Who the hell is this J. Sri Bhagovwid* (a.k.a. JSB)?
When I asked him just this question, he said, “I am you.” This is the kind of stuff that sounds ridiculous unless you are in the moment, in the presence, in which case even meaningless drivel can seem to be dripping with profundity. I tried to unnerve him by asking hard and fast questions, but he was always ready and smiling with a comeback, usually in the form of some riddle.
Me: Why do you have blue eyes?
JSB: I don’t see these eyes you are talking about. They are in your imagination. I only see your finger pointing.
Me: Where were you born?
JSB: You were never born and you will never die. The same is true of me. You only know existence. You ARE existence. You can put out a fire, but you can’t extinguish light.
Me: What makes you think you are a guru?
JSB: Nobody is a guru. There are only incidents that help one reveal ones own inner guru to oneself.
Me: Do you consider yourself to be enlightened.?
JSB: No self is enlightened. Where there is a self, there is no enlightenment; and where there is enlightenment, there is no self.
Me: Why hasn’t anyone heard of you?
JSB: I don’t seek fame and fortune, and it hasn’t sought me, either. The person sitting on a throne in the Matrix does not point to the way out of the Matrix. You have to leave the dome on your own to be free. It doesn’t matter if anyone discovers who I am or not. It only matters that you discover WHAT you are, and that is the same thing as I am. Ask yourself not “who am I?” but “what am I?”
Me: Why don’t you just tell me what I am? What’s the answer?
JSB: Giving an answer to that question is like handing a man who is thirsty a slip of paper with the word “water” written on it, and expecting him to drink it. The answer is shit. Discover what you are, not by thinking about it. Abandon thinking. Abandon memory.
Me: What’s wrong with memory? It links us with the past, and we need it for our jobs and to function in society.
JSB: It’s a useful tool, but one we are so attached to, and so afraid of losing, that we build a prison around ourselves with it.
Me: How does one go about abandoning thinking and memory, anyway?
JSB: Shut up!
I just looked at him in his eyes, which seemed rather luminous at the moment as he smiled like an idiot, and I took his picture [The one you see at the top of this post]. After sitting there for a while and thinking, “Time is money and money is time” I finally asked if we could continue the interview.
Me: Can we continue, now? I still have some more questions.
JSB: If it will be. But you didn’t shut up.
Me: Unless you were reading my mind, I didn’t make a peep. We can check what’s on the recorder.
JSB: If you truly shut up, you will open up. Isn’t it so? But you are as afraid as a clam of opening up, so you close yourself in with your tenacious mind, and you babble like a blinking idiot.
Me: So, I’m an idiot now. Oh, excuse me, a “blinking” idiot. To an unbiased bystander, you, with that dumb smile plastered on your face, and actual blinking yes, better fit the description.
JSB: Don’t take it personally. I have an inner idiot as well! Recognize that you cannot be the person you hear speaking in your head. You are not in that voice. That voice is in you. You are not in that idiot. That idiot is in you.
Me: So, we all have an idiot in us. Inside of every intelligent person, there’s an idiot trying to get out. Is that it?
JSB: Not quite. The intelligent person is the same as the idiot, and it doesn’t want to come out.
Me: If it’s intelligent, why is it an idiot?
JSB: Because it can’t shut up. The inner idiot never shuts up. You don’t have control over it. If you couldn’t sit still, you wouldn’t think you had control over your body. And yet your mind can’t sit still, and you don’t even know it, because you don’t know what it is like for it to be still, because it never is. So the mind is an idiot because it is out of control, and it incessantly tells you what you already know.
Why do you talk in your head at all? Don’t you know what you already think or believe? If you pay attention, you will discover that you never shut up, and you are always repeating to yourself what you already know. The reason is the mind is terrified of letting go. It is like a child gripping the string of a helium balloon in her fist. It is truly afraid that if it lets go, it will never be able to return.
You are not the idiot in your mind.. Know it is an imbecile and you will not be one yourself.
JSB: It is the false self. The self within the self. It’s your avatar in the video game of life. It is hungry. It wants to be fed. It wants sex. It wants to surround itself with things. It is constantly trying to substantiate itself, and it believes it must not lose the game, absolutely, or it will be destroyed. It is the cocoon in which you sleep. The thicker the cocoon the deeper the sleep.
Me: Is this why you’re against wealth?
JSB: I am no more against wealth than I am against a fine meal and a comfortable chair. I’m not a masochist. What I am against is selfish stupidity, which gobbles up everything in its path like the voracious caterpillar. Not just the hungry one. It is the insatiable caterpillar. But butterflies don’t eat. They just drink the nectar. It is so.
Me: And how do we emerge from the cocoon as lovely butterflies, or whatever?
JSB: To escape the cocoon of the false self, stop enshrining yourself in selfishness. Your true self is boundless. Boundllessness has no need to plate itself in gold. The cocoon is empty, and emptiness is freedom.
JSB: No my friend. Come here. [walks several feet and points to a largish blob on the path]. THAT is bull shit, or cow shit. I can’t tell which for sure without a microscope and a background in animal husbandry.
