Transcribed by Ramananda Das (Richard Brookens) - Enlightened Practice Magazine Column, April/May '04
Bhagavan Das was in South Florida the first weekend of March holding Kirtans at local Yoga studios Synergy Yoga on South Beach, Yoga Warehouse in Ft Lauderdale, and Something Yoga and Massage in Boca Raton. He traveled to Tampa for a Kirtan during the week at Stillpoint Yoga and the second weekend in March he was at Kashi Ashram in Sebastian, FL for a Kirtan and Mantra workshop. I was fortunate to play tablas with him (everywhere but in Tampa). During a Kirtan he will usually stop once or twice and talk about some aspect of spirituality. What follows here is a transcription of one such talk, just as he spoke it that night.
Following call and response chanting and after a short meditation on Shiva:
"See, you're it. This is it. This is the ultimate reality. This world, this ice cream cone, this cup of coffee, this sales transaction, is a sacred space. Everything is perfect just the way it is. There is nowhere to go and nothing to do. You are it. What is covering it is the concepts. So to train the mind is to keep to the mind. The way you train the mind is to relax the mind, to let go, of all judgements and all preconceived notions about anything. To just be still five minutes a day. One minute when you're sitting at the table waiting for the waitress to come. Follow the breath. Breathe out to space.
So what you have is form formless, formless form. Form formless, formless form. Shiva is formless. Very difficult to find Shiva. You will find Shiva when you die. That's why Shiva is the lord of death. Maha Kala. Great time. The Maha Kala. Kali is Shakti. Shakti is form. That means the cup of coffee that your holding in your hand is Shakti. That means the money in your wallet is Shakti. That means your body is Shakti. All form is Shakti. The Mother is everywhere, she is everything. So if you want to find the Father you need the help of the Mother, because only the Mother knows the Father. She will take you there. The form will take you. How? Through a practice of sincere devotion. Through sincere devotion. Sincere devotion. How much do you need it? That's all. How real is it for you? You just get down, and you get down, and you get down, and you get down, and you get off of it, and you get off of it, and you keep getting off of it, and then you'll get on it again, and then you'll get off it again. Moment to moment, breath to breath, bead to bead.
You remember that you will die. That's all you need to do, is to remember you will die. And when you die it will not make any difference what you did, and how much you accomplished in this world. When you walk through the graveyard you don't see the stones that say "He made 5 million dollars". Because it's all about love. Love. And what gets in the way is fear. So simple surrender to the breath is the beginning. And if you want to know how it ends, it always ends how it begins. Find the breath. That's all. Find the breath and follow it out into space, into Shiva. Breath is the mother. She will take you to the ocean. The river will take you to the ocean. The breath is the river. River of Ram, river of love, river of the mother. We come to the river. I used to sit by the river when I was 18 in India, and I would sit by the river all day. And I would listen to the river and the river would sing to me - songs. And I would return with the river back home, my home the mountains. Up in the Himalayas where the river comes from, back to the father, the only father. We all have the same father and the same mother. We're all family. So "what to do?", as my guru Neem Karoli Baba said, "what to do?, what to do?" as he constantly repeated the name Ram.
Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram. Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram. Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, out breath. In breath, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram. Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram. Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram, Ram. That's very high isn't it, to be that simple? Right? We need more complicated things. Like Om Nama Shivaya, right? Om Mane Padme Hung. Long Mantras. 100 syllables. Right? That's good.
The idea is to purify the mind. You've got to take a brain bath everyday. You've got to wash your brain out because it gets all messed up with different signals called I, me mine, I, me mine I, me mine, I, me mine. Me, me, me, me, me, me, me. You've got to wash it out, right? Wash it out with the divine name, with the Mantra. Man-Tra. Tra - to protect. Manas - the mind. Protect the mind. We need mind protection. You know why? Because you're crazy. And everybody's crazy. See everybody's mad, crazy. Everyone's running after sense pleasures. To get happy. If I could just get a new car, you know a prettier girl, or a handsome boy, more money, nicer weather, better place to live, better clothes. If I go to this workshop, if I go to India, if I find the Guru. There is nothing outside. It's an inside job. You want peace of mind? You will get it. People don't want peace of mind. You know what they want? They just want crazy. They want something to complain about. So we pull in, and purify the mind with the Mantra. That's the beginning, everyday. This is what you can do. You can do it. You can do it. All you have to do is remember. Remember. Remember to remember.
Don't get caught by the dreamweavers. It's Kali's dream. She is Spiderwoman. She is weaving the dream of this life. It's just a big dream, it's a drama. They're not your children, it's not your husband, it's not anything to do with you. It's not about you at all. Nothing is to do with you. You're a puppet on the strings of Karma. You're being here and you're moved there. It's called Parabdha Karma. The arrow that was shot in your past life is unfolding in this life. What you do in this life is what you will become in your next life. It just goes on and on and on because of too may desires. Got to keep coming back again to the Karma Ball and ride on all the rides. See? It's Kali's play. It's her play. She's playing with you. Life and Death, Life and Death, Life and Death, Life and Death, Life and Death.
And the most mysterious thing of all is that nobody really believes they will die. You really don't believe you will die. You see others die. So this is important that you die every day. That you meditate, you sit still, and you realize "I will die. I do not know when. I must make the most of this birth." I want to really be present and here. You know? Really give everything all you've got. Make it complete, make it whole, make it real, whatever it is. Mean what you say, say what you mean. Do it. There is no tomorrow, there's only the moment. There is just now. Jai Ma.
The monkey mind, when it turns into seva, or service, turns into Hanuman. Hanuman is the monkey mind transformed. So this is a chant to awaken Hanuman in you and in me. I'm here to serve you. We're all here to serve each other. That's what it's about, so we can remind each other. We can remind each other who we are."
Bhagavan Das began the next chant, and we took another glorious ride on the Mantra train. What an uplifting night it was!
By the way, Kashi Ashram is a beautiful residential community located on 80 acres in Sebastian, Florida. Shrines and temples dedicated to many of the world's great spiritual traditions surround the sacred "Ganga" pond at the center of the Kashi grounds.
I met a few of the people there and they were very hospitable and helpful. They have a Darshan (similar to a Satsang but with a Guru presiding - Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati) on most Friday nights at 6:15. It begins with call and response chanting, then Ma Jaya comes out and greets people, gives them her blessing and discusses one topic or another. They also have Kirtans on most Tuesday evenings. Call ahead to check the schedule for special events or go to Kashi Ashram.
Ramananda Das (Richard Brookens) is certified in Sivananda and Kundalini Yoga. He currently teaches Yoga at Barry University in Miami Shores, Spa Atlantis in Pompano, and Yoga Connection in Plantation. He also plays woodwinds (saxophones, flutes, and clarinets) and hand percussion (tablas, clay pot, et al), and regularly performs professionally in the local area. He has also performed throughout the United States, the Carribbean, and in Panang, Malaysia, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and Europe. He has released two CDs of original World Fusion Music, and three meditation/relaxation CDs on his Yellow Bell label. Contact him, listen to free samples from his CDs, and view pictures of some of his performances and World instruments at www.yellowbellmusic.com.
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