Awaken Interview with Gangaji Part 3

Donna Quesada: So much of spiritual practice is about dropping the searching, and by extension, the attachments that we think we need

The things we think we need to present about ourselves or the things we think we need to have, to be happier, to be whole. Are all desires bad?

GANGAJI: Well, I didn’t know so much of practice was about that. That’s great…if I’d gotten that, that would’ve saved me a lot of time. Because in my experience, so much of my practice was really trying to acquire something, trying to get something better than what I have. So that’s beautiful. Thank you for that… what was the second part?

DONNA: Well, there’s so much about this notion of dropping desires, and dropping attachments. So I’m sort of, you know, I guess, playing devil’s advocate in a sense, are all desires bad?

GANGAJI: You know, I don’t think desires are bad. I think if you have the desire to be free, the desire to know the truth, to know yourself…that’s a supreme, holy desire. If you recognize that all the other desires are really, somehow, extensions of that…You know, if I got finished with my suffering, then I would know the truth. Or, if I get this relationship that I want, then I could be happy and at peace. Or, if politics goes away, I am sure it should go, then I would be at peace and the war would be over. So, it’s always a postponement of that primary and sublime true desire —I want to be free. I think we come in as babies wanting to know, Who am I? And we are told who we are and we accept that or we rebel against that. And finally, there’s enough maturity to actually really want to know the truth of that. Who am I, in truth? And that’s a desire and that’s a desire that allows that question to really be asked.

DONNA: You touched briefly on the political situation and we had a very highly publicized trial last week. I want to extrapolate from that and…just something we like to ask here, on Awaken, is about this masculine energy and a proper balance of it with the feminine energy…and I think that’s something we giving attention to these days. You know, this reclamation of the divine, the divine feminine. Could you speak to that a little bit? Do you think a lot of the problems that we see and that we have been seeing in the world, is due to the imbalance of these masculine and feminine energies? And what needs to happen, if so, to make that right?

GANGAJI: What is to happen, I don’t know. I’ll start with that one. And I think there’s a lot of wisdom in the recognition of the imbalance of, just as a species, our aggressive powerful tendencies to conquer, and to own…have really allowed us, as a species, to conquer the earth. And now, those tendencies are, I think, destroying the earth because there’s so many of us. And so, that imbalance of this natural, beautiful, aggressive male energy isn’t tempered by, you know, a sensitivity or an acceptance…just as things are, and a welcoming, so in that really big sense, yes. I think that we have to or we will perish as a species.

But I don’t know how long that perishing will take, you know? We could go through multiple dark ages before that actually happens. But I think as aware, conscious people, we have an opportunity now to see. Especially now, as we know masculine energies are not just in males, they are in females and males, and it is a beautiful energy—it is an assertive energy. And for me, it really gets stimulated when I see something I think is absolutely wrong happening in the political sphere. So then, it’s very easy to go to war with that. And it’s a fine line, it’s a razor’s edge because you can resist something beautifully and assertively without being at war with it. And you can really hate the outcomes of something without hating the beings who are perpetrating those outcomes. And that’s the edge. And I think we all fall off that edge because then you can fall into a kind of sleepiness, you know?…that you just want to withdraw from it. And if you are a recluse, I salute you! That’s a perfect way for you to live your life. But if you are engaged in the world, that is also perfect. And so, that’s more my issue.

I went on your website—on the website because I was curious about the website and I wanted to see what other teachers…and there was a clip there from Marianne Williamson and I’ve never seen her or heard about her for years, and I know people love her. And she was speaking at the World’s Parliament of Religions and it was this fiery, dynamic challenge and she had a lot of people off their seats, you know, applauding. She was a beautiful speaker, I loved it. And you know, there were a lot of people who also were not liking it, but that’s part of it. So to me, that’s part of the answer. Yes, let’s stand up and shout out and let’s also have the capacity to sit down and be still. That we have to, or we have been called to…it seems to me…to discover what balance actually is…and balance means that there is imbalance, but there’s a capacity to come to equilibrium. Whether we will make it as a species, I don’t know. Somedays it does not look promising, at all.

DONNA: Yeah. Well I’m glad you had a chance to look at the site. You know, I had a chance to talk to someone who also calls Poonja, or Papaji, his teacher. I don’t know if you know him, Arjun Ardagh?

GANGAJI: Oh yeah, yeah!

DONNA: He was a student, as well, and speaks of Poonja. Anyway, in our last few minutes together, I would like to ask you about God and prayer. And also, we’ve been speaking of teachers. Maybe let’s start with that. Do you think we need a teacher, first of all? Can we find our own way?

GANGAJI: I don’t think there’s a formula. I know that I found out that I needed a teacher. I was certain that I didn’t need a teacher, but I actually did need a teacher. But I don’t think that it’s necessarily true for someone else. I mean, clearly there are teachers who say they didn’t need a teacher and I accept that and they seem awake. I got a different life with my teacher. I got life. I had a different kind of life, I was upside down, so yeah. That’s… who knows?

DONNA: And I brought up prayer because I know for me personally, that’s something I felt was missing from the Zen tradition. As you know, the bhakti element is not as pronounced as it is, and certain other types of spiritual practices. I think I will always be a little bit Zen because that’s where I started. And I love the discipline for many, many reasons. But that aspect of prayer, for me personally, is so life-saving, in that way…that I wanted to ask, does prayer have a place in your practice and do you think that it’s just simply different for everybody, you know? And if so, who do you pray to?

