Srini Chandra is one of the wisest and most compassionate people I know. I met Srini several years ago when he reached out to me to review his book 3 Lives in Search of Bliss. It’s a book I’ve read several times (we discuss it a little in the interview). I was struck by his knowledge of several religious traditions including Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
Over the years, Srini and I have grown to be friends even though I hadn’t spoken with him until a couple of months ago when he took my course on racism. He’s kept me humble and grounded as we discuss how the nature of the ultimate reality and how that plays into our day-to-day lives on all fronts.
This is part 2 of a 2 part discussion on these religious and wisdom traditions, the nature of science, who is man, why we are here, and what can we do to achieve bliss.
Subscribe to Srini’s YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMRTlrBkHPyna-YRmpxkkiw
Subscribe to his newsletter here: https://theanvil.substack.com/

 

Transcript

 

Announcer 0:00
Close your eyes and imagine

what if the things in life to cause us the greatest pain, the things that bring us grief, or challenges, challenges designed to help us grow to ultimately become what we were always meant to be.

We feel like we’ve been buried. But what if, like a seed had been planted,

and having been planted, who grow to become a mighty tree?

Now, open your eyes, open your eyes to this way of viewing life. Come with me as we explore your true, infinite, eternal nature. This is brief to growth. And I am your host, Brian Smith.

Brian Smith 0:45
All right, this is part two of a two hour interview I do with my friends streaming. If you haven’t watched part one yet, go back and watch part one. First are listen to part one. If you’re listening on the podcast, and then go back and go ahead and watch part two,

Srini Chandra 1:02
as it is it we can easily break those arguments logically. Right? Those arguments don’t even stand the test of today’s time, let alone future. Yeah, they are very weak. The other two big questions in science today. I mean, there are many questions. I think the two biggest ones are? What does matter.

mean, all these things that make up the world? They are the things like what is the stuff that makes up those things? So you know, we started this journey, I mean, the Greek started, they said this all atoms, and then that state for 1000 years, and then somewhere in the mid 19th century, be restarted that work. And they said, oh, there’s atoms, and then they split the atom. And they found that there’s some more stuff that’s inside the atom. And we’ve been splitting those bits, you know, for the last 100 years. And every time we split the bit, we finally find that something else inside it, we still haven’t figured out what is matter.

So that’s, that’s the predominant view in science that unites. So the way I would categorize so this is matter in consciousness. The other observation in sciences, these two are treated as two separate questions. One is a question of physics. And the other is a question of neuroscience. But the ancient traditions,

treat them as connected the question, What matter and consciousness are connected. And they were these four schools of thought on this, and they’re largely like, you know, based on what takes precedence. So the first school of thought that says matter is primary, which is the modern view of the scientists today. And this by the way, this view was there. 4000 years back, these were the materials of the day. They said, matter is primary, and the brain creates consciousness. And that’s all there is to it matter dies eventually and you know, your consciousness will die and there is nothing more to it and

You know, there is some hallucinatory experience that is going on that the brain creates, right. And they said, there is not that that’s all there is to it matter is primary. And consciousness comes from the brain. That’s the first school of thought. And the second school of thought is the exact opposite, which is consciousness is primary. And matter is emergent from consciousness, which is the the theistic approach, the religion say that God is a super conscious being. And it is God who created the world with things in it. Right? So out of consciousness came at this creation. And that’s the second school and the third school of thought this is a, you know, almost five 6000 years old thought which is both are parallel realities. Matter is, they call it purusha. In Sanskrit, it’s called consciousness and proclivity, which is not quite matter, it is very fine subtle field from which things emerge. And matter is not just, you know, chairs and tables, it’s also thoughts, emotions, concepts, ideas, anything, anything that can be tangible, expressed, and describe this matter, right. And all these things, you know, these two are powerful, they are realities, and the consciousness is described as lame. And a matter is described as blind. Hmm. So the blind, the lame entity is being carried by the blind.

If you think of them as two men interested, the lay man has been carried by the blind man, okay, and the man who can see is directing the man who can walk. So that is one school of thought it is called a Sankey, and you know, philosophy and Buddha was heavily influenced by this. And it’s the first Ford school of thought, which is the Vedanta school, the Brahmin school, it says, they are not two different things, they are the same thing. Right? So there is the all all of you folks debating, you know, which is, came first or which came second, you know, you’re barking up the wrong tree, if they all came from the same thing. There’s one thing, matter is a one manifestation of reality, and consciousness is another one. So matter is equated to existence. Now, the only reason we know something is matter is because it exists. So it’s got a property. So it’s a, that those are the four schools. And, you know, I think I don’t believe sciences come anywhere close to having this level of sophistication, right, that existed I know. I have no doubt they will. But there is a fundamental problem in studying consciousness as a as an object. If there is an object, then there’s got to be a subject and absorb. Right? If it’s consciousness that is making, you know, creating our subjective experience, it is like an I have a personal subjective experience, every moment of my existence. Yeah. And so it is a very subjective experience. And if I, how would I objectify it as in? Who is that person that is observing it? Right. So it sort of logically lends itself saying it’s got to be the primary phenomenon here? Yeah. And that is argument that’s been made, or you know, several 1000 years back?

