This is our Kainchi

If you are not part of the Ram Dass/Neem Karoli Baba community let me briefly describe what and where Kainchi is. It’s a place nestled deep in the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India that was the primary meeting place of the Western devotees, led by Ram Dass, where they met and hung out with Neem Karoli Baba from 1967-1973. This was not the only place where Maharaj-ji took them but it was perhaps the most special.

And for those of you in the community, you know exactly what this means.

I’ve spent a few days sitting on this post because I’ve been waiting to come down a little. The high from these retreats is potent, intense, orgasmic and fucking amazing. When you’re high after these things you can be prone to do crazy shit so I had to come down a little to make sure this post was authentic and most of all true.

For the last several years I’ve spent a lot of time going to Maui to hang out with Ram Dass, Krishna Das and the global satsang (spiritual community) at the Napili Kai Beach Resort for the now bi-yearly retreat called “Open Your Heart in Paradise.” Over the years these gatherings have taken on almost a pilgrimage sort of feel. Many of the same people, many new ones too, make this yearly trek to the NKB (no accident there) resort to suck up this whole concept of “unconditional love.” I can only speak for myself in saying that sometimes the practice has a very direct and applicable result and other times it’s elusive, fuzzy and nostalgic.

Let me address the latter first. The now oft-told story of Ram Dass meeting Neem Karoli Baba in 1967 after being jettisoned from the identity of Richard Alpert is now one of legend that has been documented in many legendary tomes. After he came back to America he then turned on a group of other young acid drenched wildly amazing hippies who were looking for more. Fortunately many of these people went on to do amazing works in the world and are still with us today. They are very eager to tell the stories of what it was like to hang out with the “old man in the blanket.” These stories are colorful, magical and have the ability to pry open even the most cynical heart from the clutches of self loathing, fear and darkness and thrust them into a state of love, peace and equanimity. This is true, it does happen. I’ve seen it and experienced it. The only rub is that after hearing the stories so many times the practice can sometimes feel like a nostalgia act. How many times do I need to hear the spleen story or the bus story or the acid in babas mouth story?

The other elemental issue that gets in the way is the “getting high.” Unless you’re the most cynical uptight cyborg replicant freak there is no way that you’re not going to get somewhat high at some point during one of these retreats. I’m a lover of the high so I tend to get really high on these love hits and can often mistake these succulent juicy hits of love to be the practice itself when in truth they really aren’t. They are just the results of what may happen when you practice this stuff.

This gets murky because if you’re not paying attention it becomes about¬†these things and you may loose the essence of what’s REALLY going on here and come to the conclusion that these gatherings are about glorifications of someone elses trip. I’ve been here before, I’ve lost the focus of the message and application of what’s being said. But I don’t want to get stuck on that. So, what is the message?

The message is that there is a portal for unconditional love that allows you to be transported into a dimensional state of being in which you love yourself more, you love others more and through this love portal you experience a joy for being alive that may have eluded you previously. If you have any desire to experience any of these things I’m here to tell you that it’s real. This is a real thing that can be experienced by you, now and in this moment. These practices when done with even the slightest shred of sincerity can unlock a way of living within the constructs of the material world that knows no boundaries. It can labeled bhakti yoga, guru kripa or just “yoga.” Or it can simply be called “love.” Real honest to god love.

As mentioned, I’ve been to many of these retreats. But I have to say that this past week in Maui took me to a place that I’d never experienced prior. Perhaps I’m a slow learner or perhaps I needed many doses to get the full effect. Either way, I had more heart opening conversations, tears, inter dimensional drop ins and ecstatic love bombs than I’d ever¬†experienced at any other retreat. As Duncan told me “I literally had a dozen conversations that were more powerful than those experienced when on MDMA.” Same goes for me. The connection to the stories I’ve heard a thousand times before, to my old friends, to my new friends, to Sharon Salzbergs fierce teachings and to these names of God I’ve chanted countless rounds before took on a new high that may in fact created an unravelling that will result in me truly forgiving myself for all my mistakes. It seems that I am truly ready to forgive myself of all the self induced pain that I’ve inflicted on myself and others in a way that can give me the room to move forward on the path. Constantly being stuck in the wheel of samsara has only worked in the sense that it’s taken be so far up and equally as far down. Rinse and repeat. My new and fresh set of eyes that were bestowed upon me at OYHIP ’15 has given me the gentleness of equanimity and ease of being.

On the final morning of the retreat it all came into a complete form when my friend Alex Deleuse shared something with me that put the whole game into context. He simply said (i’m paraphrasing Alex, sorry dude) “this is our Kainchi. History will look back on these retreats as ‘oh you were at the OHYIP retreats in Maui? Then you know.’

Yes, I know. This is our Evelyn Hotel, this is our Kainchi, this is our great transmission of Maharaj-jis darshan. If you are at all into Ram Dass or Neem Karoli Baba this is our time. What happened 43 years ago doesn’t take away from what’s happening now.

It’s taken me so long to see the “big maharaja-ji” and to loose the trap of nostalgia and to simply accept this gift. Of course, I’m gonna come back down and act human again. But perhaps this time I’ll recognize it with a little more softness and gentleness of heart. The endless cycle of ascent and decent from the mountain doesn’t have to be so extreme any longer.