GANGAJI: I prayed a lot as a child and I felt like it really helped me, and I prayed to God and Jesus. I think for me personally, prayer is sublime. And I can say that I’ve never stopped praying. I may even say, “thank you, God,”like a prayer. But it’s so…It’s like a meditation. It’s just a release and the gratitude and the cry for help, all of those are…yeah, I think that it’s a way of focusing the mind out of its own powers into something that is bigger than can be known. Or, whatever you name that is secondary and God is a fine name…it’s just such a polluted name that maybe it is out of fashion. Yes, I am an advocate of prayer, I think it’s a powerful force.

DONNA: You mentioned meditation. It reminds me of a quote from my teacher, that “prayer is when you speak to God, but meditation is when God speaks to you.”I like it very much.

GANGAJI: That’s beautiful.

DONNA: Because there’s so much attention to getting out of our head, and coming into this moment; is that what God is? What do we mean when we talk about God?

GANGAJI: Well, you know…God. I mean, I really stand by that it is very polluted word. It means whatever you want it to mean. It’s like love or truth. Or I. It has so many different meanings and if we just are willing to look inside the word…what does that word point to?…some…Something huge, something limitless, something that’s not a something…Something that is not our object, that we’re the something of that. And so it’s humbling. The recognition of…Because I’m not…I wouldn’t call me religious,even though I have particular religious rituals like prayer that are still very sweet and tender to me. Or, even a believer in a God. But this mystery…this mystery of being, whether it’s purely biological, biochemical…it doesn’t matter to me. It’s still this huge mystery that is so wondrous and awesome and humbling, to be for a period of some years. Incarnate.

You know, we’re made of the earth, we are made of stardust…we’re…what a mystery! And we are conscious of it. I love the Tibetans always talking about this precious human birth and for a long time, I didn’t get that. What is precious about human birth? It seems like other animals are happier and doing good. And then I got this. I don’t know about other animals…seems like they have some kind of consciousness and maybe some of them have evolved consciousness, but as humans, we actually have the capacity to reflect. As you were saying, “what is God? Who am I? Where are we? What do we want?”And this is a precious human birth.

DONNA: What happens to this body when we die?

GANGAJI: I think it rots and is eaten by little creatures and goes back to earth and stardust, right? Little creatures and goes back to earth and stardust, right?

DONNA: But the soul carries on?

GANGAJI: You know, I don’t have belief systems about the soul. I have experiences about soulfulness, or old soul, but I wouldn’t put them into a belief system of what is.

DONNA: Fair enough. And finally, if you could, if there was one practice…if you had to pick one practice to give to someone as a kind of lifestyle…sadhana or something, what would it be? Would it be meditation or would it be something else? Something that can help us as humans in this life, which is challenging to be sure.

GANGAJI: Well I know what initially began my awakening, or put it on a different level, and that was an experience with nature. The willingness to actually be with the ocean in a particular way, or be with a mountain side, or sky, or a tree, or a plant. I grew up in a rural area. But I never had an understanding, or an experience of the oneness of nature…the consciousness of this whole thing. And so, that was a breakthrough for me…to realize that I am not just located here, but whoa! And that was reflected also in relationships with other human beings, where there was love. So, I would say, if I had to give one bit of advice to anybody, it would be: Find where you love. Find where love is awakened.

DONNA: Nature can give us that. It’s the infinite. I think it’s the infinite I think…vastness.

GANGAJI: And immediacy at the same time.

DONNA: And what would you like to leave our readers, or our viewers, with? What are you up to these days, is there any writing or anything you’d like to point them to, or is there anything else you’d like to share?

GANGAJI: I’m not writing anymore. I feel like, Whoa…I’m finished with writing,which is great. I have a website, if people are interested, they can always go on the website.

DONNA: What is your website?

GANGAJI: It’s and it’s g-a-n-g-a-j-i. And I have events. I’m not traveling as much as I was in the past, but I’m still going to events, doing an event at Multiversity in California and different places. But really, my message to everyone is that when I say, “trust yourself,”I’m not suggesting that you trust your thoughts, or your emotions, or your conclusions or your activities… but, trust that impetus that somehow has risen in you, to know yourself, to know truth, to live truth and to discover that everywhere. Trust that and it puts you in the right place. With a teacher or without a teacher, it is all secondary to that. That’s the true teacher, the satguru.

DONNA: That’s something not taught in schools, whether that’s intuition or whether we call it a gut instinct, we’re not taught that.

GANGAJI: I think intuition and gut instincts can be wrong, too. Because then we flip onto the other side of that. And if I feel it, if I think it, then it must be so. So then, there’s a humbling of that. We see that everything, where we are located, is subject to mistake. But, there is something inseparable from the successes or the failures of our gut instincts or intuition, that is at peace and free already. It is already who you are.

DONNA: Well Gangaji, once again, I want to thank you for sharing your time with us today.

GANGAJI: Oh, you’re a delight!

DONNA: Thank you! So are you! I’ve enjoyed our time together, immensely.

Source: AWAKEN

Awaken Interviews Gangaji – Who Am I? Well What Is Always Here?

