Question: Most surfers probably regard a good tube ride as the highlight of a solid session in the water. No other manoeuvre is quite like it. When the surfer gets inside the tube, time seems to distort as he flows with a twisting curl of energy – it’s an incredible feeling.
Jagad Guru: Then why does he have to keep going back in search of the tube? That’s the trap they’re in, trapped searching for the experience that comes with the tube. They want to keep merging with the void, being part of that energy. It actually comes down to simply wanting to forget their misery, so they can exist and not be aware of any of their problems. I mean everybody is always searching for everything to be in its right place. But there are always all kinds of problems. So generally a surfer goes into the water to forget his miseries and get away from it all – to get away from the hassles. But even in the water there are hassles; the waves break on you, the water is cold, all the other people out there are hassling you, and so on.
So surfing is a search for happiness which is natural, and the tube ride is just another medium or means to come to that situation of being happy. Someone else might get that very same feeling from skiing or some other feeling where everything seems to fit. But it’s never for long – although everything fits together perfectly for a second or two, it never lasts.
Question: Is that a meditative state?
Jagad Guru: It is a natural condition of the spirit soul to be one, to be feeling that harmony, while simultaneously existing as an individual, and still feeling yourself as an individual. So the question should be where to find that pleasure in the long run. How to actually have that feeling all the time rather than having to struggle and getting it once in a while if you’re lucky. The answer is to dovetail your will with the will of the Supreme Person. Like if you’re surfing for example, you don’t “make” the tube, you fit into a particular situation and you fit in perfectly. The tube is there, it’s going on, now you’ve got to figure out how you’re going to fit into it. Sometimes you’ll stand on the beach and the tube is breaking and then you imagine yourself; “There I am.” You mentally project yourself fitting into this, maybe this tiny little wave breaking on the sand. “Ah, look at that,” and you imagine yourself one inch tall riding this perfect 40 foot wave that’s actually only six inches high. So the idea is that you’re trying to fit into a reality that’s already there.
So you have to dovetail your situation, you have to place yourself so that you’re in harmony with the situation which is already there. When you speak about the Supreme Being or the Supreme Person and you talk about dovetailing your will with His, then you’re talking about your whole life being dovetailed in such a way that through your whole life you actually feel that oneness – that freedom from anxiety. You actually feel a complete liberation, but even more so, because you’re not just dealing with one little energy of the Supreme, namely the water or this one little surf spot, but you’re dealing with the entire existence. Then the wave you are riding is your entire life.
This is actually what a person is searching for – pleasure in unity with the Supreme Person. Now they’re getting a little glimpse of it on a wave. That’s why a lot of people after surfing or getting some tubes or getting that higher taste can give up all kinds of things to be able to get that tube, to be able to get in that position of harmony. So a lot of people who are surfers become serious about making their whole life in harmony with the Supreme Person, not just one of His waves, but the entire wave of the Supreme Lord. After all, a wave is just the Lord’s energy. So you’re trying to place yourself so that you’re in tune with His energy. Now if you can do it on a vast scale or you can do it directly with the Supreme Person Himself, then you can imagine how much pleasure there is in that.
The highest happiness occurs when a person has actually placed his entire life in the hands of the Supreme and the Supreme is simply pushing him. Just like when you’re in a tube it’s like you’re in a glove. You’re riding the tube feeling you’re being perfectly moved along, you’re not doing anything anymore. You’re doing things to get in that position where you don’t need to do anything. The best part of the tube ride is when you’re just right. You’re right there and you’re not having to move a muscle, in fact you don’t want to move a muscle. You’re being propelled – totally locked in another energy, someone else’s energy. You don’t need to do anything. So you’re doing all these things to get to that one little point of that one little experience of being propelled by another energy and you’re happy in it. You’re satisfied just being part of that perfect situation. But it’s so short and so fleeting.
Now if you can imagine being in the Supreme Lord’s hand – rather than just a little tube which is a tiny fragment of the Lord’s hand – then how much happiness is in that? That’s why many surfers are actually searching for that harmony of being in tune with the Supreme, and they are getting glimpses of it in the surf once in a while. But this is just a glimpse, it is not all satisfying. You need more. What you need is an eternal tube ride, then you’ll be happy. What is that eternal tube ride? That is when you’re perfectly linked up in connection with doing the Lord’s will. Just like when you’re going with the wave – you’re going with the flow and you’re doing the wave’s will. The waves are coming this way and you paddle out to catch them, you don’t make the waves, you catch the waves.
