Siddhananda Transcript

Siddhananda Interview

Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer and my guest this week is Siddhananda. Siddhananda lives in the Pacific Northwest, at least at the moment, and is a student of Guru Swami G, whom I interviewed last August, and who Sarojini, whom I’ve interviewed twice, is also a student of, is sort of a fellow student. And she has had some significant shifts in recent weeks, which I’ve listened to her description of a little bit on YouTube. But we’re going to start with a sort of more historical perspective and talk about how she first became interested in spirituality and what she has been through over the years, leading up to the present time. So, welcome and thank you for doing this.

Siddhananda: I’m glad to be here, thank you.

Rick: So, how did you get started? I understand, I think, some comment your guru made that you’ve been a seeker since your teens or early twenties or something.

Siddhananda: Well, I had many spiritual experiences since I was very young. But I can’t say I really started seeking until after my son was born, when he was probably about two years old. And my goodness, now to try to trace back how long ago that was is going to be tricky here. But let’s see, he’s 19 now, so probably about 17 years ago when I got really serious with it. And prior to that, it was… I have to say just a lot of phenomena. There was depression, anxiety, all sorts of things. And there was that ache, that longing that was always there. But after he was, there was just that pull that continued to always be there. And it was just within my heart, I knew that once that timing was right, that things would really get going. But, and my motivation for beginning to meditate after my son was born was mostly because I didn’t want to transmit all of my pain and all of my history to him. You know, so it was more just considering him. But I had no clue what I was in for. It was just, I mean, and I just started out, I have to say, just one of those that honestly I didn’t know what a guru was. I had never read any non-dual texts up until then. I did, I mean, honestly, a swami, none of those things, absolutely clueless. And, or so unimaginably so. But, so just one day it just hit me after, like I say, it was about two, that just this great impulse hit me to meditate. And it was so strong and I started out in a really weird way. I was very drawn to sitting in graveyards and cemeteries. So, whatever that was, just to sit there and to sit with what is death and just as a way to face my fears and things. You know, I just figured I’d go to those. And I guess, again, it wasn’t necessarily an intellectual thing. It was more of a calling to just really start facing those deep down darkest, fears and whatever was there, which I really didn’t know. So I would sit there for hours in graveyards and things and contemplate the death of the form and that kind of thing. You know, even in the dark I’d take walks in the cemetery and that kind of thing. That was really my contemplation. And then I tried to take it a little bit on that lighter end, hopefully picking it up from there. But I started reading Thich Nhat Hanh. And for some reason I just was in a bookstore one day, and honestly I had never read any non-dual text before, but I did find a book by Krishnamurti and I opened up. And some of his poetry really really struck me. I mean, it just struck me so strongly. And then that I just sort of stayed with. If I’m one of those, okay, this sounds so good, that I just kind of would stay with that one thing. Then I started doing some chants that I saw in some of the Buddhist books, you know, just random chants, and just meditated for hours. I mean, I’d cover my eyes up. These things, again, were more spontaneous. It wasn’t that I necessarily read all these things. And then… and again I can’t remember the timeline totally, but a lot of odd things started happening. You know, my body would start just moving and jerking, and weird breath sounds, and all sorts of odd things. And I had absolutely no clue what it was. And it really really scared me, of course, because I was like, “What in the world is this?” And then, my prayer was actually before, was just to be useful for the world, to actually be used for the benefit of humanity. And again, I had no idea what that meant, what the journey that was about to open up by. And it was a very sincere prayer and desire. So, Kundalini just blew wide open, and I have to say it was really really frightening. It was, I just, it bottomed me out. It debilitated me, honestly. It was just visions, voices, I mean, everything imaginable came forward. Yes, kind of thoughts, sometimes.

Rick: So, you didn’t have any formal training in meditation, you just kind of winged it, and did what felt appropriate, I suppose. And as you know, of course, you’re not the first to have this idea of meditating in graveyards. I mean, both Western and Eastern mystics and yogis and so on, have contemplated death as a spiritual practice.

Siddhananda: And I did read that afterwards. I guess I was very drawn to that and pulled towards going through that process of, okay, the body decays, and then what’s the layers under that, and doing all of that. And I did read later that that was something that monks and yogis do, but it wasn’t, honestly, it was just a pull there that was never read about or anything. And who knows, maybe it was a leftover from another life. I mean, I really don’t have any idea what that was about, but it’s very, very potent and definitely effective, because things got moving.

Rick: Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, here’s another example of someone like Sarojini, who hadn’t really been thinking about all this business, and all of a sudden just felt some inspiration, and next thing she knew, there was all this stuff going on, and now you too. And it does make one think that perhaps there’s some other life momentum that’s been built up. And because, I don’t know, I haven’t done any sort of scientific survey, but it seems to me that the average spiritual seeker doesn’t just go out of hell from day one. They just sort of like, “Oh, I think I’ll check this out”. They read books, they do some practices, and they just kind of muddle along for years sometimes without anything really powerful happening. And you’re another example of someone who just seems to have taken off like a shot.

Siddhananda: Yes, I mean, you do pick up where you left off. These things carry over. If that desire is there, that picks up again when the conditions are right and ripe. And that’s understood now, but certainly at the time, it’s more like a pull that you cannot resist. That’s the way that I could say to put it. I mean, it wasn’t even a choice necessarily. It was such a strong pull, like a stronger current than, let’s say, my regular mundane things that I was doing. It pulled stronger. I mean, I honestly didn’t have a choice. It just sort of draws you in in that way. And again, being absolutely clueless what Kundalini was, I honestly don’t think I’d ever even read the word. Maybe in Krishnamurti, but that was later. So, to read about it, I mean, to actually have these things start happening when you’re clueless is very very frightening. And having a little boy to take care of a little child, it was incredibly intense. I mean, some people may have a smoother ride, but I just can’t say. I can only speak to here that it was, like I say, it was just from… not to say that some of this was churning, it was bubbling since I was a teenager for sure, but then it just, whoa, it just broke wide open.

Rick: There’s actually a passage about this in the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna asked Lord Krishna, I mean, Arjuna asked Lord Krishna, what happens to someone who is a yogi and is on the spiritual path, but he dies without having attained liberation? And Lord Krishna says, well, he rises to the world of the pure and illustrious and lives there for a long time and then comes back and picks up the spiritual path from where he left off, basically, having said in so many words. It could very well be that many people speak of this as being an age where there’s a quickening of spiritual development in the world, a kind of a mass awakening. It could very well be that a lot of people who had already reached or developed a great degree of enlightenment are coming back now in order to participate in this time.

Siddhananda: You know, it’s hard to know. I mean, all of that could be, but like I say here, this journey is very much from darkness to light. And I have to say that if for some reason the soul wasn’t a land of purity, it wasn’t there when I came during this process, it was the pits of suffering. And that’s all that one can say is some momentum continued, it seemed like a force. And it would be nice to know that it was right in between the bleeping hours and feeling it then.

Rick: So you feel like your life was, there was a lot of suffering before this?

Siddhananda: Oh yes, I mean just non-stop. And with this coming on, with the Kundalini, it brings up all that’s repressed, that’s in one’s consciousness. And you live on a certain… it’s kind of like a tip of the iceberg, I suppose, is all you think. And then that iceberg gets revealed, the whole thing, and to the bottom of it. It’s very very overwhelming. And like I say here, I had no clue, I had no one to talk to about it. I didn’t have a teacher, and I didn’t know what a guru was. I honestly would read about it, but it didn’t strike as something that… for me it just was clueless, I mean that’s the best way that I can put it. And just sort of going about this mind, and then whoosh, you know.

Rick: So what did you do when this intense Kundalini started to happen? Did you know what it was, or did you think you were going nuts or something?

Siddhananda: I thought I was going nuts, yeah. You know, there was a feeling in there that this was spiritual, and it was a cleansing, but it just floored me. And believe it or not, it was my mom who, when I was so ill and debilitated, said, “You know, maybe this is Kundalini”. And of all things, I mean my mom is not even one that would ever even know that, so I don’t know where that came from, from her, you know. It’s hysterical, because she’s never… yeah, it really was. And she always says, “I was the one who brought that up first”. And then I did begin to read a little bit more about that, and it did come into line with that. But it’s so easy to have it be, it could be a mental illness. Like I said, I went to a psychiatrist, I was put on every psychiatric medication, I was just made a nurse and therapist, because I was really, I mean, very very depressed and anxious, and just trying to survive, to be honest, with my regular stuff. So, because the biggest thing is, it was so weird, like I say, the kriyas began, but verbalizations…

Rick: Kriyas meaning like body thrashing around and so on.

