This is the 2nd part of the previous talk and is the Q&A portion of it.

Audience member: Namaste Acharya das. I just— How much easier is it to forgive others if I am aware of the fact that I deserve what’s happened to me, that I understand, through my own past actions that I brought on my own suffering? Do you feel that this makes it easier to forgive others?

Acharya das: I would suggest some caution and discretion in this recognition, because a person can sincerely recognize that, but it’s also possible for a person to, unfortunately and somewhat falsely, fall into the notion that I deserve everything that is coming my way. That may or may not be true; but regardless of that fact, a person who is causing you great pain will suffer for that. Whether you think you deserve it or not, they will still suffer for that.

I wasn’t entirely clear on the question, because there’s a little bit of gap in the idea.

Whether we deserve some unhappiness in our life due to the fact that we may have acted in a way that was inappropriate, incorrect, fallen, it shouldn’t really have any bearing on my forgiving others for what they may have done to me. Having said that if you want any clarification on any part of that, please let me know.

It’s a horrible discovery when we discover that we have caused much pain and unhappiness to others, and it was unnecessary. Something it’s really important to understand: the choice of how we are going to respond to something is entirely in our domain. If we are surrendered to our mind (meaning our mind is running the show, which can be an enormous disaster), and our mind is overflooded with anger and is just lashing out and saying and behaving in a way that’s actually not making anything better and never improves anything—everything becomes worse because of anger.

And recognizing that there are other avenues, there are other options regarding how I can respond to something—when a person understands this, this is like a massive breakthrough in life, because before responding you can consider what’s in my best interest, and what’s in this other person’s best interest, and how can I shape a response that actually moves our lives towards something that’s better, even a little bit. That’s like wow! The fact that you could think like that before saying something or doing something, this is real intelligence.

But the discovery that I have wreaked havoc on others’ lives, it can be almost crippling; and the need for us, having made such a discovery, to beg forgiveness, is really important. But then another part of that is the person that I’m addressing may not be ready to forgive. They may be hanging on to things, then that becomes even doubly painful. But with understanding and spiritual intelligence one will be able to find a way through these things to the safe harbor of actual love and peacefulness.

So if you want to ask anything more… perhaps I’ve sufficiently answered your question?

Audience member: Yes you have, thank you.

Acharya das: You’re welcome.

Anybody else have a question?

Audience member: Hello. My question would be, on this journey of forgiveness where do we start? So, even if the idea of forgiving others for things they done to us, if you are like some kind of trapped in that place where you cannot forgive yourself—like how to get out of that cycle of guilt, anger, anxiety and so on? So where do we start?

Acharya das: Actually, the starting place, just like it was mentioned in the forgiveness meditation, begins with sincerely allocating some time every day to meditate on these spiritual sounds, to become absorbed in them. And I absolutely promise that as a result of this you will have clarity as to how you can start in your own life. And the start is always difficult.

If we want to seek forgiveness, there is already a broken trust. The person that you’re going to approach doesn’t trust, and they may not trust now that you are approaching for forgiveness. But it has to be done. It has to be started. And sometimes it will be time that demonstrates your sincerity and makes it so the other person can gradually begin to embrace more. All situations and all people are different.

So it’s not like there’s one easy answer to that question, but by starting in that process of meditation upon these spiritual sounds and the cultivation of the understanding that I’m an eternal spiritual being, and I am looking at another person simply as being their body, and based on a relationship between bodies, based on whatever, I maybe have acted or spoken or done things that I should not. So, step by step it will become clear. But the main thing is sincerity and being prepared to accept that there may be a lot of pain attached even to seeking forgiveness, because we don’t know how another person will respond to that. But if you are utterly sincere, utterly sincere and prepared to be completely defenseless in your approaching someone for forgiveness, they will be touched.


Audience member: Thank you.

Audience member: Haribol Acharya das.

Acharya das: Haribol.

Audience member: Is the forgiveness, is it like, if I forgive someone, and maybe next time—is it like totally gone? Like how you can really say that I forgive that person? Maybe tomorrow—coz it’s like if someone comes to–the same person comes to me, and if my mind says the same bullshit [Acd: yeah] which I was thinking before, how can I stop that?

