Awaken apologizes for the poor framing of Guru Rattana. It is the content of the interview that is important and rather than only using the audio we decided to use the video anyway.
Donna Quesada: Guru Rattana, I would like to thank you for your time today. I know I personally will enjoy spending this time with you, and the Awaken listeners will love what you have to say, as well.
Guru Rattana, Ph.D.: Thank you, I’m so happy to be together with everybody, so welcome, too.
DONNA: Well, we have a little tradition here at Awaken…we like to dive right in. So, if you don’t mind, I would like to ask you, what does it mean to awaken?
GURU RATTANA: That’s a good question! It’s all about…and awaken means that we can actually have an energetic experience of our energetic reality. That we’re not just thinking in our minds and hoping that we’re figuring something out, or doing the right thing. We actually perceive at a deeper level, that we are energy, and what our energy’s doing and how it relates to our soul in the universe. And there are ways to have that experience that are very personal, and we get more connected…and more available, to experience our life in a more profound way.
DONNA: You know, it reminds me of the quote by your teacher, and my teacher, as well, Yogi Bhajan, who says, “We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”So, you’re talking about getting to know ourselves as energy, not as material. And so, I would love to just sort of step outside of that familiarity with it and ask with fresh eyes, “how does that help me, in my life, to relate to myself as energy…in a practical way?”
GURU RATTANA: That’s a very good question. Generally, people…in life, we have challenges. So, we have health challenges, relationship, children…prosperity. But those aren’t the problems. We have to identify the problem. So, we go a little deeper, and we say, “well, stress…we want to be able to relax…we want to be able to trust.”And then, we have to go deeper than that. We have to go to the bottom line, which is, we need to have an experience with universal energies as they flow through us, and only when we get that experience of oneness…which isn’t just out there, oh, there’s a God…let’s…yay hoo. It’s actually experiencing that we are those energies, and we are one with those energies, and we can call on them. We are them.
And then the stress can be released, then we can release the tangential problems which are fear…insecurity. And then we can deal with our human problems in a much different way. If we’re not connected energetically, well, we are connected energetically, but if we’re not conscious, that’s what awakening is about. It’s to become conscious of how we are actually one with these energies, and that we are working with them all the time, but we’re unconscious and they are basically working us, because we’re not awake. So, we wake up and we find out, oh yeah, my anger is fire energy…I can use that for action. So, we get angry and we say, hey, let’s do something about it. So, it’s very practical in dealing with our daily life. In fact, that’s what life is about; how to deal with daily life. Because that’s what we have…that’s what’s here…that’s who we are. And we all have our challenges. So how do we deal with them…if we can awaken and have an experience of how we are actually interacting with universal energies all the time, we can start being more responsible, and more connected to what we’re doing. And then our subconscious programming isn’t in charge, our consciousness is in charge.
DONNA: I love that you use the word “practical” because I think the tendency is to think of energy work as something metaphysical and something so far removed from our everyday life. But in fact, it is practical because that means I can use emotions in my everyday challenges, in a more skillful way.
GURU RATTANA: Exactly!
DONNA: You can identify it.
GURU RATTANA: Yeah, if you identify that that is what is going on, and you identify that those are energies that everything is made up of, then you don’t feel alone. And you can actually call on and work with those energies in a way that is not just you, all by yourself.
DONNA: And it’s like bringing space around anger, to use your example, so that I’m the one more in control, which means I have the challenge in my hands, rather than the other way around.
GURU RATTANA: Yeah, exactly. We get out of victimization into empowerment.
DONNA: I love that. I love that. And as I was saying before we went on record, you have so many manuals, yoga manuals, that I have used myself, and you talk about that word empowerment. What does that mean to become empowered?
GURU RATTANA: Well, it means a lot of things. But let’s…I just want to address first the concept of mastery. Mastery is to become one with. So, for instance, we have an experience in our mind…in our body of peace. Peace exists everywhere in the universe. We have that experience. If we want to be a master of that, we have to become one with it. There’s experience of stillness…of silence. Yogi Bhajan said, “If you master stillness and silence, you can know all the wisdom of the universe.”That’s pretty cool.
DONNA: It is.
