Robin Chaurasiya Transcript

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Robin Chaurasiya Interview

Rick Archer: Okay, Robin, you can start anytime say something first. So the picture switches over to you.

Robin Chaurasiya: Oh, is it working? Yeah. Okay. Hello and welcome, everyone to Buddha at the Gas Pump. It is my pleasure honor joy to introduce Rick Archer, who is the host. And Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually Awakening people. And he’s done it nearly 700 of them now. And if you are new to this, you can go on the website and under Look under past interviews, and you’ll find them categorized in a variety of ways and interests, according to you. And most importantly, this beautiful, amazing, lovely show is made possible sorry to sound like PBS, but from the kind and generous support of viewers like you. So if you’d like to contribute either one time or regularly, please go on the BatGap website and do that as well. And there is an option for PayPal as well as many other things in case you don’t like PayPal. And if anyone wants to contribute to BatGap on my behalf, that would be really a blessing because I don’t have money of my own to contribute anything. And BatGap has been absolutely life changing for me. And I’d like to add to that, that I would like a personal award like a prize for supposedly having watched the most bad gaps by now. Besides I mean, of course, but if someone wants to dispute my prize, then they can do that. But besides that, I think I hold the title. So

Rick Archer: I actually I recently watched a couple of them. She doesn’t watch him, she just hears my end of the conversation.

Robin Chaurasiya: So I definitely the word is already mine. Okay,

Rick Archer: you went, you got it.

Robin Chaurasiya: Okay, so I will introduce myself as well. Rick’s guest today is Robin Chaurasia. And I just had a very, I guess what I love about BatGap is this whole idea that it’s with ordinary people and awakenings that people ordinary people are experiencing. And like I said, it’s been life changing for me to hear all of these interviews. I’ll get into it more in detail later about why it’s been so magnificent and such a special part of my life. But basically, just to introduce myself, I was born and raised in the US, spent some time in the US military, and was kicked out under the policy called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, for being lesbian. I have traveled the world worked with a lot of NGOs, but always knew that that’s where my heart was. So at the age of 2524, actually, I started crumby, which is an organization in Mumbai that empowers girls from mobilize red light areas, so survivors of trafficking Daughters of sex workers, to become agents of social change. And I did that for 10 years, I lived and worked at the shelter home. So I lived in a house of 2530 people, women, girls and women. And two and a half years ago was diagnosed with burnout and told to take some time away from work, which somehow for some crazy reason, I ended up in a mud hut at 4000 meters, 13,000 feet in the Himalayas, in Nepal, without any electricity, light, watch her running toilet anything. And I spent a year and a half in complete and utter silence, maybe talked to people about groceries and things like that. I carried my own water and meditated six to 10, sometimes 1112 hours a day, and had a lot of breakdowns in that process. And at one point, found BatGap, which has been a big part of the journey since then, got in touch with Rick, that was a year ago, I think that we first started emailing and since August of 2020. I came down the mountain and has spent a month at Kranthi with the kids of my organization. And then I’ve been traveling in Europe, supposedly writing a book and also visiting friends and stuff in Europe. So here we are.

Rick Archer: Good. All righty. And I just want to say that I absolutely love Robin. I think she is a wonderful person. I’m incredibly I just feel a wave of love when I think of what she’s doing to help these girls. And she’ll tell stories about the girls by the way, some of which will be blood curdling because of what they go through, and others of which, and even those blood building ones hopefully we’ll have some kernels of inspiration in them but some of them are incredible success stories where the girls have gone on to get you know, college degrees graduate degrees and you know really flourished in life. And I just think it’s so you know, spiritual service, or Seva, as it’s called, is an important form of, you know, of sadhana of spiritual practice, and a lot of traditional teachers have engaged in it and recommended it. And, you know, even the pillars of Vedanta, like Shankara advocated karma yoga to purify oneself to the point where one could, you know, actually understand and benefit from, from Advaita, Vedanta, and so on. That’s not what Robbins motivation is. I mean, she just she’s motivated as a, as I would say it as a, a force of nature, a instrument of the Divine, whatever you want to call it, she, she sent me some photos, just the other day of some Buddhist monks who came to visit karate, and one of them is the translator for the Dalai Lama, then they, like many people have been encouraging her to keep doing what she’s doing. And I have to I mean, I was arguing that she should get off that blasted mountain, she had been there long enough, and it had kind of reached its end of its usefulness at that stage. But at the same time, I’m, I’m urging her not to go back to the mountain at least for any long term. extent, one needs a balance between rest and activity. And, you know, as I was talking to independent Mehta the other day, whom I’ve interviewed, who said, yeah, all these people who do this kind of service work end up burning out, because, you know, the task is monumental. I mean, you know, the story of the the old man, and then the young boy who are walking along the beach,

Robin Chaurasiya: not all of your stories, not all of them,

Rick Archer: you want to tell that story, what made you

Robin Chaurasiya: so a man and a little boy are walking, or a man sees a boy on the beach, and he’s picking up the starfish and tossing them into the water, and they’re all stranded up on the beach? And this man walks up to the boy and says, What the heck are you doing? Look at how many 1000s or millions of starfish are here? What do you think you’re going to do? Like, how are you going to make a difference? And the boy just does continues on carries on with what he’s doing and picks up one starfish and tosses it in and says I made a difference to that one. And the next one. I made a difference to that one. So

Rick Archer: yeah, it gives me goosebumps to hear that story literally does the you know that old saying think globally act locally? You know, it’s I think that, you know, even I don’t know, I don’t want to elaborate I think everybody gets the point. But I think what you’re doing is just so lovely. And and I just love you for it. So let’s continue on. And other people may have questions and whatnot to ask as we go along. As I as I mentioned in the beginning, they can send those in if they like that, I think maybe we should kind of go back to your earlier life. And you know what your childhood was like, and when you first got some inkling of spiritual motivation, and things like that. Let’s start with that.

Robin Chaurasiya: Well, okay, um, I don’t know where to start. But let’s just to see where

Rick Archer: it goes. Well, you’re born but you don’t remember it. But then what?

Robin Chaurasiya: Exactly, I think some of my earliest memories are from being two three years old, three or four very specific, because it was the first time of my life I had an older sister who was one year older than me. And I have a lot of memories about the time I spent with my mother while my sister was in school, and my mother was a bit. She had schizophrenia and struggled a lot with mental health. And Nevermind, I don’t know all of her baggage, but she was really, really dedicated to have you heard of Radha Swami.

Rick Archer: That’s a woman, apparently Radha Swami.

Robin Chaurasiya: So it’s kind of I don’t know what to call it. It’s a sect of some sort. Okay, yeah, a meshing of Sikh and Hindu philosophy all in one and the founder from the Sikh tradition. So she was really obsessed with it and dedicated to it, and would sit me down to do these prayers, and, you know, Satsang chanting and everything with her from a very young age. And I spent a lot of time and that that I was always upset my sister didn’t have to do because she was in school, so I was dying to get to school. And yet something was always kind of seeping into my brain or mind, in a sense. And one of the big moments for me was when I was three years old, and we would my mother and I would go shopping. And this was in California, by the way. And I every time we’d walk into the store, I would steal two pieces of chocolate and my mother would, you know, be somewhere else but I would steal the two pieces and I take one to her and I would eat one and You know, she, she never yelled at me about it. But one day I went to steal. And something about the Satsang we had done in the morning just kind of came into my mind in this weird way. I was so convinced, Rick, in that moment, I was so convinced that God was watching me steal, and I put the chocolate back and, you know, walked away. And my mother was like, where’s the chocolate. Um, so that was one very strange but strong moment. And I know, what’s really beautiful about a lot of the people you’ve interviewed is, I don’t have memories, that a lot of people have really incredible memories from their young childhood. Mine were slightly traumatic, because my mother, as I said, had schizophrenia. My father was quite violent. But these memories stick out to me connected to spirituality more because of that. And I think my next big big memory was when I was nine, or 10. And I remember we had just come back from a trip to India. So nine, and my mother and father were fighting like crazy. And, you know, I’m talking like, my mother would try to burn my father with an iron in the middle, if they got into a fight while she was ironing clothes and things like that. And, you know, anyone can imagine kind of the trauma that a child goes through that my sister and I went through trying to, to break up the fights and everything. And I remember going into my room crying, and just like sitting down on the bed, like, What on earth am I supposed to do? How do I stop this? How do I get over it? How? Why does it change. And I saw this book, also of Radha Swami, that was just kind of sitting near my mother’s altar. And it was the first book that she had an English or the only book. And I picked it up and opened it randomly just thinking like, oh, maybe this will help in some way. And something about, I don’t even remember what line I read. But something about the piece that came over me in that moment, like somehow the fighting melted away the anxiety about it, the what do I need to do about it, everything melted away, to the point of like, it will be all right, no matter what it will be. All right. So yeah, that was kind of a second big moment. And then the third one, I would say, from my childhood was about 13 or so. And I had this crazy, I don’t know, I just looked out the window one day, I remember exactly what I was wearing, where I was sitting everything, and just had this moment of feeling non existent, as if it was really scary. And that was my time of like, I need to get on this path of materialism. Because that’s the only, you know, thing offered to you in America often as a child as well that, you know, do well in school and earn good money and, you know, go off to, and that was when I started, I put aside all the spiritual things and the seeking and just went to now I’m going to I’m going to travel the world, I’m going to accumulate whatever I can, I’m going to get into the best unit, all of those things. And I set literally from the age of 13, until I started meditating, again, after I started coffee. During that time, there was nothing spiritual, of course, it’s all spiritual, there’s no doubt about it. But it was almost like I had completely set aside the spiritual part of me or shut it down, and went around for a decade acting like I was the most sophisticated intellectual atheist, you know, who could justify and talk anyone out of believing in this bullshit of God and religion. So it was quite a dramatic turn. But all I can say is the fear I felt in that moment of not existing was the only response I knew was like, I need to I need to go out and do things that I need to be out there in the world and accumulate things and stuff. So it was quite a quite a big change in the approach to life, I guess, if you will.

Rick Archer: But it sounds like from what you sent me that from a very early age 14 or so you were volunteering with various nonprofits and trend you said and traveling the world? I mean, did you live? Did you start traveling the world at the age of 14 Are you mean you volunteered locally, and then when you got older, you started traveling?

Robin Chaurasiya: Yeah, more like that. So 1415, I was volunteering with organizations just in the Seattle area, which is where I grew up. And then eventually, you know, at 17, I think I did my first kind of, you know, trip abroad by myself, and started volunteering and stuff then. But also, I should just go back to 12 as well, I just had 11 or 12. It’s very strange to think about now maybe it’s not strange, especially after hearing so many of your interviews and stuff. But at 12 I had this crazy absolute obsession with finding out like I needed the truth about something. I don’t know what and so I was doing all of this is there a God is there not my father was very, I don’t think he was atheists so much as he was against my mother’s religion and the time that she spent on it. But there was just this like, somebody told me somebody’s got to have the end. Sir and I remember I laughed when I heard the interview you did with this woman. I forget her name, but basically she had this as well at 12. And then, at that night Ramana Maharshi showed up in her bed or something. Yeah.

Rick Archer: It’ll come through. I got a book from her on the shelf. All right, it’ll come.

Robin Chaurasiya: I’ll probably keep referencing different people as well.

Rick Archer: Oh, Wilson. Pamela Wilson? Um, yes, yes,

Robin Chaurasiya: yes, yes. Yeah. And so, you know, I was so envious.

Rick Archer: It’s time for a joke. Okay. I don’t know if you’ve heard this one. So you said you’re wondering with all this intensity, whether there’s a God and it reminded me of the one about the the agnostic Insomniac dyslexic who stayed awake most nights wondering if there’s a dog.

Robin Chaurasiya: I get this one. Yes.

Rick Archer: Because he’s dyslexic. Right? So he mixes up the letters of God and it becomes dark. Okay, let’s get serious again.

Robin Chaurasiya: Yes, forgive me, because I’m not going to laugh at any of your jokes I’ve heard Come

Rick Archer: on. You gotta laugh. Otherwise, I’ll feel insecure.

Robin Chaurasiya: Okay, so yeah, and I literally brick I can’t even explain to it’s insane. I lived in the suburbs. So you know how Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons and all these people talking? It was like everyone knew to come to my house, because everyone knew there was this 12 year old kid there who’s going to grill you? And my mother would make them Chai. So you know, they leisurely kind of sit around for two hours thinking they’re doing they’re converting work and everything. I was vicious, absolutely vicious with these people. Like, wait, you explained this in the Bible at this point? No, this doesn’t make any sense. How is it possible that how can revelation and this be true? And I mean, I was absolutely brutal with them. That’s really

Rick Archer: impressive at that age. I mean, you know, I was definitely in a different place when I was that young and very superficial place. So I’m really impressed by that.

