Monday February 18, 2019

Mirabai Bush speaks about her root-teacher Neem Karoli Baba (Part 5)

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By Nithin Sridhar

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Mirabai Bush

During a time when people across the world are struggling hard to manage work-related stress and balance professional and personal lives, Mirabai Bush has helped thousands to harmonize their lives and optimize their outputs through contemplation and mindfulness practices.

She is the co-founder of The Center for Contemplative Mind and Society and teaches contemplative practices and develops programs that apply contemplative principles to organizational life. She had also helped Google create its ‘Search Inside Yourself’ program, and was one among those who introduced Buddhist practices in the West in the 1970’s.

She traces her spiritual practices to her root-teacher, Neem Karoli Baba and other masters in India from whom she learned various Hindu and Buddhist meditation practices. In an exclusive interview with NewsGram she spoke about her life, her work, and her stay in India way back in 1970’s.

Interview with Mirabai Bush- Part 5 (Concluding part)

Mirabai Bush and Neem Karoli Baba

Neem Karoli Baba was the root-teacher of Mirabai Bush and others like Larry Brilliant, Ram Dass, and Krishna Das who were with her. Speaking about her time with Neem Karoli Baba and his teachings, Mirabai Bush said that Neem Karoli Baba never taught them any practices. Whenever any of them wanted to learn meditation from S.N. Goenka who was their Buddhist teacher, he used to say “of course, of course. Go to the course.” She further said that, he did not teach them Kirtan (chanting) as well. But, Maharajji would have kirtan done when he came in (to give Darshan) at different times. So, they kind of figured out that they could practice Kirtan as well.

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Neem Karoli Baba

She gave the example of Krishna Das, who was one among Maharajji’s western disciples who had a very good voice and whose Kirtans are now played in many of the Yoga studios in the US. She added that Krishna Das’s album was also nominated in 2013 for the Grammy Award.

Returning back to the topic, she said: “So mostly we just sat and we drank tea. When people came to him, occasionally he would give them some advice. He really did not talk about philosophy but only gave simple advices. He is most famous for telling three things: love everyone, Serve everyone, and remember God.

“One time, Maharajji said to me: ‘Never go where there is no love.’ So, when I came back to the United States, I thought that ‘never go where there is no love’ meant just staying with people who are loving. So, I did that at first. But when I started working with Seva Foundation I thought that the message must have been bigger than that. I felt that if I am loving, then I can go anywhere, because I will bring love with me. So I started trying to create loving situations like the work in Guatemala. Then, in the recent years, the message has changed for me. Now it means that I should just be there and be aware of or be able to discover love that is in everyone.

She said that in the last 20 years she has been working on The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, and it aims to bring these contemplative practices into mainstream secular settings so that common people are benefited. She has been working with corporates, judges, lawyers, academic professors, ex-gang leaders, and with the army. She said: “I found that it’s always just us. If you can be present enough to be here and see the purity in any human being, then it is always there.” It may be people in the army or those who are in the corporates, but beneath all the outer stuff, there is always a heart. She described this ability to see the inner heart in others as the “greatest gift that Neem Karoli Baba gave to me.”

Mirabai Bush about her name

When asked about how she got the name “Mirabai”, Bush cheerfully stated that she got that name from Neem Karoli Baba. She continued: “It’s a tradition with a Guru, to be given a name, a name that acts as a practice for life. You reflect on ways in which you can embody what that name stands for. And Mirabai philosophically stands as an embodiment for loving God as a lover. I was young when I was given that name and I felt it was great. The day Maharajji gave me my name, he asked-‘Do you know who Mirabai was?’ But, I did not know.

“So, from another devotee who was present there, I got to know about the story of Mirabai, how she was a queen but gave up all worldly goods to sing for Krishna and love Krishna. I also came to know how her in-laws did not wanted her to worship Krishna and when they could not stop her, how they tried to get rid of her. I was also told about how a snake sent by her in-laws turned into rose petals when she opened the basket. I started admiring all these stories and I just felt that it was a very wonderful name.”

And she laughingly recounted how, after she got her name, her then husband John got up and ran out of the temple. She said: “Maharajji sent Ram Dass to bring him back and when they both returned, Maharajji asked John ‘What’s the matter?’ John replied that he did not wanted to be the husband who keeps his wife from God! To this, Maharajji replied: ‘No. You are Krishna. You are the one she loves!’ So, it’s been a great name for me and people love to say it.”