Siddhananda: Mudras, and also speaking in tongues. All of it, when that just whoosh comes out, and then all your fears, and it was very very… when you have no clue about it, and especially if you have a history of having some depression and trauma and things, it just brings all of that whoosh. So I have to say, it was just a powerful thing. But so I kind of just went up and down, and was able to get balanced here and there, and then it just kept, I’d go through periods where it just, I mean, I was bored by it, where I was debilitated, and honestly not even, barely able to take care of my regular stuff and my son and everything. And the people I talked to about it, they’d say, “Oh, it’s such a blessing”. “And I don’t feel blessed right now, okay? I feel like I want to die, literally”. Suicidal. “I can’t go on. I guess it’s too much”. But you know that, like I say, be careful what you ask for, because that prayer was there, and when that sincere heart is there. But it’s also a caution. These things are very potent, they’re very real, and to go about it blind like that without guidance is not… I can tell you, no, don’t do it. Go slowly and get stability.

Rick: Yeah, and I’m sure there are and have been instances of people going crazy, getting institutionalized, committing suicide, and so on, when this stuff happens, if they don’t know what’s going on.

Siddhananda: Yes, absolutely. I mean, it’s in the text, the spiritual text, it discusses that, that people can go crazy, because it just blows that consciousness and everything that’s in there just rushes out like a stream and things that you didn’t even want to know were in there. So this just, that’s what was taking place, and I was telling people about it, and people, “Oh, maybe you have epilepsy, maybe you have this, maybe there’s a demon in your house”. You know, they didn’t think, “Believe me, it made me feel settled, okay?” I was like, “Well, thanks, I’m sorry I asked, it went away feeling worse”. You know, I saw healers and things, and they would just do energy work on me, I would just be so ill after that, it would just, they just, or one of them, I forget, some chant he did and my whole body was shaking, and I mean, it just… because you’re just so sensitive to the energies with them. It just, when people are ungrounded themselves, you can really… it’s not a good thing. So believe me, I was desperate, I just, I’m painting it actually in a good way, it’s just, but.

Rick: You mean it was more traumatic even than you were letting on?

Siddhananda: Probably, I can’t even express here.

Rick: How long did this go on?

Siddhananda: This intensely, about five years before meeting Guruji.

Rick: Wow, that’s a long time, so five years you’re going through this, and are you married?

Siddhananda: I am not, not now, I do have a child, yeah, that I, by my own, by myself for the most part.

Rick: Okay, so you, and you weren’t married even when this was all going on, like you didn’t have some husband that was somehow patiently having to deal with it?

Siddhananda: Oh, I mean, my son’s dad was involved, and he’s back and forth, and he knew I was very ill, and he helped take care of him when I couldn’t, and… but it was very traumatic for my son. But he’s, we worked this out, but yeah, and really, there wasn’t anyone that understood it. So most people just wanted, do therapy, do, you know, and those are the things I did try, but it didn’t help. It’s like, it just for a short period of time, I’d get to the point where I could work, and I’d be a little more level, and then something would just break. I mean, something would start breaking through again, a different phenomenon, and it just would wipe me out.

Rick: Yeah. Was it at all controllable, or would it be like you’d be in the supermarket, and all of a sudden you’d start jerking around and speaking in tongues or something?

Siddhananda: You know, thank God, it’s, for some reason within myself, when I was able to go public, I just breathed and was able to keep that down, although I know some people do get into that. But, and around my son it didn’t go on, I just would breathe and it seemed to relax. I didn’t know what was happening with him.

Rick: Yeah. I went through a stage of this, and I was driving an ice cream truck, this was around 1970, and whenever I got settled, my body would start to jerk around and stuff. And so if I came to a stop sign with the ice cream truck and sat there for a minute, I’d start to jerk. Or I’d just be sitting alone in the living room of this house where I was staying, and my face would just go into these contortions and grimaces and all this weird stuff. And I just finished a long one-month meditation course, and I knew what was happening, so I just kind of didn’t fight it, and just let it go on, and it kind of just stabilized and integrated after a while.

Siddhananda: That’s good. Well, that’s kriyas. I mean, that’s definitely like a kriya is what you’re having. This kind of thing here, like I say, it didn’t end, and still kriyas take place, so it’s been years. But that definitely is, that’s a taste of what it was like, and it’s good that you were able to just relax with it, which I could have.

Rick: Yeah, I was sort of in the context of a spiritual movement and had a teacher and everything, and so I kind of knew what I was going through, and it didn’t scare me. I sort of felt like, “Oh, this is cool, at least something’s happening”.

Siddhananda: Some people get just more than what they ever imagined, which was here.

Rick: So was Guru Swami G your first teacher or your only teacher?

Siddhananda: My only teacher.

Rick: How did you discover her?

Siddhananda: Well, it was during another one of the breakdowns of just the kriyas and illness. It was very thin. I mean, I was really, really wrecked.

Rick: So you couldn’t eat?

Siddhananda: Barely.

Rick: Yeah. And you were physically ill? I mean, disease-type ill, or just…?

Siddhananda: Yeah, it was dry heaves, and with that, the phenomena, colors, visions, speaking in tongues, kriyas, that would go on 24/7. Fear, that would just wave. I mean, just like I say, everything imaginable, echoing voices, just really. I mean, going to a therapist, they might think you’re psychotic. That’s the way it felt. I mean, I was definitely on the verge of feeling as if I was psychotic or something. So, but with… again, it was in another period where there was a breakdown like that, and after my mom had mentioned Kundalini, I started doing a little bit of research on it. And I did go to the computer and just typed it in one evening, and what initially popped up right away was Guru Swami G. And then her name was Ganga Karmakar, and I went into that. And that was the first thing that came up. You know, again, strange. I didn’t go looking for it or anything. And I went into it, and again, the first post, I didn’t read anything, but what just stood out was “I’ve completed the Kundalini process, and I’m here to help others through the journey”. That was it. That’s all I saw. That was like the light. And I did email her and just said a few things, and again, my emails were just ridiculous. They were so desperate, I could barely write. It was just a couple things – I’m dying. I’m seeing colors. Help. You know, it’s just like… and I didn’t know if she would get back to me or anything like that, but I did check the mail. She got right back, and her replies were so saddling and so reassuring. And just obviously coming from a place of unknowing, and it was just so obvious. The heart was doing that. The head was doing I don’t know what, but there was that connection and just that immediate saddling. And then we corresponded for a while, and I would let her know the symptoms. And she’s like, be careful what you ask for because that’s exactly what she asked for. And I was like, yeah, I thought about that. It’s done with what to do now. That’s truly still. You know, I can’t take that away. It’s there, and that’s just the heart of how, what the desire was. But and then after a little bit of correspondence, she I don’t think she was an Indian then. And she said, well, where do you live? Because I could come and see you. And she said, my daughter lives in Seattle on Capitol Hill, and I’m going to go there and stay. And she was in India then and I said, well, that’s exactly where I live.

Rick: On Capitol Hill?

Siddhananda: Yeah, yeah.

Rick: Oh, right.

Siddhananda: Exactly. I mean, so that was all just one of those things. And so she came to me. It was just again, another amazing thing.

Rick: That’s great.

Siddhananda: Yeah, yeah.

Rick: Mohammed came to the mountain or something.

Siddhananda: Yeah. Luckily, so which was actually amazing because I really wasn’t in a state to travel. And just the way that worked out, she was like, oh, my gosh, all places for being in India. It’s like in the right exact spot where I was.

Rick: Yeah. Doesn’t sound like an accident.

Siddhananda: No, I would say.

Rick: So when was this, just to get a time frame?

Siddhananda: Probably up to ten years ago now.

Rick: Okay.

Siddhananda: Yeah.

Rick: Boy, so she’s had a website and all that for a long time.

Siddhananda: Yes. Now, this was soon after she completed. It might have been about a year after. I don’t know. But that’s when she just got it started. So it was very new. And, after she reached enlightenment, she was putting it out there just to help others because she knows how difficult this journey can be.

Rick: Yeah.

Siddhananda: And she said when she read my mail, she just wanted to just help as quickly as possible because she could just feel like, oh, my gosh, she knew what I was going through with it.

Rick: Yeah. So when she got to Seattle and you started meeting with her, did she do things or help you in such a way that the whole thing subsided fairly quickly or was it more like it still kept going on, but at least you had somebody to hold your hand?