Brian Smith 8:09
Yeah, it’s kind of like seeing your own eye, you know, you can’t see your own eye, you know. So that’s when we try to look at consciousness. It’s like, from what what, how can we separate ourselves from it? In order to see it? We just, it’s inferred, you know, we would just have to take that take it on faith because we experience it. So

Srini Chandra 8:26
I think it’s a big assumption or a big area to pivot around. Because in I was having this email exchange with a physicist called Sean Carroll. He writes on time, he’s a physicist at Caltech. And he did a podcast and we were talking about this matter. Yeah, I’ve heard this enough. He’s like, and I’m 100% sure, where consciousness comes from the brain will just give us some time we’ll figure it out. I’m a physicist, but I’m gonna recommend neuroscientist colleagues figure it out. And they will tell you, but naked to the back. Right. So I, you know, I had an email exchange with him. And I said, like, how do you know what you’re observing is true? Because it’s happening in your consciousness. Right? Had it so happens that when your experience and my experience agree, we call it a fact? That is to it. Yeah. And so isn’t Isn’t there something deeper, and he had one or two exchange? And he sort of trailed off? But But I think that is the fundamental question like, you know, sciences in the context of our experience. And so it seems like they are going to hit a dead at some point, if they continue to treat consciousness as something that is objective viable. If they were to flip it and say it is the primary source, it could lead some very interesting, you know, developments in physics, maybe

Brian Smith 9:42
one thing you just said there, I want to I want to go back over because I think it’s so important. You said it just so happens when your experience in my experience, agree we call it a fact because we do we and it makes sense. We value the things that you and I both we both look at a picture on a wall. We agree that picture exists, but if I only see it, we call that subjective. And so there’s all this, there’s a whole subjective world that goes on that I haven’t experienced, and people dismiss those things, because you can’t observe it. So anything that goes on in my consciousness, you literally can’t observe. So we have this we call this objective world, because it’s something that we can both agree on that experience. But it doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that my experience that you don’t experience is any less important or any less real. So we just miss things like near death experiences, a lot of scientists will dismiss them because they’re not observable. Yes, but it does not real, are repeatable, repeatable and observed. That’s what science studies, things that are repeatable and observable. But we also science, that’s when they get freaked out when they start introducing consciousness, which catches every experiment. But when they deliberately introduce consciousness, then they go, Well, how can this happen? The double slit experiment, when I observe a particle, it looks like a particle, right? But I don’t observe it, it looks like a wave. How can this back in this be? Because my consciousness can affect the objective world?

Srini Chandra 11:03
I think some of the scientists who went down the rabbit hole in quantum physics, saw the truth and some of these theories, especially the Upanishads Upanishads, are the scriptures from which these statements were made. They are part of the Vedas, which are the scriptures of the Hindus. So Schrodinger, for example, a quantum physicist, you know, he said, the one one constellation of my life has been reading open ocean. And he found a great resonance with the the philosophers of their time. Yeah, they were doing different things. They were engaged in different pursuits. One, right one was the one group was trying to figure out the happiness equation. And Schrodinger was just trying to figure out, you know, the world. Yeah, but then he found a lot of common ground. I think that that’s a very revealing in the sense that science is about making life convenient. But life has to be worth living in the first place. No, that is not a primary consideration, right? The first life has to make sense, then we come to the convenience part. Religion makes of life worth living. I mean, practice properly, and that that’s what religion sort of gives us when I say religion, spirit, I mean, spirituality, religion all as this, I don’t believe them to be separate things. I think they are the same thing. And so there is no, you can have a very convenient life to date on happiness. That’s not what we are shooting for. Right? So I don’t see these two as adversaries. Rather, I think it’s somebody says you had to pick between science and faith, I would say you’re giving me a false choice, you’re putting me in a very difficult position. I don’t want I don’t see myself as having to choose between the two. And they have their context, in my life. So you know, yeah,

Brian Smith 12:47
there’s confusion about what science is, because a lot of people call science is actually materialism. You know, science. And I say this all the time, and people are getting sick of me to hear me saying that science is a method. Science is a methodology, it should not be a philosophy. And it’s not there to tell us everything I love the way you put that science is not here to make us happy. It’s here to make life convenient. But meaning is what makes us happy. You know, knowing who we are is what makes us happy. And we kind of talked about this, you know, last week, and if we don’t, if we don’t figure out why we’re here, if we don’t figure it out purpose, if we don’t figure out who we are. And when I was in Sunday school, one of the brilliant things they said was, everybody’s made with a god shaped hole. And they were talking about the guy, the guy sitting on the throne. But I think that was a brilliant observation. As human beings, we’re always seeking to fill that that void that we have in us, who am I Why am I here? What’s my purpose? and science doesn’t answer any of those questions.

Srini Chandra 13:46
Right? I my thoughts on this will evolve over time, I’m confident because I feel like some of them have come up in my mind off late. So I will caveat, before I say this. My observation, at least of myself, is that a few rules a lot of what we do. You know, it is and these these are all different manifestations of something. Fundamental fear is one major manifestation. So what I mean by that is when I’m happy, I fear that I’m going to lose my happiness. The immediate reaction is, oh, I shouldn’t be so happy I should be no, I have no business being so happy and something’s going to happen here. So we live in this fear, and in it destroys our ability to be happy. And it’s a very human thing to do. So the question sort of becomes, what is it that you know, how do I overcome this fear? And how do I know I’m going to be okay? Yeah, yeah, we want to know, am I gonna be okay? Yeah, I mean, when I say I, it’s like, you know, are we gonna be okay? And the answer is yes. So this there is some faith aspect to it to say believing I am going to be okay. And to to be able to sort of live that belief requires some training and practice. This is what our religions teaches, right? Yeah. They say it in different forms, God is going to take care of you. Or you know, Buddha says, you know, control your mind, will it like an instrument, just like how you drive a car to your mind? When you get on top of it, you’ll be okay. So they all said it in different ways. But depending on whichever path is easier for us, we can take that and but I think the bottom line of learning there is no, we are going to be okay. And we have to believe that.

