Here & Now – Episode 6 – The Four Noble Truths (Transcription)


Raghu: Hi, I’m Raghu Markus. So now I’m finally here, in an ashram in the foothills of the Himalayas. It looks like something out of Lost Horizon that famous movie from the 30s. And, I thought, well I’ll be here a couple of days with the guru and then I’d be banished back to the west. But, not at all. Maharaji asked me if I was going to join Ram Dass and a few others further up in the mountains to do Buddhist meditations. Actually Ram Dass had yet to arrive back in the mountains. But he had arranged for a Buddhist meditation teacher to come be with a group of us for a couple of months. Of course I said yes, not believing that I got to stay. Now I’m thinking, I’ve got a guru now and I should ask for a mantra or something. And I said, “Marharaji, how should I meditate?” And Marharaji said, “Do as Jesus did and see God in everyone. Take pity on all and love all as God. When Jesus was crucified he only felt love”. Well, that was way, way beyond what I was expecting. I mean, I was thinking I would get a TM mantra, or something. So suddenly this whole experience was escalating way beyond my normal concept of reality. Well Ram Dass came the next day and I told him what Maharaji had said when I asked how to meditate. But I thought maybe he could ask how Christ actually meditated since he had a more familiar relationship with Maharaji. So the next morning, off we go to the temple, and Ram Dass asks Marharaji, “How did Christ meditate”? Well the next moments were defined by a state that I had never before experienced. Maharaji sat there, closed his eyes, and suddenly tears rolled down his cheeks. And all of us that were around him at that time, there were about four people, Ram Dass, Krishna Dass, myself, Ramesh. We were like kids when your parents cry and you don’t know why. You’re too young. And then Maharaji said, “He never died. He never died”. He kept repeating it over and over. “He never died”. “He was lost in love. He was one with all beings. He had great love for all in the world. He lives in the hearts of all beings”. Now you have to understand that I was brought up Jewish, and never even read the New Testament. And now I’m in India with a supposedly Hindu guru, and he’s transmitting the essence of Christ consciousness. Amazing and really beyond my poor, feeble, rational mind. Well, none the less, it was the beginning of my opening to another world.


Ram Dass: It’s the same thing that Buddha had said, you see, in his Four Noble Truths. He went and he sat under the bodhi tree and he came back and he said; Here’s the way it is everybody. I can put it down in four statements. So simple. All life is suffering. Birth is suffering. Death is suffering. Growing old is suffering. Not getting what you want is suffering. Getting what you don’t want is suffering. Even getting what you want is suffering, because you are going to lose it. The greatest pleasure, your body, at the height of its thing is going to grow old. Your physical beauty is going to pass. Your intellect is going to fail. All suffering. Everywhere you look is suffering. All life is suffering.

Number two is: The cause of suffering is craving. You want something and you can’t have it, then you suffer.

Third noble truth, and these are pretty noble: Give up craving, end suffering. It’s like an elementary school book. “Desire creates the universe”, my teacher says. Buddha says give up craving, end suffering. You don’t desire a universe, the external universe doesn’t exist.

And the Fourth Noble Truth is the Eightfold Path of how to get beyond attachment or desire. And the eightfold path is very similar to Rajeo.

Then my one meal of the day was brought to me at about noon. Now, this meal consisted primarily of grains. It was called kezri, which is a combination of rice and dahl, which is like a lentil. And now and then there was sedgi, which is vegetable and a chapati, which is made of whole wheat flour and water. So, that was it. That was my food for the day. Now the way you work in doing shadina, is that every act you perform becomes a method of taking you to this other state of consciousness. You’re trying to change your vantage point, your perceptual vantage point. And every thing you do has got to be a device to help you get to that place. From a Western point of view, you’re doing a complete cognitive reorganization. You’re changing your reference point. You’re changing the core concept around which the whole constellation of thought is built. And therefore you have to take every act and redefine it and develop new habits of thought for thinking about it. So, I’ll give you an example. You take a piece of food, like this. You’re offered food. Now in the old days, you’d sit down, and sometimes when you got into these particularly phoney families, they would say grace. It was nice, ya know. Come on already. And at great functions they would say long graces. Rabbis would get up and go on for long periods of time and so on. And they would bless Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam war and they would do the whole trip.