Posted on November 3, 2018

Awaken Interview with Gangaji Part 2

DONNA QUESADA: So it’s a kind of a spaciousness, a distance to where you’re able to see all as passing clouds…

You know, I could even say that it’s more an intimacy. So, it’s so great, this is a great challenge. It’s all here. But what is…it’s all arising from what’s here, when it’s being experienced, or existing, and where it all returns to, is the truth. That’s always here, too. So I’m not even speaking in terms of choosing it, it’s just…I don’t know, a war stops. An individual war stops. And there may be skirmishes or battles or whatever, but the war itself is over. And so, there is then a deepening and peace of that. Which of course must allow for all kinds of differences, and dislikes, and emotional events. Yeah.

DONNA: Is that what you meant by intimacy, being intimate with something deeper and truer…and there’s a kind of comfort in knowing that that’s what it really is? The other stuff is fleeting?

GANGAJI: Well, intimacy you know, means…one way of finally. I mean, if you’re truly intimate with someone, or nature, or whatever you are, you’re not separate from that. But I wouldn’t necessarily say that there is comfort in that, it’s something deeper than comfort…that can be extreme discomfort. But there’s maybe divine knowledge, it’s our in, and you don’t have to believe it, or remember your experience of it. You know, you can check…in the worst moments, you can just stop and check, and… who am I? Well what is always here?And it’s is so clear. It was always here, and recognize, Oh yeah, that was always here but now it…As I said, “foregrounded,”so, it’s not a process to get to it.

Yes, I mean, this just came up with a whole supreme court thing, and all of it. Yeah, I have strong opinions about…and I had an emotional reaction to that…but am I going to add my personal suffering to that, or am I going to be able to experience the suffering that is present in that, and to have room for that without adding to it? I think that’s the practical aspect, when you were speaking of practicality. How are we in the world if we are activists or if we are just living a life, or in our special practices…what are we contributing? Are we contributing suffering and searching? Or are we contributing this recognition of, there is within all of it there is this mystery that is you?

DONNA: You know, that’s an interesting thing that you brought up. I would like to go a little further with it, if you don’t mind. What is the proper balance between one’s own spiritual practice and social activism, our role in the world? Because I think there’s this idea that spiritual practice takes you into the cave and you’re meditating…and the tendency is to say, “well, what good could that do?”And the monks have always said,“Well, but by not contributing one scrap of violence into the world, you know…is a kind of vibrational contagiousness of that, that is peaceful.”How are we to understand and what do we say to the naysayers,“What do you mean it starts with you?…you’re not doing anything of value?”

GANGAJI: Well I think there’s room for all of it and I don’t believe there’s a particular formula that has to be lived. it’s really, finally…how are you made? I’m naturally a pretty worldly person. I read the newspaper—online, of course…ecologically correct and I emotionally connect with certain events but I don’t think that’s required. And I also don’t think that it’s required to do that. It’s just discovering that we are unique forms of this one intimate consciousness and we find our way. We see what role we have to play in this drama.

So, Ramana, who was my teacher’s teacher, was a recluse and never left the mountain he got to. Never had relationships of intimacy with women, but that didn’t mean that that was the role model. That was what was right for him. But we do that with our teachers, whatever form our teachers had…to be the correct form. And then that becomes a kind of idealism which is all of a sudden, the new religion. And so, we shouldn’t have those thoughts, we shouldn’t do those activities, we shouldn’t go to a movie or we should forget about our practice and just be on the streets. I think the idealism really becomes a burden and is another excuse for warfare.

DONNA:: You mentioned Papaji. This is Poonja, H.W.L. Poonja. Tell us about your teacher…how did you find him and what was it about him that made you feel like you had come home? If we can I put it in those terms.

GANGAJI: Well, I had really…this is by 1990 when I met him…by that time, I was disillusioned with my practices…I was not a great practitioner. I figured that was the problem. I had had wonderful teachers and I received beautiful teachings and had been profoundly affected by them. And I would have great experiences of expansion, and clarity, and peace and oneness, but always this ground of suffering would reassert itself. My identity as the sufferer, who, if I worked really hard, I could fix that. But I got to a point where I knew I needed a teacher. I had been pretty anti-guru and I didn’t like the co-dependency that I’d seen, and the misuse of power. So I, with my husband, we both, individually and together, realized we needed a teacher. There’s something we don’t know, and we don’t know where to get it. And so, we both prayed for a teacher and we met one of Papaji’s, Poonjaji’s students, who was coming through Marin County. And so we heard of him. And miraculously, Eli happened to be going to India looking for some sufis, cause he’s really interested in the enneagram. And he was in this town and he said “I think that’s where that teacher is from.”So, he ended up looking him up in the phonebook, and he went to his house, and knocked on the door and he was let in and he spent like five days alone with him. And so he was writing me and I was getting these letters and he was saying, “you gotta come here! This is the real thing.”And these letters were just vibrating. And so, he came back…we were actually living in Hawaii then…he came back and got me. And I went to see him. And we went up to his door and knocked on it because he knew we were coming. And he opened the door and there is this welcome. He said,“Welcome!”


GANGAJI: And I felt it, and I saw it, and I fell in love! It was love at first sight! He was a beautiful man and just totally loose and free and open. And he said, “What do you want?”For me, in that moment, the word, “freedom”arose, “I want freedom.”


