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Nataraj has been living at the Satchidananda Yogaville ashram for the past year and a half after spending the previous year at the Sivananda ashram in the Bahamas. He was formerly a run of the mill business executive who traded the world for an ashram.

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Nataraj 0:00
to step back into awareness of what was happening on my mind was horrible.

Avi 0:06
But that creator also needed to be created. And whatever created that needed to be created, and on and on and on, change is best done lightly.

Nataraj 0:17
Yeah, once once we realize that we're not the thoughts, there's a, there's a sovereignty that emerges. Right, Welcome friends. Today,

Avi 0:37
I am very happy to be joined by nataraj, who is my friend and community member also living here at such an Ananda yoga Ville Ostrom previously is also lived at shivananda Ashram in the Bahamas. And just a little bit about him. That's Raj is a former run of the mill business executive. We traded the world for an awesome life. I love to ask him a little bit about that, as well as many other things. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this episode with us not to rush. Hi. Great to be with you. Thanks. So I guess I'll start with that. Why Why have you made this choice to now live in ashram community?

Nataraj 1:24
Oh, well, I think I think the short version is that it suits me.

It's, uh, this is this is the way I prefer to be now. And as a, as mentioned, in the bio, you know, I had a pretty good life, I had many conveniences and a lot of indulgences. And, and somehow, just, with all that, I had a loving family, everything, you know, it's still some somehow wasn't happy. Not to say that I wasn't happy. I don't know how to say, but there was something missing. And I didn't know what it was now on the other side, knowing more sort of abiding happiness, like I can sort of see what, what was missing. And so now anyway, you know, some six years after some initial shifts, this is just how I prefer to be. I don't know. I don't mind when I go back into the world and to be with friends and family and whatnot. But this is a this is a nice way to live. It's very simple. very peaceful. Would you say that you have different priorities now? For sure. Yeah, absolutely. Much more simplified. You know, I don't know how to say I guess it was living that life that that, you know, most most people live. And that was wonderful. While it was wonderful. And it was difficult. Well, it's difficult and I don't know what to say. I guess that once you see through the, the cause and effect of the attachment to things and the complications of living in that way, it's just as it's not even an austerity. aveni right. I mean, it's not striving for anything striving to to do with the Yogi's called top us or anything like that. This is just this is this is just better for me. Yeah.

Avi 4:07
Yeah. Like, like we said, just it suits me. Yeah, that's how I feel too. Yeah. It's like what are the what are the components that that suit you more here? Like, what specifically are are you receiving here from this life? That, that you like?

Nataraj 4:24
One of the one of the greatest things it's so simple, but is the food I find it very difficult to, to eat well, when I'm not at the restaurant, not to say it's not possible, but it's expensive and, and it takes a lot of thought. But but that's a that's a great advantage of being in the restaurant. It's just being able to eat healthy food all the time without having to spend much effort on it. Or money. Yeah,

Avi 5:00
What about the quality of people that are around? I mean, one of my favorite things is that, you know, I can sit down with a person like you for lunch, and we can have these connections and these conversations that better No, they're so sweet. They're so filled with value. Is that your experience, too? Is that something that's, that's important, the way that you've been able to connect with other people around here?

Nataraj 5:32
Yeah, you know, it's funny because what comes to mind as birds of a feather flock together, my grandmother used to say that, and when I was a golfer, I hung around golfers and now that I'm a spiritual mendicant or a yogi, I hang around people with similar aspirations and interests. And I, you know, and I guess I could say that I find it more meaningful, but is it more meaningful? I don't know. And, but I, but I do enjoy, but that by and large, people don't, don't generally come to an astronomer, unless they have a taste for something other than something different. And so that, that makes it a really nice place to interact with people in earnest. an intimacy that's a little bit what I find to be a little bit more authentic. But but it's not better. I wouldn't say it's better. Yeah.

Avi 6:39
even mentioning it's not better, like moving away from this better and worse type of thing. Is that important to you? Have you noticed? Maybe an old habit tendency to rego i, this is my preference. I like this more than I like that thing. And have you been able to move beyond that? And what does that like to move beyond better and worse?

