2004 was a pretty major year in my life. Just after the New Year, I had to leave my family in Australia for several months to look after my Dad, who was dying of stomach cancer. Dad really wanted to see his favourite niece before he died. She kindly flew out to California from Wisconsin, stopping off in Santa Barbara first to pick up her daughter. They then drove out to the desert together.
“Oh thank God! I don’t have to listen to that music anymore!” was how my cousin greeted me.
I turned to her daughter, who was grinning from ear to ear and asked what she had been tormenting her mother with. “Krishnadas,” she said. “Have you heard of him?”
“I think I used to know him!” I replied. “Let me listen to something.” Sure enough, the short kirtan she played sent me straight back to India, circa 1972. Before that moment, I didn’t know whether Krishnadas was alive or dead, much less that he had become a “superstar” of chanting.
As it turned out, Krishnadas came back into my life just when I needed a reconnection to Neem Karoli Baba the most. I got ahold of his email address, reminded him who I was (“I was the guy Maharaji didn’t like”) and told him how his CDs had transported me back to that magical year in India. Although his schedule didn’t coincide with mine at the time, he said he would be touring Australia later and we would meet then. The timing couldn’t have been better, because that was when things had just about hit rock bottom. It was as if Maharaji’s finger was tapping me on the shoulder, reminding me he was still around.
Rather than bore you with my story, I’d like to let Krishnadas do the talking. I will leave you with one quote from this interview in New York, though, because I believe it encapsulates everything we learned about “spirituality” when we were hanging out with Maharaji:
If you want to know if you’re making progress on the so-called spiritual path, see if you’re kinder to people; see if you’re a little easier on yourself; see if you obsess about your own self and all this stuff in your life a little bit less; see if you’re happier in the day in a simple way, more content; and see if you’re treating people more like you would like to be treated. That means it’s working.
Update 17 Feb 2013 – Alas, I removed the video because it has been removed from You Tube due to “multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringements.” At least I was able to keep that little gem of a quote.