13 thoughts on “This is our Kainchi”

  1. Beautiful and accurately said, covering my experience and thought almost 1:1… I have noticed that each time I hear the same old store that I have been hearing since 87, I hear something different or I am different, or it just sneaks its way into my open heart a tad differently. It took my 27 years to even understand that Baba Neem Karoli could be MY guru, not just Ram Dass’ Ram Dass’s no, Ram Dass’… It took Krishna explaining this over and over in a way a dysfunctional former deadhead neurotically depressive kind of guy could hear. The love pours in so clean, so uncluttered from on the heart, soul, community/satsung levels. This year was just so amazing it actually felt a bit like an acid trip where layer upon layer of internal schpilkas melted away until a blob of love was left overcoming all the internal ego babble… we are a version of big Maharaj-ji we are an ashram in Maui, we are, I guess, the another wave of persons traveling for the express reason of basking in that love, and we are all one. That was this years expansive lesson, even when are not aware of it, even those who are not aware of it, and perhaps are doing things on the ego level we dont like… we are all one.. and that one is beautiful far beyond anything I have ever seen before or felt or dare I say become…

  2. Thank you for sharing, Zach. Thank you for putting into writing what my still “high” mind and soul have not been able to express. What a blessing to be part of this Satsang and to get a glimpse of the big Maharaj-ji by hanging out and practicing together. Ram Ram

  3. This is so sweet… powerfully true…..all comments. I’m always blown away by how Maharajji reels us into the fold. I have been connected with Ram Dass since 1976 when a new friend gave me the book “Be Here Now”. I later had a year of working with him when he was Chairman of the Board for the Seva Foundation in 1986/87. My role was handling his correspondence that came through Seva and organizing his lectures in the Ann Arbor/Detroit MI area while he was on tour. My feeling of connection to Maharajji began when I was reading these beautiful letters to Ram Dass about Maharajji. Before that I, too, thought of Maharajji as Ram Dass’ guru. But since I felt deeply connected to Ram Dass I thought I was at least close enough. Ram Dass told me I was another gift to him from Maharajji. This comment touched me deeply. This role opened my heart like never before. I knew I belonged to him too. I have felt his presence in my life ever since. When I read the stories about Maharajji by devotees who were with him physically it seems I get a hit of the darshan too……as if I am there with them. I love the new book “Love Everyone”. Even though I have been reading these stories, listening to Ram Dass’ tapes/CD’s and have spent some precious time with him as well, I still get high from them. It seems it deepens my connection to Maharajji. I’m leaving for India for the first time to go on a spiritual pilgrimage to some of Maharajji’s temples with Steven Newmark (and 7 others) who is the maker of the the movie “American Yogi” . It’s about his story of how he came to Maharajji….and more importantly about Maharajji. We all have come to him in very unique ways. He captures those of us who have not met him on the physical plane in ways we could not imagine. Perhaps there could be another book written about these stories too. I know I have one that I would like to share. Raghu, a while ago, invited me to share mine on the Love, Serve, Remember website. I just might do that. Love to all……

  4. Thank you for posting Zach.
    I have not yet been to the Maui retreat, but your post affirms for me that I can find’ my Kainchi’ in satsang at kirtan, Bhandara or even via live stream or chanting in my car.
    Yes…”this is our time”.
    My connection to the Ram Dass/Maharajji satsang is primary in my life and yet sometimes I can think I am on the periphery or an outsider. Your post helped me remember there is no being outside of Maharajji s love. It is unconditional and boundless . You helped me remember to follow my heart and not my head. “The feel is real” as I have heard Bhagavan Das say.
    I had a dream last night that I was at a kirtan and feeling confused about why I couldn’t trust what I was feeling about my connection to this path. I think Maharajji just spoke to my confusion via your post!
    There is so much more I want to write here but I am typing on my phone .
    I may be back with more comments later because I know I will revisit this post many times.
    Also, I want to say ‘hello again’ to you. We were fellow bloggers on the Ram Dass Be Love Now blog years ago.
    I ve recently been playing with a name chang( and a new blog), but I was Sue Callaway back then.
    Thanks again Zach. I always love reading what you write.
    Ram Ram

  5. Zach, talk about hitting the nail on the proverbial head. THIS IS OUR KAINCHI! It’s time to write the stories of those of us who did not MTM (meet the Man……) and yet had our hearts blasted open by the fat guy in the blanket.
    Love you, Brother. For all the times you are in the bhav and especially when you are out…… char (frires). xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  6. Zach, I thought it was just me, or mostly me. This was indeed the most profound retreat ever. Thank you for getting it in writing. My love runneth over. Chris

  7. Having been BORN when most of the cool stuff was going on in the world and all the cool people were doing groovy things, including Ram Dass meeting NKB and then turning a whole crowd onto him, I grew up feeling distinctly ripped off to have missed the 60’s. At the OYHIP15 retreat, I got my 60’s Moment! The Moment of ONENESS, the Moment of pure bliss and love and joy and ecstasy. It’s not the only Moment I’ve had in all these years, but it certainly was the truest, deepest, most authentic, most profound, most grounded high I’ve ever experienced. Thanks for putting it into words, Zach. Meeting you on the bus back to the airport sealed the deal.

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