Brian Smith 15:41
Wow, that was, yeah, that was so brilliant. You’re right. That is the ultimate question that we always have. Are we going to be okay? Am I going to be okay? You know, and, and it doesn’t mean that we’re going to have a carefree life, it doesn’t mean that we’re never gonna have any trouble. But we know that we’re going to be you know, okay. And yeah, and I think that’s, that’s right, you know, religion and spirituality. That’s what gives us you know, that that faith, that that peace, that comfort, that, you know, if I know that I am divine, if I know that I am eternal. If I know that everything will pass, you know, the good and the bad, you know, you’re right. When we’re happy, we’re worried about, well, how long am I going to be able to hold this, but when we get this broader perspective, you know, the way I look at it is like when I’m I’m having a good moment, or a good thing, I cherish it even more, because I know that it’s not going to last. But if I’m going through a tough time, I’m like, I know that’s not going to last either. And that gets me through the tough times. So this, this we can make time this temporal existence our ally, and know that that which I came from, I will ultimately return to no matter what happens between here and there.

Srini Chandra 16:55
Yes, truer words have never been said, I am reminded of a story, I will say it, you can cut it out if you don’t have time. There is the story is I love the story. I love telling the story. So there is this King in an Indian ancient times. And he’s going through this really rough period, there is famine in the land, enemies are attacking all around him. People aren’t happy, you know, he’s got his personal sickness. Everything that can go bad is going back at the moment. And this Buddhist monk happens to be traveling through the land. So you know, this man comes to visit the king and the king, he asked the king, how are you and the king says not so good. You know, things can be much better, everything has gone to hell. And the monk says, Don’t worry, this too shall pass. And he leaves and 20 years later. Now by this time, everything has changed. The kingdom is prosperous, the king’s son has grown into this handsome prince is ready to take over people are extremely happy. Everything’s going perfectly well. And the monk sample happens to be passing through the lab. So he comes to visit the king. And he asked the king, what? How are you? And he says things are good. You know, since we last met, everything has changed much significantly about everything. He builds off all this list of things that are going on. And the monk looks at him and says this too, shall pass and leaves. So it’s this great wisdom from the Buddha. He says the impermanence of things. And the happiness actually comes in. Understanding the impermanence of this world is very counterintuitive thing impermanence leads to grief normally, but happiness can actually come out of it, the sense that there is something that we are given a certain privilege of experiencing for some period of time or whatever. And we understand intuitively that everything is important when God is considered impermanent, in the eastern traditions, right? Even the Creator, we call him Brahma, he has a lifespan of 100 years in the mythology. Thomas Dies at the End of 100 years. And that’s like, you know, in 300 million years in modern time, but even that Brahma the Creator, the one who created everything in the mythology, I’m saying, not the Brahman, this is what are the different bits of god Okay, okay, cards die, Gods die in, in some of these traditions. So, the idea that something, there are two ideas, I think, which are very powerful from the eastern thought that I would like to share, one is, nothing is destroyed forever. Everything comes back. That is a very powerful idea. Nothing ever goes away it like once it’s gone, it comes up in a different place. And then everything is changing or things are impermanent. And if we these are connected truths, and in when we see the interplay of these two truths, there is great potential for us to derive happiness and it is Difficult to specify it in tangible terms, but we take it and apply to our lives, we find that you know, we can get some peace out of it. Yeah, I

Brian Smith 20:09
think that’s, you know, the thing is, and I learned this from a little bit of studying Buddhism, this idea of letting go and impermanence, which is again counterintuitive, because we want to hold on to the things that make us happy, which is what causes us suffering, because we can’t hold on to literally anything. So we, you know, the there’s, I’m actually interviewing a woman right now I’m in the process of interviewing because she’s paralyzed. So it’s a back and forth process. But she has ALS. And you know, slowly things are being stripped away from her. And but she she studied Buddhism before she got this. So she realizes that, you know, everything is impermanent, as I’m reading her book, and she says something so brilliant, she says, everything in life, life is always setting us up for death, the final transition, because everything comes in our life and goes away, it comes in it goes and we learned, we have to learn to let things go. We were in high school, when we graduate, we go to college, we get out of college, we get a job, we we have our children, or even our child, my cherished children, no one has already passed to the next world. But my other ones, she’s 25. Now she’s an adult, she doesn’t live here anymore, so that I mourn the loss of my child, that baby that I had, because I wonder back, but you know, so everything, everything is impermanent, and but even death is impermanent. So that leads us to talk about, you know, what is what is death? what and how do you view you view death? You know, what it is?

Srini Chandra 21:30
I think similar to every other question, I view the question of death as a series of different types of troops. There are multiple routes with regards to that. And each suit applies depending on where we are in our journey. And it could be the truth for us at that time. Yeah. So the options are, I think the laziest explanation for that is that it is the end of everything. I find it a very lazy explanation. It comes from nihilism. Now guys, like Nietzsche, and like a whole bunch of existentialism fans and Western philosophy largely said, This is it, you know, when you die, lights go out, and that’s all there is to it, don’t worry about it. Right? You know, it seems plausible, but it seems very lazy way to think about it. Especially when you see a lot of evidence to the contrary, in nature, nothing just goes away, things come back. So you know, the idea that that is sort of permanent, doesn’t make sense to me. That then there is the the Christian view, or the Islamic view, which is when we die, there is an internal self, and that survives death. And then we reach someplace, either heaven or hell, depending on, you know, the dispensations of what we did in life. That’s, it’s a step forward, I would say, clearly a step forward from the from the nihilist and atheistic view that there is nothing going on after that. But there is this idea that something survives death. In Christianity, I find that very interesting. And then you have the Hindu and the Buddhist view that says, when you when we die, there is a subtle aspect of ourselves, that survives, and takes possession of a physical body in the next cycle, and is reborn. So the Hindu view of death is it’s beginning of the process of being reborn. And life is a process of starting to die. Right? The Buddhists believe that too. And so I find that the most interesting, you know, plausible things he asked me, because, for me, logically, it explains a lot of things. And this is sort of related to karma, right? The whole idea of karma is a law of cause and effect. It’s, it’s a cause and effect principle. I think it’s very straightforward. It’s common sensical. In some sense. It says, if you do something, you will get something back in return. The consequences are guaranteed. That’s what the law of karma says, I find it intuitively you know,