Acharya das: Again, it’s going—for many people, and many situations, it’s going to be a gradual process. Sometimes people can, on the basis of emotion and of wanting to do the right thing, say, “I forgive you,” but still, actually in the depth of their heart, be still holding on a little bit, and then later that might come to the surface. And when it comes to the surface, then I can recognize I did not actually fully forgive. I’m still holding on to some residual hurt feeling or anger. And one thing you can do is go to the person and say, “I told you that I had forgiven you, and I’ve discovered that perhaps I have not fully forgiven, and I’m sorry if I am still holding on to something when I had told you that I had forgiven you. I hope you will be patient with me as I try to more perfectly forgive.” That will make a big difference. Yeah?

Audience member: Thank you.

Audience member: Haribol.

Acharya das: Haribol.

Audience member:  I just have one question. Is it easier if you forgive yourself first, before you start forgiving others?

Acharya das: In all honesty, this is a term that is not actually understood. People talk about forgiving themselves, but it’s kind of like, well—You know this, I said that the foundation of all forgiveness is to understand your spiritual identity? So, when somebody says, “I forgive myself,” who is that “I”? and who is that “myself”? And what exactly is that about? Am I offending my “self”? I don’t know.

People—and you notice, in what I will call psychology “light”, people talk about forgiving themself, but it’s not a very deep thought. It’s going to be difficult to find any practical situation where you’ve offended yourself. There’s lots of ideas in modern psychiatry and psychology about loving yourself. You actually can’t love yourself! Love is a relationship. And if you’re loving yourself and having a relationship with yourself, you’re schizophrenic, because there’s only one of you in there. There’s not two.

It’s—really! I was dazzled and broken-hearted when I heard Whitney Houston do that. The Greatest Love of All, (that sounds amazing!) “is found inside of you.” And she says it is to love yourself. And that’s just like—okay, you’re going to hate me for this—that’s just like narcissistic, or schizophrenic. We are by nature seeking to love another. And the idea is, oh, I can’t find perfect love in this world, so I’ll love myself. That’s not healthy from a spiritual point of view. Sorry. I don’t care if you get all the psychiatrists in the world that say, no, I’m wrong, I don’t give a shit, that’s nuts. And you’re are not going to help people by pushing that idea, because it’s not founded on any reality, spiritual reality.

So, there’s all kinds of stuff going around trying to make people feel better, whereas the way to feel better is to discover your actual spiritual identity, to recognize your mind—boy, this is a big subject.

Audience member: Sorry.

Acharya das: No, no, it’s okay.

Just like the body, because of association with the atma (this word atma means self), because of the proximity of the atma to the body, the atma lends consciousness, awareness, to the body, and the body appears to be alive, but as soon as the atma leaves the real nature of the body is manifest. It’s just dead matter. But this amazing thing happens where, in proximity to an atma, the body manifests symptoms of life, and can even seem to be independent. Like it can manifest desires, not just mentally, but desire for sensual experience; and the person going like “I don’t want to feel that. I don’t want to feel that.” Right? Or not?

Audience member: Yeah.

Acharya das: So in a similar way the mind (and a lot of people don’t understand very much about the mind—and the yogic teachings are just amazing, how they unfold this), the mind similarly borrows consciousness from the atma, and being permeated by consciousness, manifests an independence. And so it is stated that the mind can be one’s greatest friend or greatest enemy. When the mind is unbridled (You know what is a bride? Not like bride and groom, yeah. Bridle, bridle for controlling the horse)—when the mind is uncontrolled, it is always considered to be the worst enemy of the atma, the self, and so… [Throws hands into air]

I don’t know what’s going on. People are just dreaming up things to try and make the mind feel better, because that’s “you,” so “you” feel better. My mind can feel good, but I can feel very alone and unfulfilled.

I have this amazing blog that some woman wrote about how everything was so perfect in her life. She had the amazing job earning wonderful money; she’s in good physical condition; she’s actually attractive; she’s got a wonderful husband, yet she’s lying there feeling so sad and asking, “Why am I feeling sad?” So your mind can be in a state of, you know, pacified material state, but we can still feel a great emptiness within.