Robin Chaurasiya: No, it was definitely the trauma and the growing up in this family that forced me into that at a very young age, because my mother had schizophrenia. I mean, I’m telling you like, she would call the police and tell them that there’s somebody in hiding in the attic planning to kill her. And quickly I realized, like, she doesn’t speak the greatest of English. I’m supposed to talk to this police officer, how do I explain what’s going on. And then between my parents as well, sometimes, like, I remember one time calling my mother or calling my father at work, because my mother was just having this what I would call today a panic attack. And he just said, I don’t I don’t care. And this isn’t my problem, tell him to shut the heck up. And very illegally, but I had already started driving at the age of 12, or 13. But I took my mom to the hospital, you know, so it was like this horse being forced to grow up at a very young age. And along with it coming all these questions of like, well, what is this? I don’t quite know if this is normal. Obviously, I went on to study psychology for a reason. But I just didn’t quite know what I was seeking for. But there must be some answers about the situation I’m stuck in. So yeah, and I even vaguely remember this woman who came along with a neighbor’s friend or something, and standing out on my lawn and talking to this woman, literally for three and a half hours about about God. And my dad was working in the garden. And he kept saying, Do you guys want to go inside, an hour later, you guys want to go inside, and we didn’t it got dark. But the last words that woman said to me was with the amount of questions and dedication that you have, I am certain that you will find God one day. As an atheist, of course, I spent many years laughing about like how she was an idiot. But then the moment when I did experience Samadhi, or whatever you want to call it, I instantly her voice came back into my mind as if you if you dig deep enough, and if you you know if you pursue it deeply enough that you will find so and I also had a very strange obsession. This was when the internet had just come out. And I was 12. And you will not believe aside from like spiritual things, and reading the Koran and the Bible and this and that I became really obsessed with astral projection and lucid dreaming and out of body experiences. And I put that same kind of like, dedication and energy into practicing all of these things never got anywhere. So then again, I became extremely jealous when I heard all these interviews that you’ve done with people who kind of, either for whatever reason, luckily fell into that or, you know, whatever it is. But yeah, this was my absolute, like, obsession at the age of 12. And finally, one day after a year of you know, keeping a very strict journal on my of my dreams and following all the things you’re supposed to follow. I felt like nothing’s happening. I just gave up one day. And of course, the day that I gave up was the day that it was the only kind of astral projection experience I had. And yeah, I’ve come to realize even on this journey in the mountains, how much the day that you give up is the day that everything changes. So that was my obsession at the age of 12. But then that moment at 13 of like, non existence, if you will, struck me so hard, I just abandoned all of that and got on with with making it in this world and stopped wasting my time on that. But the odd thing is I also wanted to share that those three kinds of things have come back to me in that exact same way. So these stealing, and then the book situation, and then the non existence situation. So one of them was I started, I got into Buddhist meditation and started attending these 10 Day retreats and everything in Dharamshala about, I think in 2013 2014. And this one of these, a lot of the, the meditations that they have, you do, you must be familiar with, like Tomlin, like, you know, just just trying to put yourself in other people’s shoes in so many ways. And I had started stealing again at that point, because you know, for whatever, for whatever reason, but I remember going to steal something and just looking in this person’s eyes and realizing, Oh, my God, I’m you and you’re me, and I’m stealing from myself. And from that day forward, never stolen anything in my life. And, you know, it was just such a, I didn’t connect it at the time to the fact that stealing had been a big moment of God watching me or whatever, as well. And then the book situation, the book that I had mentioned, the Ramaswami book that I picked up, and it just brought this piece over me. There was also this moment in 2019 18, when I went into a friend’s house and happened to open a drawer and this book was sitting in front of me, the door was empty, there was just this book, which was Pollock follows the pilgrimage. And it’s about the Camino, of course, and the moment that I opened it and started reading, I just knew that one day I was going to take these damn 25 kids that I have, and I was going to walk the Camino with them. Like in that moment, I

Rick Archer: knew tell people what the Camino is. Yeah, sure.

Robin Chaurasiya: Um, so it’s a it’s a 800. If you It depends where you start. But most people start in western France. And it’s about an 880 Kilometer pilgrimage that people walk to St. James in St. James Cathedral in Santiago, in western Spain. And so you can take you know, many people take 30 days to do it. 35 days to do it. Some people walk much faster, or do whatever. But it’s quite a lot of people these days, obviously walk in for the sake of the beauty and trekking and whatever. But for 1000 years, it’s been one of the most important pilgrimages in all of Europe.

Rick Archer: There was a nice movie about it. Who was the actor that played in that is the guy who was in the West Wing who played the President in the West Wing. You know, and he has a son who’s kind of a wild man who was doing all kinds of crazy things. I don’t know. That’s another one of those that will come to me.

Robin Chaurasiya: Yes, yes. Yes. I think I watched that it was it called the way I think it might be. Yeah, yeah. We should talk to the girls before we went on the Camino. Because just for them to get an idea of, you know, the type of the, because they’ve never seen fields of Spain, or, you know, that kind of space. So yeah, it was it was quite

Rick Archer: beautiful. Yeah. Okay. So then, well, then you got into the military, the Air Force at some point, but maybe there’s some more things you want to say before that?

Robin Chaurasiya: Uh, no, I guess the volunteering thing. You know, everything that you said before about karma yoga, and all of these things. I think I’ve been very unfortunate in the sense that I’ve kind of focused on all of these paths, the Gyan, the bhakti, the karma yoga, and just kind of pursued them all, as hardcore and seriously as I could. And for better or worse. It’s been, it’s been quite a stretch and quite difficult in all, all aspects of all paths. So of course, I mentioned I have, I guess, I should say, I, there are three people that I consider my gurus or three main teachers that I have. One of them is, as you mentioned, he just came to crampy, a couple days ago. And he’s used to be the translator of the Dalai Lama, and now he runs Tibet House in Belize. So he’s one of them. Another is Shri M, who you have interviewed twice as well. And the third is somebody named swami who, so I have kind of this whole Hindu Muslim with this thing going on as well. But they’ve all played really, really, really incredibly key and important parts of roles in my journey. And I have to say that if there is anyone who is completely and utterly responsible for this journey, it’s my kids, you know, they have in some ways, when you sit back to look at everything that you’ve done in life, it’s literally them and you If anything, when people talk to me or say to me like, oh, what amazing work you’re doing, and what’s an amazing thing to sacrifice or life in America and move to India. Explain to those people how lucky I am to do this work and lucky to have these kids in my life and the whole process of the journey with them and being on on all of their individual journeys. But we also talk often about like, you know, even in Mumbai, I can’t explain to but there’s, I mean, 15 million people, and yet, we often walk into cafes and stuff, and people will come up to me all the time, like, Oh, you guys are from Kranthi. And it’s such a everything I am, whatever I am, but everything that I am as a human on the human level, is because of them. And there’s no question about it. So without my gurus, would I have gotten on the spiritual journey? Yes. Because the girls were there without the girls, would I have ever gotten into spirituality? Never Never.

Rick Archer: So they’re your gurus? Yes, absolutely. And

Robin Chaurasiya: in the hard way? Well, when you have to practice patience, and you know, anger management, and all of those things, too. But yeah, they’re my girls.

Rick Archer: Yeah, boy. Robin has told me some stories that over the time that I’ve known her, and she’ll get into some of them here. But boy, some of the things these girls go through and that Robin goes through trying to help them is really something. Okay, so you got so I don’t know, if you haven’t spent much time on the military, you got into the military got kicked out of the military. And I’m, I’m glad you got kicked out of the military. The world you’re doing a lot more for the world, believe me doing what you’re doing?

Robin Chaurasiya: Yeah, I actually went into the military because as you know, they they pay for your university education. And my sister, like I said, was a year older than me, but she was kind of the brilliant one in the family with the you know, she has a PhD in physics now. But I was a year younger than her. And the thought of living in that house without my sister was so appalling to me that I finished high school in three years. And I didn’t have all the amazing scholarships that she had. So I just had to I had to get to college somehow, and I had to pay somehow. And yeah, the military was the the fastest option. So yeah, it is what it is. It was quite a journey as well learning process. When I got into the activism side. And I think I learned a lot from being an activist. I mean, we used to do absolutely crazy things. Like I mean handcuff ourselves to the White House fence and, like, stop eight lanes of traffic in Las Vegas, and I was speaking almost every weekend at different, you know, queer rights events, and pride, parades, things like that. And it was quite a quite a learning experience of a lot of important things that helped me later with CR. D as well. So yeah,

Rick Archer: great. Okay, so, already, so when you left the military, how old? Were you, then 2424. And that’s when you started karate. So how did the idea of karate pop into your head,

Robin Chaurasiya: a very long story, short part of all of that volunteering and traveling, I had come back to India and spend six months at another organization that does similar work. And they basically do the raids in the brothels and bring the girls out. And then, for me, it was really a matter of like seeing these girls, just moving from the brothel, into another prison where they were kept, you know, locked up, had no possibilities for anything that they could, you know, do in life, being shamed for having gotten trafficked, or ended up in sex work with just as an American just didn’t make sense to me. And I met somebody there who turned out to be my co founder of Kranthi. And we kind of used to joke about like, oh, one day, you know, I was going off to do my masters at that time. And I kept joking that I’m going to come back and start this organization. And she always said that she would obviously work with me. But I have to say, Rick, that you know, I have some bones to pick with you about freewill, and quite a few other things. But one of the things is that, that for me, starting this organization and doing this work, somehow it just wasn’t a choice. I had absolutely no say in it whatsoever. And the entire time I was doing my masters. i Every day I would go to sleep before I slept, I would these thoughts would circulate in my head about like, I wonder how this girl is. I wonder if anyone ever did anything about this kid. I wonder if she ever went back to her village. I wonder if her family accepted her it was just this constant. And this was before internet and Wi Fi, you know, like, data and iPhones and stuff. So I think I really, it wasn’t a choice there was I had to go back and I had to do it and no matter the consequence, and I mean already just having been as a volunteer I’d been beaten up by people I dealt with, you know, done these raids in the brothels and stuff like already I knew what I was getting into and yet I had no choice to get into to turn out to not get into it. I have a quote for you by the way that I don’t remember who it was Schrodinger not the cat Schrodinger but some other Schrodinger and he says you can do Do what you want, when you can’t want what you want. And when I read that, it struck me so much, because somebody can come explain to me for the next, you know, three and a half hours, every single day for the next 10 years, why I should spend my time pursuing the most important thing in the world, a BMW, or a Ferrari, or whatever. And no matter what happens, I can’t I can’t want that just because that person tries to convince me and probably in the same way, I can convince people that, you know, being beaten up by the police and dealing with traffickers, and you know, having your kids turn on you and do crazy things and run away. And I think I mentioned to I had to spend one day looking at all the dead bodies of all teenage girls in Mumbai, you know, like, No, I can’t convince anyone that this is what they would want to do or should want to do with their life. So this desire that comes, you know, for me, 23 years old at the time thinking that I wanted to start this organization and blah, blah, blah, like, it’s, I could do what I want, but I couldn’t, I just couldn’t want what I want. I couldn’t stop wanting, no matter how everyone tried to dissuade me, it was a stupid, absolutely, you know, financially speaking in in every other way. It was, it was a dumb decision. And yet, I couldn’t stop wanting it. So I that quote, really struck me I remember when I read it, and I thought, I’m gonna, I’m gonna take that one to Rick, because

Rick Archer: I love it. I feel that way, too, I was that way about that gap. Once the idea popped in my head, it wouldn’t leave me alone. And a lot of people have been that way, way about various things. They just they get a bee in their bonnet, so to speak, and it won’t leave them alone, they have to do it. And I very much am a believer in divine guidance or guardian angels, or, you know, whoever it is higher levels of intelligence, sort of, you know, urging us or motivating us to move in certain directions. And, you know, I think we can dig our heels in and ignore them long enough that maybe it’ll go away. But then we’ll just be frustrated, and we will have missed our calling, we will have missed a precious opportunity. So, you know, and you know, when you can only tell me, I mean, once you did plunge into this, do you feel like you’ve gotten kind of, even though it’s been tough, and you’ve met with a lot of obstacles? Do you also feel like you’ve gotten a lot of support in almost magical and mystical ways?

Robin Chaurasiya: Oh, god. Okay. So let me just tell a couple stories that I think are will answer that question so perfectly and beautifully for everyone. And I guess one of the things that we do with the Kundalini girls is theater. So we started off doing theater, mostly in India, and we would go to different festivals and stuff. And the girls basically have this show that they put together. And it’s very dynamic, because it’s all their own stories that they’re sharing. But the girls, the amount of girls, the amount of, you know, the different stories change, and it can be performed with people without people. So it’s a very dynamic show. And we first decided that we were, you know, we did quite a few performances across India. And then all of a sudden one of my friends in New York, also a queer rights activist kind of contacted me and was like, why don’t you think about bringing the show to the US? And I thought about it. And I said, within a day, I was like, Yes, I think that’s exactly what I should do. Now, how do you go about taking 20 kids to the US? I don’t know. But I, I remember this so clearly, for the month of April 2015. I stayed up and I worked. I slept every other night. Because I had so much work to do organizing this trip, and yet not for a minute Did it feel like work and not for a minute? Did I not want to do it and you know, I literally slept every other night in order to get all of this organized. And as it happens, we have you know, everything was lined up. I’m telling you like we had performances in New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, JetBlue had written and said that they would sponsor all of our domestic flights within the you know, the US. We I had written to somebody at Yellowstone they had agreed to you know, we could bring the girls they would how’s this for free? We go whitewater rafting for free, like just everything was organized. And except that I didn’t have flights or visas, you know, which is like a little part. Two days before the first show. No, sorry. One week before the first show was supposed to happen. Some guy called me and was like, I’d really like to talk to you about education and sponsoring education. Ken, can you come have a chat? And I said, No, look, I’m really busy. I have all this work to do. Can I talk to in a couple of months? He said, No, you have to come now because I will be traveling. So I went mind you. I don’t have all we had a girl who’s who had just come to Congress. She was deaf and mute and we didn’t even have her passport made. So I went to make her passport and his office happened to be on the opposite side. I walked into his office I explained everything to him like you know I’m working on XYZ and this is a situation and everything is sorted. But I have no way to get there. I don’t have flights or visas. And he says, you just got there, and you took out his checkbook and wrote me a $10,000 check on the spot. I went home, I booked all the flights. And the next morning, I walked into the via, like, into the US Consulate with like, 20 passports, and the guy who was in charge of VCs came out and was like, What in the heck do you do? And he’s a good friend now as well. But um, you know, I said, Look, please, I’m begging you, can you just and sometimes you find the right people, magical people, and 24 hours later, he had all the visas ready. The next day, we’re on a plane landed in New York, and I had $800 in the bank account or something, or maybe 700. And I bought those 20. It costs $20 to buy those seven day passes for the metro. I bought all of those, I was down to like $20. And now what to do, we literally went to where we’re staying dropped off the bags and went to our first performance it was that like, got to the first performance. I didn’t see I don’t remember a thing from the performance because I was just sitting there thinking how am I feeding 20 People dinner on $20. And somebody came up to me after the show and gave me a $5,000 Check. and on it went from Chicago to the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone, like there was not a single place where the doors weren’t open already, in some ways. And I think that was what I started to learn or started to realize that as long as I’m working my butt off to take these girls, and to give them the best experiences and opportunities, education, everything possible, the door will always be open for me. So that was in 2015. And I had just kind of gotten serious about meditation. And God is not a word that was even in my repertoire at that time. So I very much had this idea that I’m doing the work and yeah, maybe I would stop for a minute and show some gratitude to the universe or whatever. But I never would have used the word God at that point. And then in 2017, we did another trip to the UK. And we performed the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and some guy contacted us off, you know, Airbnb gave us his five bedroom house in Edinburgh for a month for free. And you know, literally the Indian community there was doing everything possible to keep us fed and taken care of. And then when our last performances were in Glasgow and the night before, I mean, the last performance we had, I went there and I called my sister and I was like, Can you please just, you know, loan me 2000 pounds, because I need to get these kids home and I don’t have flights. And some guy was standing behind me listening to this whole conversation. And it turned out he was the owner of the venue where we were performing. And he got on stage. And he basically like threatened the audience. He was like, You didn’t pay to come to the show. But I just heard this poor woman outside talking to her sister, and nobody should have to deal with this. By the time you walk out of here, there better be 2000 pounds in this donation box. And, of course, you know, we finished the show, we did everything whatever. And I counted the money at the end of the day, it was 2010 pounds. And that trip, I kind of started to feel as if you know my the ego in me that oh, maybe God is doing a little bit or the universe is doing something and I’m doing a little bit. And then it was the third trip in 2019 that really made me realize that I am nothing in this whole show like it is you and it is orchestrated, and written in this way that I found the the pilgrimage book, I we had organized several plays across Geneva, Paris, all of this stuff. Then we started the Camino. And the day that we started, I had less than $500 in the bank account. We needed 300 euros a day to feed and clothe everyone. And we kept coming up with these kinds of fun creative ideas about how to make money. So the girls would go sing on the street and dance to Bollywood and just put out a little thing explaining that we’re walking the Camino and everything. But Rick, it was like every single day either I would meet someone who would say oh my god, I’d love to help open up their wallet and give me 100 euros or, you know, somebody would reach some town some little like middle of nowhere hostel and just stopped for the night. And people would be like, Oh my God, of course, we’re not going to charge you can stay for free. And slowly we got on this rhythm of like, we needed exactly four kilos of rice every day, four kilos of lentils every day. And we would you know, like, go to the place, make the food, cook lunch for the walk tomorrow and everything and we fell into this rhythm. But let me just put it this way. By the time that we left Santiago, the girls had been dancing on the street every evening and I went to church and spoke to people. So when I started I had less than $500 in the bank account. When I finished we had 5000 euros in the bank account. And that was my moment of like, okay, clearly it’s not me, what am I doing here? I am not even a significant actor in this whole dynamic and it’s all All those people because the girls would also talk to people as they walked, we were quite a big group, so it would spread out. And the people, you know, maybe one of the older girls would talk to somebody all day walking for 20 kilometres. And just by the end of the conversation, somebody would be like, here’s 100 euros or whatever. So it was really, I have no words, I guess. And I think it’s really beautiful. Because the girls even as they’re getting older, some of them were saying 1921 They walked and, you know, like, now to be able to say how that changed them, or the ways in which it impacted them. It was one of the most beautiful, magnificent experiences of all of our lives, just to be taken care of by pilgrims the entire way. And, you know, I just can’t explain what it’s like to carry 25 teenage kids, you know, to get everyone’s butt moving in the morning and all of that, and yet I look back at it with such gratitude and joy, I can’t explain.