right? In the sense if I if I, if I’m rude to you, you will be rude back to me. And I’ve seen that happen in my life. And it makes sense. It’s possible, right? Well, I think the difficulty in karma is sometimes that the consequences are separated in time from action. That’s the non non intuitive part. Sometimes we do some things I’ve done something I think I’ve gotten away with it. Not so fast, buddy. You know, it’s gonna come right. So that is where the belief comes in. And what span of time? Are we talking about multiple lifetimes? This is like there is this idea of rebirth. And you know, we come back and we carry the karma and the love and the baggage of you know what we have done in the past. It’s about good and bad. It’s not necessarily negative. We have done good things when you will. Good leads to good, bad leads to bad it’s a very simple equation and the law of karma. But the it makes a one thing Oh, wait, like, Am I going to be weighed down by let’s say I lived a million lives and all my business a jerk, you know, for most of it, my Doom, right? It’s Right, right. I mean, done. I mean, right now I’m gonna, like, you know, be in this loop forever? And the answer is no. Because there is the possibility of seeing things a different way at every moment why that happens and how that happens. Like, in the case of you and me, there was some life event that made us think a certain way. And our daughters were born right in when we become a parent, when we get married, when you have a life partner, that’s, that’s a life change. All of a sudden, you have to care about someone else, right? So the little things change, or changes, something could happen in the world that changes make us you know, look at things a different way. I don’t know how that happens. But you know, we have we have the potential to change. And we’ve seen that too. In our lives, we have seen people transform, we’ve seen ourselves change, right? So change is possible. So we know that. So I think that is where the positive power part of karma comes in until this moment, we have the the weight of our destiny, meaning what is happening right now the fact that I’m speaking to you, is a chain of events that started somewhere in Christ and past, but what my life is going to look like in the future, I control right now, by my actions towards you by the words I choose, by my attitude, and my by my ability to you know, calm myself down and be able to see the truth. And the more and more we see the truth, the more and more we liberate ourselves from the cycle, yet. Yeah, I

Brian Smith 26:34
love the way you put that because the thing about karma, again, it’s I think it’s misunderstood a lot by people here and I was taught that karma was okay. In Christianity, they’re like, well, we have grace. And the Eastern religions, agents have karma. So there, it’s a you, there’s no grace there. There’s no there’s no forgiveness, there’s no escaping from, you know, you did something bad and something bad’s gonna come back to you. And which also brings up the question what is good and what is bad? So, when you were telling your story about impermanence reminded me of a Dallas story about the nature of good and bad where the farmer goes out and he finds a wild horse. And all the village villagers come to him said it’s great thing you found a wild horse and he says maybe, and then the next day, his son’s out breaking the wild horse and he falls off and he breaks his leg. And the villagers all communist, that’s a terrible thing. Your son broke his leg, and he says, maybe, and then the next day, the armies coming through, and they’re conscripting people in the service, the son can’t go to war, because he’s broken his leg. And so you know how the story goes, we, we judge what’s good and bad, but we don’t know we don’t. So when we say, if I do something bad, something bad’s gonna happen to someone, a lot of again, parents, a child will pass away. And let’s say, Well, what bad thing did I do? What did I do to cause this bad thing? Well, how do you know it’s bad? You know, we don’t we don’t have that perspective. And no, it might have been their soul plan, it might have been their time to go back. And if we, if we truly believe a Christian say that we believe that they are in heaven with God, then how is that a bad thing? Yes,

Srini Chandra 28:05
I agree. The I, there is a framework I have put together for myself, which is, I feel like there is a set of core beliefs that we have. These are may be stated or unstated. There’s a very small number one, two, maybe three, typically one or two, I think, and it’s got to do with either something of the belief about who we are, or what is God, or one of the it’s literally one of these questions. And we sometimes, like stated very consciously, like we’re doing right now, you’re having a very conscious, aware discussion about these questions. A lot of times, we don’t promote a good part of our lives, we didn’t write scary disbelief, and something or the other is there. So this belief animates everything else. Our version of our views of good and bad, all the morals, you know, our view of the world, these are transactional beliefs, they can change, they will change, and they will change where as we go older, or go to a different place or, you know, depending on mileage, you know, we see one thing or the other working for us, these are very sort of transit, but there’s one or two believe that we carry, they make a big difference to our happiness. The transactional beliefs may make a difference to our prosperity, our health, our you know, like if I should not smoke is a transactional transactional belief. I should not be kind to others is a transactional belief because I’m kind to others and I will be treated well in society and there is a quid pro quo, you know, aspect to it. It has you know, but it all what I’ve realized is these beliefs are have to go. For them to be strong, they have to be supported by a core belief. This is sort of the argument people have made against atheism, saying that if You don’t have your core belief is a negation of another belief. It makes it very hard to be happy. You could be highly moral. Because you simply have the discipline, you will just like sort of soldier through it by being very good person. But happiness is eludes us, you know, you could be a very good person and be unhappy.

Brian Smith 30:19
Yeah, I think it’s interesting because a lot of times people said, Well, if you’re atheist will be a moral because they don’t have any real beliefs and I found the exact opposite most atheists I know are very moral people, it’s like that, and I’m analyzing but it’s almost like they’re overcompensating like I don’t need I don’t need religion to be more I’m going to be more moral than those Christians are. But, you know, you and I talked about this when we kind of did the pre pre show last week, when we’re just kind of going through some ideas. We all have a core philosophy, I’m just gonna say what you said kind of a different way. We all have a core philosophy and I’ve never really been interested in philosophy I haven’t, I always thought it was kind of a waste of time. But we do, whether we believe whether we know it or not, and and that philosophy informs our life, it literally impacts every decision we make. And

Announcer 31:05
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Brian Smith 32:06
If we think the world is a transactional place, we’re going to behave in a transactional way. If we if we choose to be a good person, for goodness sake, then we’re going to be probably a happier person. If we know that we are this divine being and in a temporary situation, and that you’re a divine being in a temporary situation, it’s going to impact the way I interact with you, it’s gonna it’s going to even impact that transactional thing. If I know if I believe I’m going to have a life review, which I do. And I know that I, you know, I might be in a store, I might smile at somebody, and who knows what kind of day they’re having. And it could change your life. It’s going to impact the way that I treat even strangers. So all the all this is just it’s so important that we that we do examine these things. And you’re right, we go through life a lot of times totally unconscious. Yes. totally unaware. I’m sorry.