Nataraj 7:04
Well, this is kind of fun, because I really think the entire the whole game is about awareness, and self awareness. Even if they you know, and especially if the ego self, right, which is, when I when I'm able to bring the cause and effect of my own my own experience, then I can see that the hangover, in the waiting room of you know, my preferences or desires or my expectations of how I want things to go. And if I have those things, and I'm able to see them, I can see around the corner and and see that they're just it's not, it's not a good way to be happy. So it to me the whole the whole game is is, is really shining the light on the sort of the tapestry of the identities, you know, and and once we do that they kind of fall away naturally. Because, you know, really what we're all looking for is is you know, I mean like the slide that's absolutely tormenting you right now talking about this right? You know they talk about the guru and everything right i mean around yoga Bell right everything and skirt that are the guru and of course it's true in a very subtle way. And you know, but what do I let disturb my peace while I let my preferences disturb my peace? If food isn't cooked the right way. Am I going to gripe about it at the lunch or the dinner table? Now it's too fast, I want to give a give giveaway, the the peace and the contentment, the happiness over over such trivialities as preferences.

Avi 9:03
Seems so tricky, right? It's like automatically, you know, I thought, okay, we have a preference here where this fly wasn't around. Right? Right. But this fly is around right now. And how do you settle into that? Right? And also how to make a decision about like, do I do something to try to fix the problem and change it? Or do I accept the situation as it is and deal with it?

Nataraj 9:28
Well, that fly landed on the tip of my nose several times. What kind of comedy show where we run it? Yeah, and you know, and, and it's what's interesting too, is that in, in the real sort of looking through this, the construct of of how we how we identify as individuals, how I identify as an individual and how I engage with and interact with the outside world, what's the play between inside and outside? And, you know, preferences are very, they're like a subtle onramp into opinions, you know, which then grow into beliefs and then grow into belief systems. Right? And, and, and now we're completely balanced. You know. And so as we exit the gross as I exited, like the growth of the known and the unknown belief systems, right, the ones that were that I was aware of, and attached to, and the ones that I was unaware of that were just part of my, where you could I guess I call it my subconscious identity structure. And once and then and then you begin, and then I began to notice opinions, and how really absurd it was. And then and then and then after opinions, after the absurdity of opinions became clear to me, then then then I start to look at preferences. And then and then when you see the absurdity of preference, then then it gets even subtler into thought patterns, right? And then it's the thought itself. And the crazy thing is that, that really this sort of reverse journey back to the subtle, the sort of atoms of our reality, which is thought, you know, the atomic structure of of our perceived reality being thought it's I don't know what to say it's, it's, it's both first disturbing and then, and then incredibly liberating, just fine. But But when, when we when we, when we sort of, you know, pushed through the the miasma of our beliefs, opinions, preferences, thought patterns, you know, the vasanas and gritties, that the Yogi's refer to the sutures, then, you know, what's, what remains when all of that is peeled away? It's a, it's a fascinating journey.

Avi 12:21
I find like this Well, to be so deep, though, like, I don't, I don't know bottomless, it's totally bottomless. Like, it seems that having opinions or preferences is so entrenched in the way that I operate, or like even going back to

food,

right? Like, at the start, right, I have a preference to have the food here, right? versus outside of here. I prefer to live in an ashram not. So it's like, how do we like? Is it even a reasonable goal, to not have to not have preferences or desires or to make this like, I feel like I need to be making decisions, and they have to be based on something. So they have to be based off of my opinion of what I think would be better for me, right?

Nataraj 13:12
Yeah, no, it's funny, too, because it's so it's so subtle, right? But like, and I thought this for a while, like, preferences, the problem? No, no, the preference is not the problem at all. The opinion is not the problem, even the belief is really not the problem. It's the relationship that the eye has, to the preference, opinion or believe. It's the the sense of separateness, the sense of individuality, it's the sense of distinctive roles, the sense of pride or, or reverse pride, you know, it's my attachment to it. That's the problem. I think it informs who I am. It doesn't actually, you know, I still have preferences, obviously. And then have opinions to I have opinions about opinions clearly, because. But it's just, it's just when we see through the, you know, when we see through how sticky it is, when we attach to it, then we can handle it much more likely, you know, a bit like, holding water gently. And you know, eventually it's gonna slip through the fingers, you know, but, but it's not a grip. It's not, you know, it's no longer like that.