Siddhananda: Well, she did. You know, I met her at Travelers here in Seattle, which is a tea house, Indian tea house here in Seattle. And I was very ill at the time, so I couldn’t sit up for very long and chat with her. I mean, she looked at me, and I did look like you’re just from a concentration camp or something, I could just talk with her for a little while. And just immediately when I started talking with her, I just started to settle. It was like, oh, because she was explaining what it was and what she went through and what the purpose of it is and what the final conclusion is and that it was worth every minute of it to her, and she went through so much suffering for years and years. And to hear her say that in itself just really helped me to settle down. But it did take probably about a month or so before I could start getting back to work, and I’ve been able to work totally since then, and things stapled out in that way. But in terms of the phenomena going away, no that continued. But there was more of much more stability, much more, less fear, and things really began to move. They began to shift immediately the phenomena changed. There was things opened up and expanded and cleared out and began to grow and bloom. I don’t want to make it easy, though, in any way whatsoever, because it was still very very much of a difficult journey, but there was that stability there, which immediately helped just beyond words. I mean, honestly, I really don’t know where my life would be without it, I’ll be quite honest. That’s the shape I was in. It’s just been one of the best blessings I can even say, no words can say.

Rick: There’s that saying, “When the student is ready, the master appears”.

Siddhananda: Seems to be true, yes.

Rick: And it’s interesting, to my understanding, it seems like there might have been two things going on. One is you had that intellectual reassurance, and I think without that there can be this sort of battle going on inside, which makes the situation much worse. There’s a sort of friction or a conflict that adds ghee to the fire of what’s going on. And so she’s able to reassure you and settle you down on the intellectual level. And there must have also been a resonance in terms of soul to soul, heart to heart, consciousness to consciousness, shakti to kind of resonance, which must have helped to balance your energies. Would you agree with both of those things?

Siddhananda: Oh, absolutely. The guru is in still mind and the transmission really cuts through that intellect and it just goes to the heart. Absolutely things begin to shift immediately. Really, the words and the pointings of the guru are one thing, but the greatest gift is the transmission that comes from that one that rests in pure consciousness. And really, there was so much confusion here, I really didn’t know what the end of the journey was. I mean that the individual self dissolves, honestly none of that made any sense. I tell meeting Guruji, what the goal is, is to still the mind. You can read it, but honestly until one begins to experience it and enter into the heart and the teachings and the practices, then it’s understood what is being pointed to. I mean you can again read it on your own and things, but without a guru you can get very confused. Even though the heart may be in the right place, it just gets all muddled up. This just helps to cut through and clarify and open up the space so that path can be walked. You have to walk it yourself, but that guru is that guiding light.

Rick: Kind of like a traffic cop who can see the whole flow of the traffic and you’re kind of stuck down there among the cars and you can’t quite see where you’re going, but the guru can see the whole road and think, “All right, well you better go this way”.

Siddhananda: “Hey, don’t stop here, don’t rest here, don’t take that yoga, don’t get in that ditch”. Which we all get in those ditches and thank God for guru because they get you up and out of them. Again, one has to walk it themselves, it’s not in the journey. And when things fall away, one has to enter into that alone.

Rick: It’s interesting you should say that, there’s sort of a juxtaposition here, a paradox. Some people object to the notion of a guru because they feel like they will be relinquishing their autonomy, their control, their own willpower and so on, and just having somebody run them like a puppet. But what you’re saying is that it really is a do-it-yourself job, you have to sort of walk your own road, but the guru can be a catalyst or an aid or a guide.

Siddhananda: That’s exactly it, absolutely. One might say to hold your hand, but honestly that isn’t it. Really it’s just to point the way, and you can go there or not. But certainly coming under the guidance of a guru, the mind begins to dissolve and shift by being in the presence of that one. And that’s the gift that a lot of, I guess, ones that have not surrendered to a guru may not get that experience, and they can have a lot of ideas about it, but surrender is letting go of those ideas. And here there wasn’t a choice, and possibly I would have never came to a guru if that suffering wasn’t there. And that’s again the left-handed blessing of it, there was so much suffering, I didn’t have a choice. I would have otherwise never sought out a guru if the mind was stable within its own mundane, regular stuff that people deal with, and if I was able to function, it’s unlikely here that I would have, I just wouldn’t have gotten it. I just wouldn’t have. But I got it because that suffering made me so desperate. You know, it’s just true, I just didn’t have a choice in it. And then by beginning to experience the stability that began to came in, and how my life was totally opened up and honestly transformed. I want to say that in the first meeting with Guruji, the journey has been long, long, long, and with that, of course, my son is happier, and so many things flowed from there, but I really just wanted out of suffering too, at all costs. Because that’s the other thing, if that wasn’t there, I don’t know if that desire would have really… So, we get what we’re ripe for, I guess. But if one doesn’t want a guru, then it’s not time for that now, and that’s okay. It’s just, I do have to say, without one, I honestly am screwed. I have to fully say that myself. I mean, there are some that do it, they say, maybe without, but I mean, those ones must have some guru in another time, like, say, with Ramana, there was Arunachala, a vision of pure consciousness that’s there, that’s breaking down, because you’re not going to know until it’s experienced. I mean, prior to that, you might have all these thoughts and fantasies, but honest to God, until it’s experienced, that’s a whole other game. That’s a whole other… and it just breaks you down, it just breaks that mind down. And then it’s like, “Oh, you never knew it until it’s experienced”.

Rick: I think someone like Ramana is the exception, and he was living in a culture in which this sort of knowledge was much more prevalent. It was in the air there, whereas in your case, who knew? You were going to experts, you were going to psychiatrists and so on, and they didn’t have a clue what was going on with you, so, you know. And it’s interesting what you said, because as long as one feels that one can do for oneself, then there isn’t the incentive to get a guru or to get a teacher. It’s like the Gita, again, at a certain point in the Gita, Arjuna had his own opinions about what he was going to do and what he wasn’t going to do, and so on, but at a certain point he just kind of shifted and realized that he didn’t know what to do. And at that point he submitted to Krishna, he said, “All right, I’m your disciple, teach me, because I don’t know”.

Siddhananda: That’s the point when you begin to be ripe for that teacher will come, when one says, “I don’t know, please help me. I’m lost in this confusion, this mess, this suffering, I want out more than anything, I’ll do it at all costs, I don’t know how”. And that was prayer, and really, then one can really be open to surrender, which means letting go of your will. And people have so much fear that it’s a controlling thing, and that’s so not it with a true guru. Again, there’s so many ones that have taken advantage out there, and you should be aware of that, definitely. And there’s red flags to look for, but here, like I say, the main thing is do you feel peace in their presence? Is there a transformation? Is there shifting? Is there settling? Is there movement? Is there growth? And here, that was experienced immediately. And so, is that one living with integrity? Are their words matching their lives? And that’s a hard thing, so that can’t even be described in words, but that’s what took place here. Like I say, I had no clue about it, and you get the right guru, and if you really want to break free to the end, then you’re going to find a guru that has done that themselves. If you want to stay in Vrindavana, and you want to do all the siddhis, and you want the powers, then that’s the guru you’ll find. Honestly, you’re going to find what you’re seeking, and sincerely seeking.

Rick: Yeah, those are good points. We’ve had such horrific examples in our lifetimes of very corrupt teachers. I mean, Jonestown or Heaven’s Gate, to take extreme examples, but it’s injected a sort of fear into the national consciousness about teachers. Powerful figures, charismatic people who take over their students’ lives and ruin them. But it’s good to remind people and for people to know that you can’t paint them all with the same brush, and that there are genuine teachers out there, sincere teachers, and it would be advantageous to associate with them if you feel so inclined.

Siddhananda: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. I mean, because people can get so disheartened and just turn their backs on it. And that does them a disservice, because it is out there. To keep your heart open in that way and not shut down, it’s there. I mean, if your heart is there in a sincere way, if you read a book like Ramana or something, things are going to begin to open, and then things will begin to move forward, and the right circumstances will begin to emerge. So it’s just having that trust and faith that doesn’t mean just going blindly and submitting to anyone. If that sincerity is there, that universe is inherently intelligent, it will unfold.

Rick: Good point, I like that – the universe is inherently intelligent.

Siddhananda: Absolutely.

Rick: It’s a point that I often bring up or is brought up in these interviews. It’s not just sort of a flat, dumb, absolute. There’s a lively intelligence, grace of God we might say, kind of orchestrating things.

Siddhananda: Absolutely.

Rick: So you began your association with Guru Swami G and things began to settle down a lot. But that was ten years ago, so let’s take it from there, what’s been happening over the last ten years?