So, in relation to forgiving oneself, if you haven’t transgressed against yourself, and you and yourself, what!? the soul is going to transgress against the soul? No. The mind can take control and make horrible decisions that I go with, that I follow, and I realize, Wow, this is bad, and there’s consequences here; and if I say I need to forgive myself, it’s kind of like, well, that’s not very clear idea. As a living being, and utilizing my intelligence, I can say, “Wow, my mind got the better of me, and I followed it, and now because of that I’m in this situation. I need to learn from this. I need to take control of the decision making, not just act impulsively based on desire and dictates of the mind. I have to consider what is truly in my interest.” So, on that basis, we’re not “forgiving ourself.”

Audience member: Thank you for clarifying. Namaste.

Acharya das: You’re welcome. Some people probably not going to agree. It’s kind of like, what can you do? Sorry. I am obliged to speak truthfully even if it causes discomfort. I try not—I’m kind of like the bad news guy. I try not to be too upsetting, because I’m insensitive and not so smart, but nevertheless bear with me, I will speak the truth.


Audience member: Namaste.

Acharya das: Namaste.

Audience member: I had to write this question twice cos I didn’t know how to write it down really but—

Acharya das: Can I just say, before you continue—

Audience member: Of course.

Acharya das: The wonderful thing about writing down a question is you get to—we have this weird thing that we think we understand stuff, and we think we got a grip on it, but then as soon as you try to say it, or worse try to write it down, it’s kind of like whrrrrr?—And so writing something down is a wonderful exercise, because it really brings clarity to your question and  clarity to your thinking, and you’re able to more deeply appreciate a good answer.

Audience: 100%. The question is: There’s a quote that says the lesson will keep on repeating until it’s learned [Acd: the what?] the lesson will keep on repeating until it’s learned. There’s a quote, I read it somewhere but the question is now—

Acharya das: Well, of course, my question would be, a quote from who or what?

Audience member:  Sorry, I cannot recall.

Acharya das: Anyway, I’m with you on—

Audience member: Awesome. Again, so the lesson will keep on repeating until it’s learned. Now, does that mean someone’s karmic debt can stop or be paid off the moment they realize what is the root cause of that action they took that caused that karma?

Acharya das: There is truth to what you are saying, but not complete truth.

I don’t know where the quote comes from so I don’t—I don’t just accept stuff very easily. I’m quite guarded and sceptical. The internet is full of all kinds of wonderful quotes, but they could have been pulled out of someone’s you know what, don’t know. And it may appeal to the mind and sound like, you know…

So, but fundamentally it is—there is a truth to it, that until there is a shift in consciousness we are pretty much going to keep doing the same things over and over. Learning that I shouldn’t be doing it doesn’t bring an end to the karmic reaction for all the previous times I did it. That is still there, and one has to utilize a different process to clear that burden, that load of karmic result; and that’s fundamentally the process of absorption in and meditation upon spiritual sound. It is like a fire that burns past sinful reaction to ashes.

There’s another component to it that a lot of people are unaware of, and it is this seed of desire bhijam, that every time I engage in a material action driven by a material desire, it is like planting a seed. I become more conditioned by material conception and material desire, and it’s like it creates these seeds that are planted in—we can say, planted in my heart. And what will happen is a person may come to a point of leading a very, very good life, but then all of a sudden out of nowhere, it seems like, suddenly things can just sprout up in the heart or in the mind, and suddenly there is an intense attraction towards something or other, that I don’t want.

So you’ve got two problems: one is getting rid of the load, the karmic result of past activity, but also the store of seeds which can sprout up at any moment and cause me to continue on that pathway. And so, they describe how the use of the spiritual sound is like a fire under a wok, and if I put seeds in the wok, and I stir them in the heat, it doesn’t matter where I plant them and how much watering I do, they don’t—they can’t fructify. They can’t sprout again. It becomes destroyed.

Karma is a complex subject.


You like this stuff? I love it.

Audience member: Haribol, Namaste.

Acharya das: Namaste.

Audience member: You outlined earlier the danger and detriment of anger, and I’m wondering, it seems that anger is natural in some ways. We feel angry when something happens, like someone hurts a family member or something extreme happens. And I’m wondering, is there a situation where anger is helpful rather—or constructive, rather than destructive.