Srini Chandra 32:58
Yes, I’m saying I would like it or not articulating it is not there. And it’s better to be conscious of what they are, understand what they are, and why they came to be, you know, in our, in our minds, or in our in our thing and then see if they are true. Yeah, I think that’s a good exercise. Right? So, yeah, this whole aspect of the law is philosophy practical, right? I mean, the biggest fear, when we talk about things like Brahman, or you know, Buddhism, or the highest, or the exhilarating aspects of Christianity or Islam, the fear is that it all of them teach us to be selfless. And it’s very core idea in religion, that it’s selflessness is the core idea, right? So to be selfless, you have to understand yourself. And they, there are different techniques. One is, you know, by looking at God, you see a reflection of yourself or you look at yourself and to see a reflection of God, it’s all the same thing. Like a ways of understand once you understand yourself, the idea that you will become selfless because you see the self is the same as you know, Ryan and srini have the same self thing. And the problem with that is it creates this fear of the selflessness we see in this world is not rewarded. The world punishes people who are generous, or you know, we’ve seen that it’s not always the case, but selflessness we worry will lead to us losing in some way. You know, it will either you know, we will lose our career, or relationships or bank balance. You know, what’s going to nice people finished last is like the expression we hear, especially in Western culture, it’s not so much in India, right off ladies. It’s happening in India too. In the US, it’s all the you know, fashionable thing to say that nice guys finish last and you have to go get it in, you know, the whole selflessness is not does not get a lot of prominence. So we worry about that. I think the way to think about it is that if you do not understand yourself, you cannot do a good job. have anything that you’re trying to do right now what it is that you’re trying to do, and encounter, it is counterintuitive. If we actually invest our time, in making ourselves happy, we are going to be very, very valuable to this world. Imagine a scientist who has understood the greatest mysteries of quantum mechanics has also understood the nature of his or her own self. What a combination that that person will transform this world. We don’t find those people and when those people come along, we call them Jesus or Buddha. Right. But we can be one of those people. I mean, I’m I don’t see this in any arrogance, I’m saying it is the nature of creation that we all have that capacity, even way. And you know, just the journey makes a big difference. Yeah, just being on the day, you don’t have to worry about it. We’ll get there. And it looks very daunting. It is impossible for me to sit here and think that I’m going to be the Buddha someday. Yeah. Seems like such a distant thing. But the journey is just a very small, incremental, you know, things make a big difference. That’s the leverage is just phenomenal. Yeah. As small effort yields big results.

Brian Smith 36:10
Yeah, absolutely, totally agree. There’s one one of the concepts that we wanted to discuss was our list of things we want to talk about rebirth or reincarnation. Now, I was gonna go first and say that, as a Christian, I was raised to believe that there’s no such thing as reincarnation, it’s one and done, you’re in here out. What I found out later on in life, that there was reincarnation, the Bible that was actually removed by the guys in the early church, because they frankly, it’s about control. They want to say you’re one and done, you have to go to the church, if you don’t go to the church and do all the things we tell you to do. God’s gonna send you to hell for eternity. So I know a lot of Christians are still hung up on the idea of reincarnation. But so I want you to talk about the eastern idea of reincarnation, and then we’ll kind of see where we maybe can kind of come together.

Srini Chandra 36:53
Sure. The quick observation on Christianity, right, or the Islam and Christianity, the idea is that there is eternal self, soul that’s alive that and you know, close to God. So there is the idea that something survives. And so it’s a small leap from there to saying that that’s also lives in a different body, it says we are talking semantics at this point. If something survives that, that is the big hurdle to overcome. The big core hell Dawkins, does something survive death or not. Right. And the moment you know, we are on the other side saying something survives, then it becomes a matter of details, I find it sometimes I I find it sort of strange that the Christians don’t like the idea of reincarnation. And I suspect it is there is this sense of false urgency that has been created by the early practitioners of Christianity, they said, Oh, I have to close this deal. Right? to close this deal. If I tell these people, they’re going to live another 100 lives, no one’s going to close the deal in this life. Right? So if I had to close the deal and convert this guy, I got to tell him you know, he’s going to hell in the next 10 years. I else this he’s not going to see the light. So I can see some of the tactics in play that influence some of these beliefs. But I agree with you, I think the some of the Gospels in hinted in a rebirth, even Jesus interacting hinted in some of the things he does Eastern belief in rebirth is no simple observation of nature. I mean, they are asking all kinds of questions like us, look the way we do today, who am I? What is God? What is creation? And they looked around the world and contains so many beautiful things. And the question was, like, how did these things come about? And so the theory that they came to us, everything started with some fine, indescribable, subtle, you know, thing, and it evolved. So there’s this theory of evolution in Hindu philosophy, which is not quite like a Darwin’s theory in the sense that they have similar This is both a theory of evolution. So it starts with something fine. The theory is something subtle, evolves into something gross or material, that’s the nature of creation. So you have something very fine it keeps on you know, morphing, until you reach this very phenomenal world that we find ourselves in. But there are many other things that we are not aware of, because of the nature of our sensors, and we live in this constrained world. So the idea is that whatever trance one transforms into another and nothing ever goes away, the whole idea that something can just permanently go away, for some reason has never taken root in the Indian psyche. strangest thing, and actually, it’s quite a brilliant thing. There is not much, but there are not too many buyers, for that this moment or you know, something happened, this is the end. Now, there are not too many takers, that is this whole belief system that revolves around cycles, even time is cyclical, right? Is what the Buddhists and Hindus say. So the whole idea of rebirth ordination or rebirth comes from that, that things don’t go away, we get to come back. The big question there becomes who gets to come back? is a trainee who gets to come back in the next life? And how do I know it’s training? And because I clearly don’t remember what happened in my previous life, right? So what is the point of this thing. And so the point of, you know, being reborn, there is no point of purpose, like the nature is not a creation is not created, so that it gives you something we need explanations for your current existence, I think the way these beliefs have to be sort of looked at is in the context of how we can bring peace to ourselves. Yeah, and peace comes, you know, we notice this peace comes when we understand something and believe it to be true. It’s always a good truth or a bad throw this van palatable, palatable, when we find that some reason that we latch on to something is, you know, you say it’s true, we get gives us peaks. And that is the context in which these statements were made. So I would say some of the there are these truths that we are reborn, you know, we go through the cycle, get to play out this thing. And until we realize that there is a cycle going on, you’re condemned to the cycle, the moment you realize that the cycle is how things operate, you sort of elevate yourself about the physical aspect and the mental aspects of existence, and you are liberated, that interests you. And there is another view, which is the Vedanta view, which says, everything is a wave of an ocean of consciousness in which things come and go. So what you think of as birth? And what do you think of his death, or superstitions?