GANGAJI: And I could’ve said anything else, but that’s what came out. And he said, “Good, you’re in the right place.”And I knew that was right. So I said, after we were having our tea and sitting a little bit…I said,“So tell me what to do. I really…I’m open…tell me what to do.”He said, “stop doing everything.”So, I’d been a Zen student, I’ve done some vipassana, I’d done a lot of Tibetan practices. So I stopped doing everything. I just —breathe in and breathe out. And he said, “No, no, no, no, no stop that.”And he penetrated something. It was quite clear that my practice was actually doing something to get my enlightenment, doing something to get free, doing something to get truth. And he said, “Stop doing anything to get…stop your searching at least for a moment.”And it was terrifying to me in the moment because I really felt that if I stopped, I would fall back, I would regress, into this person, this state, that I had climbed up out of and I was frightened. And he said, “Just be still…don’t do anything.”So for me, the way I tell that…I don’t know if you would ever use those words…I actually met that fear and met that terror, really. Which is similar to the terror of death. I thought I would lose my good life that I had and I would end up in that hell realm that I had climbed up out of and he…Basically I invited everything and stayed conscious…didn’t fall asleep but, eventually then, I discovered what we’re looking for, what we’re searching for, while working so hard for, is already here. And that was his message, and that was Ramana’s message: you are already free – what gets liberated is your idea of yourself. Or your preoccupation with yourself as some idea.

So it was beautiful. We got to spend time together, and he greeted me so openly. He loved me. It was so beautiful. I was his pet and then the next time we saw him he didn’t even look at me. He wasn’t interested in me. I wasn’t his favorite anymore. And there was a point where, oh no! Wait! I could see it. I could just go back again into this identity of aww he doesn’t love me anymore, aww my father has turned from me and —I could just stop. And it was quite beautiful, he’s not looking at me, he’s seeing someone else…is saying the same words to them, “Come in…you’re welcome.”I saw I wasn’t special in the way that I thought that specialness would give me what I wanted. And that…

DONNA: …that was attachment…he really was setting you free.

GANGAJI: Yeah! Yeah! Just by being himself. He really didn’t want to talk to me. It wasn’t like he was setting it up as a test, he was just natural. And he wasn’t psychologically burdened, as we can be in the west, with the way we should act, or what an enlightened person would do or say. He was himself as a human, as well of…this recognition of most profound sort.

DONNA: And you mentioned, Ramana. Ramana Maharshi…that was his teacher.

GANGAJI: Yes, he spent time with him. He spent five or seven years with him. And yeah, Ramana stopped him in his tracks.

DONNA: I have a quote here that he told you, or invited you to, “Shift your allegiance from the activities of your mind to the eternal presence of your being.”


DONNA: And that really struck me as being so beautiful. And it really isn’t different from the Zen message to get out of your head and come here, right here.

GANGAJI: That’s right, he called me his Zen daughter!

DONNA: I love that!

GANGAJI: Yeah, me too!

DONNA: Is that the message of all traditions, or are they all just different boats or vessels that take us to the same place?

GANGAJI: Mmm, sometimes it seems like that’s so. That the core of all spiritual movement or religions there is this explosion or this recognition of unity, the mystic unity of oneself with the totality. But then other times, I hear what’s being said and how it gets translated through particular teachers or particular traditions…seems to veer off that, and it becomes, for me…the Tibetan tradition is beautiful and I profoundly respect it —but for me, it became about power, about accumulating power. That was the thrust of what I was getting from that and it was not healthy for me at that time. Because you know, we could have supernatural things happening, and it was all this manifestation of a medicine buddha or whichever buddha we were working with then, and it was a distraction actually, for me. It felt good. But I needed something so simple. What Papaji was speaking…so simple, that it was radical. But I don’t know what other people need. It’s different for different people.

DONNA: How did the simplicity of it revolutionize your practice so much?

GANGAJI: Well it destroyed my practice, in truth.

DONNA: Like breaking down the edifice or the ideas…

GANGAJI: Oh well, you know, I had a practice of suffering…my practice was. And so, I did an overlay on that practice of whatever my particular meditative practice was. But really, the willingness to stop searching at any moment. And it’s a face…the abyss, of really what our whole conditioned or egoic structure is built on top of. To face that, and to meet that, and to discover that the abyss…it’s not an abyss. It’s alive, vibrant consciousness. There was a reduction, rather than adding to it. He really was inviting me to lose everything, to lose all my practices, all of it and see what was left, what really couldn’t be practiced. Because that would be…of course, my practice was to continue suffering, which is really the example I was given, when all of a sudden, I wasn’t his favorite one…it was a cue for the suffering identity to come in, or to practice my spiritual self. Just something more simple, more immediate. And you can’t practice it because you are it.

DONNA: Is that where the question, “Who am I?”comes into play?

GANGAJI: Mmm, well that’s really Ramana’s great gift. Yes, Who am I? Everything is there.

DONNA: Is that what gyan yoga is built on? That question, Who am I?

GANGAJI: Well, I think…yeah, they say that. There is bhakti yoga, and jnana yoga, and that’s…But it’s more than a mental question. It’s really turning the mind, the attention, if we are calling attention to our mind’s capacity for focused awareness, turning that back to this primary identity, I. “Who am I?”And really, usually, we’re going out from that. I’m getting enough… I’m not getting enough. I am this person, I am this gender, I am this belief. So, it’s returning the attention back to this source. And it often happens immediately for people, for just even asking this question. There is just this flood, this expansion, and clarity. But it can very easily become a mental question. You know, I am not the body, I am…it can be a recitation, a practice. But if it’s used as really, an inquiry…which is really turning your attention to that point and then discovering that point is the spaciousness of the universe.