Siddhananda: Oh boy, oh, I remember all that, it’s like, “Ugh, the last ten years”.

Rick: The highlights, the most significant things.

Siddhananda: I’ll see what comes forward. Like I say, the phenomena would continue, kriyas continued, chanting in Sanskrit, and songs and visions and all that.

Rick: Was it real Sanskrit or something that sounded like Sanskrit?

Siddhananda: Sanskrit, absolutely, full Indian songs and all of that.

Rick: That you would just spontaneously come out with? Wow.

Siddhananda: A flood of it, words I had no clue about, but yet they were true Sanskrit words. In other languages too, that one wouldn’t even say, but it’s just a flood of it, and that still continues actually. That still continues, and it’s got its own beauty to it, but when that’s taking place, one is lost to it mostly. I would say now for sure, but prior to things dropping away this last time, what it does is it breaks down that, the mental, I want to say, any of the mental stuff, that individual self, it’s just wearing that away in such a mysterious, amazing way. So it’s just a wonder is all one can say, but that’s what it has been doing for the last ten years, and I’ve been working, and I’ve worked as a hospice nurse for quite a while, but Guruji was living here off and on for a while, so we would stay in touch and do satsang and raising my son. Nothing is just popping out, I’m sorry.

Rick: That’s okay, if you run out of things to say, I’ll have questions. So are you a hospice nurse now still?

Siddhananda: No, I’m not. I recently got carpal tunnel, so I am not working right now, but I was a hospice nurse for eight years. And in the meantime, fortunately, with the help of, again, a Guru, I was able to navigate through that and work and everything, even with all this 24/7 Kundalini symptoms going on. So that’s been a great blessing as well to have Guruji there, and she’s one that we stay in touch like daily. So it’s been, it’s not something that how some students may see their teachers once every, I don’t know what, but we’ve been able to chat almost daily and stay in touch. And it’s just been a joy. I mean, it’s been a relationship that, again, is one of those mysteries, one of those wonders. And it’s very relaxed. I mean, we shop and have lunch, and it’s just regular stuff. It’s not, I guess that’s not what people would think it is.

Rick: It’s sort of a personal relationship, a friendship, in addition to being a student-teacher thing.

Siddhananda: Exactly. I mean, there’s a deep friendship as well as she is my Guru, and there’s that respect there. That’s the foremost thing for Guruji. She’s my Guru, and there’s that respect there, but there’s also a beautiful friendship that’s there as well. Yeah, it’s just been the blessing of my life.

Rick: What did all this Kundalini do to your sleep over the years?

Siddhananda: Not so good. Well, it sort of ebbs and flows. Where some nights it’s not good, and other nights it would be really deep, and I’d just be so exhausted.

Rick: Yeah, because you said 24/7, so it sort of implies that you were getting insomnia, and you know.

Siddhananda: Oh, no, it may be just the dreams, would continue vivid dreams, or if one woke up there might be kriyas or chanting. Deep states, certainly all along there’s very deep states that are entered, that ebb and flow, and samadhi, or then there’s mind as well, and mind gets blown up and exaggerated, and honestly one thought can just turn into some huge blown up thing, you know. It just blows up everything. It’s right in your face, non-stop.

Rick: Give me an example of a thought becoming a blown up thing.

Siddhananda: Boy, it’s hard to say, you know. I have to say here what would take place is some of the thoughts would be huge and echoey, and let’s say I had a, yeah, now it’s just coming where here there’d be maybe the thought of an apple, well all of a sudden there’d be visions of all sorts of apples, and then maybe the word apple is echoing in the consciousness for I don’t know how long. I mean these things just vibrate, at least, and again I can only speak of here that there were so many visions. It was like a kaleidoscope. One thought and boo, you know.

Rick: There’s this Sanskrit term, ritambhara prajna, and it’s considered to be a sort of a, well literally it means that level of intellect which knows only truth, but it’s supposed to be a state in which if you have a thought of something, then that thing manifests, perhaps only on the mental level, but if you have a thought of an apple, you see the apple, you can taste the apple, smell the apple, and so on. So I wouldn’t say that what you were going through was just hallucinatory. It could very well have been and be sort of you’re functioning at a deep level in which your thoughts manifest.

Siddhananda: Well yeah, whatever it was, it did feel ungrounding though. I mean, like I say, to have that constantly going on is very very ungrounding, but like I say, with the practices and things that Guruji gives, with the breathing and some of the mantras and things, it really helps to cut through that and start breaking it up so that one doesn’t attach to it, or get thrown off, or follow it along, and then you’re off on, honestly, who knows, in some fantasy land so quickly and so easily. All I can say is what took place here, the mind would be here and then it would be off in, I don’t know, Timbuktu somewhere. It was that quickly, you know. So I mean, it’s just the consciousness was so fluid and so easily drifted to every dimension possible. You know, it wasn’t by my choice. I know a lot of people, they desire some of these experiences. I have to say I never have, and I’ve never really enjoyed them. I wish I could. There were more towards the end, like it’s some devotional – the devotional kriyas and the devotional deep experiences of love and bliss – are quite enjoyable, but people can get caught up in that, and I can see why. They’re really very attractive in the way of one’s losing, it feels as if you’re losing yourself in it, but yet you’re still not totally. There’s still that sense of duality, that love, that just for a tree or a dandelion, I mean, it doesn’t matter, a rock. I mean, it’s just that gushing river of love and it just flows so beautifully. You know that it’s not coming from you.

Rick: That sounds good. But it does sound like, as you say, that you weren’t anchored, you were just sort of flying all over the place without a proper center, without proper ground.

Siddhananda: Sometimes… Yes, and like I say, with Guru, that got more stability. There was the stability of the practices to go to, because before there wasn’t, honestly, I didn’t know to follow a thought, to not, to question it. I just didn’t know. I think I just was helpless to being thrown around with whatever mental state came forward, and attaching to it and making it into something that it wasn’t, and which it wasn’t anything to begin with. So, I was just making layers and layers and making it worse, and with the practices and things to go to versus following these things and making, getting lost in the Shakti and the creation of mind. One has a center point of relaxing into the heart and coming to the practices, which helps so that you don’t get so caught up in that. It’s just going to create more and more and more and more endlessly.

Rick: Do you want to, or can you say what sort of practices these are?

Siddhananda: Yeah, I can. Just some mantras that Guruji gives out, a lot of them are on the internet for just regular, the general population, like the “Om That I Am” is one of them. When you’re looking at an object, one says from the heart, “Om That I Am” internally, which what it does is help break down that division of subject-object. I am that, I am that, and I am that, and I am that, and not just this one separate being. We are everything, and so that is one of them. That is such a simple, potent, effective practice. Then the other is “I Am That I Am”, which one does just to access the heart center. You know, I am that, I am, and just to keep the focus on the heart center. It does, it breaks down any of the mental stuff that’s there and keeps one more grounded, and then with a vocal point versus getting so lost in the phenomena or seeking phenomena. I mean, sometimes people don’t know that that’s not it, but it’s not. I’m here to tell you.

Rick: Yeah, I think it was Ramana who said that anything which can sort of come and go is not it, because it is something which always is. It’s not a sort of an isolated, temporary experience.

Siddhananda: Yes, exactly. That’s right, and people don’t know that and many times they chase it, and some chase it even when they are instructed it’s not the way to go. Well, then that’s their journey, and they can chase that until that comes to a dead end, or until they get conked on the head enough or whatever. That’s just… chasing that really is just going to lead to more and more of the same, and that’s not peace.

Rick: Do you also spend time in actual eyes closed, quiet meditation, or is it more of these mantras that are something you do in activity?

Siddhananda: Well, I don’t sit like that was done before. You know, what took place more of the recent awakening that took place, things have really shifted, probably good to discuss that. You know, there was an initial falling away, I mean, it just where there was a sense of no me, and Guruji was doing some energy work here, and it broke down a lot of knots in there, and there was a sense that there was no me, but then the consciousness after that, what took place, it kind of waved in and out, where it just felt very fluid, and there were breaks of stillness and things for quite a while, like about three years and it was really quite a profound shift, but what happened probably, gosh, it may have even, I don’t even know how long ago now, maybe even three weeks, two weeks, I don’t know, but because time just goes.

Rick: It was Christmas time.

