Turban Askew: Ask the Swami

By Steve Bhaerman

Questionable advice with a ring of truth, from Swami Beyondananda, regarding affairs personal and political.
Dear Swami:

It’s amazing to me that with all of the philosophy, culture, learning and technology we humans have been immersed in, we continue to act so irrationally. I mean, look at us. What huge percentage of the world’s resources are spent on weapons of mass destruction? Will we ever start using our heads?

Howard Juneau
Braintree, Massachusetts

Dear Howard:

Well, I certainly agree with you about the problem, but I’m not sure using our heads is the solution. After all, look at how we’ve rationalized our irrationality—and rationalizing irrationality is definitely a head trip. Ever since Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am,” we’ve been putting Descartes before the horse. In our logical progression to the illogical conclusion that the best way to create safety in the world is by making the world less safe, we have forgotten that we humans are all connected at the heart. We have followed our heads, and look at us. A world with its head up its ass. Yes, the sad truth is we have followed our head right up our own ass! So maybe we have it bass ackwards. Maybe we need to focus on the heart for a change and leave the head behind. Perhaps a ration of love is the way to get us out of our irrational head trips. Or, as Lyndon Johnson didn’t say back in 1966, “Get ‘em by the hearts, and their heads will follow.”

Dear Swami:

I’m curious. Have you ever traveled to India?

Vashti Sari
Campbell, California

Dear Vashti,

Well, as a matter of fact I spent an eventful year there when I was a junior in high school. As you may or may not remember, I grew up in Oklahoma in a Methodist family. Actually, my father was a Methodist and my mother a Catholic—which makes me a Rhythm Methodist. Anyway, as a child I would spontaneously go into yoga poses, and by the time I was in Boy Scouts I could tie myself into twelve different knots. I was attracted to all things Indian, but my parents didn’t quite get it. For two years, they apprenticed me to the most evolved being in Oklahoma, the great Native American shaman, Broken Wind. He taught me a technique called “gastral projection,” but that’s another story.

Anyway, I persisted with my deep studies of yoga until I hit a serious impasse. I was practicing my breathing exercises—probably overdoing it—when I had an unfortunate accident. My kundalini exploded in a crowded supermarket. Fortunately, no one else was injured, but it left me with a permanent East Indian accent. By that time, my parents decided that I must have been switched before birth, and gave me permission to spend my junior year attending high school in India as part of their Omward Bound program.

I have cherished memories of the year I spent at Govinda High School. I still remember our school chant at soccer games—“Go Govinda, Govinda Go, Govinda Game Govinda!”—and my after school job as a busboy at the world famous New Delhi Deli, run by the great spiritual teacher Yeshivananda and his consort, Lakshmir. To them I owe the greatest debt of gratitude, for they sent me to establish the first Ganesh’s Knishes outlet in the Punjab. It was there that I learned the language of word play that I still use today, Punjabber.

Dear Swami:

How do I get the last word in an argument with someone who is intractable, unreasonable, stubborn and generally wrong?

Daryl B. Heltapay
Bozeman, Montana

Dear Daryl,

There’s always the reliable old standby, “yes, dear,” but I have my own preferred conversation-ender: “Well, this is a universe of infinite possibilities, so you may be right.”

Visit the Swami online at www.wakeuplaughing.com

This article was originally published on January 31, 2007.