Brahjarpanam Brahma Havir

Brahmagnau Brahmana Hutam

Brahmaiva Tena Ghantavyam

Brahmakarma Samadhina


Guru Brahma

Guru Vishnu

Guru Maheshwaraha

Guru Saakshat

Para Brahmagnau

Tasmai Sree

Grave Namaha

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti


Translation: first thing is, this ritual that I am going through now, is Brahma. In other words…. Now I got to stop for a moment for those of you who are new in this game, to explain the meaning of Brahma. Here is the gross universe; your body, this table, this microphone. It’s all gross, coming through your senses. All right, gross energy, slowed down, way slowed down, mass energy…You all understand that. So we can go through that quickly. Then you get to finer energies like thought. That’s just energy slowed down less; faster, finer, faster and finer. Light is such an energy. Keep going finer, finer and finer, until you get to the unit of energy which is so fine, or unit of stuff, you can call it. It is so fine that it is interchangeable in everything in the universe. It’s what the air is made up of. It’s what light is made up of. It’s what thought is made up of. It’s what gross things are made up of. Right? That all is still form. It’s still in the form of energy. It’s just very fine energy. It’s called Prakriti in the particular system, the Hindu system, this particular Pantanjali system. Prakriti the finest level of form, the converse side of which, is the formless. That is the Akasha, that place where it all is behind form. Now if you just think of this as a set of levels, hypothetically for the moment, if you haven’t experienced these. If you’ve watched it all happen, it’s one thing. But if not, theoretically you go through these levels. You go gross, fine, finer, finer, finer, to the finest type of stuff. And then all that is contained within and is the opposite side of, and is in continuous cycle of emerging and disappearing with that which is formless, which is behind it. That which is formless, which is behind it, which contains all, is whats called Brahma. It’s called the Akash. It’s called Parusha. It’s got lots and lots of names to it. And that place which is behind is stable. It’s always the same. It’s never changing. And all the stuff when it comes down into form, when the Prakriti starts to work and creates manifestations, that’s all sort of like illusion. It’s all just happening and goes back to this place, which always is and all of this is it in a solid form; solid nothingness, or fullness, however you want to play it. It doesn’t mean empty, because it’s everything. It’s everything and nothing. It’s all and everything. It’s the clear white light. Except it’s beyond that. It’s beyond any polarities, and labels. It’s not white cause it’s not dark. It’s not anything. It’s everything. Alright, that’s Brahma.

So everything you see, now you go back to the apple and what have we got, the statement. The ritual I am going through is part of Brahma. You see, my thought about doing this thing is part of Brahma. The offering, meaning the apple, is Brahma. He who is making the offering, meaning me, I’m part of Brahma. The fire which is consuming my hunger, that’s also Brahma. And he to whom I’m making the offering, that’s also Brahma. If I can conceive of any finite form, which I’ll call God. Keep in mind, that’s just another manifestation of Brahma. One level down. It’s in form. It’s finite. Then the last line of that; He who keeps in mind that all is Brahma goes to Brahma; becomes enlightened, in other words. And then the next part of it is, you offer it. You reverence it. And you offer it to Brahma, which is not that Brahma. Brahma manifested initially in the Hindu pantheon in three manifestations. There were three initial manifestations: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma is the creator. Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. And so you offer it to each of these three initial manifestations called the Godheads. And that’s Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Daharo Marheesh Mura. That’s Shiva. Guru Shaksat is the Shiva, the Shakti, Shiva Shakti, the female energy component. You offer it to the female energy component. Parambrahma is the super Brahma. That’s that one back there we were talking about, that you remember you’re a part of. And finally you reverance the Lotusfy of your guru. And then you ask for peace.