Avi 14:23
So that's my next question. Like, what? What is the antidote for taking my opinions, my preferences, so seriously getting really worked up about them? What's the antidote for that?

Nataraj 14:38
I think there are lots of, you know, this 90 paths to this, my own particular experience. And what I'll say is this lifetime is knowing, seeing what is what is an opinion. How did I arrive that and how do I what's my relationship with it? What's my geometry subject and object geometry with the eye that has an opinion. what's what's fascinating to me is that what I, what I found, and I've been doing this for for six years, pretty much as my full time careers is contemplation, which I suppose to a lot of people would be a waste of time, but I assure you it's not. But the objects of awareness, let's just take opinions, for example. They helped me uncover who I think I am. Right? Who the aspect of we call it ego, which is also not a problem, right. But if I can identify what my opinion is, then it helps me uncover, you know, weed out who it is that I think I am that holds that opinion. And that now, it's that identity that holds that if I can release that, or step behind it, and see compassionate, you know, the aspect of the ego that holds that opinion, to not judge it, because well, that's its own thing. But if I can step back and have a nurturing attitude towards the one that has opinions, and from there also recognize how it, it in meshes, in this cycle of cause and effect, it's binding. But once once you see through, once you see the patterns of the binding nature of attachments, and hold that in a self forgiveness, a self compassion and self love, then it can just vanish, without without much more effort that the seeing in the light of awareness. The the ignorance is to the the play of this looping cycling of experience. Once it's seen, it loses its, it loses its power, it's so so the the answer to the question to me is no, it is seeing seeing the patterns of, of identity of experience, behavior, thought, emotion, once I see that, from a non judgmental standpoint, that I can do for you that I think it's fun to, to, to, you know, to sort of pick away at the tapestry, or of this what I call myself, some mixture of ego and whatever else.

Avi 17:52
So it's like, it's seeing the mechanisms of the game. So you're, what you're saying is that instead of like, gotta get a great lesson, in the game, I, I'm, I'm seeing or trying to see how the game works. And by doing that, I'm not as stuck in my character, so to speak, because I see my character working, operating within the larger tapestry of at all.

Nataraj 18:21
That's such a great way. It's, I get the image of a chessboard and the chess game, and then how could you possibly play chess if you don't know the rules of the game, and yet we do. And, and I could say it this way, gently. I mean, this is not to be judgmental, but it's kind of, it's fun to me, like, you know, for a while I had one one option, I could move forward one square, and I was a pawn was my only option, I didn't really know I was playing. And I was always the first one sacrifice, you know, and I could call it attachment. And as we free ourselves, you know, from from this sort of the binding nature of the keep using the word attachment here, so let's just stick with that. You begin to the identity becomes a little bit more fluid. There's more latitude, I have more, we have more moves available to us, you know. And, you know, whether we're the Queen can navigate the board, you know, more or less and the king doesn't need to.

Yeah, I think that's it's important to know the rules of the game, and we think we do but but or I can say I thought I did and I just didn't understand how all of this works.

Will we ever know how it all works? Yes. You think so? While I'm certain of it. Yes. It's It's right here. It's it's a The clothes to wear it and are in everything. Every last thing. The clues to that are

Avi 20:12
Alright, then let me ask you a question that I've been contemplating. Okay. Yeah. Okay. So it's a game that we're in, right. And something needed to create the game. Right? The Creator, God, divine force, whatever you want to call it.

Unknown Speaker 20:42
And

Avi 20:43
what I kind of had a thought that I never had before, but that everything needs a creator. So there's a creator of this game that we're playing here. But that creator also needed to be created, and whatever created that needed to be created, and on and on and on, everything needs a creator, far as I can see. What's that? About? How can I understand that? Right? When is it? How can I possibly understand that?