Acharya das: The answer is, yes, believe it or not. There is a place for anger, and it has absolutely nothing to do with oneself. If I witness somebody beating a kid to a pulp, or a large man beating up a woman on the side of the street, I need to intervene, and there may be a need to manifest strong words or action, but it’s not the same as anger which is completely self-centred.

When a person becomes angry they are—it’s impossible to have the idea that I am an eternal spiritual being, and the person I am showing anger at is an eternal spiritual being having a temporary material experience in that body. It—you can’t do it. The expression of anger is really based on a complete absorption in the idea of the body and mind as the self, and when I say “YOU”[in angry tone], and I say “ME”, I’m not talking about the spiritual being. I’m only talking about material coverings. Right?

So, while a person may manifest something that appears to be like anger for spiritual or good purpose it’s still not like anger, in that it is not an overwhelming self-centred experience. Okay?

Audience member: Thank you.

Audience member: I don’t even know if I have a question. I have a statement, or a feeling, I guess. I’ve been dealing with issues of depression for many years. And like I heard what you were saying earlier about people bursting into tears in your sessions and that. And I’ve been coming along here for about four months, and I feel a sense of peace whenever I’m doing mantra, but when you were talking about forgiveness I was in a sense of rage, like that animal just bouncing around uncontrollably in my head. And then when you started doing mantras, you were there doing the guitar, it’s like I just got peaceful again. And I find it very hard intellectually to go down, [Acd: you find it hard to?] intellectually, to go down the path of forgiveness [Acd:Yeah] but I find it very peaceful to go down the path of mantra.

Acharya das: Yeah.

Audience member: And like I said, I don’t have a question, [Acd: Yeah.] I just, it’s just what I’m thinking.

Acharya das: So my advice would be for you to be patient, and in a committed way, continue on the path of absorption in spiritual sound, that practice. And you will find in time that everything will fall into place. There will be a clarity, and there will be a greater sense of you being able to step back from the mind.

People that develop this spiritual practice, it’s not that all of a sudden everything is just like amazing, and my mind’s just full of peacefulness. One of the qualities that we’re encouraged to cultivate is tolerance, and that’s not just tolerance of others and things that I don’t like or things that affect me, but also tolerance of how my mind can get on a trip and drag me in different directions and cause me to be very unhappy, experience profound unhappiness leading even to very depressed conditions.

So as a person grows in their experience and realization that comes from the process, you will learn to step back from the mind. And even when the mind can be raging, it’s kind of like, an example is like, if you’ve got a kid that’s totally out of control and just demanding attention and just going off and won’t listen, and you give it a bit of a timeout, and you put it in the room, the back room, and say, “You can come out when you calm down, and we’ll talk about it, but until you calm down, I’m sorry, you’re going to have to stay in the room.” And then Mum or Dad, whoever, goes back to the kitchen or whatever, and continues doing what they’re going to do, and there’s still a major ruckus going on in the back room, but at least I’ve kind of closed the door, and it’s not too bad. And eventually the kid calms down and says, “Okay, sorry,” you know. “Okay, let’s talk about it.”

So, that example is actually a very appropriate example for how anybody that struggled with mental related challenges, where for whatever reason we find ourselves in very challenging situations, learning to step back from it, and understanding I don’t have to follow all the dictates of my mind, I don’t have to, that doesn’t make them go away, but it reduces their effect and impact on me.

So, if you honestly and sincerely continue that practice, I promise that there will be a substantial improvement in your life and the condition of your mind. It will be a by-product of a growing awareness of my spiritual identity. That sound okay?

Audience member: Yeah.

Acharya das: I promise it works.

I mean I had—there’s always an example that’s so strongly in my mind. I had a friend, a guy I met, and he was like, he had chronic and severe mental issues, hallucinations, schizophrenia; and I remember visiting him one time when he had been committed to a psych ward, and he was—it was like a ghost, he was just like a [mimes spaced out condition] and just hallucinating and trying to talk to me, and it was just like absolute, unbelievable situation. But he understood that this process was beneficial, and he understood the more he cultivated the appreciation of his spiritual identity, it actually began to give him more control over his mind and body, over his life and what’s going on.