Me: Riotous. Show me a miracle.
JSB: [points again to the largish blob on the path]. Isn’t it so?
[Strangely enough, I looked at the shit, and I laughed, and it just so happened that the setting sun cast a glowing light on the pile that made it shimmer, and for a fleeting second, before I regained my senses, I thought there was something of a miracle in that pasture pastry. It seemed to contain everything by extension. I tried to fight it, but in JSB’s presence, I couldn’t resist a kind of panning back. The cow needed to have digested grass; it had to have chewed it where it found it in the field; the grass needed the sun to grow; the sun was part of the solar system; and the solar system part of the Milky Way… Then I snapped back to my senses, or out of them.]
[The reason I became interested in JSB at all was his stance against the popular gurus of today, including Eckhart Tolle, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, and Osho. I demanded to know what his problem was with Eckhart Tolle.]
Me: What precisely is your issue with Eckhart Tolle?
JSB: I don’t like the way he drives?
Me: Why? Does he drive too slowly, recklessly, or get road rage or something?
JSB: I don’t know anything about that, but he chooses to drive a Jaguar.
ME: So, what are you saying? A guru has to be poor and suffer?
JSB: If you want to lose weight, do you go to someone who is so overwheight he can’t even get out of bed? If an enlightened being cannot live without luxury, how can everyone else who is poor? People want to know the way out of suffering, and the answer he gives is to be rich and pampered. A guru needs riches like a frog needs slippers. They are an impediment. He will cast them off to be free.
Me: But you said you like a fine meal and a good chair.
JSB: And a comfortable pillow, and properly fitting underwear… The list goes on. This world has everything we need to live in an Earthly paradise. Everything we need is here, and we have such technology that our daily lives would look like magic to the people of the past.
Me: But you said a guru doesn’t need riches?
JSB: Look at your shoes. They look comfortable. Are you rich? There is a balance, and enough is enough. It is like the fine meal and the comfortable chair. I don’t need to eat ninety nine plates of food in a sitting, and I don’t need to sink into my chair so I can’t even sit up. If you eat just the right amount of food you will feel very good. But, eat too much, and you are uncomfortable, and your body becomes weak, and flatulent.
Me: What is Karma?
JSB: Everything has consequences, and nothing good will come of bad actions. Your bad actions ripple outward and cause chaos and destruction everywhere.
Me: What is a “bad action”?
JSB: A selfish action. If you seek to benefit yourself at the expense of someone else, it is obviously going to have a bad effect on at least that person, and then his family or friends or coworkers or his dog’s butt when he kicks it. You add poison to your own environment when you act selfishly. Selfishness breeds selfishness in others. If I steal from you, you feel justified in stealing from someone else to get back what you lost.
Me: If something bad happens to you can it be because of something you did in a past life.?
JSB: No! This is selfishness again! If I see a poor child in the street, who has been hit by a car, what should I do? Should I say, “Well, it is her karma. If I help her now, she will have to come back again in another life and suffer again to pay her karmic debt.” Or should I call an ambulance?
Me: Call an ambulance.
JSB: Yes! And there are starving children living with diseases outside of the Guru’s ashram, and he is buying himself luxury vehicles. The cost of just one of Rajneesh’s Rolls Royces is enough to cure hundreds of children of preventable diseases. There are beautiful young women walking around with blind eyes due to cataracts because they are simply too poor to get the proper surgery. And the guru is satisfied with this?! He is a parasite! Her eye is my eye. Her “I” is my “I”. If you don’t love her, you don’t love yourself.
Me: What about good Karma? Is it possible?
JSB: Of course it is. If you plant seeds and tend your garden it will grow. If you clean up your room you have a nice room to be in. If you exercise your body is stronger. If you call the ambulance to save the child in the street, you make the whole family happy. If you cure the girl’s eye, she remembers and will do some charitable act herself.
Me: But terrible things happen to good people?
JSB: Yes. You are right. This needs to be understood and finally acknowledged. You can have good karma and also be very unlucky. And it is not even “luck”. It is just circumstances we have no control over. It is a weak mind that tethers itself to fiction and cannot accept randomness. Stop and think. Is it possible that everyone who lived in Hiroshima, every child and baby and grandma, brought upon themselves radioactive annihilation? NO! Someone else’s bad karma was enormously powerful! But don’t respect it. It is always easier to destroy a card castle than to build one.
Me: So, you don’t agree that everything happens for a reason?
JSB: There is a reason a boy of nine gets covered with burning napalm, but it has nothing to do with him or anything he did, right or wrong, good or bad, this life or one before. He does not benefit from it, and it is not a carefully selected lesson just for him. It is a cruel, sickening injustice, and an affront to nature.
Me: How is it against nature?
JSB: In the same way that cancer is against the body. I think it is obvious. If you throw a puppy in a vat of acid it is a crime against nature. If you need an explanation, you may need to seek medical help. You will find that the truth is often simple, and lies complex and convoluted. They have to be, because they are lies. They need to have excuses and rationalizations to explain away the truth.