GURU RATTANA: Not that we need to know all of it, but we can know some of it…what we need to know for our lives. But the only way to know that is to become one with it. That’s what mastery means. So, we meditate on silence, and stillness, on peace…in our neutral mind. And we sit there, in our sadhana for a few minutes after each exercise, after the meditation, after the whole sadhana…and we are actually at one with peace, with stillness, with silence, with neutrality…with any quality in the universe that “wakens”up in us. And we sit there and we “be with it.” In our mind, in our body…and we enjoy it. And then that gives us the empowerment.
DONNA: This is so interesting. And I’m sorry to interrupt, but I don’t think this is intuitive for people who may not be familiar with this language. And there are so many things I want to stop you on because it’s so fascinating and it’s lighting up my whole brain. When we think of that word “mastery,” I don’t think the tendency is to think of that word as “oneness.” We tend to think of it as, Oh I’m a master of it, so I have power over it, or I have control over it, and I’m separate from it. But you’ve broken that down and it’s being one with the thing, whatever it is, the emotion, or the problem, or the challenge.
GURU RATTANA: Yeah, that’s it. just practice being one with it. It’s the reality. We are one with all of this.
DONNA: And so, in plain terms, how does all of this being at one with the thing, let’s just say it’s a challenge…How does that give me a feeling of control over it?
GURU RATTANA: You don’t have to control it, you just have to be with it, and accept it, and let the energy flow through you, and it’ll guide you on how to work with it.
DONNA: Okay, so there’s this aspect of letting go, which seems to be a thread that runs through all of these spiritual teachings. And so, we’re getting to a place where I can let the energy talk to me. Would that be fair?
GURU RATTANA: Yeah, that’s great! Listen to it! There’s three basics: Observe, Listen, and Feel. In my book, The Power of Neutral, I say, “if you don’t remember anything in this book, remember, Observe…Look, Listen, and Feel. That’s what we have available to us.
DONNA: I love that.
GURU RATTANA: That’s all we have. We have taste, and touch, but for our energetic reality —Observe, Look, Listen, and Feel. And make those sensory perceptions internal. So, we’re not looking outside, we’re looking inside, we are not listening outside, we’re listening to our own intuition and our own energy, and we are feeling our emotional energy in our body.
DONNA: And so, you mentioned something else as part of this process; getting into neutral mind. What is the neutral mind, and how does it fit into this?
GURU RATTANA: The neutral mind is the key. That’s our rabbit hole. It’s like Alice in Wonderland. Get into the rabbit hole…you got to get into the neutral mind. Everything starts with the neutral mind. Yogi Bhajan explains there’s the positive, negative, and neutral. Well, positive and negative are the dualistic mind…yes, no, maybe, I don’t like it. The neutral mind is the observer mind. It just… when it awakens, we can see what’s going on, we have a different perspective. We don’t see from the victim point of view, we see from oh, look, this is what’s happening. We don’t evaluate it. We don’t have a judgement, like, Oh, I think I need to deal with something that’s going on right now. And the neutral mind is awakened at the third eye, and that’s what meditation starts with. And the way I teach it, is…Close your eyes, look inside, and whatever you see, pay attention to that.
Usually people see dark, empty, nothing…and that’s it. Nothing…that’s it. And I say, yeah, nothing is enlightenment, actually. So, if we want to get to zero, we start with nothing. So whatever it is, we pay attention to that, and that’s the basic step we have to pay attention. We have to train ourselves to pay attention. That’s what we don’t do in the dualistic mind. Because the dualistic mind is thinking all the time. The neutral mind doesn’t think. It just observes, and it listens, and it feels. Or it can direct its attention to feeling, but the neutral doesn’t feel, but it can direct its attention to the body, to the emotions, to the energy that’s happening in our energetic being, which is us.
DONNA: So the neutral mind is explained in these steps that you outlined. Observe, Listen, Feel…that’s getting into that neutral space…
GURU RATTANA: Right. Those are the sensory faculties that we have available, to access the neutral mind, be in it, and use it.
DONNA: And is that what you mean by “getting to zero?”
GURU RATTANA: I don’t really use “zero,”but some of the kundalini people use “zero,”so…I just mention that. What I focus on is getting into neutral.
GURU RATTANA: If you look…anybody, all of us… look inside at black, at empty, at nothing…it could be light, but…it’s neutral. That space is neutral. It has no opinion. It needs nothing, it has no judgment about anything, it’s just there. That’s neutral. And then we can tell the difference between our dualistic mind and our neutral mind because our dualistic mind is thinking…is thinking all the time. So, if we’re like, Oh yeah, I wonder what this is all about? Dualistic mind! It’s thinking…there’s no thought in the neutral mind. The neutral mind is silent, totally silent. So, we listen to the silence.