So surfers by nature already know that there’s some kind of happiness by going with an energy that’s already there – just catching it and then relaxing – being in tune with that energy that’s already moving. So when we talk about the Supreme Person’s will, we’re talking about the energy of the Supreme. He has His own will. Just like a wave has its own will and you harmonize yourself with it. I know some surfers look like they’re trying to tear the waves apart but this is another thing again. If they can’t get in the tube then they just want to tear it apart. This is the difference. There are actually two different experiences. But the first experience I’m talking about is the experience of being in complete harmony with the energetic source of all energy then that is the perfectly happy position and that is possible to achieve by engaging in the bhakti-yoga process.
Question: Would you agree that the surfers who are trying to tear it apart, rather than harmonize, are not succeeding?
Jagad Guru: They are not satisfied. In the first place because a person is not completely satisfied with the tube ride for the reasons I mentioned earlier he wants to dominate the wave. You think you’re so powerful you’re ripping the wave apart – but let’s see you go out to Sunset, turn the wave around and make it go out to sea. Are you such a powerful surfer? No, you must go with it.
This is another point. Trying to tear it apart is a manifestation of another characteristic of the spirit soul. Not only do you want to be in harmony, but you also need to express your individuality. You need to be active within that harmony. So you can be perfectly in harmony with the wave and yet dancing with it. Being in harmony with it. Relating with it. Although you’re in harmony with it and in tune with it you’re also being propelled. While you’re in that harmony you can dance with it – you can drive off the bottom, then hit off the lip and fly back down. You’re going with it in oneness but you’re simultaneously also expressing your individuality. So surfing then shows that impersonalism – seeing the Supreme as simply being void impersonal force – is not enough. You need to relate, you are still an individual and you still have to be active within that harmony. When we’re talking about being one with the Supreme we’re not talking about being nothing – we’re talking about having an active, loving relationship with Him, having one’s entire life based on this harmonious position as a foundation, but within that harmonious oneness there is variety.
The idea of becoming nothing or void is not satisfying to the soul either. Spiritual life means oneness yet simultaneous diversity. I’m one with the Supreme Soul, yet still I’m separate from Him, I’m an individual, and the Supreme is an individual. Yet I’m one with Him in love and will.
Question: Many aggressive surfers boast at their ability to conquer the wave. They think they are somehow conquering that force of nature by ripping the wave apart.
Jagad Guru: The fact is, even a person who is aggressive has to use the wave’s energy. They have no energy of their own. The reason a person who is an aggressive surfer has so much power, or the reason that they move so fast, is not because they are really great people, or strong or something – it doesn’t have anything to do with that. It is a matter of being able to find that part of the wave where there is the most energy and utilize that to gain speed or power and go with it. They have to go with it. They may think that they are conquering the wave but there is no such thing as conquering the wave. Let’s say you are an aggressive surfer and you get really locked in on a tube, how do you conquer that? Like a tube at Pipeline or something. If you get hit by it how are you going to conquer it? You just get dragged over the coral. The only way that you can conquer it is to find that spot as far back as you can where you’ve got that speed to break out of it, right? You can’t fight it and make it turn around, you have to go with it.
Or let’s say that it’s a smaller tube and it hits you and you continue on your board. Let’s say just for example, you go into a shore-break and it looks like it is going to break on you. It tubes over you, and instead of kicking out you decide to go with it and stand up, so called defeat it. You just hit it, blast through and keep going. The only way you can do this is if, while your eyes are closed, you perceive which way the energy is moving and balance accordingly. You might break through it but then you haven’t defeated the wave – you just lost it. The point is that you couldn’t be moving if you weren’t going with the energy of the wave – you have to go with it otherwise you lose it.
The more aggressive surfers are getting into the finer parts of the wave where they are actually tuned into and utilizing the greater energy of the wave. As far as guys who just turn the board backwards by the strength of their thighs, that’s something else. But they still wouldn’t even be able to do that if they weren’t on the wave. In other words, they can’t do that on land. You can’t do that on land just standing there with your board. Let’s see you turn it backwards and forwards and move it at great speeds. Skateboarding is an attempt, but they need a hill, the same thing with skiing. So you just go with the energy already provided by nature. The whole thing is based on going with the flow, if you don’t go with the flow you will either lose the wave or fall off the board – you get “crunched.”