These are simple, merely experiences, that your mind is all your content in your consciousness. So when you’re born, that’s an experience when we die. That’s an experience when we sleep. That’s an experience when you’re awake, there’s an experience. When we dream, that’s an experience. There’s a whole collection of experiences, and a person who understands that the nature of consciousness liberates himself or herself. So you have quite so the Vedanta would directly negate the karma theory, saying that, you know, there is no such thing as birth or death. And, again, I like I liken them to two different belief systems lower higher truth in depending on where you are in one. It’s, and they are just convenient constructs, depending on who we are as a person, and yeah, and we hold on to them, they teach us something until we are ready to, you know, accept something else.

Brian Smith 42:35
Yeah, I think, you know, it’s the thing about the idea of death rebirth, because I’ve gotten it from several different ways. Now, you know, there’s, there’s soul planning, there’s life between lives. So we go and we come back. And I’m learning a little bit about the eastern view of it. I don’t think it’s as simple as a one. For one thing, I don’t think it’s as simple as, like, I Brian die and come back. And then I’m going to be john in the next life, and then I’m married. And then life after that, I think, I think we’re almost a collection, our souls are more like a, almost like, I hate the word Borg because it has such a negative connotation, but Star Trek The collective, you know, we’re all we’re we, we have this higher aspect of ourselves. So I, as Brian was just a small part of a more complex being, for lack of a better word. And when I go back, I share my experiences with the whole, they all they all get to experience it. But I don’t I don’t come back. Brian doesn’t come back. But there’s another aspect, that there’s this kind of this this interchange as we go back. And this is, I interviewed someone a couple weeks ago, but a series of books, you recall the team, and it really resonated with me that we’re not, we’re not the individuals that we think we are. So, but I think there’s, there’s absolutely, there’s so much evidence for some idea of rebirth or reincarnation, you know, the work that was done at the University of Virginia with children with past life memories, I mean, just incredible stuff, prodigies people that come into this world, you know, that can play the piano at the age of two and, you know, people with past life memories and have birthmarks where they were, you know, they were shot in a previous life. So there’s absolutely something to it. And I love what you said about the peace thing, because I have a friend, and she was a racist Christian, had a really tough life, you know, and, and we and I remember, we were starting to explore the idea of reincarnation, she said, every time I think about reincarnation, I just start crying, because I do not want to be forced to do this again. And guess what? That was her view of life. And I said, if it if it doesn’t bring you peace, don’t let it go. Because I don’t think we’re sitting back here as punishment. I don’t think it’s like, you didn’t get it right. You got to go back and do it again.

Srini Chandra 44:38
What your client said this, identical to what the Buddha said. I think she’s on the right track here, which is the Buddha said we are reborn only because we have a desire to be reborn. Right. Right. And the moment we abandon the desire, we are liberate ourselves. Yeah. It’s a tendency. It’s a it’s a it’s a constant thing within us. We love life. The person with the worst life imaginable on this planet will still not want to die, that are a part of life. Right? And so it is a very addictive intoxicating thing. And so the trick is like how do we convert it from being an addiction that we simply experience and enjoy? Without the baggage of? You know, I,

Brian Smith 45:21
I’m so glad you said that. I’ve never heard it put that way. Because it’s always been to me it’s been put like, it’s like, almost like a punishment. It’s like you You got to keep you got to stay on this wheel. But we’re saying is, it’s self inflicted. It’s like, we want this we keep coming back because we want to do it. As soon as we stopped wanting to do it. We don’t do it.

Srini Chandra 45:39
That was the great insight of the Buddha. I think that is why I think he worshipping God, the Hindus worship him has God even though he rebelled against Hindus. So because that is a great truth. That he said, Yeah, our desire proposes every second of our lives. If you the moment, you can, like you know, you engage, but you detach. That’s the letting go principle. You don’t know you don’t get you don’t come back. That’s

Brian Smith 46:06
what I’m Wow. Okay, that’s something I’m gonna I gotta take for it and let other people know because I think that’s a big misunderstanding of the idea of reincarnation. Now, I, we didn’t talk about this, but I want to talk about your book three lives in search of bliss, because I, I listened to it again this week. And it’s just so brilliant. I love the way you you integrate all these ideas we’ve talked about here into a very short story that’s got so many layers of depth to it.