Beware the notion of karma that it is a debt to previous lives, or that says whatever happens to you, you deserve, or that it is good for you. THAT is anti-karma! The real Karma is that everything you do affects everything else, and yourself. And you are not immune from other people’s bad karma, or seemingly random, and tragic events. Your karma is not alone. It is part of a vast network of indivisible karmas, that all affect each other.
Me: What does your name mean, and how do you pronounce it?
JSB: The meaning can not be told. It must be lived and breathed. The pronunciation is easy. Some Westerners like to say it like “Jay Sree Bag-of-Weed”. If it helps them to remember, I don’t mind.
Me: Do you think a guru should charge money, such as for a mantra for Transcendental Meditation?
JSB: What a scam! Charging $1,000 for a word to repeat in your head. Better to have silence in your head. If it is not free, it does not lead to freedom. How is it that someone wants to bind you in a contract, and through doing this is going to make your free?
Me: Have you ever even been to India?
JSB: Don’t concern yourself so much with geographical locations. Wherever you go you will find that you are “here”. You cannot escape “here”. There is no place else.
[I couldn’t help but think that JSB’s alleged years spent as a Wandering Sadhu included a lot of the kind of yogic exercise you can see in the video below:]
Me: What is the spiritual experience?
JSB: You are it. Your are consciousness, consciousness is spirit, and your self-awareness is the spiritual experience. You are the trilling reed in a universe of muteness, deaf to your own voice, and searching for music.
Me: And if you could give some advice to readers, what would it be?
JSB: Don’t be a selfish pig.
Me: That’s not going to be much appreciated. It’s rather insulting.
JSB: Yes it is. When you are a selfish pig, it is insulting to everyone and everything else in the universe.
Me: Riiiiight. And it’s also insulting to remind everyone and everything else about that.
JSB: I thought I was sugar coating it. The undiluted version would have been, “Stop being a selfish pig”. And yet it must be said, because without selfishness there is no corruption, and without corruption we’d be living most of the time in an Earthly paradise. We have the technology!
Me: You’ve just said that a few minutes ago.
JSB: Did I ever say my memory is very good?
JSB: So, I didn’t say something wrong. And it’s all you or anyone else need remember to salvage our Earth and civilization. Don’t be a selfish pig!
Me: I think I can remember it. Do you have a more positive or uplifting sounding message.
JSB: Happiness is possible for you. The path you are on will not be your path unless you take it.The bigger the obstacle the higher you climb. Keep climbing. One foot at a time. Enjoy the view.
Me: “The bigger the obstacle the higher you climb”! Did you make that up yourself?
JSB: Can I say anything that has never been said before by anyone? I doubt it. I think it’s just something I said without premeditation. And remember that the less selfish you are, the lighter you are, and the easier it is to haul yourself over the next hill.
Me: Is the most important thing to change the world?
JSB: How are you going to change the world if you can’t change yourself? You can’t change the world, but you can change yourself, and in so doing the world changes along with you.
Me: But we can see corruption in politicians, and vote them out of office.
JSB: An excellent idea. You can play the game, and play it well, but that is not changing the world. To change the world you need to change the universe. How are you going to do that? And you can’t rid other people of selfishness or corruption. You can only fight those forces in yourself. Worry about your own corruption, selfishness, and stupidity. Until you fix yourself, how can you even presume to fix anyone else, let alone grand social problems?
Me: How does one fix oneself?
JSB: By extricating yourself from the game. let go of the balloon. Learn to be comfortable in silence. Turn off the inner DJ’s microphone. Be ultimately receptive rather than dictating. And if you can’t remember all of that, because you forget easily, just remember to practice forgetting everything. The aim is not to be an amnesiac, but to be able to willingly let go of everything, not through will but through relaxing the mind and letting go. Remember to forget. That’s all you need to remember.
Me: Remember to forget. I like that nugget. I think that about wraps things up.
I came away from my interview thinking J. Sri Bhagovwid was full of shit. And yet, days and weeks later I found myself thinking of the frog with slippers; that I couldn’t extinguish light; that wherever I go I am still “here”; and imagined the glowing pile of dung. I refused to admit it at the time, but once he suggested it, I saw that pile of cow shit as a miracle. Then when I got back and looked at the picture I’d taken of him, I saw it said in big letters in the upper left, “SHIT”. Then when I transcribed our talk, I saw that he’d literally said, “the answer is shit”. Was that a double entendre? I THOUGHT that shit was not a miracle, but I’d seen that it was. There was something there. And the message about selfishness was so simple, and yet I can come up with no argument to counter it.
I contacted JSB, and asked if he wanted to do occasional guest posts on my blog. To my surprise he agreed, sort of. He said, “If it will happen”. And I said, “I can make it happen”. And he said, “If you will make it happen”. I told him I couldn’t pay him squat, and he said he could get all the squat he needed in the field. He said he was ready immediately, and you can see his first post shortly. I just wanted to introduce him on the front side.
[Artwork by Eric Wayne. Ignore the “shit” in the background.]
More quotes (sometimes just things he said in passing):