Rick Archer: That’s wonderful. Reminds me of Peace Pilgrim, you’ve probably heard me talk about peace building.

Robin Chaurasiya: After I heard you talk about or so,

Rick Archer: yeah, except you’re like a group of 25. Peace pilgrims. That’s fantastic. You told me the other day that there had been like 50,000 sex workers in the red light district of Mumbai. But real estate is getting so expensive that in Mumbai that it costs a million dollars to get a nice apartment and all these high rises are encroaching on the red light district. And now it’s down to about 3000 sex workers. And so the other 1000s are dispersing around the country and presumably staying in the same profession. And we talked about the starfish story earlier, you know, made a difference to that one. But is there any thought? Or do you ever think, is there a way with government collaboration or something where this could be ramped up, so that anybody who wanted the opportunities that your relatively small group of girls have had, could get those opportunities and, you know, get out of the horrible lifestyle into which they’ve been born?

Robin Chaurasiya: i It’s definitely not coming from the government, that’s for sure. It never will. And, you know, I think one of the, the whole process of breaking down my ego as an individual has been just kind of seeing because when I started the organization, I had so many critiques and criticisms about other people who are already in this space, and they’re not feminist enough, and they’re not taking care of the girls well enough. And I had all these ideas that somehow the work that we do is somehow going to transform Indian society in some way, and not to belittle by any means the things that the girls have accomplished, you know, one of our girls, at 18 got a scholarship to Bard College in in New York, and you know, oh, my God, it was just absolutely all, there was not a single Indian newspaper that didn’t write about her. And she kind of went through a couple of months of like, you know, people in the metro asking for her autograph, and that kind of thing. And so the story is important, and the story is out there. But to me, it was always a matter of I had this stupid belief that when people realize that these girls, like if these girls are capable of such extraordinary things, every girl in whatever situation born anywhere in India is capable of these things. Because so much of this has to do with gender inequality in India, the idea, the preference for a boy, the idea that a boy is going to support the parents financially. And as a better investment, it’s still commonly talked about, as you know, as girls are talking about is watering the neighbor’s plant, you know, why would you raise and take care of somebody who’s going to go off to somebody else’s house and become the, you know, caretaker of somebody else’s parents. So in that sense, like, I always thought that somehow something we were going to do and these amazing stories, which all of them are individually. So I’m not, we’ll never belittle the things that the girls have done and accomplished. And yet, I’ve realized that it just doesn’t make a dent in anything. And that’s been quite a journey for me spiritually egoistically if that’s a word, you know, but yeah, it’s been it’s been really unpleasant. Realizing that man, I could dedicate the next 50 years of my life to this work, and many people already have it’s not that I’m, you know, the first organization or anything, there are plenty of people who have and yet I used to criticize those organizations about, you know, yes, you help these certain amount of girls, and yet, how do you change the system? And yet, the more and more that you battle with this system, you just realize, like, it’s not in one individual’s hands. It’s just something that’s going to take its time as, you know, as anything as queer rights, sex workers rights and anything, absolutely anything. Unfortunately, that’s where I’m pretty stuck right now.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, as you said, that I thought about, you know, what you’re saying what, and my question and, and, you know, my question kind of conflicted with the whole thing we had discussed earlier about the divine motivation of this and how you’ve just been kind of moved in ways that you wouldn’t have foreseen In and things have worked out well so far. So I guess my guess is my hunch is that, if it’s supposed to get bigger, somehow that’ll just happen. And it’ll be obvious that it should get bigger and you will be shown how to do it. And if it’s not, it’s, it’s a great thing just as it is. And, you know, there can be others doing other things, but you know, you’re you’ve already bitten off, you know, sometimes more than you can chew. And in fact, there’s another thing you’re going to start doing, which you’ll tell us about, because, because the girl who was doing that has gotten so traumatized by something that happened. So, by all means, I mean, I don’t want you to be come a fried potato of from having too much going on. And, and, you know, as I’ve been saying, I, you know, I think that a stint in the mountains every now and then we’ll still be in order, maybe not the mountains, maybe something warmer with a toilet, and, and more comfortable with good food, and water. But um, I think there’s a definite value. And many people listening to this will know, having been on a lot of spiritual retreats and all that there’s a definite value in just pulling back once in a while. And you know, there’s always more that can be done. But once in a while, you just need to retreat and go deep within and get rested and rejuvenated. And then you can come out and do it again, you know, with fresh batteries.

Robin Chaurasiya: Yeah. And I think, you know, the hard thing is like, especially as somebody who was so young when I first started this, you know, there’s a lot of stuff around in the in the sector, in the nonprofit sector, there’s a lot of things about scaling your impact. And you know, like all those kinds of social entrepreneurship, fellowships and grants that you apply for everyone wants to know how you’re going from 50 kids to 5 million tomorrow and bullshit in the app. Let’s be honest, I can barely edit a damn house of 20 kids over here, right? It’s exhausting. It’s, you know, and on some level also. Somebody introduced me to connect me to someone in another city recently. I’m sure you’ve heard of a jet Suma Tenzin Palmo, who came in. So she has been, you know, I’ve interacted with her a couple times had a couple of private meetings with her and everything. And she introduced me to a friend of hers who runs this organization in Pune, which has quite a large, so they have one home for girls who have been kicked out of their home for whatever reason, another home for kids with special needs, blah, blah, blah. And jetsam mom was trying to convince me that I needed to meet with her and figure out how I’m going to scale this work in that, why am I getting exhausted by this one organization that I’m running, you know, oh, look at this other sister who has these 10 organizations under her umbrella, and I just so we’re all going all over, I’m taking all of Kranthi I’m not gonna go visit her. I’m taking all of the girls that we’re all going to go to visit her organization. But you know, when I look at those photos of people sitting in front of like, you know, there’s on you go on the website, and there’s like this woman sitting in front of like these 800 Smiling kids. And I’m like, Do you know the names of those kids? And for me, it’s like, you know, we keep joking, because along with me, there’s two other women who are like full time living in the house and stuff. So technically, we’re cheating. We’re three mothers, and everyone else who works at Kranthi is a mother of a Kranthi. Girl, I’m the only person without any biological children. But we keep joking that like, as these parents, we know, I’m not kidding, Rick, I know, every child’s birthday and passport number. My colleague who does most of the cooking knows every single person’s food, like what they liked, what they don’t like, what they’re allergic to. My other colleague who does most of the shopping, she knows everyone’s shoe size, bra size, you know, pant size, like everything. And this is what it means to take in, literally take in these beings into you to the point that everything becomes so intertwined that I mean, for me, I think most of my kids know that I’d be ready to give my life for them for some who, you know, I’ve already been beaten by the police for them or had to deal with so many things. And yet, I think the spiritual journey, one thing it’s really showed me is it’s just about the depth. You know, it’s it’s like this the deeper and deeper we get into into spirituality, whether it’s meditation, whatever it may be, and, you know, the type of the depth of joy of you know, watching a sunset, the the depth of gratitude when interacting with a donor for me, the depth of the taste of food, and I think one thing I already always kind of had, right, intuitively, was that to me, it was so much more important to have these deep, you know, to literally take them into me, I don’t know if that makes sense, but literally take them into my being on a level that it wasn’t just like, Oh, you’re you’re number 458 And I have no idea what your you know, your likes or dislikes are what foods you like what and that has been because of that. This has been my my spiritual path not just as a way of karma yoga but as a way of like two people are coming to mind actually right now. One is somebody named James Finchley that you interviewed Finley, Finley Finley, sorry. Yeah, Christian. I after I heard his interview, I went on his on the website and started listening to his podcast called Turning to the mistakes, which has been so beautiful and amazing and so special to me, aside from you, it’s the only thing I listened to on the mountains. And just to just to put out what a privilege it is to be listened to, I have to walk three kilometers in knee deep snow in order to get data and download everything that I listened to. So it’s quite a quite a big deal.

Rick Archer: How do you charge up your phone, you have solar panel for it?

Robin Chaurasiya: Yeah, a small solar panel that charges just my phone. Um, and I remember on one of his podcasts, he was talking about how some of these professions aren’t professions, like teaching or whatever it may be, you can be a teacher and just kind of on top on the surface level deal with your kids and go home every day. Or you can give your all to the point that it becomes who you are. And he said, something really beautiful that he said, these, these paths, demand, nothing short of everything. And that is literally to me what I have given at this point, you know, to the point of burnout, that’s a whole separate topic. But you know, when you’re ready to give nothing short of everything, that’s where the growth is for us, you know, you can spend 50 years as a teacher just kind of, you know, in a, in a space where you’re just doing your lessons and going home and not interested. And yet, you can be the most transformative teacher, which a lot of American, you know, movies have been built around, especially with, you know, people in low income communities. So it’s up to us how deeply we’re willing to go into that, you know, dip your toes in, or just kind of you know, your feet, or if you’re willing to just drown in the work in the love for the kids and the sacrifices you’re willing to make. And for me, for whatever reason, it was always just this, like, I just knew that I’m going to absolutely give everything from the moment I stepped in because nothing about society or about trafficking, sex work, any of these things is going to change unless I at least give my all. So that was one person, one BatGap That was coming to mind. And another one was, of course, Tim freak. And so now his interviews unnecessarily, but it just so happened, I was in London, and for the last three weeks before I came here, and I spoke with you and you said, one of my kids is in a art residency in Ireland right now. So she came to stay with me for five days. And we said, oh, let’s go somewhere fun. Where do you want to go? We’ll do a day trip. So we decided to go to Glastonbury. And then you call that night and you were like, Oh, I have this friend. Do you want to visit him? And I said, No, I’m not going anywhere out of London. And you said, Oh, well, there’s this guy, Tim freak. And oh, he lives in Glastonbury. And I was like, what? I didn’t know before that that’s where he lived. But I’d watched many of of your every video of yours with him. And we were talking about all these things. And I remember one thing that really always moved me about his interviews was the ways that he talks about his daughter and being in love. And I guess, at some point, he had ended up in Mumbai with a teacher of Ramesh and asked him like, well, so what am I supposed to do now? And which is a ridiculous question, of course. But then Ramesh said to him, Ramesh, balsa Kira, and he said to him, go home and have a family. And he was like, What on earth he had, and I was like, What a stupid and of course, he goes home. And within a couple of years, he’s madly in love and has a family. And, you know, we were talking about this, I mentioned to him how special it is, to me when I hear him talk about his daughter. And so this was just a conversation we had a couple weeks ago that when you told me to visit him, and I said, on one level, it’s like, you’re so screwed. When you’re that deeply in love, you’re just so screwed, like to the point of yes, that you’ll be you know, beaten by the police or do whatever you have to do in order to, to fulfill or follow through on that love. And he also then at that moment, he said, you know, the Buddha was talking about the end of suffering. And yet to me, when I helped my daughter in my hands, I knew that was the beginning of suffering. And you know, just that depth of how you become that person or that child that your joys are My joy is your suffering is my suffering, your pain is my pain. And that’s the only way that I mean, Karma Yoga is not about serving this many meals to this many people and whatever. This is what I mean. I don’t know if I don’t want to divide them because there’s so overlap, right? This is bhakti in a sense as well right to be so deeply dedicated and devoted to a child or to you know, cause or whatever it is the to the point that it takes over you So that’s that you disappears. And I guess that’s what crunchy has been for me like the opportunity to fall. So stupidly madly and ridiculously in love that there’s no way out. And I guess from the mountains as well, regardless of what happens in the future in the next few months for me, because I am going back to the mountains in January, but regardless of what happens, like, it’s like I am, oh, I have a quote for you that you have quoted many times. And I think it’s from the Gospel of Philip, but that those who become free because of Gnosis eventually become slaves because of love. And it’s such, I don’t know if you said that, or somebody else,

Rick Archer: somebody else, but it’s a good quote.