Siddhananda: Thank you so much, it was Christmas, how could I forget that? It was Christmas, I don’t even know what day it is today, so just that’s gone, but yeah, I was in the bathroom, I believe, and my son was there that day, and that particular day, what I was feeling with him, some of the things with him is normally I get irritated with him, but this day, anyway, we were in the car, I remember, and driving, and it just, it started feeling like my body was hit, like it was the same body, like I was him, and I was driving along, and it was such a beautiful experience, which is different sometimes for a 19-year-old, and he’s wonderful, believe me, I enjoy him, but it’s more of a mom thing, but this wasn’t, this was like we were both one being, and the day just flowed so beautifully with him. I mean, we had a wonderful time. I don’t know if he felt it, but he lightened up, and it was just such a glorious day, and the whole day I felt when I was with him, or even that it was just the same, we were the same, and I have to say what a different flow that was, but that was new, and some of that was felt before, but not so substantial like that, and then I was in the bathroom, I mean, off and on, it just came with more and more intensity, but I don’t know, doing regular things, brushing my hair, whatever, but when I walked out of the bathroom, I just swam with this non-dual consciousness, this non-dual presence. It was undeniable, it was everything, all of a sudden, it’s like I couldn’t recognize myself, that’s what was taking place, I couldn’t recognize who I was before. It started, almost like it melts into the whole environment or something, and all of a sudden, everything is the same. It’s the same, like, that’s just the way it was feeling off and on in waves. It’s kind of like that drop that just falls into the ocean and is lost, and you can’t, I mean, how could you find it then, right? I mean, that’s what it was feeling like, and honestly, I have to say here, I was trying to pick it up, what is this, but I wasn’t able to pick that up, I wasn’t able to find who I was before, and that just continued to flow in and out for some days, and because we’re our worst enemy, it’s frightening. It’s kind of like it’s not familiar anymore, there’s nothing that you can find of your old self anywhere, you know. It just like got pulled away, all of a sudden just dropped, and that subject-object feeling was gone, and there’s this non-dual pure presence, which is so incredibly beyond beautiful. And the stillness, and it was like all those things I thought I was just are totally false, 100% false. And this consciousness, this non-dual presence has continued, and there has been still some waving, it takes a while to settle in, but it’s one of those things that once it’s experienced, it’s known that there’s just one indivisible self. I mean, it’s just one, everything, there’s never been separation, and it’s absolutely unchanging, is, and the ground of being, which is the same for every speck of life, and it’s just hard to even explain, but that’s the reality of it.

Rick: So does it seem that, I mean, is it that everything that the senses perceive is seen as that non-dual presence?

Siddhananda: Well, it’s not about the senses, because it’s known that one is not the body and never has been.

Rick: But then how is the body regarded, or if you’re eating a piece of toast, I mean, is it sort of that the non-dual field is far removed from all that, or does it somehow engulf it and include it?

Siddhananda: No, I mean, what happens is that I, or that one you thought you were, gets swallowed up with this reality, it gets drowned, literally, who you thought you were gets annihilated, is the best way to put it, just destroyed, really, just swallowed in it, and you can’t get away from it, but when I say you, it’s known that one is not the body, but again, I mean, just as if one is talking to you now, the body spontaneously moves and things happen on their own, without a doer, without an individual in there that thinks it’s doing it, which it never is, because they’re never… it’s just that pure consciousness, and it’s a spontaneous flow of that.

Rick: So describe your, you’re sort of doing it, but continue to describe your subjective experience right now, if you will. You’re talking to me, or that’s the way we would say it in words, you’re talking to me, but try a little bit more to explain what it is to experience life as you’re experiencing it right now.

Siddhananda: You know, there’s probably less words that I could use now than I ever could, because none of them will be it. But again, if one does need to attempt it, I don’t mean to use that word, one, I can say I, just because that’s it, but no I is there in it, but there’s just substance or the ground, so everything that is seeing is your very own being, but not in a separate way. I mean, it’d be silly to say, okay, I’m this candle, and that’s what I am, that’s not it, it’s uniform, it’s kind of like, like I say, you know, all of a sudden, I don’t know, I guess like they say, water gets lost in milk or something, it just, that’s who you thought you were, and it just gets dissolved. And then there’s just that, what remains left over, which is pure being. And so like I say, that subject-object divide falls, and it’s known immediately that what one thought you were before, all these things that you described yourself as I’m a woman, I’m this, I’m blah, blah, blah, blah, I mean, everyone has their own story, but I’m here to say those aren’t true. Those will end, honestly, because it was funny, because really here, I thought that maybe a certain level had been reached, I knew that thoughts were still there, that kind of thing. But I believe the mantra was going on internally or something, and all of a sudden that just stopped, I mean, dead stopped, that personhood, that individual just, bam, gone, and it was like, it was like, oh shit, I mean, literally, it was, your whole world is just gone, and it was like, that was never it, that was never true, that was totally false, because – why is it false? – because it just dies, and this body still is here, it’s not like the body dies, but that’s what death is, it’s that ego, and it goes, it’s never, and it’s always been one, I mean, that ego is a false covering over it, and as one believes in it, then they make, it’s like what you believe in, you say what you believe in, you become, it’s true.

Rick: Does the ego entirely go, or is it that you just no longer identify with it, but the ego remains a sort of a functional tool, just as the senses are tools, and the intellect is a tool, and so on, or does the ego really go?

Siddhananda: The ego really goes.

Rick: The other things remain, you have senses, you can see, hear, smell, taste, and you have an intellect that can think, and so on, or that can decide and discriminate, but the ego, the sense of a personal “I” who’s doing all these things, that goes.

Siddhananda: That all goes, I mean, it’s not if one wants to think, you can think, but it’s not necessary. Everything is just spontaneous, and always has been. And, we want to think that we’re special, and that we’re going to be the ones being enlightened, or that we have some play in this, some voice in this whole thing, not to say that people don’t have responsibilities – I don’t want to go there, because that’s another thing, free will – but honestly, the truth is, in realization, I mean, this “I” that you thought you were, this person, never truly existed, and never has had any part in what’s real. It’s just a, it’s missed, is really what it is, and it’s just like the wise ones say, the one that has entered realization, there’s always been just one, so what is that ego? If it’s always been one, well, how could just this one person be separate from that, it’s an illusion.

Rick: Yeah, I’m almost sort of, let me just play devil’s advocate a little bit to bring more out. I mean, you would acknowledge that there’s a plant in back of you or that there’s a lamp in back of you, and so on, I can’t see what’s in front of you, but there are things, and you would probably say, and correct me if I’m wrong, that the lamp and the plant and so on are essentially that same being that you know yourself to be. It’s all pure presence, it’s all being, appearing as a lamp, appearing as a plant, and so on. But… am I right so far?

Siddhananda: Well, the name and the form of it, that’s just a name, that’s not what it is at its essence.

Rick: What is it at its essence?

Siddhananda: It’s one, everything is one, all the same.

Rick: Right, so that’s what I was really saying, I used the word being, but it’s all one, it’s all the same, everything is that essence.

Siddhananda: Yes, exactly.

Rick: But on a practical level, we say there’s a plant, there’s a lamp, we make dinner, there’s zucchinis, there’s french fries, whatever. Even though, perhaps predominantly, we acknowledge that it’s all that pure essence, it’s all being, but on some practical level we distinguish between things, for the sake of being able to function, right?

Siddhananda: You know, in terms of the way the language comes out, it would come out with one that’s in this pure awareness as, okay, like I’d say, hand me that candle or something, but that is just an outer, I mean, that is empty. It doesn’t mean that one is separating here from there. I don’t know if that helps, but it’s just an empty… the name and words and these kinds of things are empty. So they don’t have any… there’s no attachment, like, well that is a certain thing or anything within there, there’s nothing there. And again, I’m probably just muddling this up and maybe confusing people more, because it’s quite difficult to explain. If it can be explained, then one is not in that pure consciousness, because it’s very difficult. But I do want to say that things get done and it’s not like one just sits around in some trance or nothing like that. I mean, spontaneously all gets done and within flow. I know it’s very hard to understand that kind of thing, but it can only be known when it’s experienced. But please ask more, because I’d really love to continue to…

Rick: What you’re saying is helpful. I’m just trying to make it as clear as possible, or understand it as clearly as possible, and have you explain it as clearly as possible. So, I guess the gist of what I’ve gotten from what you’re saying is that the unity is so predominant that the distinctions are… They’re very superficial attributes that are there for the sake of being able to talk and interact with people, but they’re really very secondary, very superficial. Really, the predominant thing is this wholeness or this being or unity or essence or whatever word you want to use.