And I saw him progress over a period of about 15, 18 years, from being, I mean, using really heavy psychotic drugs and everything to keep control of his life—and he understood that what I need to do is, I need to keep everything on an even keel so I can continue doing this—and then over time I saw this transformation that was extraordinary.

It’s not like he still didn’t have struggles, but everything shifted from being something that could just overwhelm him and destroy him almost, to recognizing, “ Yeah, I’ve got a real beat up car here, and if I take it out on the highway, and I get up to 50, the wheels start wobbling and there’s smoke coming out and the radiator might get me—it’s getting really hot, so I got to slow down. I can probably just keep it at 40, and if I do, I can get from A to B, and that’s what I need to do. I need to get to work or something. So, I utilize what I have at my disposal, and I use it within its limitations, and I get to where I need to go, and I get to do what I need to do. And so, he looked at his mental state in that kind of a framework, and so it just became working with the old beat-up car.

And towards the end of his life (he ended up with cancer), there was tremendous clarity in his life, and he passed in a very wonderful way, total clarity about who he was, and what it was all about, and what he was dealing with. No anger, “Why is it like this for me?” or anything, just accepting, okay, this is the way it is. I get to get on with stuff. I need to live a productive and a life that will bring some happiness and some peace which is all spiritual in nature. Okay?

Audience member: It’s me again. So, how can we free ourselves from guilt? And when I’m talking about guilt I don’t mean the kind of like, not like we’ve done something bad to someone else, but like in my case I always have that voice in my head blaming myself for everything. Even if someone does something bad to me, there’s this voice telling me, “Yeah, if you wouldn’t have done this, then this wouldn’t have happened to you.”

Acharya das: Yeah, well, can I say that from a clearer perhaps perspective this is not really guilt. Guilt is not bad, guilt is good. If I have done something bad to someone and, either immediately, or in one week, or one year, or 10 years down the road, I come to recognize the harm I have caused, to feel guilt, that, “Yes, I have done something really bad, and I need to seek to correct that,” that is good.

I know what you’re talking about, and I do understand it. And what’s going to make things, make it so you can function better, is the cultivation of the appreciation of your spiritual identity and who you really are, and the fact that the mind is not you. The mind is capable of all kinds of stuff and functioning in all different kinds of ways. Engaging in this process will make it so the mind will actually become more calm, and you’ll get greater insight, and you’ll develop wonderful and great resilience, and be able to deal with all kinds of adversity.

Life sucks. You’re born in a certain body. It all looks fantastic. I always have the example: it’s like old Grandad sitting there, and then the grand kids, three, four years old, they’re all screaming, and [Grandad’s] yelling, “Shut up!” And it’s kind of, “What’s wrong with Granddad?” Well, look at him. I mean, when you get a new body, this little kid body, and you’re totally lost to your spiritual identity, and you’re utterly identifying as being a kid, just running around in circles can be absolutely thrilling. You can just be going off, just, “Aaaagh!!!” just amazing. And you got so much energy. The body’s got so much energy when you’re young.

Then as you get a little bit older you learn to be a little bit more cool, and deal with things and be a little bit more careful. And then you get older, and you go through middle age. And there were all these promises, false promises that, wow, you’re going to find a home in this world where you’re always safe, where you can be fully happy, no more pain and suffering. You’re going to find the perfect love in your life, and you’re going to live happily ever after. It doesn’t happen like that.

And then as you get older—and then it’s just like, oh my God, you look at everything that you’ve been through—after a while nothing looks fun anymore. And there’s a reason for it. It’s because all those experiences that you really thought were going to fulfill you, you’ve come to experience, yeah, they may be far out experiences, and I was getting off on it for a bit, but it’s not fulfilling. It doesn’t fulfill me.

And by the time you’re aged: you can’t imagine what it’s like when your body starts breaking down. It’s a disaster. And everybody that you knew is starting to die. You’re not making new friends, and you’re losing all the old ones that you had.

It’s kind of like you got tied to the back of a car, and it’s going to drive around an oval, an athletic oval, and in the beginning you’re all, “Yeah, I can do this.” And you’re running. “Yeah, this is easy,” but after a while you just get so tired, [panting] and then soon you’re falling down on your knees and just getting dragged around the track. It ain’t fun anymore. So, the nature of material world is that, yeah, not everything is as great as people make out.