DONNA: So we have to look at that simplicity, knocking down the walls again, the persona, the guises that we wear…I’m a teacher, I’m a student, I’m this, I’m that…

GANGAJI: Yes, yes, so…freeing! Papaji used to say, “give up your enlightenment.”And give up your unenlightenment too! Give them both up. Those states don’t define you. They are useful for conversation, but they have no power to really define who you are.

Continued in Part III…

Read and Watch Part I : HERE

Source: AWAKEN

Awaken Interviews Gangaji – The Practical Ramifications Of Awakening

October 27, 2018

Donna Quesada:
Well, Gangaji, the first thing I want to say is, thank you! Thank you for joining us, and I know that our Awaken listeners will appreciate your time, as well, and will love what you have to share with us.

Awaken Interviews Gangaji – The Practical Ramifications Of Awakening

Donna Quesada: Well, Gangaji, the first thing I want to say is, thank you! Thank you for joining us, and I know that our Awaken listeners will appreciate your time, as well, and will love what you have to share with us.


GANGAJI: Oh, thank you for inviting me. Happy to be with you.

DONNA: Thank you. And we’ve never really formally met…I’m Donna, and it’s a pleasure to talk with you. And being that the name of the website is, we have a little tradition that we like to start with and I… so I’d like to dive right in and just ask you what that means to you…this notion of awakening.


DONNA: Right!

GANGAJI: That’s it isn’t it? Really, in this moment, I would say it means coming out of misidentification…coming out of a trance that our conditioning puts us into. A family conditioning, a social conditioning, without making that conditioning wrong. Just recognizing that mostly we are in a trance state, and so we awaken from that trance. We recognize that we are not who we think we are. We’re not who we’ve been told we are. We are not who we hope we are. And we are not who we fear we are! There’s something deeper and closer than any of those realms.

DONNA: And what does that mean, we are not who we think we are? I mean, you’re sitting there and I’m looking at you…and I’m here. And my background, I did a little research, you know to prepare for this interview, and well, maybe we’ll have time to get into this a little bit…but I saw that you and I have a similar background, we started with this tradition and you hear that a lot in Zen, you know, we’re not who we think we are. If you could just speak to that a little bit; what does that mean in practical terms?

GANGAJI: In practical terms…

DONNA: …in practical terms!

GANGAJI: Yes! Really practically because I’m very interested in the practical ramifications of awakening. We are sitting here, this form is a way of this other form, and no problem, that is just the nature of phenomenal existence. But the minute I start telling myself a story about your form or about my form, Am I doing it right? Is she going to ask me the right things?…a narrative that may come up… but that following of that narrative puts us into a trance, where we overlook, just the presence of being here together. And the potential for deeply meeting, and that meeting, discovering something that is… Well, I think that the Zen tradition says, maybe beyond thought, but I would say it’s closer than anything that can be thought. So it’s not esoteric really, it’s being aware of our power to think, to describe, and remember and to project into the future… And also being aware of where that power comes from. What’s deeper and… and more true than that power.

DONNA: So trance is an interesting word and I’m thinking about this word and the way you are using it; it’s almost like anything that takes us out of this moment and out of authenticity, and… therefore out of the ability to connect with one another…because the trance is just a way of being stuck in a dream, which is the story. Would that be correct?

GANGAJI: That’s beautiful! I’ll use it!

DONNA: It’s a funny thing, so I was reading…you were raised in Mississippi.


DONNA: And you went to —correct me anytime I get something wrong so our listeners get to know you, as well. Being raised in Mississippi, and at that time, because you went to San Francisco during the kind of the“Golden Era”of San Francisco, the counter-cultural movement, and I’m so fascinated with that time period the late 60’s, early 70’s… you’re coming from a place where it truly was very different. Everybody was so ready for a new spirituality at that time, at that place in history, and you wanted to combine political activism with spiritual practice. You took your Bodhisattvavows…the magic, was in the Zen tradition?

GANGAJI: Mm yes, yes…initially, yes.


GANGAJI: And the Tibetan tradition.

DONNA: Oh, ok. What was it about this period of time that made us so ready for a new spirituality…that made us so ready to take on ideas that were so different from tradition, especially having come from a place where those ideas still were foreign?

GANGAJI: Well, I think there are two aspects to that. For me personally, it felt like a great escape from our very repressed, closed society. So it became fresh air…the quality of the air was so different from the quality of Mississippi air. And Mississippi is a very tribal place, to this day. So it’s very…I didn’t know anybody. It was anonymous. From a small town to a city, and a city that was vibrant and people looking good and looking at each other…actually making eye contact. And in a way it was finding a different family, but it was a looser family, and there was permission. It was intoxicating.

But I think what gave rise to that, was the deep disillusionment of the 60’s. The recognition, I mean the assassinations —I just watched a documentary about Robert Kennedy and his trajectory and how it ended in his assassination, and just the horror of that. And that wakes you up, too, of course. Horror can wake you up as much as bliss. So as a counter-culture, we woke up to the ones that were called “the adults”…they were not going to do it for us; the authorities are not going to make the world we want to make. And so, we were idealistic young people and we assumed we could make it. Of course, it went off in lots of ways that were also disillusioning, but that is part of the maturing, you mature in your awakening; you recognize that the world is much more complex than we think it to be. So yeah, I would say those two things came together. It was a beautiful time. It was a time of relative freedom for me as a person.

DONNA: But yet, there was something that left you unsatisfied, I was reading, and that drove you into a deeper search, shall we say?