Robin Chaurasiya: And, I mean, that’s it in the end, if, if you can sit on a mountain for the rest of your life with great joy and bliss, fine. But if you’re not a slave to love, then I don’t think you’ve actually lived the human potential.

Rick Archer: Yeah, one thing you’ve heard me quote many times is just that most of the non dual teachers that I can think of the great ones, the famous ones, the ones we all admire, and, quote, have been great doctors, as well as being being great Ianis, you know, that they have their hearts are as big as their intellects. And it’s, it’s well balanced. There’s a famous Nisargadatta quote about that, you know, but wisdom and love and so on. So, a lot of times, that’s

Robin Chaurasiya: me that I am nothing. Love tells me that I’m everything in between those two, my life flows, there

Rick Archer: you go. You should just like, sit in on all my BatGap interviews live. And whenever I need a quote, say, Robin, what’s that quote?

Robin Chaurasiya: It takes too long,

Rick Archer: I think, yeah. But you know, we’re human beings. And as human beings, we have all these different components, you know, we have an intellect, we have a mind, we have the heart, we have senses, we have all these different things. And I’ve always thought of spiritual development as the holistic simultaneous growth of all of these to, you know, as high a degree as possible. So, you know, when someone says, you can sort of be a, an enlightened sob, I think, no, that’s not Enlightenment, that means your heart hasn’t developed yet. And that’s going to have to happen. Anyway. Anyway, you want to comment on that before we go on?

Robin Chaurasiya: Obviously, because I think it’s one thing I really liked some of the videos that you have done interviews we’ve done with people about the damage that Neo Advaita has, you know, brought and to certain communities. And I mean, I won’t comment on anything anyone’s teaching any of that. But I have to say that it was quite a, it’s almost like the stuff is out there. And you have to pick through what’s actually best for you as an individual. But also, I think, if those teachers, you know, everyone that you’re talking about Ramana Maharshi. And the, you know, the real everyone was a puck, as well as being this Yanni. Nobody would say that Neo Advaitins what they were teaching, no, but right, we all know that. So yes, being an enlightened sob or being, you know, just hurtful. And I know you’ve done so much work around, you know, everything that kind of can go wrong between the guru and shisha dynamic and all of that stuff. But I don’t think that there’s a question. I mean, if you can’t be loving and kind and it’s not flowing through you then like, what’s the point of it? Exactly. It’s just the head. And I think so on to more BatGap. So I think that you know, you mentioned you’ve interviewed Swami Sarvapriyananda A couple of times, and you’ve also mentioned in several interviews that you listen to his courses and everything. And I started listening to some of his things after that, but I guess this is what I struggle with with Yan, because of course, my Buddhist teacher as well. His name is Gabriella Giorgio tomberlin. He is he’s, he is such a Yanni and so brilliant and so exceptional. He went to Cambridge, he was chosen as a young monk to, you know, to go to Cambridge after he’d spent his time in the mountains and everything. And he’s so brilliant and so sharp and very sweet teaches a lot of masters courses online and in person for on Buddhist philosophy. And you can read until let me be American here, you can read until the cows come home. You can read until you know there is just some you meet so many people who get it intellectually and yet their life is such a disaster, right? They’re unable to maintain healthy relationships are unable to control their emotions are unable to. And so on some level to me the the idea and I think I shared this with you when we were messaging a little bit back and forth when I was in the mountains. That it’s one thing to say that the yarn the path of Gyan Swami Sarvapriyananda often says that once you know you know, yes, I have this body mind whatever it is, I this Robin knows. And now I know everyone moment that I sit down and think, Okay, let me think of that experience again, or let me recall, yes, I know it’s with me, and it will never leave. And yet what I had, the analogy I’d given you when I was in the mountains was I said, like, I love coffee, I absolutely love coffee. And all you can get in the mountains, there is either Ness cafe or whatever. So I took these little packets of Starbucks instant coffee this time. And sometimes I just get tired of that as well. So I quit drinking coffee for a month. And I know that whole month that the coffee is in the cupboard, I know. And yet, after a month, when it was my birthday, so I thought, I’m gonna drink coffee today, and I made coffee, and I sat down in front of the mountains, and I should have you put some photos of my hut in the mountains up as well on the sand. But to me, there’s something like, there’s no words to explain what what that is sitting in front of, you know, the all the peaks around me are 7500 meters tall. And I mean, it’s just, it’s my own my own hut and my own mountain, like, I don’t see anyone, sometimes I see people once a month, or a shepherd or something. And to sit outside with that coffee after that month, and to enjoy it is an experience that no amount of knowing that the coffee is in the cupboard, is enough. So in that perspective, I think for me, Yan was like, Yes, I attended endless retreats, and I read endless books. And there was some point in my life, you know, when the longing, that’s the word I would use now, I wouldn’t have said it, then. But the longing was so intense that I need to know, I had, I went through three or four years of the only thing I listened to, or watched or read was spiritual books. And this was about 2016 1718, something like that. And it was, so I read it all. And I got it all. In that moment of seeing Yes, it will always be with me, and I will always know. But it’s not the same as the experience of sitting and drinking coffee. And it’s not the same as you know, like, the joy of looking your child in their eyes after you see them after a long time and the joy of sharing a meal with somebody after you see them after months, or whatever it may be. Like there’s something to be said about the experience of this knowledge that isn’t for me, just the knowledge and the the intellectual understanding. And the experience still somehow wasn’t quite enough, which is where we had a lot of discussions back and forth about why I’m still on the mountain and what the hell I’m doing there. But yeah, when I hear Swami Sarvapriyananda Talk about it, and he just kind of has this like, once you know, you know, when the knowing will always be with Yes, the knowing is always with me. But there are days when, I mean, just a couple days ago, I was sitting by a fire downstairs in my in my friend’s house, and I’m supposed to be writing a book. That’s why I’m supposedly here. But I was of course sitting by the fire and enjoying the coffee and something about the magic and beauty. You know, those how you always imagine? Are you seeing photos like people sitting by a fire while it’s snowing outside, and a dog’s napping on the floor, I had all of it, I had my coffee, I had my dog, I had everything. And I just was like, I don’t think I’m supposed to be writing right now. And I went back and literally for an hour, I just wrote these amazing gratitude messages to people that I was just so thankful for. And never, you just don’t take enough time to thank the people who, unfortunately for me, it’s a list of like, 10,000 people who make my life and the girls lives possible. So I can’t possibly get around to thanking them enough. But it’s just nice sometimes to say like I don’t know how to explain this. But one thing that really fell away or happened on the mountain as well was like, sometimes I can I can zone in on a person and and just see the see them and all their beauty and perfection and nothing else and everything else just falls away. And just one example I have to give is I have this kid who she’s 23 For now, and she’s studying just outside Philadelphia as well. And she used to be as a teenager 16 1718 She would literally Rick, my god, she would make this giant thing of chai, like a huge part of chai and take the chai and sit in the corner. And all day for like two hours, you know, the girls would come and sit and drink chai and chat about classes and boyfriends and this and that. And I would come out of my room having slept like three hours because I was up planning blah, blah, blah, all night. And now I have to go do this for you guys. I would come out and just be livid, like absolutely livid. Like, how you know, and I would just launch into this How dare you guys waste time? Can’t you be studying English? Can you be you know, like, that kind of thing. And when I was on the mountain, like, you know, I just, this girl is also just one of the most amazing, beautiful people you will ever meet in your life. She’s studying to work with special needs kids and Rick the joy in her face when she talks about her kids and does impersonations of them and tell stories about them. And I mean she gets she has like a stipend that she gets and you won’t believe she saved her stipend the entire time. She has been doing this work to buy phones for the two girls in our house who have the most severe mental health problems and stuff. And so you know, she saved her money to buy phones for that because they don’t have anyone in their life who can can buy them a phone. And just, it’s almost like I saw her for who she is. And now I can’t ever forget that either. Yes, she might annoy me sometimes still, you know, I get pissed off at her because she’ll still, you know, be on her phone until two in the morning when we have to reach XYZ at nine in the morning. So, but there’s just something so like, literally I can, I can think about a person. And there’s just something so like the perfect ness and the Divinity, let’s call it that the divinity of them shines through. And it just erases everything that I was ever irritated about anything that could possibly have done wrong. And it’s just nice to when you’re in that seeing of people in that moment, it’s just really nice to send a message to say thank you, but like, never get around to the 10,000 people I owe those emails to we’ll see, it’s great.

Rick Archer: I sense that you’ve had your coffee today. Going at a pretty good clip here.

Robin Chaurasiya: I actually used to talk very, very quickly. And I whenever I gave speeches about Kranthi and stuff, the girls would always make sure that one of them is sitting in the front row to be like, slow down, slow down. Meditation quite a bit.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I grew up not far from New York City. And when I was teaching meditation in the early 70s, I had a good friend in New York City. And I go into the city, and we or we talk on the phone or whatever. And I just kind of like resonate with her frequency, which was like go one mile a minute, really, we used to teach courses together, actually, you know, retreats, and the two of us would be like, boom, boom, boom, boom, going back and forth, this sort of quick, quick style of thinking and talking. Anyway, I like it. So there’s a lot of things I could ask you. But you mentioned that they’re about three different stories, particular stories of girls that you often tell when you give presentations. Have, let’s let’s get into some of that. And maybe I’ll have some questions as you do that. Sure.

Robin Chaurasiya: So I’ll just go on with the speech as I would normally speak it. And I guess mostly I do this with with, like, TEDx talks at universities, I speak a lot to younger students, and they invite me often to, to just speak for 10 minutes, or whatever it may be. So I always because it’s targeted at young people, and part of what I really want. Part of why I’m writing this book is also because the girl stories are so special, so exceptional. We have so much to learn from these people. And we have this idea that we’re supposed to be learning from people who are Harvard graduates and you know, that kind of thing. And yet, maybe we have a lot to learn from illiterate unlettered sex workers, maybe. So I really want to share their stories in this really, their stories deserve to be told and shared. And there’s so much that every single human being on this planet can learn from them. So yes, when I speak to students, especially I want to inspire them to realize that you can dedicate your life to to, I mean, call it social justice, called social change, call it the karmic path, whatever. And yet, it’s a completely legitimate thing to spend your life on. So yeah, there are three situations that I speak of that I think explain things really well or demonstrate on some level. Sort of when I go in, I usually ask students, first of all, like, what if you had to give me in a sentence, what you think the purpose of life is? What is the purpose of life. And you know, thus far, especially in the Indian space of engineers, and doctors, and this and success, and that kind of thing. So many of us have been taught that it’s all about, you know, doing well in school and doing well in school in order to get into a good college, and then have a nice house and job and blah, blah, blah. But is that really the purpose of your life and the kids kind of like, you know, take their time thinking about it. And in the end, we come down to the fact which is a very Buddhist principle that the purpose of life is to seek and spread happiness. And this is something that you have in common, your desire for happiness is something that you have in common with every single dog on this planet, with every single cat on this planet, with every single human on this planet, with every single sex worker on this planet. With every single trafficker on this planet, every one is doing whatever they can in order to achieve more happiness. And then there’s always those students who are like, Wait, what about this and I want money, I don’t want blah, blah, blah. And then I have to go back to like, okay, but where does the money actually get you? Hypothetically, you want it because it’s going to make you happy. So I always share the story of one particular girl who was trafficked at age nine and has a lot of struggles like a lot of mental health issues, self harm, cutting herself trying to kill herself on occasion. It’s been much better the past few years, she has been on regular medication and stuff. But if you ask everyone in our house, she is the person who laughs The most and makes other people laugh the most. I mean, sometimes we’re trying to help her be able to hold down a job and that doesn’t always work out. But one thing is for sure that like she’s just such a Just the joy of having her in the house her ridiculous jokes, her, you know, the ways in which she entertains people, like, I’m just so moved by. Like, it’s certainly simple for me to just look at her and say, you know, what if you can laugh your life away? Who am I to not be laughing everyday as well? And if you can be happy, after all the things that you’ve been through, what are what are my problems in comparison? You know, so I think like, she’s just this constant reminder in my life of the fact that we all have the ability to be happy, and it’s just it’s within our reach, it’s if it’s within her reach is definitely within our reach. So it’s kind of a, I won’t say a choice, that’s not the right word, because choice and all of that, but it is, you know, we get up and we determine our day, every day as well. So yes, she’s one girl who, who’s really taught me a lot, just just watching her has taught me a lot. And then I asked the kids, the students usually that I’m speaking with, they say, like, what is the definition of success? Like, how do you go about defining this whole, you know, being happy? Or whatever it is? How do you measure these things? And like, literally, how do you measure success? How do you measure happiness? Clearly, if we know it’s not in money, it’s not in BMW is it’s not in the number of houses, you know, that kind of thing. What how do you measure success? So I was talking about this girl named she chose who basically studied in fourth and seventh and that was it. And she basically at age 12, started working and was kicked out of wherever she was staying. And she went to work. And then she came to us to Kranthi at 17. And to work as a sex worker, you know, she actually was doing domestic work in abroad kind of a job, okay. Yeah, yeah. And so, and she would work 16 hour days in order to get her one meal of the evening. And sometimes she wasn’t given that food if the work wasn’t good enough. So this is how she lived for several years. And then eventually, she came to Kranthi. And we of course, you know, we put her in 10th grade, which didn’t go very well. She failed 10th grade twice, I think. And then at some point, we just, you know, thought like, Okay, if this isn’t working, what else might and she was really into drumming, like absolutely obsessed with drumming. And she eventually ended up becoming a drum circle facilitator using the Jim Bay and stuff and she, sorry,