Now you see how eating. Now let’s see what happens after you’ve done all that, then you start to eat. Cuz this is the game I got caught in. You see, I didn’t mind giving up sex, because afterall you’re sitting in India anyway, where you hardly ever see the women because they are all hiding behind doors anyway. And it was alright. It was an interesting thing to be doing while I was in India, giving up sex. And I didn’t mind being cold. And I didn’t mind all the other things. But I’m a very oral guy. See, who I was, would say, I am a very oral guy. Coming out of a good Jewish family where food and love and all that were all chicken soup. And therefore, you know, I didn’t mind all the rest of the austerities, but when that food came, it could have been swill from the bucket, it was the food I was given. It was steak from Original Joe’s and Lobster Savannah from Lockovers. It was every possible delicacy. It was just rice and dahl, but as far as I was concerned, I ate it with the same, getting completely lost in the joy of eating. The delicacy of the flavor. The joy of swallowing. The whole thing. And I’d savor and overload and just eat and eat everything that was available. And I kept thinking to myself, I’m not going to give this up. Nobody is pushing you. Who are you fighting against?

So, finally I thought…Here’s what happened. Every Tuesday you don’t eat. It’s mungalump day, you fast for the day. Okay, I can fast for a day. I used to do it on Yom Kippur all the time. The difference was on Yom Kippur in the middle of the afternoon you start having fantasies about all the food you’re going to eat when the fast is past. These people fast like it doesn’t matter whether they eat or don’t eat. You’re in a different environment. You’re not sitting in the temple with everybody saying are you going home to cook? Then one day I fasted on mungalump day. The next day the guy who usually cooks, the sadhu who usually cooks, had a bad tooth, and he went somewhere, or something happened. I don’t know; and there was no food. So I was being very game about the whole thing, and I just; well, listen, I’m a sadhu, what’s food. I’ll just ignore it. So I didn’t eat that day. The next day, the teacher came and I said, “Well, I didn’t eat for two days”. What happens is, the very subtle way your ego works. You no sooner finish some little accomplishment on your sadanan, your spiritual path, and the ego walks behind you and pats you on the back and says, “pretty good”. That’s the way it sort of sneaks back in to take over again. So, I said to the guru, the teacher, “Well, I didn’t eat yesterday either. Two days I didn’t eat”. He said, “Well, if it doesn’t disturb you, it is good on the full moon, every three months, to go for nine days”. Well now. That’s not nine days without liquid. You do take liquid. Just don’t take any solid. He said, “It’s good for your intestine”. Well alright, by gosh, I’ll do it. Well you get a little weak around the fourth day. And my fantasies are….I’d lie on my mat. It’s not in bed. You’re on a mat. And I lie on my mat and I would think about Thanksgiving. And I’d think about the squash with the marshmellows on it and all the things I’d never have again. And oh, I was so full of self pity. And I’d recite the whole thing. I’d be out raking leaves and in my head, I’d smell the turkey cooking. And then I’d go in and I’d see the pumpkin pies and oh boy, I’d just created the whole thing. And I spent nine days just locked in oral fantasies of the most extraordinary nature. Which, since I hadn’t given up a desire or attachment, the act of fasting had no spiritual value particularly at all, except it showed me where I wasn’t.