GANGAJI: Oh yes, deeply unsatisfied because that relative freedom, and it was you know, a sexual freedom, a freedom to reinvent myself. I had been a teacher in Memphis and now I was a waitress in San Francisco and it was just exciting. But, it wasn’t freedom. You weren’t free, we were still bound by other things. And it was empty, a dead kind of emptiness finally, when I told the truth. I had hoped that political activism would feed that and I loved —this was now into the 70’s —I loved being politically active and I felt important and I felt we were doing the right thing. But even in our affinity groups during non-violent training…our protest in Diablo Canyon, CA, a nuclear power plant… and I don’t know, we had this sense of sisterhood and brotherhood, but it was still us versus them, so there was still something deeply off. So I gave that up and began my serious spiritual search with Zen, but really it was the Tibetan Buddhism where there was the most commitment. We actually ran a Tibetan Buddhist center out of a little house in Bolinas, CA, and did lots of retreats, and lots of empowerments, and had a practice of visualization and chanting. But then after a while, that got so heady, you know? It was so rich I felt like it’s the version that the Catholic Church does for Christianity… and it was so, so…

DONNA: Too ritualistic maybe?

GANGAJI: Too ritualistic. Beautiful rituals. But it was just something I was not getting. Maybe it was being said the whole time. But I was still searching for something and it wasn’t there, so…

DONNA: You brought up something fascinating. That it was…when we were talking about the counter-cultural movement and how, in many ways, it was the shocking things, the war, and it inspired so much activism, but yet, there were crushing things going on all around us…on an individual level, as well as on a group level…do we need that kind of trauma? Call it the “dark night of the soul,”or as Eckhart Tolle says,“limit situations.”Do we need that for spiritual growth?

GANGAJI: I don’t know if we needed it. I really don’t know. I know that the biggest shock of all is recognizing that you, yourself, will die. And that’s a shock. And so I do believe that we need that one, that we need to be realistic, that this form is finite and it will end before we know it in very quick time. We have the other shocks, so they’re here…so, whether it’s a need or not, I really don’t know. I would hope we wouldn’t need them, but they seem to keep coming, so.

DONNA: Are there certain degrees of awakening, or is there such a thing as enlightenment?—if I could even use that word. Or are there degrees that we start to wake up and maybe it’s these kinds of moments in life, certain realizations…whether it’s a pivotal moment, when we realize that this really is temporary; it’s not just words but it hits us in our gut, my god I’m gonna die one day! So, maybe these little realizations that bring us to semi-awakenings…would you say there are degrees?…the curtains opening up, little by little?

GANGAJI: I think it’s both true. That there are moments in our lives or there are experiences, or internal or external shocks, or whatever, that start to shake the status quo of our identity. And they build, certainly, but there is some moment, it seems to me, in my experience, some moment where there is a flip. I don’t mean a flip into bliss or a flip into no problems, or never having issues or anything, but just the perspective flips.

So, what was always there in the background, is like now in the foreground. It’s the recognition of oh yeah, that…that was always here, but now it is perceived and experienced to be always here. But that’s often misunderstood because the people always look for a steady state experience. And I’m not saying that. States come and go and experiences come and go…thoughts come and go…emotions and events. But it’s something deeper. I would say it’s a critical shift. And I know it can be very useful to see the degrees of deepening after that, because the deepening is endless, but it seems to me, it is something where it is a radical shift where you really are not identifying the same way as you were, even though identifications may arise, they don’t own you. Conditioning may arise but doesn’t have the power…the trance is broken…to continue our trance subject.

DONNA: I was just going to say, that kind of brings us back and I am glad because it enables us to deepen the idea a little bit. Recognizing who we really are, you know, is what awakening really is. And so, to make it even more practical, what does this do for us? Because I think that is the misconception: that once we wake up, everything is going to be joyful and perfect and wonderful. And of course, those of us who have had a practice, know that that’s not true. We still have bad days and good days and sometimes it feels like life just sucks. Even though we’ve had a practice for so many years, we still feel frustrated at times and we still have days when we feel sad and we still have challenges and we still feel off. And so, what does it do for us, this realization that this isn’t who I really am? Identifying with the material world, with the idea of this identity for example. How does that help me?

GANGAJI: Oh…for me, it’s sublimely practical. I think the major thing is that when a bad day comes, or a bad mood, or a bad state…it’s no big deal. It’s not about keeping something, getting something and then keeping it. It’s really recognizing what’s always here. I mean, it’s a big deal and nobody likes to feel bad, and life does sometimes suck and that doesn’t feel good, but it’s deeper than feelings. So there’s room for all of it. Obviously it’s all here. And so there’s a kind of, in my experience, there was a ceasing of the searching for “it”…being life, or my experience…to be different from what it is. And that seems to go back to the whole Zen thing. Papaji, I felt, was very Zen, he was just so sharp, and to stop it all, be still, and recognize what does not come and go. What is always here? Then the emotions or the situations, even though they can be, and they are important, are secondary to the truth.

Continued in Part II…

Source: AWAKEN

Freedom in Relationship ~ Gangaji

In any moment of perfect stillness in the open, quiet mind, there is no problem. There is no suffering, no betrayer, no betraying. When we begin to relate to each other as human beings and begin to fill our minds with ideals, with memories, with wanted or unwanted possible scenarios, then problems arise. Those of us who are in relationship encounter tests and trials. I don’t mean in relationship with just a significant other. I mean relationship with all—in relationship with the world. Relationship is wherever or whenever there is an I and other. Relationship can be perceived as all internal, or it can be perceived as all external.