Rick Archer: I didn’t say anything. I mean, coughed. Okay, so

Robin Chaurasiya: she got a scholarship to study drumming in in Washington for 10 months. And I mean, for that when she got the scholarship, I mean, she was literally on the front page of every single newspaper in Mumbai. Eventually, she came back to India started working as a drum circle facilitator. And literally, at this point, she works with orphans. She works with terminally ill children, she works with sex workers and children of sex workers. And she works a lot in. I don’t know how to explain this. But basically, when like a building is being constructed, everyone will live on that on the premises, their children, their families, their wives, everyone, while the building is being built. And so the kids don’t have access to school or anything. So she works a lot in these types of communities. And Rick, one of the most rewarding moments of my life is watching she felt drumming with these kids. And the sheer joy on her face, the joy on the kids faces, the kids who would never hold a drum if it wasn’t for her. Right? To me, it’s literally about like, that pursuing happiness seeking and spreading happiness. How are you spreading happiness? How many people did you make smile today? And this doesn’t mean that you have to go around running workshops with 1000s of people, it just means how many people did you smile at today, whether you’re walking down the street, whatever it may be, that’s also a what we spread in the world or what we give out to the world really matters. I mean, not on the ultimate level, but on a human level. It really, really matters. And so you know, looking at her I’ve really just fallen in love with you know, the way that she the who she is, while she’s dropping it is the most beautiful thing possible for me. So she’s another one that I’ve learned a lot about redefining success from because it’s not just about she never she hasn’t past tense Still, she’s 26 years old. Now. You know, she saw them past 10. But who cares? How many? How many you have been a meditation teacher fine. But for the people who haven’t ever taught or haven’t ever done anything to bring a smile to 1000s of people like she feels much more successful to me then then those people ever will be, you know. And then lastly, one story that I share is about a woman named arena who was trafficked at the age of nine and sold auctioned, I think I explained this to you before as well when they start menstruating, then they’re auctioned off to the highest bidder. And that’s supposed to pay the debt of what they paid for the girl originally. So she was auctioned off at 11 and whatever and I mean, had these horrendous freaking stories about like, she refused to sleep with the guy because she didn’t know what sex was, you know, at the time. And so the brothel keeper basically poured chili powder on her genitals and told her while you’re doing this tomorrow, you better shut up and be you know, this, this is your life. So she did that. But then, kind of for me watching her She’s In Her Shoes. quite older now she’s in her 40s. But this when you hear this story automatically you go like, Oh my God, what a victim what a you know, helpless person that we should pity and you know, that kind of thing. And yet the magic of the story is that she’s become this incredible community leader. And one of the situations that happened was one of my kids mother’s passed away. And we were kind of in a hurry to get things sorted because I was traveling, nobody was at crampy. And they in the red light area, I’ve never seen this, but the girls have told me that if a body like if somebody’s not taking responsibility for a body, it’s just dumped out on the street, and the government comes to pick it up, like they do dead dogs. So I was trying to make sure that whatever happens, this woman doesn’t end up in this situation. So I called this woman, Serena. And she answered the phone, she took care of all the arrangements. And then she called me back. And she said, You know, I guarantee or I promise you that as long as you’re doing this work, I promise you that I will sleep with as many peoples as like as many customers as it takes to pay for the cremation or burial of any woman who dies in this red light area. And for me, it was just one of those moments of like, you know, I think of myself as the social worker, and I’m so generous, and I take care of people. And yet, with the resources that I have behind me, what am I actually giving? Like, maybe maybe it’s this percentage of this much right? But for her, what resources does she have, she has her body, and she’s still willing to sleep with as many people as it takes to pay for the cremation or burial of a woman she’s never spoken to. And I think, for everyone to pause, and, you know, when we think of ourselves as generous, we drop a coin in somebody’s cup at McDonald’s, or whatever it is, like, are we as generous as this illiterate sex worker who was a victim and absolutely, you know, has absolutely nothing to her name to her life, whatever. And yet, in some ways, I feel like is one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever met, you know, the everything I was talking about before about giving nothing short of everything. It’s also literally like, she’s absolutely ready to give whatever she has, because in her mind, if I don’t give what I do have, what was I doing on this planet? So yeah, those are some of the incredible people that I’ve had the chance to, to work with. And I hope this gives people a sense of why I say like, I’m the student here. I’m the learner here. I’m the person who’s, I’m the beneficiary here in some ways, right? That I’m really, yeah, it’s been quite a spiritual journey. It couldn’t be anything besides a spiritual journey, of course. And yet it’s been it’s been quite a journey in many ways.

Rick Archer: That’s great. Did you ever hear the story of the yogi and the prostitute that lived next to one another? Yes. Yeah. You want me to tell the story?

Robin Chaurasiya: Are you talking about a real story actually, or a

Rick Archer: story? This is a story story, let me tell it. So a friend of mine told me this story. And he had heard it from some some teacher or guru or something. So there were there was a yogena prostitute who happened to live next to the yogi had a little hut on the empty lot. The prostitute was in some building. And, you know, the yogi was always watching the people coming and going and to the prostitute. And he would take a tally of how many people were coming. And he would give her lectures on how immoral she was, and how she really had to change her ways. And she or she was gonna go to hell and all that. The prostitute, meanwhile, was like your friend here that you just mentioned, who didn’t have any other alternatives and was doing the best she could to live. And when she wasn’t plying her trade, so to speak, she was worshipping God, and she would, you know, be very devotional and do poojas, or whatever she was doing, to worship God and had our attention on God, and so on and so forth. So, but meanwhile, the the yogi whenever he got a chance, he would harangue her about her lifestyle and how she was, you know, going to hell. So one day, it so happened that they both died at the same time. And the yogi found himself sinking down into hell, and he saw the prostitute Going up to heaven. And he said, Wait a minute, what’s going on here? This isn’t fair. I’ve lived this ideal yoga life. As a yogi, I’ve been so pure and everything she has been a prostitute. Well, I’m going to hell she’s going to have and the voice booming voice or whatever came to him and said, it all depends on where you put your attention. You know, your attention was always on sins, her sins, her attention was always on God. And so that’s the way it goes.

Robin Chaurasiya: I have to say that some of these women are the most spiritual, wise, loving, caring, generous people I’ve ever met in my life. And I think that on a very basic level, like, I mean, you spend time in India so you have this idea of more or less of like, you know, how much spirituality just kind of seeped into the culture in so many ways. But one of the things that you know, many of the sex workers, one of my colleagues, she used to do this for many years when she lived in the brothels is They get a group together and they walk barefoot from the red light area to Ganesh, his mother, which is, you know, one of the biggest temples in, in Mumbai, and Siddhivinayak. And the most amazing and beautiful thing about it is that nobody’s praying for like, I mean, maybe on some level they’ve resigned themselves to this is what this life is. And you know, this is where I am. So I might as well make the best of it. But it’s not like they’re praying for money or to be saved by something, it’s not like that. They’re always praying for the community to be free of disease for all the people and women around them to be healthy and happy for their kids to get a good education. And it’s not that I’m paying for my own kid, I’m paying for everyone’s kids. And these are the things that when you watch a community that has literally almost nothing to its name, and you know, consider the bottom of the bottom of society, and yet the amount of compassion that they have. And you know, one of the things that the girls often talk about is that in our house, I take the girls also to like, I mean, everything Hindu Christian, would this Muslim Sikh be like everything we go to, you know, sometimes I’ll go to a Hindu ashram, sometimes I’ll go to a Buddhist teaching, sometimes I’ll go to listen to Sufi music at the at the masjid, sorry, the mosque. And I think one of the really beautiful things about this community as well is that everyone is the bottom of the bottom from wherever they are. But that the all the shit that goes on with, you know, as is the case in the US, but the Hindu Muslim issues, and you know, the, we’re from this community, and you’re from that community, it just doesn’t exist in the red light area, because you’re all screwed, you’re all at the bottom, and you better make the best of all the resources that you have around you. So it’s always been the, in this community, the girls, I joke about this, or I complain about it, because there’ll be like, the like, you know, they’ll say to me, like, Oh, it’s a really big holiday, we have to go to our moms and we have to go to the area so that we can celebrate Diwali. And then the next week, there’ll be like, we have to go to the area, we have to go eat, you know, biryani because it’s eat and I’m like, weren’t you Hindu last week, and you tried to get the Hindu holiday, and now you want the Muslim on and next week you want Christmas? And it you know, like that kind of thing?

Rick Archer: Well, Hindus are like that they believe in all the things. But it’s

Robin Chaurasiya: so beautiful that like literally, Rick, I can’t the political situation in India is absolutely horrendous as it is, but the situation being that, like if we could just sit down and learn from these women, like everything would be sorted. That’s

Rick Archer: nice. You mentioned a number of times that you’ve been beat up by the police. Is that because the police are on the take from from the pimps or whatever they’re called, and they’re corrupt, and therefore beating you up? Because you’re interfering with, with the with the business or what?

Robin Chaurasiya: Yeah, it depends. So we’ve had quite a few situations where we’ve kind of you just never know what the police want, let me put it that way. And one of the situations especially was, you know, that I was like, I don’t know, locked up all night until six in the morning or something. But there’s so many, there’s so many things that could go wrong. And basically everything at some point will go wrong. So one of the things that happened was one girl ran away from another organization and came to us because she had friends in our organization. And then that other organization put out like this police report that she was missing and whatever. But long story short in that organization, they are constantly and this is a Christian organization. And they’re crazy things happen there. One of them being that all the girls are Hindu are forced to eat beef. And then if they throw it away, then they’re forced to take it out of the trash and wash it and eat it. And they were being beaten and all this stuff. So I think the organization was panicking, the the more and more girls of theirs who were coming to us somehow we knew what was going on at the organization. So whatever the reason was, they paid the police to come bust down our doors at midnight one night and all these police officers come in nobody’s wearing a nametag and the moment that I realized nobody had a nametag on something clicked in my mind, like something is off and I started my, my recorder on my phone. And so for the next I mean, whatever happened until the morning, so this was almost five, six hours every time. I mean, they beat some of the girls as well. And then they took me to the police station that took five or six girls to the police station. And the girls were in one room and they could hear in the next room the police beating me like they could hear the sounds or whatever. But long story short in the end luckily it was all recorded and it just so happened that you know I took the recording off to the chief of police who happened to donate to Kranthi sometimes so anyway there it’s quite a you just never know it’s such a such a strange space of like, and then there are times where we’ve had girls from our own house who let’s put it frankly and honestly like girls with the most severe mental health issues, who might run away for some reason, whatever reason, and then they end up back in the red light area and then they go around Telling people like, we just had one girl who was traffic from Bangladesh. She’s been with us, like four years, five years or something. And she was a teenager when she came, but now she’s like, I’m 22. And I’m an adult. And I know, you know what I need in life and that kind of thing. So she ran away, and then ended up some somehow with another police officer. And then she complained and complained about all these terrible things that we do to her. And the police officer was like, what, what’s going on in that organization? And so she was like, they make us do yoga every morning at eight in the morning. They don’t let us sleep after you ate it, you know, and they take our phones at night. I’m 22 years old, how dare they, you know, that’s my phone and stuff. And we have a policy at the house that after such and such time, you can’t have your phone. So you know, just it was like hilarious. This is this girl’s perception of what terrible people we are. But yeah, what can you do? You just You just okay, go go figure it out. If you think you need to go back to sex work for a couple of weeks, and then you decide that you want to come back. We’re still here. What else can you do? Right?

Rick Archer: Yeah. Now, you mentioned that it’s getting so expensive, in current in Mumbai that, you know, you don’t know if you can afford to keep Courante where it is, and you’re thinking of moving to some other part of the country? And how’s that thought process coming along?

Robin Chaurasiya: I think, you know, COVID has changed a lot of things for us as well. And part of it was that before, we were very activist kind of organization, so every protest for the lead rights for sex workers rights for queer rights, anything going on in Mumbai, we were always there, every new film screening every documentary, I mean, I have taken the girls to absolutely everything you can possibly imagine, every single play that’s ever played in Mumbai for five, six years, we’ve done everything. And I think on some level, because all of that shut down during COVID. And you know, it was quite a transition period to see, like, what is crunchy? And how can we live elsewhere, keeping the programs intact, and the important parts intact, but also kind of I mean, we have paid anywhere from 1000 to $1,200 a month for rent for the past six years. And yes, granted, it’s a it’s a I mean, it’s small, it’s a three bedroom flat, like 1200 square feet. And yet, it’s 25 people sometimes during lockdown, it was more than 25 people at points. So yeah.

Rick Archer: So you’re sleeping like five or eight or people to a room.

Robin Chaurasiya: I showed you that photo of the the library, right? The

Rick Archer: the world’s Kranthi had books in it. Yeah, yeah.

Robin Chaurasiya: So it’s about 10 people on the floor there. And we don’t have beds, we just have like these mattresses, so everyone lays out the rat at night, and then you roll it up in the morning and put it away that safe space is our classroom. It’s our dining area, it’s everything.

Rick Archer: But if you had if you ended up moving to Rishikesh or someplace and some, it would be harder for girls to leave the red light district and get to you on would you have like a representative in Mumbai who would be liaison or something?

Robin Chaurasiya: Yeah, we would definitely have to. So one of the things that we’ve been talking about is probably moving a bit more towards the like, kind of having a formal school school a little bit more and literally going out to meet these other organizations and getting girls from different red light areas across Kolkata are Delhi and Mumbai and Bangalore. And, you know, sticking with those, let’s say we take 20 Girls, and we’re going to, you know, for three years or four years, do this entire curriculum and everything with them. So maybe moving a little bit more towards that so that we taken girls and we stick with those girls for at least four years. So okay, I have no idea where anything’s going.

Rick Archer: An old friend called me yesterday who said he’s on the board of directors of a school in Rishikesh that has now 600 students or something he wanted to know if I wanted to join the board of directors. And I said, Well, I got a little bit on my plate, but um, you know, I thought of you and I thought, well, maybe some of your girls maybe you could somehow you know, affiliate with that school in some way so girls could go there or something. Anyway, I’ll talk to you about that later. Okay, now there’s this other thing where this friend of yours who is who was has been running this hospice for terminally ill children burned reach the burnout point through some incident which you might want to recount to us and you have agreed to take over her position as well as your grantee work.

Robin Chaurasiya: Thanks for reminding me about this every day, Rick.