Srini Chandra 46:37
So thank you for your kind words.

Brian Smith 46:39
Yeah, I mean, you know, I listened to it again, I’m like, Man, this guy knows, he knows the Quran, he knows the Hindu scriptures, you know, you know that the New Testament, you enter the ideas of reincarnation and rebirth and, and desire, you know, would you just I just realized, now, as you said that, and I don’t want to give away the end of the book. But you know, as we get to the point where it’s like, I don’t have the desire, I don’t have the need to do this anymore. That that we can escape it. So where did the word idea for the book and AR come from? How did you how did you come up with it?

Srini Chandra 47:12
I it was no specific event or, you know, phenomena, something that happened, that part of the book. The way it happened was the, I think in some senses, so it was a culmination of things I had been doing for about 10 years prior to that, which I put my birth of my daughter, I started reading a whole lot of philosophy, asking questions. And a lot of it was very personal, I was not engaging with other people. I did not have a teacher, I was reading books and sort of educating myself. And it all I think came together. One particular year, the year I wrote the book, and these thoughts started bubbling in my head. And I thought, What is a creative way of expressing expressing some of these ideas? And I love stories. I love reading books, right? And I said, If Can I write a book, I’m not a writer by any stretch of imagination. But I said, if I can somehow write up a story, simple story that narrates some of you know, through the narration brings out some of these principles, that would be great. So it started with no expectations in mind. You actually, in fact, I did not even expect to finish the book. So let these thoughts bubble in my head for I would say a good part of maybe six, seven months. And then I remember it was around a similar time, December holidays, I took two weeks off from work. And I already had like a week, in that month for the customers a week. I sat down and wrote it in three weeks. And it seems incredible that somebody can write 200, I wrote 250 pages and sort of cut it down to 150. How can you write down 30 pages and in a month, it just built up? I mean, I kind of knew the sentences and all the symptoms were all in my head. Before I started writing, I think one of one time once in a lifetime type of thing. experience. I don’t have that. I don’t feel that level of inspiration. Now. I haven’t found that since. Yeah, more. But you know, I just surrendered to the moment at that time. Yeah. In terms of the ideas I expressed, I feel I read that book. And I read that book myself recently. And I feel like I have evolved quite a bit since then. Yeah, not to say that I do not deny any of the concepts that I wrote there. I just said, I feel like a little more nuanced. Take consulting, and I do I’m thinking I should take it and not rewrite it but expanded.

Brian Smith 49:34
I Well, first of all, like I said, You came out of blue. I don’t even know how you found me. And you said, You know, I want to send you this book. I’d like for you to read it and give me your thoughts on it. And I was like it was it’s brilliant. And you told me at the time you distilled it down so it’s very short. But you know, it’s funny because I had Bernardo kastrup been a little while ago and he wrote a book called more than allegory. And he talks about in his work about sometimes truth has to be expressive. Through myths, it has to be it’s it’s ineffable. It can’t be really put into words. And as you put it in, I’m actually in his book. materialism is why materialism is baloney ends it with a story, like a creation myth. That’s, that’s great. I loved it. And that’s how I kind of view your book. I think you had the big press through the story. And then and every time I read it, and I’ve read it, like three or four times, I get something else out of it, it goes to another level. And I was, I just finished it this week. And I’m like, Oh, yeah, ending, I really got the ending better than I had gotten it before.

Srini Chandra 50:36
Thank you. I remember, one of my stated objectives, when I wrote the book was I did not want anything did to look prescriptive. Right. Right. I The idea was to just lay it out and spark sort of a thought process. Yeah, a person and did not want to be opinionated or to you know, be specific about something. Although I feel like the it has got a very strong Buddhist tinge to it. And I, you know, I was I am still and I was very much a strong Buddhist at heart when, and I think that influenced me, but, but our idea was to be sort of, sort of stream of consciousness and tell the story. We I think, by nature, we humans are storytellers, and listeners to stories. We love stories. We love telling stories.

Brian Smith 51:31
Our lives are stories. Yeah. One thing I want to say though, I talked to a lot of people that that claim that they channel books, you know, and I just interviewed someone yesterday. It’s she’s written several books, and she says they’re all channel. I think your book is inspired. I don’t think it came from srini gay came from somewhere higher. So yeah, I think it’s, it’s great. And I want to encourage people it’s a it’s a really short read. It’s like you said about 150 pages, but it really impacted my life as I was reading it. And it’s funny because I was realizing I got it before Shayna passed away. So before I was really on the on the journey that I’m on now, and reading it again now, it impacted me in a different way. So it’s one of those things that every time you read it, it’s gonna hit you from a little bit different angle.

Srini Chandra 52:20
Thank you for saying that. I’m glad you continue to like it. story of how I found you. I did a very simple thing. I went and looked at Deepak Chopra’s books. I’m if I was still a fan of Deepak Chopra. I love his books. And you had written a review on Deepak Chopra’s book, I think one of Deepak Chopra. Okay. Okay, I saw your name. And I said, If Brian likes the book, maybe he will like my book. And he might be more inclined to read it and be more sort of understanding of where it came from. The the book that I wrote, I showed it to a couple of publishers, I was living in Bangalore at the time. And they said this book is not readable. This is not publishable. They said this does not like it lacks a plot. There is no arc there is no like characters. You know, you start with some character you don’t do justice to it. You keep moving on. I said that will hold the point of the story is not the characters. It’s actually what happens to them. Right. But I can see that this is not

Brian Smith 53:20
like classic storytelling. It’s not the the hero’s journey. Well, it isn’t. It isn’t, you know,

