Review of It's Here Now, Are You? by Bhagavan Das, Bagavan Das
Submitted by Josey
I really enjoyed this book, but I read it for a different reason than most. I read it because I have a blog on the dangers of meditation and the pitfalls of the guru/disciple relationship.
I came away liking Bhagavan Das, but I can't say much for his tantric religions, which he fully practiced.
I once had this belief that experiencing the Love (Bliss) States in meditation would make you a better person, one who was kind and compassionate towards all. It certainly had not changed the guru behavior of those I met in Hinduism and certainly not of those in Tibetan Buddhism. It didn't make me all loving either, even though I felt it during the experiences. Bhagavan Das is speaking from both tantric teachings, the Hindu and the Tibetan Buddhist teachings, but of course not all of Hinduism or Buddhism teaches tantra, and many are against it.
Das also proves that meditation doesn't make you a better person. He spent a lot of time in bliss states, or at least it seems that he had from his book. Hard to really know. But how easy it was for him to talk about Chogyam Rinpoche's sleeping around with women and his alcoholism, as if it were all okay. Buddha actually taught precepts; the Tibetan Buddhists believe that once you have taken the highest tantras you can let the precepts and have sex, drink alcohol, eat meat, as well as lie, steal, and eventually kill, this last depends on the tantra you follow.
Benjamin Walker's book "Tantrism, Its Secret Principles and Practices" quotes from the texts. As does the "Commentary of the Kalacakra" by Geshe Lharampa Ngawang Dhargyey and "History of the Tantric Religion" by N.N. Bhattacharyya. These are not religions of peace as the Dalai Lama would have you believe.
And it was so easy for Bhagavan Das to have one wife, sleep around, and then have a common law wife, all at the same time. He never seemed to think about hurting people for his religion did not make him unselfish; it made him indulgently selfish. And I might add, Chogyam went off the deep in in later years, as Bhagavan Das says: "He was on a Japanese warlord trip. He had armor behind him, and he was shrouded in a dark, demonic, underworld kind of energy. I'd never since the last time I'd see him. I think he'd progressed to a level of alcoholism. It was a big booze party every night until six in the morning, with Trungpa carrying on spontaneous poetry and giving darshan for the salon."
What did I like about the book? It was fascinating to read about his experiences in India and those he had in America, so it was actually a very colorful and entertaining book in this way, but at times it was hard to know what were visions and what were realities.
The best things Das did in his life, up to the time the book was published, was to heal his friend's side of a wound that would not stay closed, and then he threw his skull food bowl off the Richmond bridge in California. I thought that very wise. But he is still doing his thing, has a website. Has his life changed; I hope so.
So while meditation won't make you a better person, the Little Pilgrim in the book, "The Way of the Pilgrim" found that it will cause you to become charismatic, since after practicing the Jesus Prayer, a mantra, people were drawn to him just as they are to gurus who are charismatic.
And by the time I finish reading these books on tantra for my blog, I will need that Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me."