Rick Archer: Just wake up Robin. Pinch yourself.

Robin Chaurasiya: Oh, god. Um, so yes, I you know, in Mumbai have always had kind of like we have a group of four or five friends six friends who, so I obviously run coffee and then one person runs his hospice for terminally ill children. Sorry, I’m trying to learn their language. So it’s not terminally ill. It’s life shortening and life threatening diseases. Okay. And these

Rick Archer: are children who are maybe orphans who don’t have anyone to care for them or anything like that, right?

Robin Chaurasiya: And then there’s also within our friends circle, there’s like this, you know, gay couple, one of them is runs a school in like the lower income, like slum communities and stuff. And so all the kids from the hospice go to his school and it’s kind of a network of support that we’ve, you know, built for each other. And I guess so I’ve been friends with this woman for almost seven years or something. And, you know, that night when I was being beaten by the police until five in the morning, like I called her and or somebody called her and

Rick Archer: what are they? What are they doing slapping you hitting you with a stick punching you is? What do you mean?

Robin Chaurasiya: clapping and the yes, the baton that they carry around? All right?

Rick Archer: Yes. And did anybody face consequences for that?

Robin Chaurasiya: Yes, one person got fired? Yes.

Rick Archer: So fired.

Robin Chaurasiya: Me, you know, money, the organization had paid the police a decent amount of money that they thought it was some easy, you know, corruption on the side, let me just earn my 5000 rupees extra for tonight by, you know, they never imagined do the taping it. Yeah, exactly, exactly. Um, and she also has these nights when you know, when her kids die, like, oh, who are you going to call and we’ve always had this kind of ridiculous connection that we both stay up until fourth in the morning every day. And you know, so she always calls me at two in the morning. And whenever she’s calling out to I know, it’s because somebody died. And so I answer the phone, and you know, just let her cry it out, and whatever. And, um, long story short, when I was coming down the mountains, she had contacted me saying that one of our girls had been claiming that she’d been sexually abused by another by a staff member or a male staff member, and they didn’t really believe the story or know what was actually going on. So they asked if we could take her into Kranthi. So we did and eventually, that girl was struggling so much, we had to put her in a mental hospital and she has only been out like, less than a week. Now back at Conde. And, um, as it turns out, it wasn’t just this one girl, it was quite a few people and that the guy was, yeah, that’s thing. Yeah. And I mean, mind you, all these kids have telecine, cancer, HIV, you know, like, it’s, I mean, what, I don’t know what to say. And he basically, she kept calling me the whole time I’ve been traveling in Europe, she keeps calling one time it was like, I’m so done. I have like, I am done with this organization. I can’t, I can’t manage this anymore. I’ve given all I can I just don’t have any like, and also the guilt of you know, having trusted this guy or the wrong person, or whatever it was. So she kept saying this over and over, like, I’m so done. I’m so done. And then finally, one day, I answered the phone, and Rick, you better believe it? I have no free will. Because these words were being spoken through my mouth. And I had no desire to speak them. And I’m even as I was saying them, I was like, I don’t want to say that. I don’t want to say that. Why am I saying that? I don’t want to say that. It was it was obviously not me. And I said, Look, if you need to take a break of some sort, then I will manage things for you. And she said, I’ll get back to you on that tomorrow. And she called back the next day and was like, Yes, please, I’m going on a 10 month sabbatical. And I’d like you to take over. And so, you know, I wish I’d shut the hell up the day before. But I guess also, and my kids and everyone around me was like, Wait, what the hell are you talking about? We’re barely you know, we can barely keep. I do so much fundraising, and I can barely keep afloat with Kranthi work. It’s another 25 Kids in the shelter home, but they support almost 300 Kids in hospitals, across Mumbai. And I just, you know, I had to say, like, all these years of everything that she’s done for me, and I’ve done for her as well. But when I was talking about this concept of love, like all those times that you see each other, and you have pizza and wine together. And then you know, we get together we bitch about our kids, we complain about the you know, politics and police and this and that. And then you know, of course, every night when we parted ways I hug her and say thank you, and I love you. And in that moment of when you need to take space for yourself and figure out your own life in some way. After all you’ve given to these hundreds of kids. If I’m not there for you, then what was all of my love ever worth? And unfortunately, this this whole thing about being a slave to love, right? That it’s still not a choice. It’s really not. And unfortunately, I said the words, I can’t take them back. So I had asked you as well, if you would be willing to post links at the end of this interview about, you know, fundraising for coffee, where people can make tax exempt donations in the US and around the world as well as for this organization, which is Happy Feet home. And yeah, I mean, I’m if I couldn’t, for all the people who came together to give me my space for my break as well. Um, you can’t pay it back, but at least you can pay it forward, right?

Rick Archer: Yeah, I’ve already set up a page that will be putting up when I put up your interview and it has links to the things where you can donate to karate and to Happy Feet as it’s called. And I hope that you get a lot of support from that. One of the one of the things we’re going to talk about is And you gave me this list of about 10 Different things that all had three and then three gurus three spiritual moments in childhood, etcetera. We’ve talked about most of those things already three karate stories, but another one was a couple of them here towards the end. Three big moments on the mountain surrender Samadhi and goat’s meditation. What’s that?

Robin Chaurasiya: Yeah, so let’s let’s shift to the mountain part of life. leave Mumbai and go to the Himalayas.

Rick Archer: If I ever get to India, and you happen to be in the mountains, I’d like to come up and visit you and you know hang out with you in that hut for a few days.

Robin Chaurasiya: I don’t know if you might want to do days but few hours might be really great

Rick Archer: if I had a good sleeping bag and brought some water some food

Robin Chaurasiya: Yeah, I’ll send you the photos of the inside of the house as well. You haven’t

Rick Archer: seen Hey, I’m a tough guy. I’ve done a lot of camping anyway.

Robin Chaurasiya: There’s something absolute look, Rick I as difficult as it is, and as shitty as it is. There’s not a single day I opened the door and it’s gorgeous, right? That’s view in the world, in the world. Not that I’m biased. I’m biased. So it’s okay. Beautiful view in the world in the world. And yeah, so um, oh goodness. I don’t even know how far back to go. But long story short in 2019, late 19 I was diagnosed with burnout whatever that means, because obviously it was a very

Rick Archer: smoke coming out of your ears right.

Robin Chaurasiya: For people who file a user spoken quite a bit about our Veda and I think you said your brother in law’s and are really doctor or something.

Rick Archer: Yeah, so he runs a PhD program here at Mercy international university training Ayurvedic people students.

Robin Chaurasiya: Yeah. So I started to believe a lot more in our way this after I went through this burnout and kind of you know, read a lot and learned a lot and especially on the mountain because I’m only eating one meal a day and you know, able to pay so much more attention to what’s going on in my body because of certain foods. It was quite a quite a learning experience in

Rick Archer: terms of it was what it was a skimpy meals, just some rice and dal and you lost tons of weight. Not tons, but you lost a lot of weight. And you’ve since regained.

Robin Chaurasiya: Yes, I was 100 pounds when I came down the mountain, and I’m 25 now so a kilo a week. And I’m on a very I keep joking with everyone. I’m on a very strict cheese and wine diet.

Rick Archer: You’re You’re like a bear, you just need to fatten up before you go back into hibernation.

Robin Chaurasiya: Exactly. So yeah, the the meal in I mean, what can I say I did not because of COVID. And because of lockdown and everything I went nine months, 10 months without seeing a piece of fruit without seeing a tomato or without seeing. I mean, all that I had was what was grown locally. So I had rice and lentils, a whole supply of them. But potatoes because the only thing grows up there. And carrots, and sometimes a bit of like collard greens in the summer. So that’s all I ate for nine months. 10 months, I didn’t see I didn’t see anything except for that. And I also i i went eight months without bathing at one point. So it was quite a

Rick Archer: fortunately didn’t have to interact with anybody.

Robin Chaurasiya: Yeah, um, and so in irae, that there’s this whole concept around what burnout is, which is very different from what the Western medical, you know, allopathic medicine might talk about it. So it was really interesting, kind of watching the process of the fire come back, because that’s literally what it is burned out. So you know. And then, interestingly enough, I returned from Europe was already kind of struggling health wise, workwise everything and I unpacked all of my stuff when I got back to crunchy and for some odd reason, I always had a photo of Shri M one of geshay and one of Swami up on my altar. And when I unpacked everything for some odd reason I just couldn’t find Gesha Allah’s or SRAMs photos anywhere like somebody had done something but they had just disappeared. And that was my first inkling that whatever Swami my Hindu guru says to me is going to be the most important thing and so I went I went shopping if you will, asking my gurus what I was supposed to do at this point and Sham is a very very I mean he’s very get your button gear and work kind of thing. Which this one is as well get Sheila is as well but he gets levels a bit more trying to urge me to move towards maybe three or four hours of meditation every day along with you know, so in the morning, I just dedicate that time to meditation and then do the crown the work throughout the day and I was like Ashleigh What What planet are you living on? Because you don’t live in my life? I mean, literally another girl we had, who was 16 When I left for the mountains she was I don’t know what happened came back from from Europe and just what can I say I was running away running off with random guys late at night I was literally the only thing that would make me be able to get her home was say I message the police and if you don’t want to come home now we can meet at the police station at seven in the morning. So this was the only way I could, like get her home. So she went through a couple months of that really struggled. She’s quite well she’s studying in just outside Boston now. So got her shit together somehow and just really realized during lockdown that that she had to get her get her button here. And when I, so then everyone saw me or sorry, good Sheila and tram have always very much been on, like figuring out how to make coffee and your spiritual life balance. And I just couldn’t find a way. And I tried this for years, but I just couldn’t show them and also been saying this to me for years, like, do you have to dedicate this time to meditation and everything, actually, on some level, he was also like, the meditation doesn’t matter. It’s not important in your life, as long as you’re doing this work, and you’re doing it, you know, completely giving your all. It’s not that meditation is going to be the big thing that somehow changes or whatever. And then my Hindu guru, Swami, Swami, and he had also, again, had very weird and curious kind of situation with him that I found his book while I was waiting for in Mumbai in 2016. While I was waiting for a girl to get done with a hospital appointment, and I picked up the book and something about it really struck me like it talks about how he moved to Australia at 18. At 25, he became a multimillionaire with companies in five different countries at 29, he walked to his his colleague and said, You know, it’s all yours, I’m renouncing. And something in that struck such a chord with me that I knew that was going to happen to me sooner or later, somehow, maybe not in robes, but that I was going to take that path. And so I put the book down, because I couldn’t afford it. I can’t buy books anyway. So I left the book, and left the bookstore. And two days later, somebody called him was like, Hey, we’re want to send a really big donation of clothes, and whatever, whatever. And art supplies over to Kranthi. I said, Great, wonderful. The shipment arrived. And on top of it was Tommy’s book. So I read this book, and of course, ended up meeting him. But just something about, I don’t know how to explain it, I just always knew that that was going to be part of my journey. And when I went to him with this whole thing about burnout, he said, take a break, you tell me how long the break is going to be, then I’ll tell you what you’re supposed to be doing. That’s meditation. And the crazy thing is that he has after people read his book, literally 1000s of people have come up to him saying I want to go to the mountains, because he spent two years in the Himalayas, meditating 22 hours a day. And his brain, of course, is on some different level, there’s a lot of people who come to kind of research on, you know, his, like his brainwaves and things like that. And he told me to find a place that is remote, but safe, blah, blah, blah. And it was really, as far as everyone I know who’s affiliated with his ashram, and the only person who is told to go do this, and everyone else, especially female disciples, whenever they go for some long stint of sadhna, three months, six months, whatever they’re always given, you know, they’re always placed in somebody’s home where they have access to water, toilets, you know, food safety, that kind of thing. And I’m the only person as far as I knew that he’s ever said to go sit in the mountains. So I listened. And I left in January or February of 2020, just before the pandemic started just before lockdown happen. And what can I say the last thing he said to me, before I walked out the door was stay offline, nothing drastic is going to happen in the world. Well, that obvious COVID happened. So it was quite probably the most life altering or world altering thing that’s happened in the past, you know, several decades. And I, what can I say, I mean, living with these kids, and in this home for the past 10 years of my life, in some ways, it was all I knew, and the anxiety that came with leaving them behind, it’s one thing to leave behind a family of healthy and happy, highly functioning adults or kids. And it’s another thing behind, you know, traumatized teens with so many mental health issues, all these financial struggles, and then you know, my co founder, who was handling everything, and it was quite a really, really, really, really, there. I can’t say enough release to explain what this was. And when I got up there, and the day that I went offline was just like, I mean, I literally sat down the phone, turned off the phone and everything sat and cried for hours. And then that was the moment of surrender that I finally just had to let go. And I still would not have used the word God at that point because I was just meditating as a you know, as a practice, not necessarily as a seeking Darshan or anything like that. And for some reason, this thing arose in me that who am I to think that I can? First of all this girl is doing these things whether I’m there or not, so it’s not like my being there actually improves her life or fixes anything in any way. And you Get to that moment was also just like, Okay, I just have to leave it up to you, whatever this view is, whether it’s God, whether it’s the universe, whatever it is the ground of being, you know, whatever it is, I just have to give it up completely and who am I to think that I love this girl more than you do. And who am I to think that I know what’s best for her life more than you do. And it was the hardest letting go I’ve ever done of my life, just that this is going to go where it’s going to go to found this organization to live with these kids, everything that I had been through the past 10, you know, decade of my life. And yet to just say like, Okay, if I handed over, I surrender, there was absolutely nothing else to do at that point. And, of course, I followed this crazy regime of you know, getting up and sitting down to meditation first thing in the morning and everything. And within a week of going offline. In my morning meditation, I had a, I don’t know, I don’t want to put time on it. But something like let’s just say for the sake of time, 30 seconds experience of I don’t know what the word is, let’s say God, let’s say somebody, let’s say whatever you want to say. And, of course, it was everything that you’ve ever read about right. Such as an under like, it’s literally I mean, and yet, going back to that whole thing as a child, when at 13, I had that glimpse, weird glimpse of like non existence and how much it scared me. And yet, this was something like the liberation of being non existent was something else completely. And the literally, whoever came up with the word bliss, that’s the only word that fits, there is no other word that fits. And then, as I told you, basically, after that experience, it took a couple hours for the kind of ego and the mind and everything to come back. And then there I was, still with eight months, nine months to go of silence and solitude and, you know, no phone and nothing. And I went into the, into that, they

Rick Archer: told me that you, you have no trouble sitting in Lotus without back support for 90 minute meditations and then taking a break, and then doing another one like that. That’s that alone is impressive. I mean,

Robin Chaurasiya: I think what we’re talking about then was that, you know, the whole choice and whatever it is, but that’s something that’s acting within us is something that’s driving and preparing us in all ways, on all levels at all times. And one of the things that happened is, you know, while I was working out Kranthi, 2016 1718, I just have this thing for yoga, and I would literally, I would do my whole day of work, I would go to Starbucks in the evening and work at Starbucks until it closed at 1am. Come home at 130. And from 130 until three every single day without fail, I would do hardcore yoga. I don’t know why I have no idea why I

Rick Archer: didn’t get up at seven, eight and six or seven or eight in the morning. after that.

