you don’t, that’s not somewhere else. But you’re just there all the time. And it’s not like that. Just give yourself 100% to whatever you’re doing and you won’t have those feelings that you’re not taking care of yourself.
That’s a story. A program.
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