Srini Chandra 53:27
it’s uh, yeah, it’s different. So, yeah, yeah. But

Brian Smith 53:31
it’s, it’s a, it is a journey. It’s absolutely a journey. And I think I just said, I, I find it to be brilliant. And, you know, the thing is, I think about my life now. And I think about we talked about these formative events, right. And so, you saw that I reviewed a book of Deepak Chopra. You sent me this book, we’ve been friends now for you know, 910 years. You you’ve really influenced my life a lot. Like I said, we’re Facebook friends, and I’ll be writing something I’m like, okay, Sweeney’s not gonna like this, because, you know, you just you really calmed me down and a lot of ways and i’d love your, your wisdom and your, and your compassion and the way you you know, you love your practice. And, you know, you talked about the book being, you know, maybe more Buddhist or whatever. It reminded me, I love CS Lewis, I read him. I think I’ve written everything he’s ever written. But he talks a one time about the town. I think he pronounced it the tau, but the TA O, and he says, This is the eternal truth. And he said, one of the things is people will criticize Jesus or Christianity because there was nothing new there. And he says, There is no new moral truth. All moral teachers do is remind us what we already knew. And as we look at all these faiths, and we put them in categories, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, then we say, Well, this is more like now there’s one truth. There’s, there’s literally one truth. And all these things are different ways of expressing it. Which is why I don’t I don’t call myself Christian anymore, and I’ve studied Buddhism, but i’ve i’ve never Taking the mouse on I call myself a Buddhist. I there’s things about Hinduism that I’ve found recently that I absolutely love. I’ll never forget the Brahman Atman, you know, thing, and I’ll take that with me. And as human beings, we’re allowed to do that.

Srini Chandra 55:13
Yes. Right. In fact, we should be doing that. Yeah, the the most practical goal. I mean, we believe we are being practical when we go in search of like, you know, we want to get into college, we want to have a career and make money. By You know, this, what, we have these things called practical. And it sort of comes from this belief that we are very limited weeks. This is all I can do. Like when you say there is Domino, there is this idea of God is exalted, you know, idea of God, it’s going to give you great joy. You say, Oh, wait, it’s very complex philosophy, and I am not capable of that. I’m a very simple person. And I can only do this, which is fine. You know, which is nothing wrong with that. But the question we have to ask ourselves is, what is the most practical goal? I mean, yes, you can, you know, even buy a new car, you can get a new phone, whatever, you will be fine. Like, this is a very cliched we all know this, right? When we buy something, the joy, you know, lasts for so long, right? Then we have to find the next thing. And this, this treadmill that we are on, we will get tired. And then at some point, depending on you know, who we are, whether it’s in our 40s or 50s, and unhappiness is bound to settle? It isn’t. It is no surprise. So the question is, then what is the most practical goal? What are all these things that we consider practical are not getting us anywhere? And so we are saying philosophy is not practical. It’s not, but I, I feel like it’s the most practical thing one can do. Because the most practical goal in human existence is to find peace. Yeah, I mean, it is the most practical goal, if you think about it, because that is what we are trying to do when we do the other things. Yeah, no one goes to work. for the fun of it. I mean, at the root of it, is that am I going to be okay? And the answer to the question is, you know, to find peace, and you know, so I feel like, that is one way to look at philosophy and, or, you know, invest in. So, you know, we don’t even have to make it complicated and read all the books out there, all we have to do is start examining our own experiences, right? What makes me conscious, you know, what makes me you know, see the world a certain way, we ask these questions. I mean, these very simple questions, you know, give us enormous mileage.

Brian Smith 57:26
Yeah, you know, it’s interesting, you know, what you were saying, I was thinking about the idea of people pursuing things, you know, and I think that’s why rich people tend to be the most miserable people on the planet. Because when we’re, when we don’t have those things, we can keep telling ourselves, as soon as I get that, as soon as I get that will be happy. But when they get all that stuff, and they sit around and look at their lives, and like, I’m still not happy, then they’re the most miserable people because there’s nothing left to reach for. Right? And I want to kind of close this, you know, because you said that I was thinking about the words of Jesus, because I still follow Jesus. And Jesus said, store for yourself, you know, treasures in heaven, where moth in the thieves cannot break in a mosque and not you know, just corrupt. And, you know, they can’t, it can’t rust. I mean, Jesus is like, stork treasures in heaven. So, again, as a Christian, we were thinking, literally, we’re gonna have boxes of gold when we get there. But it’s really this. It’s a centerpiece, it’s growing ourselves. That is the most practical thing. And that is the only thing that really matters is peace. You’re gonna have everything else. If you don’t have peace, you’ve got nothing

Srini Chandra 58:27
completely agree the kingdom of God is within you is what Jesus said. Yeah, I think that is, you know, that those are Words To Live By.

Brian Smith 58:37
I think that’s a great way to end I want to say srini I really appreciate you doing this extended interview with me. You know, this is really first time we sat down and talk face to face and all the time we’ve done been doing this, but we need to come back with this again.

Srini Chandra 58:51
I absolutely will. I’ve always wanted to do this. And I can think of no better person to have this conversation than with you. I feel safe. I feel like you know, I will be understood and I am saying something wrong. I know that you will guide me now and so I feel very comfortable. having these conversations are something I absolutely know we should do this again.

Brian Smith 59:12
Absolutely. Thank you for training. You have a great rest of your day.

Srini Chandra 59:15
Thank you, you too.

Brian Smith 59:19
Should I go ahead and leave. That’s it for another episode of grief to growth. I sure hope you got something out of it. Please stay in contact with me by reaching out at www dot grief to growth.com. That’s grief the number two growth.com or you can text the word growth to 31996. That’s simply text growth gr o wt h 231996. So if you’re watching this on YouTube, please make sure you subscribe. So hit the subscribe button and then hit the little bell here and it’ll notify you when I have new content. Always please share the information if you enjoy it. That helps me too. get more views and and get the message out to more people. Thanks a lot and have a wonderful day.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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