Nataraj 21:14
Well, that's the I mean, that's what the sages will say is the fundamental limitation of the mind is that it's reflective. And so that question asked by me, that is using the mind the reflective tool to enquire, it's a hall of mirrors, there's no, you know, there's no end to the reflection of that. And so really, you know, we're only hope to, to know that is, is to be free of thought. And that's the, that's kind of, really, it's the imperative for

for graduate, you know, developing, I guess, we could say mindfulness and, and some semblance of peace, and eventually that we can actually be free of thought and be that that awareness that that, I guess, in a way, you could say proceeds thought. And in there, there's knowing without learning, and there's so it, you know, the sages talk about it, it's nothing new but but yeah, from from the sense of, to come back to this reflective from the sense of me from even the sense of I, where I am, it is reflected it's, and there's always something that can pretend to be behind it to be the creator of the creative. You know, that's, it's super fun to this geometry of subject object relationship, right? And the Yogi's and the sages, you know, talk about the subject and object and, and how, and this relationship and there's no end to say, objectifying oneself or objectify others, and in so doing really objectifying oneself. It's, yeah, I wonder if but but anyway, so that's, that's the game is the real power comes when when we have mastery over thought in mind, rather than being enslaved to it.

Avi 23:58
Will that mastery comm as we foster this relationship with, with silence with no thinking, right, like, this balance, like, kind of what you're saying, like it's not only fun, but fruitful to think about the mechanisms of the game, and to try to understand it, and using my mind, my thoughts to do that. Then, also just like letting go of that, and having note, like, that's what I come to understand, even through the mind of understanding how the game works. I see that to even keep searching and understanding it. Maybe I'm not playing the game, as well, as if I just let it all go. Yeah.

Nataraj 24:42
That's my experience, obviously, is is is different than a lot of the teachings that I've been exposed to and rejected. I don't, I don't I don't think that in my experience, I have not found it fruitful. To try and control the mind, I found it fruitful to recognize that these thoughts are not mine. That they don't originate from me, they don't emanate from me. I could say, you know, from a perspective of experience or perceptually, they, they flow through what I call me or my mind. But and, and of course, it is saying that I'm absolutely responsible for them as well, um, I'm the host, you know, it's my house. And I'm responsible for everything that happens in this in this house or this template, you could say. And so to attach to, to these, these thoughts, and to bring them into action, absolutely. There's this is not shirking responsibility or accountability, it's the opposite. It's once once we realize that we're not the thoughts, there's a, there's a sovereignty that emerges that, that we don't know is missing until it's returned. the sovereignty of this, this dignity of being that that somehow seems to have the experience or the perception that it returns. And, but and then what to do with it, you know, that's the nothing really, it's, it's just at a loss, right? It's just peace of mind. Yeah, but I found it, I found it. When I first started meditating, for example. I actually, I joked that this should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention, meditation, because it was so painful for them. to step back into awareness of what was happening, in my mind was horrible, extremely disturbing. And I could only do it for you know, 30 seconds at a time, and would have to retreat into some distraction. And it's disturbing, and then I found all levels of different levels of awareness, or consciousness can be very disturbing at first. And then somehow, they released into something really sublime. And, but this, but this idea, I remember the I remember somebody saying, you know, you put in meditation, you put the frog on a plate, right? And if the frog, you know, starts to hop away, you bring in, you put it back for me, I tied a string to its to its leg. And I watched where it went. And I took notes. Right? More specifically, you know, the, the metaphor that I use for myself was I just, I watched thought I watched what was happening with these thoughts and the sort of be getting that happens with and how quickly narratives develop, to prove my, my original bias anyway, which is to protect and defend the egos I'm right, you know? And so I just watched, what is the nature of thought, how does it behave? And I would let it go, like, like, I went deep sea fishing a couple times. I could never do that now. But anyway, it was it was fun. And,

and you just, you have to let the mind take the line. Otherwise, it'll snap, you know. And then at some point, you begin to, you know, pull back on. And, and I had this image of the mind being another aspect of mold. And it would go off proving its its original bias, it's something about how so and so was a jerk, or how I'm right, and they're wrong, whatever it was. And it almost travels a reverse path, you know, to prove that point. And so I would ask you, at some point, turn around, I would hand it a microphone, you know, in sort of visual imagery, prove it prove that it's true. And so I would play this game with my own thoughts, right. Sounds crazy, I suppose. But it's wonderful. And eventually, you know, I hand the microphone to the to the one who identified with the thought or the opinion, and he would just, he would just sack games up gigs up, you know, I can't prove it. You know? And what's what's also super fun about that. One, is that what was revealed in that dynamic was that if it's not love, it's not true. What a hugely liberating thing that works, and enabled me to clear out all manner of things in myself that that were just more true. There were all about judgment of myself, prime Early that we're then projected on other people. So this this notion of trying to control the mind? Yes, I think it's possible. And I would say, in my own way, I have probably done some of that as well. But really knowing the patterns recognize the patterns, pattern recognition. So the whole game of exposing the sort of the false, that obscures the truth. So I want to ask,

