Krishna Das answers questions on his rock ‘n roll past, how Bhakti Yoga intersects with our emotions, and what is the best way to meditate.
In this workshop from Yogaville in May of 2017, Krishna Das begins the session by sharing a chant to his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, titled “Namoh” from his Trust in the Heart album. Answering questions from the audience, Krishna Das helps illuminate various concepts, ranging from his Blue Oyster Cult, rock ‘n roll past, to the handling of emotions within Bhakti Yoga. Krishna Das continues the discussion by sharing personal feelings on Ram Dass’ later stages of life, as well as comical, yet meaningful stories of his Indian mentor K.C. Tewari. A wide array of topics continue to flow out of this question and answer session, spanning from holy sites and heaven, to cleansing the mirror of our hearts using spiritual practice to uncover who we truly are.
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Old Time Rock ‘n Roll
Prompted by an audience question, Krishna Das shares rare and in-depth stories of his early years, most notably his rock ‘n roll roots playing music alongside members of the now famous rock band the Blue Oyster Cult. Chance and fate led the band away from him at a crucial juncture, allowing spaciousness to enter into his life, further opening him to deeper spiritual inquiry, and eventually drawing him to Ram Dass’ farm in New Hampshire for their life changing first encounter. Krishna Das came to a crossroads when a big opportunity arose for him to tour as a musician, but instead he decided, after having felt the presence of Neem Karoli Baba coming through Ram Dass, that he would drop the music opportunity, and instead spend the summer learning under Ram Dass.
“They had cut a record, and the guy who replaced me as the singer couldn’t sing in the studio, so they asked me to come back, join the band, and go on tour. They had a whole record. All I had to do was go cut the vocal parts, and then go out on tour, but I had my two dogs, my cat, and all my worldly possessions in the car out in the parking lot, and I was leaving after the concert to go spend my summer with Ram Dass. So, I don’t know. Think I made the right choice? You never know. I could’ve been dead or I could Be Here Now.” – Krishna Das
Tune into Ep. 1 of Rock & Roles for more on the connection of music and spirituality
Bhakti Yoga and Emotions (21:47)
Can Bhakti Yoga, specifically chanting practice, bring up emotions within us? Answering a question pertaining to emotions within Bhakti Yoga, Krishna Das explains that chanting practice can bring up emotions within us, but it can also help us work through them. Emotions can be like fuel to help our attention and presence, but ultimately we go beyond emotion, transcending the personal aspects of it. You may have a strong feeling, but it won’t be personalized. You might be feeling compassion for the whole universe, but you wouldn’t be sitting there thinking, “Wow, I’m feeling compassion.” You would just be filled with the compassion, but that “me” might not be so much there.
“Longing is one of the prerequisites. You can’t get in the door without longing because you’re not even looking for the door without longing…Everyone has their own bhav, their own way of expressing, their own way of doing it, and that’s good. The practice will express itself and reveal itself differently in each person.” – Krishna Das
For more information on Bhakti Yoga, devotion, and mantra, check out this Krishna Das Interview on our BHNN Awakened Heart Blog
The “Best” Meditation (44:58)
Sparked by a question asking the best way to meditate, Krishna Das brings up the notion that whatever meditation you choose to do is the best. Yogis are always arguing over which meditation or practice is the most potent, but most of us can’t even count to from one to three without losing our attention, so what is the purpose of searching around for and arguing over lofty practices? Whatever chant you choose to chant is the best. Whatever meditation you choose to do is the best. We aren’t here to shine ourselves up. We are here to get real. Krishna Das’ Indian mentor, K.C. Tewari, despite being a versed practitioner of spiritual disciplines, never once asked Krishna Das to meditate. He loved him just the way he was.
“He [K.C. Tewari] didn’t want me to be anything other than I am…You can’t be who you’re not. We’d all like to be something else, but unfortunately we’re stuck with what we got for the moment.” – Krishna Das