Govind Das – “Love is what keeps things juicy and free.”
When I wake up in the morning and I hear the birds singing. It’s a new day, the sun is rising, and the birds are singing the sweetest songs. They inspire me and put me in the most beautiful place within in my heart. I love the songs of birds.
They’ve taught me how to inspire. We all have a great power to heal ourselves, to transform our lives, and to manifest our greatest dreams. That is my dharma. To help people celebrate this life and live in a state of joy. To remind people that joy lives inside our hearts. Underneath all of the thoughts, emotions, projections, anxiety and worries. Underneath all that, lies joy. To remind people to use the techniques of yoga, kirtan, chanting, and meditation to access this infinite reservoir deep within ourselves. To remind people that we can tap into, and live from that place within. This is my gift to the world.
I’ve experienced depression in my own life, and I know that feeling of being helpless. Simply listening to an audio CD, or going to a yoga class, or listening to good music can actually help turn the heart in a new direction. That calling is my higher purpose –to embody inspiration, and share it with people in need.
To the best of my abilities I surrender my whole life to love. It’s that simple. I follow the path of bhakti. Bhakti is the path of love. Love is the strongest medicine. Love is the elixir of life. Without love, life dries out, and becomes very heavy and stagnant. Love is what keeps things juicy and free. Love is an interesting thing because so many people just love our families and maybe our friends. In the path of bhakti, we’re taught to expand and extend that love out to the planet, and in the highest way to extend that love to God, to The Divine. To actually fall in love with God, which is essentially falling in love with life itself. That’s my path. That’s my practice. That’s what I devote and dedicate my life too.
Am I perfect at it? Absolutely not. Do I fail miserably? A lot of times, ask my wife. But I keep getting up with each new day, and I keep on trying my best. Keep on practicing. Practicing love is like practicing anything. Whether it’s learning a new instrument, or a computer program, you practice. Eventually, you start to get a little bit better and a little bit better.
After college, and I moved to California from the east coast, where I’m from, and slipped into a very deep state of depression. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I had just spent 4 years in school, but nothing about the business world felt right for me. I felt frozen. I felt heavy. I felt like my life force had been zapped out of me. I felt no inspiration. My thoughts were heavier and darker.
My guru, Neem Karoli Baba, has a very famous quote. He says, “Suffering is grace.” From one perspective it seems like the most absurd thing in the world; but it was depression that pushed me onto my spiritual path. When we suffer, we start looking outside of our typical, familiar world, and we start looking for things that can actually help us. That’s when I found yoga practices, kirtan, and meditation. All of these have been great tools of transformation in my life.
The first time I practiced yoga was in Hollywood, California. It was with the worst yoga teacher I’ve had in the 20-some years I’ve been practicing. He was a fake Hollywood guru, who wore a sparkly, shiny turban. His class felt like the most inauthentic form of yoga that I’ve ever experienced. Interestingly, when I walked out of that class, I still got the transmission of yoga. I knew that yoga was going to be my path. He was like a clown, but despite all that, I was able to receive the yoga practice and feel what it was all about. That’s the power of yoga. It lives. Yoga is a living being. It lives through all of the teachers and students, the millions or more that practice every day in the US and worldwide.
To be continued…
1st part of the interview series with Govind Das at Bhakti Fest West Joshua Tree, CA
Interviewed by Hung Tran
Join Govind Das and his wife Radha May 13th-15th at Shakti Fest 2016 at Joshua Tree, CA