That doesn’t mean life is a bummer. If a person lives a purposeful and a spiritually directed life, where there is an awakening of actual spiritual love and a sense of compassion and deep care for others, and one is more focused on giving than taking, your life can become amazing. It can be a wonderful experience. It is a journey of spiritual awakening.

So, yeah, we become conditioned. It’s not “we”—our mind becomes conditioned to respond in certain ways, like the blaming of oneself for everything etc, etc. I’m not going to get into psychoanalysis. All I can say is, if you engage in the process, the more you grow in your appreciation for your spiritual identity and recognize the actual nature of the mind, and begin to utilize it rather than it using you, that you’re the one that’s going to take the driver’s—the wheel, and drive the bus, not your mind and all the stuff that it’s capable of. As stated, it can be your worst enemy or your best friend.

Audience member: Thank you.

Acharya das: Thank you.

Okay. Let’s say two more. What’s the time? 9:00 not too bad, I guess

Audience member: I have a question. Is it really necessary to let people we’ve forgiven know? Like if they’re not ready to accept it, can we just move on and let them be, because—just to avoid the drama again and scenes like this?

Acharya das: It really depends on the situation, how you manage it. There is often going to be a benefit to somebody knowing that they’re been forgiven, however if somebody thinks they haven’t done anything wrong, and you say that you forgive them for what they did: “Oh you bitch. How dare you!”

Audience member: [Indistinct]

Acharya das: Yeah. So, you have to use your intelligence.

We have this wonderful faculty. There is actually an expansion of the Lord Himself residing within the heart of all. The individual souls, the living being is called the atma. The Supreme Soul is called the Paramatma. And I can, thoughtfully, in great humility and prayerfully, go within my heart of hearts and ask for guidance, how I should deal with this, how I should manage a situation, what should I do, and seek guidance. It may not come instantly. It may come after a little time, but that is a good thing to do.

And so in that kind of situation, if a person doesn’t even recognize they did anything wrong, and if you said to them, you forgive them, and it’s just going to cause more trouble, yeah, don’t bring—just forgive them and move on, and hope, and hope for them that they will become more aware. Even those who have done bad things to us, those who may consider themself to be our enemy, we should still be their well-wisher. They are trapped in a horrible condition, overwhelmed by the mind and material energy and the way it all works. Okay?

Audience member: Thank you so much.

Acharya das: You’re very welcome. One more, if there is.

Audience member: Haribol Acharya das.

Acharya das: Haribol

Audience member: One last question for the night. I just would like to get your advice around—just because you shared earlier, working or giving like workshops and seminars with people experiencing some terrible stuff, and I guess just because I’m also working in the Human Services industry, [Acd: yeah] what would be the best way to help others going down the path of forgiveness?

Acharya das: Have you heard the saying “physician heal thyself”? It’s a very well-known saying, and it basically means you cannot help heal someone until you are also healed. So, something that you can do is, for instance, to teach people the fundamentals of meditation and the meditation process, but I would caution you against trying to bite off more than you can chew. If you don’t have the clarity, if you haven’t had the spiritual training and the depth of understanding, and you try to be helpful, you can sometimes make things worse, and so you have to be cautious in this regard.

But start with just sharing the process of meditation and how wonderful it is, etc. And then as you grow in your appreciation you can try to share, based on that. Something you have to always be careful of, never speculate and create something. We have a system of listening to our spiritual teachers and not inventing anything new, but trying to understand. And there may be a variety of different ways a truth can be applied, that may all be different ways than when I first learn something, the circumstances and that’s fine. That’s not inventing something new. It’s an application of a truth that you’ve come to really appreciate, and you do clearly understand. But never be in a situation where you’re making stuff up or—even if the intention is good. Good intention is not good enough. We have to be very careful in this regard, otherwise you can do harm. Yeah?

Audience member: Thank you very much.

Acharya das: That’s good advice.

Thank you very much. Haribol. Anybody needs to leave you can leave, otherwise we can do another short chant, finish on that.