Avi 30:39
what, what allowed you to get to that place, from being stuck in the thoughts

to now kind of liberating yourself being very interested. So you're, you have these habits of thinking, judging, and the way you described is beautiful, something, there was some other energy that was more powerful than that habit for you, which allowed you which motivated you to investigate how everything was working, and therefore move beyond it into a new place. You know, like an allegiance, you had allegiance to something else was allegiance to truth was higher than your old ways of being? Is that what it was? Or was it was it something else?

Nataraj 31:37
Such a great question. That's, and there's the along the way, there's so many different answers. I mean, one is briefly, I had no choice and that, that, that, yeah, we can come back to that. But, but that I had no choice. There was no choice and the recognition of that. I mean, it really, it sort of, is the on ramp to the the contemplation of freewill. But, but I recognize that as the one who is attached who was was caught up in it, and, and unconscious of being caught up in that one with no free will. It was, I had this realization one day that I was, I was a marionette doll. And I did not know who was pulling the strings. I called my therapist, and I said, what had happened. Alright, so what happened was, I call the meeting of the management team where I was working. And I had some difficult news about the company's financials to deliver. And I did a 15 minute meditation before I went in, and I, you know, and my intention, going into the meeting was to allow people to ask questions and to arrive at their own conclusion. So I'd have to force feed them and make people uncomfortable. Well, at some point, this is some seven years ago, maybe eight years ago, at some point, one of the vice presidents turned to me. And she said she didn't understand and I some, I think somehow I felt that threatening, you know, and so I just turned on, verbally just, you know, eviscerated humiliate. And as it was happening, I remember like, somehow, like, it went slow motion, like a car accident, literally, like, for me, that's, that was the experience like it, see the words coming out of my mouth, and I could, and there was another knee behind all of that saying, No, don't say it, right. And I and I saw the whole thing happening, I was like, This is three months repairing this relationship. Now just because I was I was clearly it was happening, and I had no control over, I called my therapist afterwards. And I said, something is pulling my strings. And I don't know what it is, and this is untenable, make it stop that was kind of the language that takes us backwards is untenable. So she said come in, and was one of the it was one of those moments of awareness of the being at the mercy of mind and not understanding what mind was in the, in the deep, deeply woven threads of shame and vulnerability, uncomfortable with vulnerability, you know, all in this tapestry that I thought was me that I needed to defend, promote. And it was kinda it was, it was one of those points experiences that once once we see those kinds of forms, then really isn't a choice, you know? Can you unring that bell? Can you unsee what's what's been seen. And so, so while there, I felt like there was no choice, the choice that I had at that moment was to be honest with it to, to face it. And this is what I call suffering honestly, like, I, I let it all I did a deep dive on myself, and did a lot of that a lot of there was a phase I used to call it sitting with my hand between my knees and tears and snot between my feet. That was, that was what that phase of life was like it was it was a great purgation or releasing of these old definitions of self, you know, it reminded me of, I think, somewhere in the Bible, Jesus says through the womb, it was through the womb, that I sort of dove headlong in into it. And I must say, like, I understand why we resist this, because because I can say I've barely survived. I don't know how I did. But so grateful. so grateful that I did. So. Yeah. So I guess those two things suffering, honestly. And realizing that there really, I didn't have much of a choice. You know, once we see what we say, I suppose we can pretend to deny it. But we all know that. We all know what, that doesn't work to pretend that we didn't see it. Hmm.

Avi 36:53
Do we all know that? I'm not sure if we all do know that i think

i think there's there's a quite a popular tendency to deny and to live on the surface. And a real feeling that that is a strategy for success. to essentially run away from from truth.