Robin Chaurasiya: I was attending, I am kinda

Rick Archer: okay. Good, I’m glad.

Robin Chaurasiya: But um, you know, and for whatever reason, as they say that, that that yogo cleanses all the things that are supposed to be cleansed. And yes, I was so fortunate that, you know, it’s funny, because I kind of noticed now that I’m not meditating, I’m eating whatever the heck I want. And now that, you know, I’ve been on vacation for three months, I guess, I am starting to notice these differences in like, you know, for example, when I’m in the mountains, I don’t have any place to lay down or lounge or anything. So I’m sitting up straight all day all the time. And so I noticed now that now that I have like a sofa, I’ll be like, Oh, I’m going to go lay on the sofa. And these things that change within our body that you know how we’re living. And of course, the meals that we’re eating cheese is very different from a you know, doll travel. So yeah, um,

Rick Archer: you deserve a little opulence, I think.

Robin Chaurasiya: I think so too. Because also, when I go back in January, probably I’ll stay for at least a month, I don’t know how long they’ll stay before my friend decides to take her break that I’ll have to come back. That month, I’m definitely gonna lose 20 pounds again. So I deserve the cheese for now. And yeah, I guess, for whatever reason, it was like this preparation had already been rolling before I reached to the mountains, obviously. So I had the I never, not even once what I say, Did I experience any body pain, like a little bit of knee pain from the city, but besides that, like absolutely nothing never knows. Of course, I’d also been in therapy for many years. So the therapy also has a lot to do with, you know, kind of somatic work that’s looking at the body and looking at where things are stored in the body. So I had had years of therapy at that point as well.

Rick Archer: You had your Samadhi experience and then you were about to say that things started to go downhill from there.

Robin Chaurasiya: Yes. Not started to go downhill and they just went off the cliff. Yeah, well, that’s that’s a good way to put it. Yeah. And I think so after that extreme. There is, of course, just like many people who are completely delusional about what Enlightenment means, or what, you know, awakening looks like or what it means exactly. I also had this idea that somehow I was going to be, you know, first of all, that this experience was going to be regular. That was one delusion I had. Second of all, that there comes a time when, like, I really liked how you interviewed somebody named Jessica, a couple months ago, and she had said that Enlightenment is not a permanent LSD trip. And that’s totally exactly how I thought it would be. So that’s, you know, my expectation of it. So the fact that I couldn’t get back into that I, even though I had seen at that point that there was no i doing this and it was not in my hands. And I finally clicked that it doesn’t matter whether I sit 10 hours, it doesn’t matter whether I am in the mountains, whether I’m you know, wherever, only you are in charge here. So no amount of sitting, no amount of the fasting, no amount of like nothing can get anyone there by any means. So once I saw that, then I just felt screwed. Well, first of all, what the hell am I doing here? Second of all, nothing is in my hands. Third of all, you know, it’s like saying, Swami always says that, you know, if you put in those hours, because he’s put in, I don’t know, some, I don’t know, 15,000 30,000 hours of meditation. If you put in what I put in, then you will get what I got. And it’s, I came to realize that that’s just not true. Because, you know, it’s like saying, Well, you and I and Irene and we’re all going to start playing the piano tomorrow. And in five years time, we’re going to meet and all put in these exact amount of hours. And we’re going to see where everyone’s level is, well, guess what we come with those proclivities or the past or, you know, whatever. So me putting in XYZ amount of hours actually doesn’t, you know, it, you will be at a very different level. And I will be at a very different level when we sit down to play the piano five years from now, no matter how many hours we put in. So once you know that, then what the hell do you do with your mind? Because nothing I do, can get this eye any closer to this new, let’s call it that for now. And I literally would like sit in meditation, and I can’t stop my mind. I can’t do anything about stopping it, I would literally bang my head against the wall. I Stonewall mind you, I would literally bang my head against the wall. Because when you realize just how not in control you are of it and that it’s not in your hands. Well, then what right and this whole idea, I think, let me just say that the experience with BatGap When I finally got online a little bit and started downloading these interviews and listening to them, I think the joy of it was like realizing one thing that I say to the kids is to use God language for the God that took the time to give Rick and Robin and every single one of my kids, not a fingerprint. But it’s not that I have one fingerprint, and you have you have 10 and I have 10 and everyone else has 10 the God the being whatever energy, the ground of being that took the time to, you know, to create all of us is so special and individual, how could one How could the journey ever be the same? It can’t be? And I think you don’t let’s just personify God for the fun of it right now. God kind of got bored with this whole story of monk sitting in a cave. And now clearly Gods on a different, you know, experimenting with different you know, and so I know a lot of the people that you mentioned, what was her name? Sheryl. I think the the French or the American woman who was had this thing in France, Sheryl Sue, and singing trance, a book book the call, and quite often, she was standing at a bus stop in Paris. Oh,

Rick Archer: yes. Suzanne Siegel collision with the infinite

Robin Chaurasiya: seagull. And then also you interviewed one woman who I think her name was Ananda. And she shared this crazy story, but also she has, like I saw her book and where she talked about how she was enlightened after a three year solitary Zen retreat in Japan. And what that meant was that she got caught trafficking drugs from OSHA’s ashram into Japan ended up in jail was in solitary confinement and basically could do nothing but meditate, granted, Nanda, right? Yes. And so she had this awakening or whatever. And what if she said to us, if you do what I do what I did, you would get what I got, well, then what we all go off trafficking drugs, you know, like, so, obviously, it was quite the biggest thing that I got from BatGap was just realizing how different and extremely beautiful and exceptional every single story is, in so many ways. But,

Rick Archer: and that was one of my motivations for starting BatGap, as I’ve heard you say, I mean, as you’ve heard me say, which was that, you know, I have friends here in this community who had undergone spiritual awakenings and they would tell a friend and the friend would say, wait a minute, you’re not like Maharishi or somebody you seem like an ordinary Joe, how could you have had this experiential awakening? Wait, I mean, I’ve got to somehow let people tell their story. Alright, so people realize that you don’t have to be some, you know, white robe special person. It’s, it’s something for everybody. Anyway, yeah, I just wanted to sort of spread that notion in the world a little bit.

Robin Chaurasiya: Yeah. And then also, everyone’s awakening might be different. And some people are meant to go on and become amazing teachers, the audio shanties of today and the you know, those kinds of people. In those, that’s who Ramana Maharshi was, as well. And that’s who you know, Nisargadatta was as well. That’s who Ramakrishna was, as well. But for every Ramakrishna, who was there, there were probably 1000 other people who might have been awakened. But first of all, there was no BatGap At the time, so we don’t know their stories. But also just the being the teacher is not the only path that comes as a result of awakening. Many paths come, or maybe you continue walking the same path. But this idea we have of like, you know, once you’re awakened, then you’re going to become like a spiritual teacher, and you’re going to, you know, wear XYZ, like, that’s what really fell away for me from listening to BatGap. And all these different interviews over and over. Yeah,

Rick Archer: yeah. And you can be, you know, highly awakened and living in so called ordinary life and never tell us all and yet be having a profound influence on the world by your very existence.

Robin Chaurasiya: Yeah. And I think some of the most beautiful, that kid you interviewed a couple of weeks ago, what was his name? Matt? Yeah. The Gorman or something. I remember watching the video, and it was one of the first videos I’ve watched, because when I listened to you, I would only just download the audio, I didn’t have enough, you know, capacity for the videos, and listening to him and how beautifully he articulated so many things like that was really lovely, but also like, what was it he’s working with, like security at a clothing store? Or something?

Rick Archer: Yeah, maybe he’s doing something else now. But he was doing that. Yes.

Robin Chaurasiya: And how lovely, you know, like that. I think one of the big things for me when I first kind of got onto the Buddhist path was, and this is why I love the name of the show as well. But the biggest thing for me was like a conscious practice to treat every single person I encounter every single day, as if they’re enlightened, or they’re awakened. They’re the Buddha. And it just so happens that I’m interacting with you, but you never know who those people are. So treat everyone like you would treat a Buddha treat a sex worker like you would treat a Buddha.

Rick Archer: There’s a verse in the Bible about, you know, you’ll never know when you might be entertaining an angel. So, you know, treat everyone accordingly.

Robin Chaurasiya: Yes. What was that that interview also really shook me. That Australian woman who basically was awakened by what while she was being raped?

Rick Archer: Yeah, the sera, sera, I’ve interviewed her twice. Yeah,

Robin Chaurasiya: you know, so these kinds of stories, like, first of all, thank you, because, you know, they need to get out. And it’s really beautiful that they’re being told, but these kinds of experiences. And of course, she had a crazy saga after that as well, the Dalai Lama and all of that stuff. But just that the the, I mean, I think that’s a really clear and beautiful story sharing that everything is contained within this love, or within this, call it the dream, call it the play, call it Lila call it love, call it whatever you want. But everything, even the experience of being raped is contained within that on, you know, and can’t not be contained within that.

Rick Archer: So I mean, if Brahman is the all pervading all inclusive reality, then, like, not everything is contained within that. Yeah. Some would say nothing is contained, because nothing ever happened. But that’s a whole Mandukya Upanishad angle.

Robin Chaurasiya: But also, I just wanted to say so to me, this whole concept of the three realities, and that all of the realities are, you know, at whatever, simultaneously, constantly. I mean, it’s just one, but one of the stories that I heard on BatGap ones, I always used to talk to the girls, when they asked me about this whole spiritual experience, or whatever. And it was about I mean, I’m butchering the story, because I’ve told it so many times, and I’ve edited it so many times to kind of tailor to my 15 year old, 16 year old kids. But I remember this woman sharing the story of kind of as a joke, but that some people were waiting around at a bus stop. And, you know, everyone is like chit chatting, and the bus is actually going from heaven to earth. And people start talking about, oh, how was your life? And how was your life? And where are you going now and that kind of thing. And somebody there says, Again, I’ve added a lot to the story in order to make it engaging for my 15 year olds. So I don’t know what she shared and what is mine now at this point, but I will say to the kids like so you know, these people start talking about where they’re going. And well this one man says that I experienced this really amazing experience called forgiveness in my last life. And I thought that it was the height of the human experience. And it was like, you know, but then I got to heaven and I found out it was only like a level two forgiveness. It wasn’t even that high. So now I’m going back and I want to experience like a level 10 forgiveness. And everyone says, Oh, wow, how amazing what is that going to be like? And he says, Well, I’m gonna go back and you know, have a normal Life, a family, kids everything. And one day I will you know, while I’m driving, be hit by a car that will kill my wife and children, whatever and paralyze me. But on my deathbed, I’m going to finally forgive that person. And that’s going to be like, you know, a level 10 Forgiveness and everyone just kind of like, oh, wow, how amazing that life sounds wonderful. And he says, I need somebody from the bus stop to be the drunk driver. And that everyone’s like, Oh, no, no, I don’t want that job. Right? Nobody wants Putin’s job. Nobody wants Trump’s job, right. But I don’t want that job. And then he says, but the bus isn’t going to come until somebody from here agrees to be the driver. And so I share this with my kids also, mostly for them to see that it’s quite easy to take an experience like like rape, like trafficking, like abuse, and on some level be so stuck in that becoming your identity. To the point that, you know, I asked one of my girls, is it possible that the person who abused you that you asked him to at the bus stop? Is that possible. And then I have some people, you know, add Kranthi, who are just like, I have plenty of girls who are in that space already, who would say whatever happened to me is the best thing that ever happened to me. Because otherwise, I never would have come to Kranthi, I would have just had this ordinary life, as you know, whatever, I never would have gotten to see the world to interact with people who would never have had access to therapy, would never have had the chance to get into spirituality. So plenty of the girls are there. But some girls are like, everything can be contained within the one except rape. You know, that’s very like, and I like to personify God sometimes just to kind of give him the finger. It’s the finger. Because, you know, like, even just last week, there was a series of earthquakes. And they Paul and my friend who’s like, the one who owns the house where I stay, I was messaging with her. And she was like, oh, but thank God, nobody’s died. There’s no reports of death yet. And I’m like, wait, thank who? Because who do you think caused that earthquake? You know, so, like, I I’m kind of stuck in this space right now, where it’s just, I’m swearing and cussing at God all the time. And, you know, it’s, it’s just so bullshit, for lack of a better word. On some level, you know, I was thinking about when we were in Paris, I also took the girls to the Eiffel Tower, because I was like, no, let’s go see. And, of course, the girls are doing their thing for two hours taking selfies, and taking each other’s photo and everything. And I’m standing in line for two hours without any money, Rick, I had $12 in the bank account, but I was like, I’m gonna go go up there. And I’m gonna see if I can start talking to somebody and convince them to give me tickets. And let’s see, I started talking to this Indian American woman from Colorado, and we started chatting, and she was there for her her son’s graduation, he was had just finished 12. And we talked for an hour or something standing in line. By the time that we got up to the front of the line, she was before me. So she turned around from the line. I was about to go around her. She said, No, no, Robin, wait, here’s your 24 tickets. And she handed me those tickets. And now when I look back on it, I was like, Okay, wait. So first of all, you gave Robin the idea that you’re supposed to go to her to the Eiffel Tower, and you made everyone missed the bus and be late. And so therefore we reached out this time, then you stuck Robin, in this line next to this woman. And then you started talking as Robin to this woman about Conte. And then as this woman you said, Oh, wow, let me get those tickets. And then you know, at the end of the day, we’re like, what’s a miracle? And I’m like, do you get bored from this game or not? Because literally, you’ve been playing it for billions of years. And there’s

Rick Archer: never a dull moment. You know, it’s a very dynamic universe. And, and if it’s a drama, it’s an extremely tragic, comic, intense drama, with with heights of ecstasy and depths of misery and tremendous kindness and tremendous violence. And, boy, what a play.