GURU RATTANA: And the silence is a quality of the infinite. So we connect with the infinite, we connect with the quantum field, in silence. It’s not complicated. It’s actually very simple, but we have to pay attention, and we have to train ourselves.
DONNA: And it seems so simple, but yet, we live in a culture where thinking is prized and thinking is the thing that solves our problems. And here you’re saying something that’s really the opposite of that. It’s suggesting that thinking is the problem. Is it always the problem?
GURU RATTANA: Well, actually, we need thinking, but we need the neutral mind available. When the neutral mind is available, then the thinking mind can work properly; it helps us. And, when the neutral mind’s available, we have our intuition, so, we don’t have to think so much. We don’t have to totally figure it out. We have our intuition available that guides us, and if we listen to it and follow it, it’s accurate. And then the thinking mind can help us analyze situations, look at the pros and cons and…but it works in collaboration with the neutral mind. So we think, Yeah this is good…this could work…this couldn’t work…and then the neutral mind says, You know what? Go this way. And then we listen. We listen and follow that. So, they work together.
DONNA: Is this what awakening means and is there such a thing as a “sudden awakening,”or is it gradual?
GURU RATTANA: Well, if we start this, then we’re really advanced. I mean that’ll take us to where we want to go. That’s the first step; that’s basic. So, I would say, yes let’s get there, and then we go the next step.
DONNA: Because we hear in these traditions, this notion of enlightenment. Is there such a thing as this sudden enlightenment, or is it just a fantasy?
GURU RATTANA: Well, it depends. Some people have spontaneous kundalini awakenings. They’ve never done Kundalini Yoga. They, you know, write to me periodically, “What should I do?”And I’m like, “You know what, go to the forest, walk in nature, and be in your body, and then integrate from being in your body…”And they don’t know…don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. But those sudden awakenings…You may see the universe, the stars might light up…that’s what happens to people when they take some of the drugs. But you gotta stay there, you gotta be available, so you can have an awakening. But, if you can’t integrate that consciousness into your daily life, it really doesn’t do you much good. I mean, it can show you where you want to get to, but you gotta get there on a daily basis. So, that’s why KundaliniYoga is so special because it trains us step-by-step, to get there, if we pay attention. If we don’t pay attention, it’s going to take a long time. But, if we train ourselves as we do the yoga, which allows us to wake up, it activates all the energy systems in the body that makes it possible. Because if the pituitary and the pineal gland are not secreting, we probably won’t wake up. So Breath of Fire…all the things…they wake us up! They…they activate our body systems that make it possible to wake up.
DONNA: If there was one practice…you mentioned Breath of Fire, and some people might not know what that is…it might seem counter intuitive. How are these kinds of things, breathing in a funny way, part of this waking up process? It seems like it is a thing of the mind, or the brain, you know, that we’re talking about…“consciousness.” But how do these physical exercises culminate in a waking up experience? And what are some other tools that are part of that?
GURU RATTANA: The locks are very important. Pulling the root lock, and actually activating the navel point, because the fire at the navel when there’s enough tattva, there’s enough heat, that will go down and activate the kundalini. But there has to be enough fire at the navel point to do that. So that’s what Breath of Fire does. And Stretch Pose, and all the leg exercises activate the navel so that the fire is powerful enough to descend to the first chakra and awaken the kundalini. But it’s gradual. With Kundalini Yoga, it’s gradual. You know, I’ve been at this for 41 years. It’s you know…I’m not like, “Oh, I‘m enlightened…I just pull the root lock.”No, it’s…it just slowly…but it works.
Read Part II Here: Awaken Interviews Guru Rattana – Awakening The Neutral Mind
Read and watch Part III Here: Awaken Interviews Guru Rattana – Our Neutral Mind Awakens To God Consciousness.
Guru Rattana, Ph.D., author, teacher and teacher of teachers, has been a student of Yogi Bhajan and teacher of his Kundalini Yoga and Meditation for 41 years. She literally lives and loves Kundalini Yoga, and has devoted a large part of her life to teaching and writing books about this amazing technology.