Nataraj 37:20
Yeah, it's whistling in the dark. Yeah, we don't know it. But but but it's it, we do know it because we see it and other people. We have we have a detached ability to witness the dynamics and other people and have a sense not always 100% accurate, of course, but have a sense that they're in denial. If I can see it another. This is a huge way to unbind oneself if I can see this a dynamic and another I know it is true for me. Now, in this moment, right? If this is happening in my perceived reality, it's because it's for me. I mean, you know, we've heard you know, people say simple things if you're pointing a finger there three pointing back at you like this, but it but it's in the process of creation is literally true. It's not just a quaint saying. Back to the suffering, suffering. Let's go back there. Like,

Avi 38:32
why is it so difficult? When we're in the myths of suffering? to remember and to believe that there's there will be some good that comes from this that this is happening for me? Some kind of way? Or like when when like, I can know that intellectually, I can believe that. But when I'm actually suffering It feels so challenging to believe that this is a good thing that's happening to me it doesn't feel like a good thing at all.

Nataraj 39:11
Yeah, yeah, it's only in retrospect, right. Only in retrospect to say Oh, without without that sour dose. I wouldn't have I wouldn't have learned what I learned or unburdened myself in a way that I was able to because of the stuff but it's uh, you know, ROM das referred to this as fierce grace. Because it we see in the rearview mirror we see it as the greatest gift to it's a burning away of the faults. You know, suffering is not required. Pain is pain. akorbi we've heard this pain Of course, it's just part of this. This experience this Maya Yogi's call it right. But But suffering is is not at all required, and yet absolutely seems to be a necessary part of the perceived experience in order to be free of the thing that causes suffering. It's not the pain. Who can? Who can know that? But it's not the pain that causes suffering. Yeah. But but to be in that in that moment, I mean, that's, that's real. You know, I so you know, and even with all of this, I can say that, you know, a few nights ago, I had a nerve pain that was intense. And I suffered that pain. But at least, you know, luckily, I'm so grateful for this, I was aware that the one suffering, that pain was not entirely real, the pain was real. Well, the body was real, the mind was real. And it had been a way of saying that. Suffering was unnecessary, but there was and so I didn't try and push it away. I went deep into it, if we, I remember. In this, if we have this, this inkling of an idea that maybe it's not, it's not I that's that's it, you know, that's suffering, yes. If I can step behind it, what happens? If I bring myself to the very for me, it was, can I find a place in the body where this pain, whether it's physical pain, or emotional pain? Can I bring my entire awareness like we do a body scan, but to bring a body scan to like a point like this? You know, just like, like that? And can I bring my entire beingness into the center of that, and die there? It's pretty intense, and scary. But But what what I, what I realized is that there's no well, while the experience of dying is very real, the dying itself is not real. There's nothing at stake. There's, there's nothing. There's nothing that's vulnerable. And of course, this is the trick, because as we're navigating through our own psychology, our own emotional history, our own personalities, our relationships, we have to hold with with this nurturing, loving, compassionate kindness, the one who feels this is real for me. And it's lucky if we can hold them the other harm, the recognition that I am really, the awareness that all of this happens within. And somehow there's a there's a, you know, it's a bit of a dance in the middle of those two forms. So it's never it's never rejecting my suffering or saying I shouldn't be suffering or I should be better than this, you know. It's not that it's, it's, it's surrendering into it, but also realizing that I'm held and protected, and loved and, and I'm the one that's protecting and loving and holding. I mean, it's a bit of a mind Bender, really. And ultimately, in that fear, I feel compelled to say in that fear that when when I when I brought myself into what felt like the extremity of dying into this intense fear that there was always a refuge for me in the heart. There were two places of refuge that if this if it became too great, and I really risked some sort of a psychic rupture. I could come to the heart. And I could also float. The automatic you can see on the screen somewhere about up here can just sort of bring my awareness to their ultimate protecting it's like throwing a blanket over the entire floor. Warm sort of. So I feel like that's that's important to share. To not overdo this dying into the suffering because yeah.

Avi 44:15
So you believe that you are held and protected and loved.