There are hermits who retreat and never have to relate to the world. I don’t know what their inner state is like. Let us assume it is totally open, non-relational oneness. And then there are those like us who somehow have either re-entered or never left the world. Whether it is an evolutionary mandate, or good or bad luck, we find ourselves here with each other. Here we are together in this place of divine illusion—not illusion as a trivialization of form—but rather, illusory as the shape shifting nature of forms; physical forms, mental forms, emotional forms, and circumstantial forms. The great completion for anyone who has experienced, even for a moment, the emptiness of form and the absolute aliveness of that emptiness, is to find that same empty aliveness present even in illusion.

The dissolution of form is the concrete experience of death. There is either struggle over that dissolution, or there is surrender. Like it or not, it is inevitable that all forms—all relationships, all ideas, all physicality, all emotionality, all circumstances—dissolve. When we recognize this inevitability, we are back to where we began: the emptiness of all form.

At this time in our lives we can also realize the sublimity and wonder, even with the occasional huge challenge, of being in relationship with whatever form appears.

Realization in this way requires full relationship. In a partial relationship the opportunity for complete meeting never occurs. You have the capacity to fully meet whatever appears in your life, in either its coming or its going. Fully meeting anything (pleasant or unpleasant) reveals open stillness; resisting causes agitation in the mind. We all have the experience of resisting dissolution. We are human beings, and we have an animal nature that requires we resist death; we are also emotionally connected to others, and we don’t want what we like or love to dissolve. Additionally, as humans we have ideals and idealizations, and those fuel resistance to what either appears or disappears.

For everyone who is in relationship in the world, both disillusion and dissolution are facts. It may be your aging, or your children leaving, or the actions of your government, or the state of the ecology, or your negative emotions, or your neighbors’ negative emotions. Or it may be that somebody who you were certain loved you turned out not to love you. Or you turned out not to love who or what you thought you loved. If you are willing to surrender, to meet what is present without the agitated mind filled with ideals and judgment, a revelation of inherent peace is natural. Relationship is in this way the catalyst to inner peace.

Meeting loss is always about meeting death. Dissolution is death, the thing the mind most fears, and yet the thing that is inevitable. It is what the animal rages against in its fear, and yet it remains inevitable. I deeply invite you and welcome you into whatever particular dissolution may be appearing in your life, so that together we can support each other in seeing where true living freedom is. True freedom is revealed as we consciously let dissolve what has dissolved, as we let reality be reality. (As if we had choice about what reality is!) We discover the peace of freedom as we open to all of whatever is here in the world. It is all here for us to meet so that we can find that the real treasure is everywhere in everything.

The treasure is found as things appear, and equally as everything dissolves, just as everything must. After all the starlight we see and marvel at is from non-existent stars.

Source: Huffington Post

How to deal with financial insecurity and what it has to do with fear of death – Gangaji

Gangaji is a spiritual teacher and a direct disciple of the renowned advaita master Papaji. In this video she talks about how to deal with financial insecurity and / or whether we can eliminate financial insecurity. According to Gangaji – if we want to find an answer – we have to address the much more important question, which is how to overcome the fear of death.
Because we have this hope – according to Gangaji – that if we can accumulate enough of a barrier between ourselves and death, then we will be safe. But we aren’t! No matter how much money we have we are subject to death at any moment.
When it comes to the question: How to overcome the fear of death, we first have to see that fear (of death) is part of our animal nature and which is an alert system to the real possibility that we may die. Then she advises us to face our fear of death openly, to practice self-enquiry and actually explore it. Then, quite naturally and effortlessly we meet the fear of death, but not meeting as a way of getting rid of something.

After that Gangaji is asked about whether some people are naturally attracted to financial abundance. She is of the opinion that there is too much emphasis on money. Instead of thinking about how to spend money, we should rather think about how to spend our life. Because true abundance has nothing to do with the car we drive or the clothes we wear, but true abundance is a heart filled with love.

To summarize all this: If we want to learn how to overcome financial problems or even how to deal with bankruptcy, we have (first) to address the question of how to deal with the fear of death or how to overcome the fear of death. We do this by openly exploring our fear of death and enquire into this fear.

And of course, as a spiritual teacher, Gangaji reminds us that true abundance is a heart full of love.


How to Become Enlightened – Gangaji

Is there a fast and simple way to become enlightend now? According to direct disciple of Papaji and spiritual teacher Gangaji we have to be willing to let go of all strategies, concepts, beliefs, etc and become truly still. We have to be willing to throw away everything and just be here and now and receive what is offered. We have to detach from everything that we have learned or accumulated in our life, be it positive or negative. This is the best way to self-realization now. This is a simple to be yourself, a simple path to be who you truly are, a simple path to pure consciousness or awareness.

Gangaji: What are you saying to yourself?

Published on Jun 5, 2018
To stop doing what you are doing to perpetuate your suffering requires the willingness and the maturity to see what it is are you saying to yourself, and to stop that. Then you rest in enormous space that is your own consciousness.

From Gangaji’s recent retreat at Fallen Leaf Lake.

Gangaji: Telling the Truth About Gratitude

Published on Nov 21, 2017

If you tell the truth, in this moment, there’s more to be grateful for than there is to fix

Gangaji: Here to Love One Another

Gangaji – Living A Free Life

Published on Sep 26, 2017

Gangaji gives us the key to living a simple life, unthought, unplanned, with no notion of control. Can you give up the search for anything that you think separates you from what is always here, what is calling you home?