Well, by the second round, I had changed. The second three month time, when that came up. So this time it was very interesting. My fantasies were not about turkey or lobster or any of the things I’d never have again. Now they were about spinach, and big piles of brown rice. You know, all the things I could eat again. I had just limited my fantasy life to what was going to be available to me. But I was still having these fantasies. And I was still very locked in food. And it lasted much through the winter. And then I remember what happened. I tried ever device. I tried the Southern Buddhist meditation, which is like a cemetary meditation. You look at your bags of intestines. You look at the food as, you know, worm ridden and all that. It certainly didn’t make it a groove, but I still ate with great relish. Alright worms..Some people eat ants. And I couldn’t quite break out. No matter what I did, when the food came out, it was just like I was a ravenous animal. It had nothing to do with being a holy man. And I tried very hard, all the methods, I knew, not being attached to the food. But I couldn’t work it. And then I started to do a meditation which is created by Ramana Maharshi, which is called Vichari ottma. And this meditation says: Who am I? I am not my body. And then you feel your body and you experience the I inside your head as separate from the body. Then you say: I am not my senses. And you watch each of the senses receiving its information. And you see the I as separate from that sense. Now that process, for example, when you are sitting in a room and there is a clock ticking and you pick up a book to read, you don’t hear the clock tick, when you are caught in the book. And then the minute you finish with the book, you hear the clock tick again. Well, you’ve all had that experience. Well, when the clock is ticking, continuously, it continues to tick, your auditory nerve continues to receive. But your attention is not there. That’s where that break came, and it came involuntarily. Well, you learn to do it voluntarily, to turn off each of these senses; to see it happening. You see your ear hearing. You see your eye seeing, but you see it from the eye place, which is not the ear and its not the eye, and its not the skin, and so. Then you say, I am not the five organs of action. And it’s the arms and the legs and the tongue and the anus and the genitals. You go through each of these. And you expericence it and it expericence it separate from the eye. Then, I am not the five internal organs. You go through breathing and resperation and excretion and perspiration and digestion; same way. Then you get to the clencher, which is the last line, which says; I am not this thought. Now you’ve gotten to the point where it’s just the I thought left, in the middle of your head. I am not this. I am not that. Then you say, I am not this thought. Now the thought, I am not this thought, is the thought you’re not. Dig that. So, it’s just like your thoughts become like on the Times Building in New York, where the news is going by on a ticker. That’s where your thoughts are. They’re out there. And where you are, you can’t label, because any label is a thought. You’re appreciative of that problem. You see, it’s a vehicle for pushing you beyond your mind. It’s beautiful. It takes you to the true self. Now you go into that place, I am not this thought, and then you go back into this first state of bliss. You go into a very calm bliss place. And the minute you slip out, you have another thought; well who’s thinking that? Well, who am I? Well, I am not the ……and you go right back in again, you see. Well, I worked with it for quite a while until finally I was in this blissful state. And then one day it happened. I was sitting in this state, just sitting there, and the food came along, and I said, “Oh man, it’s the food. Am I going to stop this for that”? And I thought, isn’t that interesting. I noticed this. This really blew my mind to have this happen. It was blowing my mind. Literally, that’s what happened, of course. And I thought, well gee, maybe I can eat without leaving this state. So I started to eat, just as if it was just happening, but I wasn’t in it. I was watching myself eat. In the Southern Buddhist method it’s called “eating-eating”. You watch eating-eating, chewing-chewing, swallowing-swallowing; digesting-digesting; thinking about food-thinking about food. But you who is doing all that is behind all that, the witness. And I watched the whole thing. And all the fun was gone out of eating. Now what had happened clearly, was that I had gone to a place where that attachment, even that attachment, was starting to fall away. And that was the subjective expericence that went along with it. That was the first time that it happened for me, ever in my life that I could remember about food. It was just like you had eaten a huge meal, that indifference you have to food. Now you see the game that I was learning, which is very well reflected in the Satipatthana pasna, the Southern Buddhist meditation, is the problem of labeling everywhere your attachment goes, everywhere your mind goes. And by the process of labeling you extricate yourself from your desire, or from the feeling. I’ll go through that a little later, when I get to meditation.

So that was eating. And then after lunch, I’d lay around. Sometimes I’d lie in the sun and make believe I was on the Riviera and beautiful women were feeding me grapes and things. And sometimes I just sat in the sun and prayed to the sun. And I learned mantras, beautiful mantras, like:


Aditya hridayam punyam sarv shatru bena shenam.

All evil vanishes from life for he who keeps the sun in his heart.


And every time I see the sun, in the day, when I come out into the sun, when the sun is out, the first thing I do : Aditya hridayam punyam sarv shatru bena shenam. And I feel that, cause it’s the same thing. Remember when I said light, energy, consciousness, love. The sun is consciousness. It’s one level down into grossness cause it’s in the physical universe.

Now, I will digress here when I say in the physical universe, to make a very critical point, that is going to shake many of you. And I will say it very bally. The journey to enlightenment is basically a struggle against nature. And it is only when you are enlightened that you can be, once again, in form, because at the same moment you are in formlessness. And nature is form. Now what I mean by nature is the following: its everything from purusha, below purusha, all forms of energy no matter how fine they are. Your mind is part of nature. Your body’s part of nature. Electricity is part of nature. Light is part of nature. The trees are part of nature. All your senses are part of nature.