Nataraj 44:26
It's my it's, I would say it's my experience. That it's and this is kind of a fun one too is that? Yes, I can assert from from my experience that that this is more true. Then Then the vulnerability and the fear and I need to get a little taste of that. It's a huge gift. And to cultivate that as you know is a wonderful way to To be to bind oneself, you know, seems like

Avi 45:07
we want to hold on to this loneliness. Sometimes, right? And maybe that's like the false thing I want to, I'm alone, no. As opposed to, I am a part of and I am held and protected and something loves me, there's, I think, there could be a resistance there. To opening up to that, to that truth, if it is true, I believe it is.

Nataraj 45:36
It's a fun, it's it. So you can get a sense of what I like to do, I love to contemplate these things, and really, you know, just like go into that space and explore them. loneliness and connectedness are, it's a really powerful exploration of, of who we think we are. And ultimately, you could say that each one is completely alone. And that, beyond the resistance of that, there is no loneliness in cricket, imagine that. And simultaneously, it is also equally true that actually, from that, and of that, were totally connected there. The separation, the experience of the separation seems to dissolve as the the sense of the ins with the sense of ins becomes less and less localized to the, to the body and to the personality. And there really is this sort of sense of expand and but this this comes from, in my experience Anyway, I'm sorry, I'm sure it can come from a lot of different angles. There's so many different ways to do this. But for me, it came from really exploring what is this aloneness? What is this loneliness, but the depths of my despair? Sitting there refusing to move? Getting to the place from which there is no exit? and refusing to budge? What is the first thought was the first fear? I almost drove myself mad, but I caution, but but I'm glad I did. And because in the Yogi's call it a Sangha, the opposite of sounding completely alone, the one without, without, you know, a second, and yet from that place. It's all the one, there's nothing that's that's not, you know, there's nothing that's not I mean, how could they just geometrically speaking or mathematically speaking.

Avi 48:12
Last thing I'd like to ask you about is compassion. Because we've read, we spoke somewhat recently, you're talking about different concepts words, and you shared with me that that compassion is one of the most important things for you. I've really been sitting with it. Because at that time was like, okay, you know, kind of a get compassion is important, to be compassionate. But since that I want to let you know that I've, I've really explored it and come to,

Unknown Speaker 48:52
to elevate it.

Avi 48:57
And it's like, what we're talking about this, this, you know, being alone, and, and together. Right, that I am totally regular, but I'm also unique, are they these this these dichotomies that almost like make no sense in life, like when you start to explore the game a little bit,

and then

to have compassion for how even how confusing it is compassion for, for the situation that we're all in right now. So I want to be, want to be grateful. I do see this as a wonderful adventure of life. I do totally do. But at the same time, there's reason to have compassion. And it feels very important now to me, to remember, compassion. So, anything, anything to share about, about that, that from you as a practice, to be compassionate.

Nataraj 50:00
I think well, one could say it's a it's a very high wisdom, compassion. It works in so many different levels of experience and consciousness and awareness. Ultimately, when when each one comes to recognize that the the outside world of experience is a reflection of one's own self, one's own past, the Yogi's call it karma, the Bible calls of sin. But that's, that's a whole different topic. It's been completely misunderstood with the introduction of shame, but once once we come into awareness that, that all of our experiences are our waves bouncing off the distance shore returning to us, then then we can see that compassion, stillness, peace, softness, is really the only antidote to suffering. That in the recognition that everything I experienced is a reflection of my own past, the soul, the Jeeva. That, that in a way, in that way, it's all me. And really, the first compassion is the self compassion.

So that I can soften, I can soften and allow, I can allow what's happening to happen, and I can take a soft posture, to not fight it. hurried along, to not cling to it. And in that posture of compassion, the waves slowly lose their force, because I'm not adding to it. The past loses its momentum, the surface of the water becomes common. Now, we enter a room that's during, like Evan, like, acceptance and whatever is that whatever is, is and it can't not be, because it's past playing as the now mum. It can't not be how it is, and my resistance to business isn't Saturday. I mean, it doesn't mean that I can't work to a better tomorrow or you know, in a way that's that understands how that works. But But yeah, to, to be in resistance to this, this, you know, this now moment and space and time is crazy. Because we don't know. And compassion, you know, if we can't get that compassion, I think forgiveness is a wonderful, wonderful way to get to compassion, compassion, a wonderful way to get to love I got a unconditional, blissful, abiding and from for me that I will I want to say the whole upon upon our prayer was absolutely transformed my experience of myself and others that that was that was the vehicle or forgiveness that that I was lucky to stumble across. So yeah, I think I think compassion is really a very high wisdom. It's a it's a recognition of how all this works.