Gangaji: Home is Who You Are

Published on Sep 22, 2017

Whatever is going on, you can discover home. Then it’s not a practice. It’s alive. It’s here. Then meditation, chanting, prayer, singing, sitting, dancing, living, is in honor of that.

But what if you think you can’t find home? Gangaji has the answer to that in this clip from Beyond Practice.

Gangaji – The Practice of Desire

Published on Sep 1, 2017
There is so much suffering caused by the practice of desire. If you practice desire, you suffer…it’s as simple as that. Even the desire for happiness can turn your mind away from true freedom, into investigation. To want anything to last for ever is to overlook what is always here.

Taking Responsibility for Yourself: The Ethics of Awakening ~ Gangaji

Published on Aug 25, 2017

I am a great believer in the necessity of living a moral life, but I am not a believer in the burden of that. I am not a missionary. I am not here to convert you. Whatever your moral life is, you still have the capacity to stop, be still, call of the search. Then live freely. This is not a teaching

Gangaji: Enlightenment Story

The following is an excerpt from the unpublished words of Gangaji.

The moment I looked into Papaji’s eyes, I recognized the whole cosmos existed there. There was a force and clarity that literally and metaphorically stopped me in my tracks. He took me by the shoulders, and he gently shook me and said, “Don’t miss this chance. Who knows when it will come again.”

Through mysterious grace I recognized that whatever the results, truth could be found here with him. His warmth and love melted any emotional resistance. His humor and mental sharpness opened the gates of my mental defenses. Remarkably, I was able to give all attention to him, to what he was showing me in his be-ing and what he was inviting me to investigate with my full being.

When I questioned him regarding how to attain eternal truth, Papaji replied, “Lay aside every technique, every tool, every concept. Just be still, just be quiet, and see.”

After a moment of fearing what would be lost (all the ground I had gained!) if I were truly to give up all strategies and techniques, I stopped. And in that stopping, I was simply able to hear what he had to say. What he said, and how he said it, and how he invited me to investigate for myself what he was pointing to, was exactly what I had been praying for.

I knew he was speaking the truth. In meeting with him I saw that there was something huge, something more vast and more mysterious than the capacity of any thought process to own, to conquer, or to process.

To be able to hear it sounds like a simple thing. But with the complexity of our personalities, and our ideas and beliefs, there is usually much complication covering simple hearing. If one is preoccupied with past techniques and definitions and paths and defeats and victories, one is too busy to really hear the truth. The truth so simple, it is usually overlooked.

Finally, I realized that whatever I thought, it was always just a thought, subject to disappearance, and therefore, impossible to be eternal. To discover eternal truth, I could no longer rely on thought. Thought was no longer the master. The previous fear of not knowing was transformed to the joy of not knowing. To not know was the opening of my mind to what cannot be known by mind! What a relief, what profound release.

When you don’t know who you are, there is an opening; there is a crack in the structure of the mind. In that moment the mind isn’t filled with the latest definition of identity, or the battle between the latest and the habitual definition. In that moment there is silence. There is no disagreement with that definition. There is just silence.

And Papaji said, “That, right there. That’s who you are.”

What followed cannot truly be put into constaints of time. Although time did pass, time passed through (continues to pass through) what is revealed to be eternal.

Past, present, and future, all phenomena of mind, exquisite, mysterious and deeply entertaining, but not real.

Reality indefinable, unprocessable, unholdable, yet undeniably here. Eternity here. Regardless of thought, regardless of event, regardless of experience (even regardless of experience of appearance of ‘me’ or disappearance of “me”).

Unspeakable moment that neither began when I think it did, nor ends. Now happening, while really not happening at all.

Impossible to understand because it is always closer than understanding. Alive with the energy that gives rise to the entire cosmos as well as every speck of dust; every cathedral as well as every mundane thought.


All is here. Here is eternal God, eternal Truth. Here I am. All.

After some passage of time, with the challenges of released latent tendencies, he saw that I had recognized the boundless indefinability of true Self. He then asked me to go “door to door” and speak with others of my experience.

Gangaji: What is always here?

Published on Apr 27, 2017

When we stop looking for what is next, we can discover what is always here. Join Gangaji for a global webcast April 30 at 11 AM PSD

The Search for Silence

Published on Apr 24, 2017

What happens when we make “sitting in silence” a thing. Silence is not just when you are sitting on your cushion in silence. Silence is is always here. Stillness of being is always here

Gangaji – Stop Searching for What is Next, and Discover What is Here

Published on Apr 18, 2017

Stop the search for what is next and discover what is always here.

A Closer Look on Emotions – Gangaji

Published on Apr 10, 2017

What is the best way to deal with our emotions? In a conversation with Hillary Larson spiritual teacher Gangaji shares her wisdom about emotions. According to Gangaji the best way to deal with emotions is to be totally open to them and to experience them deeply. There is no need to create stories or judgments about emotions. If we just allow them to happen, naturally intelligence will come and this is what will help us to deal better with them.


Gangaji Webcast: Strengthening the Lazy Mind for Inquiry

Published on Mar 13, 2017

Gangaji speaks of the strong and flexible mind that neither indulges nor denies or fights the conditioning, triggers, habits of live. In simply being still, as very powerful waves of conditioning come to shore and wash back out, you are true to what has called you home, the truth of yourself.

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