She mischievously added: “If you Google Mirabai Bush, then there is only one name and that’s mine!”

Mirabai Bush about her current project

At the end of the interview, when asked about the projects she is currently handling Mirabai Bush shared about her teaching programs and how she teaches various groups of people including students in the Amherst College. She said that she is also working with Ram Dass on a book titled “I am Dying” that attempts to give a contrast between the culture surrounding death in India and the West.

More in the Series:

Mirabai Bush speaks on Mindfulness and its application in Google (Part 1)

Mirabai Bush speaks on her stay in India and the Guatemala Project (Part 2)

Mirabai Bush speaks on Yoga and its uprooting (Part 3)

Mirabai Bush speaks on Right Livelihood & Center for Contemplative Mind in Society (Part 4)

Next Story

Westerners Adopt Indian Practices, Deny Giving Due Credits

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument.

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Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to protect our own heritage and Dharma. Hindu Council Of Australia

By Shashi Holla (WA) and Surinder Jain

Colonial or a white supremacy mind set may be clever enough to adopt Hindu practices but denies giving credit where it is due. Stealing Hindu Intellectual Property, they do not hesitate to rename and repackage so that they can sell it back to India for immense profits. Off course, they will leave no chance to tell Indians to stop their superstitious ways and to adopt the new scientific knowledge which “they” have “invented”.

Following has been already digested or appropriated by West. Some of the Western academics don’t believe that they belong to India.

Yoga Nidra   AS  Lucid Dreaming

Nadi Shodhana AS Alternate Nostrils Breathing

Vipassana  AS Mindfulness.

The latest addition to this list is

Pranamyam AS Cardiac Coherence Breathing

Several researchers have reported that pranayama techniques are beneficial in treating a range of stress-related disorders.[29] But the latest attempt has taken the appropriation too far. An American magazine “Scientific American” in its article titled “Proper Breathing Brings Better health” termed “Pranayama” as cardiac coherence breathing. (15 January 2019). The article gives us an idea about how West is so sophisticated in stealing knowledge from ancient cultures particularly Hinduism.

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Man doing Yoga. Wikimedia Commons

Prāṇāyāma is mentioned in verse 4.29 of the Bhagavad Gītā.[11] According to Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is, prāṇāyāma is translated to “trance induced by stopping all breathing”, also being made from the two separate Sanskrit words, prāṇa and āyām.[12] Pranayama is the fourth “limb” of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga mentioned in verse 2.29 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[14][15] Patanjali, a Hindu Rishi, discusses his specific approach to pranayama in verses 2.49 through 2.51, and devotes verses 2.52 and 2.53 to explaining the benefits of the practice.[16] Many yoga teachers advise that pranayama should be part of an overall practice that includes the other limbs of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga teachings, especially Yama, Niyama, and Asana.[18]

“Pranayama” a department of Yogic science practiced and documented 5000 years back ( even 15,000 years back) by Rishis is not even acknowledged by the author of the article. If one read the article they vaguely suggest that breathing exercises also existed in China, Hindu and in Greek culture.  This is how appropriation of ancient techniques takes place by West.  As Sankrat Sanu an entrepreneur, researcher and writer put it in his tweet “after erasing the origin they claim it as their own invention, attack original traditions as Superstition”.

As famous Indian American Author Rajiv Malhotra summarizes: “The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”. Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to  protect our own heritage and Dharma.

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The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”.  Pixabay

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument. West has created an eco system and mechanism in which their knowledge system is Well protected and patented by international norms. Unless West does not give a new name and fits into their framework native wisdom is not recognized in academia and media. Whereas Hindus were generous in sharing their health techniques freely from millennium never thought they will struggle in proving things which belong to them. In fact in a westernized framework of Yoga and other techniques Indian scholars, insiders and practitioners are blatantly ignored. So our own knowledge will be repackaged and exported back to us at an extra price and conditions.

Also Read: Climate Change Will Melt Vast Parts of Himalayas: Study

Many of our practices are being called to be Biofeedback systems. According to WikipediaBiofeedback systems have been known in India and some other countries for millennia. Ancient Hindu practices like yoga and Pranayama (breathing techniques) are essentially biofeedback methods. Many yogis and sadhus have been known to exercise control over their physiological processes. In addition to recent research on Yoga, Paul Brunton, the British writer who travelled extensively in India, has written about many cases he has witnessed. (Hindu Council Of Australia)