Siddhananda: Yes, exactly. And just that word is perfect, where here there’s no distinctions in terms of… I can say a certain thing is myself in a separate way. There’s nothing that is distinct from me, which would be this wholeness. It’s not like, here I am and there’s a book, here I am and there’s a candle. That goes. That’s just the best way to put it. There’s nothing to distinguish yourself from anymore, because that separate being is lost within that reality, just gone. That’s all that is. And like I say here, one can never… I’m like Guruji would say, “You will know it when it’s entered”. And of course at the time I’d be, “Well, hmm”. Because I had no clue. And until, like I say, that happened when it just was there, just revealed itself spontaneously, this non-dual presence. Then it’s just known, undeniably, one was never that other thing. It was like a dream or an unreal dream or something is the best way to put it. This is the truth of all beings. And again, to describe it is very very hard, and yet it doesn’t impair regular, ordinary life, friends, whatever people call ordinary life. I mean, it just totally, everything is much more… again, I really hesitate to put even one word on it, because I feel like that makes it into something and it’s not anything, it’s nothing, but yet it’s totally full.

Rick: It seems to me it should enhance ordinary life, not impair it.

Siddhananda: Oh my gosh, yes. I mean, like the suffering, honestly, you just exist. You exist in this space where you think this is real, the body is real and all these separate things, and this just keeps plugging along this way. And honestly, you don’t know until it’s known, that really it’s all you, it’s all your own very self. And it’s just the most precious gift. I mean, there’s nothing more precious, and that’s true of all. You know, like I say, if I can look at someone, I don’t think, okay, they’re in some certain place and I’m in another place. I mean, there’s nothing that’s high or low. It’s like all are always been free and it’s not a… this person is only here. I mean, it’s just, it’s amazing how the mind is the only thing that creates the world and the separation. And honestly, it creates a fantasy, a fictitious person, but if you look at that person, it’s never the same. I mean, I could even say it’s one individual person, but it’s always changing, so all these things were looked at. But honestly, it’s taken away by grace. It’s not anything in your power that you can do to attain, because there’s nothing to attain. It’s just pulled away. Thank God. And it’s like your clothing or something that you wore that you thought was you the whole time, a certain red dress and then a green one and then something for your moods. All of a sudden you just think you’re this and then that’s pulled away and the truth of who you are and who all beings are is revealed.

Rick: I don’t know if this is a significant point, but this is what I was trying to get at a minute ago. If everything is predominantly being, let’s just use the word being, or we can use wholeness, I don’t care what word we use. Let’s say being for the sake of simplicity. So, when you look at the candle, it’s predominantly being, but then on a superficial level or the level of appearance, it’s a candle. Is my terminology correct so far? Am I making sense? I just want to make sure I’m sort of in line with the way you would say it.

Siddhananda: You know, just like I say, the name part is what doesn’t…

Rick: But I mean, if your son comes in the room and says, “Hey mom, pass the candle”, then you know what he’s talking about. You don’t hand him the scissors, you hand him the candle.

Siddhananda: The candle, it would be handed to him, yes.

Rick: So there’s a sort of, on some level or other, the candle has some level of reality, even though it may be just the crust of the surface and predominantly it’s being, but there’s some recognition, “Okay, this is the candle, this is the table, this is the lamp”, and so on. There’s some recognition still of diversity, without which it wouldn’t be possible to function.

Siddhananda: Well, mostly what it is, is within the intelligence, like we talked about, that inherent intelligence in the universe, and that’s what remains and that’s what is the doer. So that’s what reaches for the candle. But that’s the best way for me to put it, is that that intelligence is there. I mean, we try to make it into our intelligence, but it’s not, and that’s what does it.

Rick: No, it would be like the wave saying, “This is my ocean”.

Siddhananda: Yeah, perfect. You know, you’re kind of frozen up, freeze-frame on your screen.

Rick: No, don’t worry about it, it’s okay. So what I’m leading to is, just as there’s sort of a, okay, so it’s that intelligence which is governing the whole universe, which moves the candle or cooks the dinner or drives the car, or whatever, and that’s the orientation from which you’re experiencing, from which life is being lived. But just as there are these appearances of candles and cars and plants, and with regard to our individual structure, such as it may appear to be, there are individual faculties, sight, hearing, smell, taste. It seems to me that there’s some remnant of sort of identity. I mean, if you’re in a room with several people and someone calls you by name, you turn your head, they don’t. Even if it were a whole room full of people who are in this enlightened state, and we called one of them by name, that one would turn the head, because there’s still some sort of remnant, it seems, of personality, of identity, of conditioning. Everything you’ve learned in your life is there. If you knew how to play a musical instrument, you’d still know how to play it. So there’s something inherent in the individual structure which is not lost, even though this sense of constraint is lost.

Siddhananda: Yes, well that’s the great mystery of it, that that continues to play out, that personality. But one isn’t that, and it’s known that that’s not who you are. It’s just kind of like, I guess, maybe a wave is set in motion, it continues until it totally evaporates, but that’s just surface, that’s not the ocean. That’s more what the personality is. It’s like that, it’s like a playing out, and it’s a mystery. A lot of things can take place, it’s deeply intelligent when one doesn’t have their own sight or their own hearing. There’s still an amazing amount of creativity and intelligence within that one. It’s not the senses, it just isn’t. Honestly, it comes from a deeper place, another place. That’s the truth of it, but like I say, when that mind falls, that mystery is entered and it’s just let be. There’s no need to understand it, there’s no understanding it. It’s beyond understanding and that’s just what remains. One can’t say why the head is turned, it’s just one of those things, it’s kind of like, why does an apple fall from a tree, why does a plant grow, why does the sun come up every morning, and all of these amazing things that we think we know, when they just happen.

Rick: I guess mystery is a good word. I don’t know why this point fascinates me, but I do find it fascinating that one can shift identity and really be the ocean, and yet in some sense there’s still identification with a particular wave. We’re all that oceanic intelligence and yet you in Seattle are seeing certain things through your eyes, I in Iowa am seeing certain things through my eyes, you can’t see through my eyes or through my cat’s eyes or something like that. There’s still a kind of channeling or individuation in a sense, while at the same time the primary identity may be unbounded or universal.

Siddhananda: Isn’t it a wonder though? That’s all that one can say, it really is a great wonder and mystery. But it’s kind of like the birth of that body, it comes and then there’s that attachment and for whatever reason that falls away, that individuality. But the body goes on and it’s a wonder, and wonder how that can even fall away, and it’s a wonder that the ego can even be. These things are all a great great mystery. That’s all that one can say, like I say, the only thing that can truly be known is what is changeless and timeless and the true self. That’s what really can be known, because it’s eternal, but the rest is grasped out and then it’s lost. So the other is not lasting and it comes and goes. So like I say, there’s really nothing that can truly be known in that type of objective knowledge, because it does change and shift and first one thinks they got it and then they don’t. And then they add something else. This is the only thing that I have to say that truly, undoubtedly can be known, is this eternal self.

Rick: Do you have any sense whatsoever of what happens when the body dies in this state, or is that also unknowable?

Siddhananda: Yes, I would say it is a mystery. I just want to say that it just seems like this moment, this is, is it. Whether the body is here or not, that’s what the body never brought it about. It’s going to remain whether the body is here or not in whatever state the body is in. There were times on the journey when I was so floored by the ego, what it is. How I could think that I was something or this or that. I tell you when that’s washed away, it just is the most relief and to be out of that… again, no words can say. There is just tears that keep flooding at the absolute joy and wonder of that ever even, this just going as it is.

Rick: When you say floored by the ego, do you mean you were sort of flabbergasted that the ego could have predominated for so long and you had been so convinced by the Maya, so to speak? Is that what floored you?

Siddhananda: Well, just at times at what it is, its sense of thinking it’s something special and different and better or worse or whatever story. It will hit you. There’s a lot of times when it just like a punch in the gut of, “Oh my God, this is really what I was thinking or caught up in?” And then it just falls and there’s bumpy times like that. And the ego, I tell you, and again, when I say ego I want to say attachment to mind and body. I’m not here to say one thinks they’re the mind and the body, that’s the ego.

Rick: So that’s how you define ego? Is the misperception or the misapprehension that one is the mind and body?

Siddhananda: Yes, that the body is the self, the body is who and what I am, and this mind is who and what I am. That’s the ego, yes. And that’s not to say again, it’s not saying that it’s just someone that thinks they’re great or something, that’s not it. An ego is an ego.