That there is no judgment and self judgment. There's, there's no love other than self love. Not passing laws of nature, not possible. disturbing I suppose at first, but But that that alone will absolutely. So the one who can hold on to the tale of that tiger.

There'll be free. love thy neighbor as thyself, because that's what it is. It's not an aspiration, it's a reality. Just becoming aware of what is being okay with. Yeah. That's liberation. Right. That's freedom. It's Saturday. Right. Right. It's, it's purely practical also, yes, it's liberation, but it's purely pragmatic. Right? How absurd is it to be, you know, resistance to this moment? You know, as we like to say, in the spiritual world, this now moment? Yeah, yeah, that's, that's, you know, that's how we would do it. And that's not a problem, right. I mean, it's one of the things that, to me, the that, that, as I look, through, you know, sift through my own experiences is how often shame came around to try and transform the way I was understanding things that through the, you know, through the that that opacity, or shame, or through the lens distortion of shame that it is not helpful, it actually is the double bind, or the thing that the judge the judge or to, to suffer the suffer. Shame is? Sure, it's tricky.

Avi 56:57
It's a weird thing that I think has happened. I consider it it's like, how did that even come to be that that shame? I mean, there's a part of me that says it's not natural. And then everything that is is natural, so Okay. But for me, the real lesson there is the power of community. Because, you know, I think we've been born all of us into this world where, you know, it's all about the little, the little eye, and the self. And that's where the shame can come from this, like obsession over the self of who I am, I have something that I need to prove, and I'm constantly just analyzing what I am, how good I am. And, for me, I could say, you know, I just, I've become totally exhausted. From from doing that? Yes. Yeah. And I just, I really pray and have a lot of trust, faith that we will move to a place where we get beyond ourselves. And that kind of way, it just becomes like this old game. That's not interesting. anymore, right?

Nataraj 58:19
Yes. Yeah. That's right. And it's, it's funny, I mean, the shame I think it in the recognition that I am this, I did this, this is this is my past playing out, you know, dressed up as the this now moment. That is all karma. If you use the concept of this, everything here is karma. Cannot be the shame is the still the lingering identity. That's the separate one that says, I shouldn't have done this. Right. I, you know, made a culpa. maiya culpa, mea Maxima culpa, right. From this point of seeing and understand how, you know, some of the early Christian monks with flagellate were camelhair, and, you know, really extreme topless and all of that, to use a yoga term. The shame is, is not helpful. And, and it can, it can be useful to know that from from that limited identity. There's no free will. And that's both good news and bad news. And this is a debate, you know, I don't mean to oversimplify it, but you know, but just for this. It's not really a debate. It's nuanced. That That one doesn't have a lot of freewill, there's a limited latitude. And so, from who I thought I would was, I didn't have a choice but to think and do what I thought and did. And now recognizing that I can be easy with it like there's a There's a forgiveness in that self forgiveness and, and unless I use that as an excuse to go out and do harm or be selfish in a worldly way, then then I released myself from from recreating new loops of suffering. So I think that the shame arises from the lingering you know, the, the dissolving, but but the part that lingers that remains this, this part of the separate identity, psyche. That one feels a sense of, of guilt, and unworthiness in the face of the god that's becoming more and more apparent, hasn't yet completely merged with it, but it's having a direct one to one experience of the Beloved. And this beautiful process of being held in that and prostrating to that. Eventually, slowly, with grace, merging, merging with it. But the same is in a way, I think. Makes me think that change is best done lightly. Yeah. Yeah. That I wish somebody had told me a lot earlier. Yeah, there was a, one of the one of the first things that I heard from that inner voice was soften and alab. And it just seems to cover everything I encounter. You know, and I as Yogi's, I think of this as an energetic, psychological, soften, one allow to it's a balanced pose, for sure. That's right. Thank you so much, brother. Yeah. I love you. I love it. Yeah.

Avi 1:02:25
Thanks, everyone, for listening. We'll see you next time. Thanks for listening. If you've enjoyed this content and think others might as well, please feel free to share and subscribe.

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