Our culture doesn’t teach that there’s an alternative to living in our heads; so we’re stuck in these thoughts and they torture us.
The stories we replay in our minds about our lives are so painful. That’s what drives some people to drugs. Their stories are painful, and they just keep playing — and society keeps reacting and reinforcing them.
People don’t know how to deal with consciousness. We’re programmed to believe that the only thing real is what we think and believe. People who’ve been hurt so much that they can’t stand it any more have to find something to do. Otherwise, it’s like sitting in a fire. It’s completely understandable that people struggle. We dull ourselves to everything.
Happiness – not dependent on things from outside ourselves
Every effort we make to interrupt and change our habits of thought and behaviour is huge because it’s completely against the flow that we were born into. The flow is out through the senses, through the thoughts. Everybody around us — relatives, teachers, enemies, friends, everybody in the world — is flowing out through their senses. To turn that around and move in to awareness is not easy.
A hit of awareness
It’s a process of going in and out, in and out. You get a hit of awareness — whether from spiritual practice or something else — and something opens up. But your own habits of thought close you down. The more hits you get, though, the less attached to negative thinking you’ll be.
Our parents felt that way about themselves; their parents felt that way about themselves; everybody in our lineage felt the same self- loathing. So what do you expect from us?
You have to be very patient with yourself and process your stuff. No question — you have to dedicate your life to developing good habits of thought, and action. Good habits support more good habits.
A practice to engender happiness
There’s a practice where you repeat, “May all beings be safe, just like I want to be safe. May all beings be happy, just like I want to be happy.”
You’re extending compassion outward. This practice replaces the way we usually think, like, “I can’t stand myself any more — I’m going to go do something. I’m going to a movie. Or I’m going to go out and get laid or get stoned.” It replaces that.
Our culture is based on original sin, which means we’re no good from the time we’re born. That has partially led to the problems we have. Until we can change our view about what life is and who we are, it’s difficult to eliminate negative habits that cause us pain, which only arose because we didn’t want to be in pain in the first place.
The role of meditation and chant
A practice like meditation is very useful for dealing with addiction. Chanting, asana — these practices can slow you down. Even if you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons, it still has an effect. When we do a spiritual practice, it temporarily, to some degree, moves us in the right direction.
Satsang — spiritual community — is so important, because you’re surrounding yourself, at least for periods of time, with people who are making the same type of efforts, who want the same thing. The whole process is really a ripening process. When we do these practices, we’re turning toward the sunlight within us, which ripens everything.
Stop spinning in self-obsessive thinking
Compassion means you’re not dwelling on your own stuff, regurgitating it, re-chewing it, which is what everybody does.
Neem Karoli Baba said: “How do you find God? Serve others. How do you raise kundalini? Feed others.”
And as Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If everybody did that, the whole world would be completely different immediately.
This article has been excerpted, with permission, from an interview of Krishna Das by Angel Grant and published in Huffington Post in 2015.
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