Rick: That’s an interesting definition. I was just reading some quotes today that somebody sent me about someone asked the question, “Can gurus suffer?” And so there was this whole explanation about Ramana Maharshi dying of cancer and screaming and moaning, and then his disciples would say, “What’s going on? Why, are you in so much pain?” He’d say, “I’m not in pain. The body’s going through this, but I’m far removed from that. I don’t take myself to be the body”.

Siddhananda: Well, exactly, exactly. And that’s the thing here. Before when there was pain in the body, there’s a sense of, “That’s my arm and it’s hurting me”, or something. “What can I do to get out of it?” But when one knows they’re not the body, even if the body is going through its changes, there’s no suffering. I mean, it’s the mind that suffers because it attaches to that and wants to try to find a way out of it. But again, this has only been experienced in the last, like I say, however long. It’s been a few weeks where, because there is pain, quite a bit of pain here with the body at times.

Rick: Because of the carpal tunnel?

Siddhananda: Yes, that, exactly.

Rick: So let’s take that as a case in point. How has your experience of life with carpal tunnel syndrome changed in the last few weeks?

Siddhananda: Like I say, with the pure consciousness and this peace that has entered in, it’s not to say that one doesn’t feel that pain because it’s there. But it’s not like a one-pointed focus on it. I just have to say there’s no suffering with this. Suffering is of mind. Not to say that one won’t hurt the body. There’s not going to be pain. Certainly if someone gets a cut, it’s not like, “Oh, I’m going to sit there and oh, I don’t feel that”. It’s not that way at all.

Rick: You feel it, sure.

Siddhananda: Oh, yes.

Rick: Well, the hip modern Advaita question would be, “Well, who feels that pain?”

Siddhananda: Yes. Well, again, it’s like I just said, it’s just a sensation. It’s more of an empty sensation without a person that’s attaching to it with all this mental drama around it. Because when one’s in a body, there are different ones that are realized that don’t have body consciousness. They might be there and they need to be fed or this kind of thing. Then there’s ones that are fully functional. I know people get freaked out. I did, too. I used to go through all of this stuff. I won’t be able to take care of my son. I recognize him. Is he going to have to feed me? It’s just stupid stuff. It’s just so invalid. The ones that do have that, I don’t know if it’s a video, but the ones that are lost, the body consciousness, where they do have their needs taken care of, then that’s perfect for the devotees that are there. It’s just right for that situation. Everything is just right in that way. It’s like the ones that are functional are meant for, you know? Then it comes around where that’s just right for that situation. It’s just like I think if people trust and know that these things unfold when the conditions are right in the right way. It’s such a radically different reality. Those things that used to be a big deal just don’t go because they don’t have any validity to them like they used to.

Rick: It’s good to keep trying to describe it like this, though. It helps you develop as a teacher. I understand that you are supposed to be Guru Swami G’s successor, which is kind of scary. I mean, she’s younger than I am and I don’t have a successor, but I plan to be around for a while. I guess she’s grooming you as someone who is best qualified among her students to carry on the lineage.

Siddhananda: Yes, and this was way back when I took Diksha, maybe even about eight years ago. Again, not anything that one seeks, not anything that one is looking for. It just came and it was accepted for what it is. But that’s the thing. If someone is looking to be a guru or looking for that label, that’s a whole other thing. With this, it just comes unsought.

Rick: Have you actually been working with students yourself?

Siddhananda: Oh, with Guruji and Flo and we have the online ashram, so just help to answer polls on there or with satsang with Guruji or whatever comes forward. We’re hoping that more and more can, but right now, since we’re an online ashram, it’s a bit of a situation where we do a lot of stuff online as much as possible. Right now, Guruji, I have to say, does the 24/7 Guru-ness. Yes, she does. She’s the one that does that. I’ve probably done a grain of sand compared to her with all the sand on the beach. That’s just the truth of it. But whatever happens, it will take place and that’s okay.

Rick: Do you feel like the dust has really settled now for the last few weeks? Is there any indication that things might stir up again? You did mention earlier that kriyas were still going on and stuff like that. Has that completely gone away for Swamiji or does she still do that kind of stuff once in a while?

Siddhananda: She said that it took her about five years after for that to settle down. Here, the kriyas are still going and still flowing. There are still some thoughts that rise and fall at times. I guess it’s kind of like the embers or something that are still fizzling out. There is still some of the chanting. This has been years. But with it now, it’s just as empty and it’s natural, spontaneous flow. It’s not a hindrance or something that one can say is a separate, like there’s some separate journey now. Or someone, a seeker that’s looking for an end or that’s gone. Thank God, because that’s been years in coming. So, there is still some dust that’s settling. However long that plays out, again, it’s kind of like that wave thing and that personality, everything has its own playing out. Here, it could be just more of the kriyas just sort of having their play right now. And they’ll eventually dissolve like everything else, when, who knows, and it doesn’t matter at all. So, yeah, who can say? It’s not anything that those have been ongoing for so long. It’s just, I’m not quite sure why, but they’re still playing out.

Rick: But you really feel like you’ve crossed the threshold now, as of three weeks ago, that there’s no turning back, as far as you can tell.

Siddhananda: Yes, that is exactly the way it feels. Like I say, with this non-dual, once that’s known and once that’s entered into, certainly if there’s some thoughts still in place, then there is that possibility. It’s like a seed that could bloom again and cover over, including that pure being. That’s why the main thing is just to really relax and abide in that self without moving away from it. And the more and more that gets relaxed into and settled into, then the thoughts continue to fizzle out. But with some, it just blows out, and with others, it takes some time to settle in. Even in the writing, the scriptures, it says that it does take a while to totally settle into. But it’s just a matter of really just relaxing into it. And that does take, it’s just such a starkly new reality. So it’ll take some time, but definitely the threshold was crossed over and it’s totally seen that it’s known, that non-dual presence, that’s what’s the reality, that’s what remains.

Rick: It’s interesting that you use the word “known” because, as someone put it, something that you experience, you can lose the experience, because experiences by definition come and go. But once you know something, it’s hard to unknow it. And the sense in which you’re using the word “known” is it’s not like something that you knew when you were studying a course in high school that you may forget. It’s a deeper kind of knowing that can’t really be unknown.

Siddhananda: That’s perfectly put. It’s just one of those things that once it’s entered, it’s beyond doubt. And that’s all that one can say. This is truly who and what you are without a mental dialogue there. It’s just a… I guess, knowing is being. One actually becomes that when all that tarnish is removed. That’s what remains and that’s just known, undoubtedly. That’s the truth. And not just as in that individual self goes. And that’s the reality that’s always been present and is true for all beings. So it is, it’s known, it’s the best way to put it, because you’re right, experiences do come and go. Because then there’s someone experiencing it, there’s a separate one experiencing it, and that’s an entirely different thing.

Rick: Yeah, and even if there weren’t, there might be a spiritual experience one could have, like seeing auras or angels or something like that. But that’s something which is in the temporal field and it may be happening now, it might not be happening tomorrow. But the substratum of all that, this essence or being or presence or whatever you want to call it, that has an ongoing, eternal, stable quality to it.

Siddhananda: Exactly, exactly, which is so different than anything you’ve ever experienced before. That’s the thing, I mean, once that movement of mind is going, going, going, and once it just gets dissolved, just bam, like that. And it’s just, that’s what remains and it can’t not be. That’s what’s there under all that, for all. So, that’s all that one can say, just speaking from the… I want to say the experience of the no experience here, when that fell away. And it was, it’s not like you can’t seek it, because you honestly don’t know, it’s not even in your awareness necessarily, but that’s what the true reality is. It’s just all of a sudden, it just is there and one can’t get away from it, one can’t deny it, one can’t… it’s all that’s seen within, there’s no within, no without, you know. Or if you want to say it’s within and without, or there’s… and both of those go. So that’s it, I don’t know, you know.

Rick: Well you can’t seek it, but in fact that’s what you had been seeking all this time.

Siddhananda: It’s the paradox, isn’t it? That’s the paradox. Yes, there is a journey and one does need to make efforts, but it’s not by your own doing that it’s revealed. It’s revealed by grace when all that doership and all that seeking dissolves.

Rick: That’s a good point. There are a lot of teachers these days who just say, “Stop seeking, give up the search and you’ll be there”. But I think there’s a time and place for that and that advice can be very premature for many people.

Siddhananda: Exactly, exactly, because there are efforts that need to be made. Otherwise, honestly those vasanas, those tendencies, all of that is so potent, so strong, such a pull that one needs another stronger force to pull it away, which would be practices or the guru, or what do they say, that’s what makes the elephant ego tremble and fall to its knees. It needs another one that rests in that pure consciousness. Like I say, that mind is a tiger and it’s a big thing. It just whirls and goes and honestly, when you think you’re out of it, you’re not most of the time. You think you’ve got it and you don’t. It’s quite a monster. And the best way to put it here, it needs something to make it drop to its knees and tremble.