The images given by Rama Krishna; the story really comes from Ramayana by Tulsidas. When Rama, this very pure reincarnation of God was sent out into the woods, he went off with his wife Sita, who is a very pure woman, and Lakshman, his brother, who reveranced his brother Ram very much, for Ram was God in this incarnation. And what happened was that Lakshman would walk third in line. And therefore during the jungle paths he would never see Ram. And every now and then, Sita would stand aside on the path so Lakshman could see Ram. And that is the way in which the Hindus conceive of nature as being the Mother Nature or Maya or Illusion or that which is form which hides you from experiencing that other place to the extent that you’re attached to it.

And it is within that context then, that you can understand the meaning of what sexual continence is about. You see, because sexual continence would seem to go against our responsibilities as evolutionary beings within the species, and for reproduction of the species. Now that’s very heady stuff to think about. Because when you see the cycle and the way it works, there is what we have called Darwinian Evolution or The Evolution of the Species, which is all in nature; bringing man up to the point where he has an intellect, a rational mind, which is then capable of knowing itself. Which is the first vehicle that is suitable for the breakthrough, to see the fact that all of this is illusion.

Pure consciousness has existed in everything always, in always the same way. So it is only that in the evolutionary cycle man gets to the point, where you have a human birth where you can be conscious of the ignorance you have lived with. But you’ve always been fully conscious. It’s always been there, in you; in every organism, in every thing; same consciousness. This is all consciousness. This is all consciousness.

Now, if you want to feel your way through how it works; see, there is a hard time, we in the west have, with a word like soul. But the way in which the Hindus conceive of it, is that at the moment of conception, when the sperm and the egg, when the sperm fertilizes the ovum, at that moment, you enter. You enter in your full consciousness, into that natural phenomenom, into that part of nature. What is ‘you that enters’? You can think of ‘you that enters’ as composed of two components. One is pure Atman, it is called, that which is God in all of us, which is that element of consciousness which is pure and untouched. It is the Perusha. It’s that little bit of Perusha in you in this particular form. Although your cells are that too, on another level. I hope I am not confusing you. I am trying to get this across.

Now, what else is there that is you at that point? What else there is, that is you, would be called your sanscaras. That is your potentials, or your uniquenesses you are bringing from previous runs on the cycle, previous runs into nature. Going in and out of nature. And you pick up so much disequilibrium. What sanscaras boil down to is the relationship of the three Gunas; of Rajas, Tamas, and Sattva, of purity, energy and lethargy; or darkness, movement and lightness. When these are in pure balance, you are in the Perusha, you’re pure consciousness. You are an enlightened being. But the minute there is a disbalance, which is like a, maybe a free moving electron goes through a field and creates a whole scene around it of disequilibrium. That’s the level at which you can think of, the prime cause, if you want to play with prime cause. Although its a reasonably trivial question to play with, cuz we can’t solve it.

But if you think about this disequilibrium, you come into that fertilized ovum as merely Atman encased in that disequilibrium proportion or that propensity. But that propensity is what determined what ovum you come into, which determines your whole life expericence. That is your karma that you are going to live out in this lifetime. Now you’ve got to understand that the place you came from, the Atman, that place behind it all, is outside of time. And this is finally the area where western physics is finally getting close to the place, because they are finally dealing with the matter of the relative nature of time; and that time is merely our construct, rather that the way it really is.

Now you come from this timeless place. And this, by the way, is where astrology comes into it, because the particular configuration of planets at that time of fertilization, is probably through a magnetic field or some sort of energy, a very pure form of energy, is a determinant of the chemical makeup of that organism. You could call it the endocrine system. That’s a reasonable way in which they are linked. Various planetary configurations, its just like. The simplest way of saying it is that our body is made of 90% water, and the moon makes the tides go up and down. And the moon effects our bodies also, cuz they are mostly water. Well, in the same way, the different chemical composition of the different planets have magnetic pulls on the different chemical compositions in our body. And the different organs or endocrine systems, have different chemical makeups and they are differentially effected by these planetary configurations. It seems very big and very little to be related, but there is a relationship.

Transcribed by Joan Nielsen