Robin Chaurasiya: Yeah, it is. It’s absolutely perfect and beautiful. Definitely. And, I mean, nevermind, the human experience, nevermind all of that. But one of the things that, you know, whenever I hear you speak about this, I kind of another bone to pick with you was that, you know, there’s this kind of like, when people talk about what we’re moving towards, or what we’re moving, you know, towards a more enlightened society, or maybe we’re progressing towards something. And I’ve had a few moments on the mountain that have really shut this down for me. But one of the things again, explaining to 15 year old I say, Okay, let’s just imagine that you’re going to go watch a movie, and the movie is called, I love you. And for two hours, we’re going to sit around, there’s going to be five people at the movie and or, you know, for now, there’s just Robin and Rick. So let’s say, you know, Robin says to Rick, I love you. And then Rick says to Robin I love. And then I say I love you. And you say I love you. How long is this movie going to be entertaining? Right? 30 seconds, right? And then we’re tired of it. So when I talk to the girls, I also try to explain to them in the sense that if God took quantify, because that’s the simplest way to talk to them, especially if God is watching a movie. Well, this I love you, I love your movie, it’s going to be really boring, isn’t it? So yes, there has to be rape and it has to be trafficking and it has to be this and it has to be that and all of those things combined to make the beauty of the movie, everyone there needs to be an antagonist and a protagonist or need to be a Trump and used to be a Putin there needs to be a Modi there needs to be all these people involved in? And how do we so much of the spiritual journey, to not judge ourselves for the role that we’ve been given or that we’re sitting here playing, but also to not judge the people that we’re not so thrilled about? Right, the the movies and the Trumps, and the Putin’s and all those people, but

Rick Archer: some people listening might be thrilled about those people.

Robin Chaurasiya: About that, but um, yeah, I guess like, we can’t fault them for the role that they’ve been given in this as well, there’s, there’s a really amazing Rumi story, that that I read once, where he, he shares a story about a king who basically asks a slave of his slave girl, to go around and try to win over all of the men who work there. And then he wants the slave girl to come back to him and report to him who had kind of assaulted him out and who was loyal to the King. So it was a test of loyalty. Now, that girl in particular, she’s working for the king, just as much as all those men are working for the king. And we might look at her like, she has this XYZ role, or she’s a terrible person, or she does this and this, but she’s just playing the role that she was given by the king. And the king, of course, and Sufi traditions, and so many ways is, you know, to look at God in that way, or whatever. And we’re all here doing our roles. But, but, but I think, you know, a lot of the conversations that you and I had while I was on the mountain, we’re just kind of around. It’s hard to balance at that point, like, Yes, this is my role. And yes, this is fine. But, you know, no matter how hard Robin works, trafficking is never going to end. And no matter how much it’s what’s her name, Greta, you know, the little girl. Yeah, no matter how much she works, climate change is not going to become fixed. Because again, in this drama, what would Robin have done with her life? If there was no trafficking? Maybe something else? Fine. But if there was nothing, no social work to be done, what would Robin have done with her life? And I always think of also, you know, you’ve mentioned in a couple of interviews, how, as a kid, when you were a little kid, you enjoyed pouring sugar on the floor and watching the ants come in. And you know, and I spent a lot of time watching nature in the mountains a lot, because, well, there’s only so much meditation you can do. And sometimes I sit on the ground, and I look at these ants, and I’m like, you know, just to make things simple and personify God again. You know, I look at these ants, and I’m like, so God was thrilled by the idea of having these ants and I don’t know how many they number in the quadrillions or whatever, I don’t know what the number

Rick Archer: is a million ants for every human being in the world.

Robin Chaurasiya: Oh my god. Okay. So when I watched those ads, it’s like, they all come out. And you know, sometimes I toss little crumbs at them just to watch what they’re gonna do and everything. But, I mean, I’m being very literal and basic here, but let’s just go with it for now. Basically, God created all these ads. And then God is like, Wait, what are we going to do all day? Oh, everyone has to run around, you know, several kilometers to go find a piece of sugar or a piece of something, a dead moth, that they’re going to tear apart. And, you know, like, this is what is going to shape their lives for the next four hours or for the next five days, or whatever it is, the work that ants do is just absolutely extraordinary. And yet, somebody created you, and then you then got bored, but couldn’t leave you sitting around doing nothing. So you got put to work doing all these things. And if we just put ourselves in the place of the and that’s what we’re doing as well. Right. And there definitely needs to be work to be done, whether it’s on climate change, whether it’s on trafficking, whether it’s on sex work, whether it’s on queer rights, there needs to be work that we are doing.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, God himself, you know, Krishna says in the Gita, what would happen if I were not ceaselessly engaged in activity?

Robin Chaurasiya: Yeah. And it brings a beauty with it and a joy with it that, you know, to look at that and, and also, like, I think I mentioned to you that I’d had these three moments of, sorry, we got way off track and and we were supposed to be answering some specific question, but I forgot. Um, but I’ve had these three moments of like, just ecstasy that really stick out to me. And because I’ve had those experiences, then I always assumed that there was coming a time where I was going to be living in that kind of ecstasy all the time. Like I had that belief, I guess, that illusion, delusion, whatever you want to call it, but um, I think one of those moments was, you know, when you think of everything, again, another way, simple way that I tried to explain to the kids is imagine that you know, you are under I think So Rick is dreaming. And in that dream, Robin is, you know, sitting in Belgium with her wine and cheese and really enjoying her wine and cheese. And then Robin gets into a fight with her friend or whatever. So, in this dream, what is Robin made of? Cheese made of, you know Rick’s mind? And what is the cheese made of? It’s made of bricks mind, and what is the pizza made over the, you know, the wine made of it’s made of bricks mind. And in that same way, this is what we are made of now call it God call it a law, call it love call it the ground of being Call it whatever you want. But this is what we’re made of. And there’s nothing else that you could be besides that. So that moment of realizing that every single being is in this dream, every single and every single human, every single Putin every single, you know, everything is in this dream of existence, because it’s wanted here. There wasn’t by mistake, somebody wasn’t just put into this by mistake, right? And I think like the moment where you see this is just so mean, there’s what words can I use, it’s perfect, and it’s beautiful, and it’s magnificent. And yet, you know it, I literally when I have those days of ecstasy, I’m like, I don’t eat because I couldn’t care less about food, I’m just dancing across the mountains. And, you know, it’s these, those days are like, the seeing and the clarity and the the, I mean, I don’t know any other word except ecstasy. It just carries you in a way that I guess part of when you asked me when I’m doing on the mountain is that in some way, I’m hoping that that ecstasy is going to settle into me so permanently, that the work is going to become easy. And that, you know, I won’t have to cry over XYZ every single day in some way. That’s what I’m hoping for. I don’t know if that’s what’s going to happen or what the journey is. But

Rick Archer: I think it’ll tend in that direction. But it takes a lifetime. And it’s never final and ultimate and complete and are completely imperturbable. But it’s it’s a lifetime journey, where more and more and more, one gets stabilized in what is referred to in Sanskrit as qu Tasa, the rock like, and which can’t be shaken. But it helps not only to, in my experience and opinion, not only to have like annual retreats to the mountains, but to have some kind of daily practice. So you can dip into it every day and refresh yourself. And that helps to stabilize and integrate it more than if it were just, you know, once a year or something like that.

Robin Chaurasiya: Yeah. And I guess, you know, the whole sitting on the mountain thing. So one of the stories that I wanted to mention as well was the rope story that at some point, I was just like, so sick and done with everything. And it was still six months, that I was supposed to be offline. And I would have a lot of like suicidal thoughts about like, Well, I’m not in control, there is no i, what the hell am I supposed to do with this, which is why I really connect with when you talk about the damage of Neo Advaita type of teachings. Like I get it, I was in that space without having read any of these things. That’s the space I was in that. What am I doing here at this point, because there is nothing that this I can do. And I might as well just quit whatever. And so when they had a very bad meditation, and I got up and I was like, I’m gonna kill myself today. And I took a walk, and I happened to find a rope. And then I thought, haha, this is a sign because how would I find a rope with foot, you know, without the intention of killing myself. So I took the rope back and into my heart, and I tied up the rope and everything. And oh my god, I can’t I can’t explain. Like, I mean, many people can understand obviously, like the the depths and shittiest the lowest depths of despair. And I just wrote a little note to my group, and I said, Look, I’m so done tomorrow. I’m giving you till tonight to you know, figure out whatever. And that’s it. I’m leaving. I’m exiting this game bullshit game of yours, that kind of thing. And I got into bed at 5pm. Normally, I sit for meditation from like five to 10 or something. But I was like, I’m not even going to bother trying. I got to my sleeping bag and cried. And I mean, yeah, I cried. And 4:35am or something, somebody bangs on my door, and I got out of bed and I was like, What in the heck is this? It’s pitch black outside, and I normally see one person a month hardly. And I opened the door and there’s four men at the door. And one of them was a Saudi who like, you know, in robes and stuff? And I said, Yes. Can I help you? Chai water? What can I do for you? And they’re like, no, no, we’re so sorry to bother you. But we saw your house and we’re actually going on a week long trek, and the bag that is carrying all of our supplies and food broke. Do by chance have a rope that we can borrow. That was just another moment of like, you know Giving you know, I can’t lie about it either. So I gave them the damn rope. And I was like, Okay, well, if this is the sign then fine. I’ll sit again today. And you know, but it’s really hard to, to balance the nothingness with the role and all of that stuff as well. I, I had also One moment while just walking on the mountain one day where, you know, I, you’ve done a couple of interviews with people who kind of specialize in talking about the use, and I don’t necessarily know that much about it. And I don’t necessarily believe I don’t know, I’m just not an expert. I don’t understand any of it.

Rick Archer: Josie Selby, I did one with him about the yugas

Robin Chaurasiya: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And he Bramante Yogananda as a teacher, I’ve done writing, right, yeah. And, um, you know, I just, I was walking and crying, crying and walking, as I did many, many, many days of the year. And I just had this moment of it kind of like, came into me or through me, whatever you want to call it that. You know, I don’t know how many years from now, maybe 10,000 years from now, maybe 10 million years from now, you are in love with this character called Robin who was sitting on a mountain crying and longing for you. And someday, there will be another Robin, with the exact same story, maybe not the name Robin. But there will be somebody else with this exact same story, walking on a mountain crying either 10 years from now, or 10,000 years from now, or 10 million years from now. And in that moment, you realize that there is nothing but now in the experience that can be right now is all that matters, and all that exists. There’s no other I mean, what are we striving towards? Because guess what, no matter what I strive towards 10 million years from now you’re gonna have another Robin back here. And you know, I don’t know if whatever, I will be part of that other thing, whatever. But yeah, this is not this is the journey, this crying and walking and crying and walking and you know, running crunchy and being upset about you know, everything, fundraising and everything. This is it. And this moment is it. And then you’re just kind of screwed because there is no progress that I’m walking towards. There is no progress that society is making. Even if you believe in the US there is still there’s an up spiral towards you know, and enlightened society. But then there’s, again, the the downward thing back into Kali yuga, and everything. So where are we going?

Rick Archer: Well, there’s cycles, but for individual souls, there’s progress. And, you know, you, you know, you won’t necessarily being the playing the same role. 10 million years now, as you’re playing now. You know, you could have ascended to a much higher octave of creation. That’s what I believe anyway. Other people will be playing similar roles, but because there needs to be all stages for people to move through. But you won’t necessarily have to go through it. Just because there’s cycles doesn’t mean you’re going to come back and be a sea slug or something like that, and then have to work your way up again. You’ve done that then there.

Robin Chaurasiya: Because that whole monk sitting in the cave story, at some point, God was in love with that story. And that was something that was a common experience. But there’s also every single story that’s playing out, it’s playing out because you are in love with it, right? Yeah. Yeah. There could be no other reason for, for everyone in that role.

Rick Archer: The purpose of creation is the expansion of happiness. My teacher used to say that already well, Irene is saying that lunch is ready. She’s making these symbols. He got to eat. Probably wine and cheese, we’ll see. Anyway, you and I could go on for another couple of hours, I’m sure. And we’ll we’ll be in touch I’m sure we’ll have regular private conversations and, you know, scheme about ways in which you know, I can help you, you know, achieve what you’re trying to achieve. And I hope that this interview gives your whole endeavor a nice boost. And that, you know, people feel inclined to help support your work. Because it certainly is wonderful work. And I unlike BatGap page, if people want to get in touch with you, I don’t know if I’ve will you there is a county website. And I guess there’s a contact form on that, right?

Robin Chaurasiya: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, you can put my personal email.

Rick Archer: Okay, I’ll do that too, if people want to contact you. So I hope lots of good things come from this Robin, and I’m really glad I don’t know you didn’t tell in this story. How you first discovered BatGap When you’re in the mountains, but I’m glad you did. And I’m really glad that we’ve gotten to know each other and you know, I feel like you’re gonna be a lifelong friend.

Robin Chaurasiya: It’s been an absolute privilege. I don’t know, whatever. I think when I had first reached out to you, I was still kind of in like, willing to kill myself stages. So

Rick Archer: yeah, as I remember you were and I was sort of saying not such a good idea. Hang on.

Robin Chaurasiya: So yeah, and that gaps been such a huge, huge, huge part of my journey I can’t begin to articulate to you or to I read the amount of gratitude and everything that I owe you. So thank you. That’s all I can possibly say. But may you be repaid a billion fold by by the universe for all that you’ve done for me and for so many other people who I know have, you know, had similar experiences to BatGap Well, it’s

Rick Archer: really joy and I’m already receiving payment by getting to befriend people like you. It gives me great joy.

Robin Chaurasiya: It’s not me it’s

Rick Archer: it’s all God. It’s just God. God. Yeah. Your story, right? Yeah. All right. So thanks so much, and we’ll be in touch and thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching and we will see you for the next one. Okay,