Rick: And like the saying goes, it takes a thorn to remove a thorn. So ultimately, practices and techniques and all this may be absurd from the level of having gone beyond the need for them, but until that level has been reached, they’re not absurd, they’re very relevant.

Siddhananda: Absolutely. I can only say here that if those practices weren’t there and the pure consciousness, the transmission, really for here, I have to say the transmission was the practices, yes, absolutely needed. And your regular day to day stuff, that’s needed. But the transmission was, that’s what cuts through anything, any doership, anything. Even the practices eventually need to go, because they’re within doership. But that transmission cuts through any of that. All of a sudden, you’ll just be walking, like I say, with your Guruji or something, all of a sudden, you’re thinking, thinking, all this stuff, and then boom, the mind still, when you walk into her presence, is like, okay, this is different. And like I say, it’s just until that’s experienced, and it’s like, okay, now you can see where you’re going towards, and that’s where it’s really the transmission is the biggest, and it can come at the most damnedest times, you have no idea when, or the mind can drop it. I mean, you could be doing anything, literally, like I say here, a few times it was on the toilet on the throne, and it just…

Rick: So the transmission, you’re referring specifically to with Guruji, the transmission, but are you suggesting that that can also be long distance, that doesn’t need to be the physical proximity for the transmission to take place?

Siddhananda: Absolutely, and here it was, just when that heart opens up with Guruji, certainly this wasn’t at first, it was took a while, but when the heart opens, the transmission was felt with Bhajans, or reading a book. I mean, I’ve had some odd kriyas with just reading books, like the book would go right to the top of the head, and just that was the way it was absorbed, apparently. So, it’s like, okay, I just set out to read this thing, now it’s sitting on my head, I couldn’t not have it be, and all of a sudden with it on the head, like Ramana’s book, I’m just Samadhi, it’s just the most blissful, way better than reading the words. So, again, the experience is much more worthwhile, and so, yes, transmission, and once that heart opens, like I say, it can be felt with certain books, or anything spiritual can start entering in that way, because the mind begins to bend towards that, as it becomes more…

Rick: So, you’re saying that the transmission is not necessarily exclusively with your guru, you’re saying that the transmission can be from being itself, or something?

Siddhananda: Well, yes, oh, sure, I’m sure, I feel bliss by looking at it. But like I say, with here…

Rick: For you, yeah.

Siddhananda: …the guru is the one that set that in motion, and then life begins to be opened up to, and these things begin to enter in. I mean, it wouldn’t have taken place, and again, I can speak of here, without the guru, that is the one that brought that, set that in motion, and then these things begin to enter in, and they’re felt and vibrated in the heart. I mean, just even like a tree or something that maybe would not have been felt that way before, it would have felt more like a solid, separate thing, but it starts really to begin to vibrate within yourself, and such beauty. So, again, I can just speak from here, when that heart opened, and even different books that were read, or that were in line with ones from the path, or not even that, just looking at a tree or whatever, these things really begin to resonate in the heart and bring bliss and beauty, and because it takes place, because there’s nothing separate from you. And that’s when these barriers break down, and these things begin to enter in, and pretty soon they fall away, and well, that is your being, that’s why, because you’re never separate from it and it’s just such a beautiful thing, and just so rich, and so absolutely mysterious, and again, I just can’t even speak about it in words, hardly, that that would even touch it.

Rick: Yeah. So, are you indicating that as a result of, or since this shift that took place a few weeks ago, there’s been more of a blossoming of the heart now, is that what you’re saying?

Siddhananda: It seems like that has always been there, but when one feels, one knows it’s your own being, it is more of a, there’s just no separation from it. Yes, it can get more beautiful than that, and it’s all heart, I mean, that’s what pure consciousness is, it’s heart.

Rick: I was just wondering whether you’ve found yourself becoming more devotional or something since this shift?

Siddhananda: You know, there were some – it was interesting that you mentioned that – because there were a few days, and it’s been probably about three or four days, and again, it was felt to be empty, but just a lot of, some more devotional kriyas, I was telling Guruji too, and sobbing, and how you feel when that devotee has just lost themselves, and what they are devoted to, that falls away, and it’s just unreal. I hadn’t experienced that before, but everything I read about it, it is true now, that bliss and that absolute, it’s just beyond words, bliss and beauty, it just brings one to tears.

Rick: Yeah, it will be interesting to see, but I have a suspicion that perhaps ripening of more and more profound degrees of devotion will characterize your path in the coming years, but I’m not really speaking from any sort of profound philosophical or spiritual insight, I just have a hunch that that might be what happens, but we’ll see.

Siddhananda: We’ll see.

Rick: Who knows? Well, we’ve been going on for almost two hours, I suppose we ought to wrap it up.

Siddhananda: Hours?

Rick: I think so, yeah.

Siddhananda: My God, okay.

Rick: Is there anything that you’d like to say by way of conclusion, perhaps anything we haven’t covered, or anything whatsoever?

Siddhananda: You know, I really just want to encourage people to continue, I mean, no matter what the experience, no matter how beautiful, no matter how attractive, or no matter how horrid, just keep going if the heart is there to be free, because truly that’s your right, your birthright, everything that you’ve read and all that is true, that’s your birthright, to have freedom, and it’s there when all of this other stuff you think you are falls away, and to not be afraid to open up to gurus and teachers, and I’m not advocating one over the other, but certainly beware of the ones that are not sincere and take advantage, that’s another deal, but keep going, please. I mean, I just… again, when one enters this, it’s their whole world to – there’s no world left – but what it is, is to see others come to freedom, those ones that are sincere, and it doesn’t in whatever way, and to just say, “Yes, it is there, all that one’s read about it”, I just want to encourage that.

Rick: Yeah, that’s good. I mean, I just received an email from a guy recently who said that, he’s a very spiritual seeker and ardent seeker and everything, obviously, but he said his life has just been hell, and he’s been living in hell for so long, and I said, “Well, all things must pass, and you just have to persevere, and the time will come when that’s not your experience anymore, but you can’t, you just don’t give up”. like you’re saying.

Siddhananda: That’s all you can say, and when you’re, if you start opening up, then these things unfold, your next step will come, and even though you don’t in your head think so, it’s there, it really is, it’s beneath you, it’s the substratum of who you are, it’s pure intelligence, and it’s wanting to move, it’s nature is to move one towards the center of your being, and if you can follow it, and to trust it, and work in harmony with it, that’s what will eventually happen. For every sincere one, for sure.

Rick: Yeah, I was listening to Byron Katie the other day, and she was saying it’s a friendly universe, and that might seem strange to someone who is going through all kinds of terrible stuff. But I think what she was saying is what you’re saying, is that there is this sort of guiding intelligence that underlies or supports everything, and sometimes the mother is washing the child, and the child is feeling discomfort and sorrow, and that’s just the way it is. You know, the child is feeling discomfort and squirming and screaming and doesn’t want it to happen, but the child is going to come out better for it.

Siddhananda: Exactly, exactly, it’s not what you want, you’re going to get what you need, and that’s an entirely different thing, and what you get is what’s best for you and your progress, which is not always what you want.

Rick: Yeah, like the Rolling Stones sang.

Siddhananda: Exactly, and thank goodness it ends up being at the time you didn’t know it, but once it turns that corner, you’re like, “Thank God”.

Rick: Yeah, so that’s a good note to end on, it’s a word of encouragement for people to just carry on, and everyone has their own path, and some might seem quick and some might seem slow, but you never know. You never know when the final kind of cloud is going to end, or dissipate. It could be tomorrow.

Siddhananda: Yes, it could be your next breath, abs perfectly put, yes.

Rick: Well, thanks, this has been good, we’ll do it again sometime.

Siddhananda: Oh, I’d love to.

Rick: So I’ve been speaking with Siddhananda on episode number 55, I believe, of Buddha at the Gas Pump. There’s a new one of these interviews every week, and so if you go to, B-A-T-G-A-P, you’ll see them all archived and new ones will come along. And I’m going to be putting a sign-up thing on there so people can sign up to be notified by email of new ones, but in the meanwhile, before that, if you just want to email me at, I’ll put you on an email list. So thank you, Siddhananda.

Siddhananda: Thank you so much.

Rick: Namaste.

Siddhananda: Namaste.