Ultimately a person has to give up his idea of defeating the wave. They need this idea that they defeated Sunset or they defeated a wave, or they defeated something due to their desire to put themselves in the illusion that they have defeated death. “This tube was chasing me and I made it out. I have defeated death again.” So I go out there and catch it so that I can make believe it was chasing me and I beat it. It’s like going to a horror movie to experience the fear. You go to Sunset horror movie so you can have that fear and defeat it. You feel that you are not a man. What does a man mean? It means defeater, number one, lord, master. But these are illusions of mastership – you are just a little ant making believe he is some kind of master.
If you go half a mile in the sky you can barely see Sunset Beach and how big the waves are. All the guys out there look just like little ants and they’re thinking; “I’m great.” But in reality they are nothing. So none of us are masters, we have to recognize that we are all dominated or subordinate. We are all energies and we come from the Supreme Energetic and our business is to be in tune or in harmony with Him, acting as His servants. As long as we are trying to be masters, then we have to continue to experience the fear of death. We can live in illusion for some time that we are defeating death, but ultimately death comes and takes us.
Question: Most surfers try to sort of live in the high they get from the surfing experience, trying to extend or perpetuate that feeling on land, or get frustrated when they don’t.
Jagad Guru: Then they get skate boards.
Question: And a few other extras, like drugs, sex and booze.
Jagad Guru: They don’t do those things for the harmony, rather they do them to forget their frustration. Actually they are trying to void out. They want to become nothing. That’s why they’ll smoke dope or whatever, they want to become nothing and forget their misery. In other words, practically speaking, the highest happiness that a surfer knows is temporary forgetfulness of his misery. He lives a miserable life then goes out and forgets his misery for one tube ride. But, even that took him all kinds of misery, by getting cold in the water, the wind, hassling and so on. So the question is: Can’t you be happier than that? Isn’t there something more than that? We say yes, there is higher happiness.
Question: For the average surfer caught up in the ways of the world, what would you suggest if he wanted to evolve?
Jagad Guru: If they get on the waves of transcendental sound, they will be transported into a condition of self-realization, understanding who they are, and they’ll gradually taste the nectar of spiritual bliss.
If they practice hearing the Gopala Govinda Rama Madana-Mohana mantra, for example, and chant alone or with their friends, they’ll actually be transported. They can ride the waves of transcendental sound into the spiritual sky. Anyone can begin like that. It doesn’t cost anything. It costs less than surfing. You don’t need to give up anything, you can even chant while you’re in the water. So by transcendental sound a person can be transported into a condition where they are actually happy, they are actually tasting happiness. Which is what everyone wants. Everyone wants pleasure, so pleasure’s the goal. If you ride the waves of transcendental sound you’ll actually taste spiritual pleasure. Such pleasure far surpasses the temporary happiness we derive from this material world.
Question: For many Western people that sounds far too simple, just to believe that by chanting some “Indian verse” they can achieve fulfillment.
Jagad Guru: Well, some would think surfing is a pretty stupid thing too. “That’s a pretty absurd thing, that you get so excited by going out there on this piece of foam and riding one of those wave things.” Isn’t that an absurdity too?
Question: Could you elaborate on the strength and inner power of mantra meditation?
Jagad Guru: First let me say that a mantra is not an “Indian verse.” A mantra is made up of a combination of the Names of the Supreme Person and He and His names are not American, Indian, Australian, or whatever.
The effect of chanting the Holy Names is so powerful because the Supreme is so powerful and He has appeared in this age as His names. If you say the Supreme Lord cannot appear as His name, then you’re denying His all powerful position. And if you say why would He do this, He doesn’t need to answer that because the Supreme Lord is all powerful. He’s the one that makes the rules. He’s the one who does what He wants and now you have to figure out how to get in tune with Him.
You don’t have to question why the wave is going this way. You just ride it. You are subordinate, you’re dominated. You may think it’s simple – so then you must be like a child again and become a little simple. Haribol! Chant the Holy Names.
– Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda