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#4180 - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - Editor: Gloria Lee

The Nonduality Highlights -    

A Joyful Noise: Krishna Das On Chanting The Names Of God


"As they say in India, you can’t rip the skin off a snake, or you’ll
kill him, but at the right time the snake sheds his skin. Our
patterns, our stories, who we experience ourselves to be — that’s
our skin." By Alexis Adams

  A Joyful Noise   Krishna Das On Chanting The Names Of God by Alexis Adams      

Adams: How would you describe kirtan to someone new to the practice?  

Krishna Das: It depends who I’m talking to, because I don’t want to scare people
away. If I say it’s “meditation with music,” some will be put off by that. In India
they call it the “repetition of the sacred names of God,” but I don’t want to say
that to someone who doesn’t believe in God. I don’t even know if I believe in God —
not the one described in Western religious traditions anyway. In India people
understand that God is within. There are Hindu images associated with God —
deities like Krishna, Hanuman, and Kali — but when it comes down to it, these
deities are symbols of the divine that lives inside each one of us. Indians are more
creative about worship, whereas Christians are generally very tense: there’s only
one right way to do it and only one God to worship. Of course, there is only one
God in the Indian traditions, too, just many forms to symbolize it. It’s ok to
worship anything in any way in India, because there it’s understood that nothing is
outside of us. There’s only one God, and we’re all it.  

Adams: Is it possible for someone like me, who’s never been to India and is not well
versed in the Hindu gods and goddesses, to genuinely connect with the tradition?  

Krishna Das: Do you feel good when you chant?  

Adams: Well, it’s brand-new for me, but yes, I do.  

Krishna Das: Then why think about anything else? You don’t need to know all the
deities. You don’t need to know anything about Indian culture. You don’t have to
know what the words mean, because nobody really knows what the words mean. You
can learn the lower, superficial meanings intellectually — Krishna did this, and Ram
did that — but the real meaning of these chants is our own deepest being.  

I’ve been to yoga-teacher trainings and heard people say, “If you don’t understand
the deities, you’ll never be a good yoga teacher.” Bullshit. We’re Americans. We
didn’t grow up with this. It’s not native to us. I’ve spent a fair portion of my life in
India and still don’t have a clue. It doesn’t mean that much to me. There it is: I told
the truth.   All these so-called deities exist inside of us, but we don’t understand that. We
don’t know who we are, so we can’t know who they are. Find out who you are, and
you’ll know everything you need to know.

  article continues:
A Joyful Noise: Krishna Das On Chanting The Names Of God

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