From Maximum Rock'n'Roll – Issue 79 – Dec '89

MRR cover


Ray from Youth Of Today passed through town recently, after playing YOT's final show. It had been a year since I had seen him, and there have been many changes since then. Ray has always been a curious mixture of suburban wise guy and idealistic seeker. As the HC scene fails to meet some people's expectations and needs, people turn in other directions to find themselves. What follows here Is a discussion that gives some insight into his new beliefs. Interview by Tim Yohannan.

MRR: Ray, what's the name of the project you're working on?
R: Shelter.
MRR: Is this a one-off thing or a permanent band.
R: I'd like it to be permanent. I still like to do music, but i m into being a devotee. I live in the temple now. But if I can do music, I'll do music... and if I can't, I won't. If I can find the right people who are Krishna conscious or favorable to the philosophy of not drinking, eating meat, or illicit sex. But right now I'm living on a farm and so I'd ike to do it on the farm and just go on tour for a few weekends. Just do a simple living,high thinking type of lifestyle.
MRR: Let's catch up on a little history first. What happened to Youth Of Today? Did you leave the band?
R: When we were in Europe, it just got to the point where.... well, me and Purcell had been doing it for five years and at this point it was just chewing the chewed. You chew a piece of gum and then put it back in your mouth later, it loses all the flavor. We ended up playing the some old clubs to the same old people and, for me, I felt the straight-edge scene was getting real stupid. They may not be intoxicated on drugs, but they're intoxicated on tons of other things. Just material life. They're high, high on their music. You go to their shows for a little high and come on down. They live in a little fantasy world. I'm not saying everyone, but I got a little disillusioned. Even in Europe, it seemed like they were just ripping off American straight edge. I always had a certain idea in mind that I wanted with YOT, but because of the way the fans got into it, and the fanzines made us - and I'm sure be-cause we let them, too - we got thrown into a different mold. Everything got regulated, the music got regulated, and I tried to do the best I could with it but I just got burnt out on it after a while. So, I had a lot of lyrics I had been writing, and I wanted to do some different music - not typical formula, like YOT was more of a thrash band. And I wanted to do some far out stuff that was still gonna be pretty hard sounding.
MRR: You were involved with the Krishna thing for a while when you were in YOT; at what point did you become a devotee?
R: When I first moved to New York I was interested in Krishna consciousness because I always believed in the difference between spirit and matter. I always believed there was more than the eye could perceive, and actually never trusted devotees or believed in it. I just used to go sometimes to the temple... the Hare Krishnas just seemed too far out. I started checking out types of Eastern philosophy and started studying types of yoga and Buddhism. I was more attracted to Eastern philosophy and was attracted to the Bible. But I didn't like organized religion, or what has turned into the Christian church in the last 2,000 years, and I didn't like the born-again Christians. So I was basically a hodge-podge of philosophy. But the coolest thing I ever read was when I started reading Buddhist sutras, and Buddha would come up and say stuff like, 'You have to cultivate humility' and 'The reason for all our suffering is because of our desires.' And I was in a real suffering situation, not happy with myself.YOT was getting bigger and my life was doing pretty good... I had a nice situation, lots of friends, nice girlfriend, a waiter in a restaurant... a pretty simple life and I had money, but I was really miserable. In YOT, we had a certain type of morals in the band, but I never felt I could live up to what I wanted to be. I was against greed, I was against lust, I was against envy, but I would always find those things manifested with me whenever given the opportunity. I thought I was above it all. So I was never quite happy with how I was personally living, and the more I became distressed the more I started searching harder for different truths. I was still going to the temple at this time, checking a lot of stuff out, and then I just started studying more Vedic scriptures from India. These are the oldest scriptures written down to man. I found that it really didn't contradict any-thing with Christianity but went into more detail. Like comparing a pocket dictionary and an unabridged dictionary. So I started practicing a bit of Krishna Consciousness and following principles and chanting, and then met certain devotees that I really liked. There was one book in particular that I really liked, written by a devotee called "Puta the Spirit'. It's about world religion and vegetarianism. It talked about how all these world religions are coming from the same background of compassion and consideration for all living entities. But people who re-wrote the scriptures over the years contaminated them... like the King James Bible. They were contaminated by these people's material desires to exploit material nature. This author did an excellent job in showing how there were these dietary restrictions, that vegetarianism was founded in most religious traditions, including early Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism. Then, little more than a year ago, I started trying to take It more seriously. When I got back from tour last summer I started realizing that I was getting really sick of material life, didn't feel that I was accomplishing anything major with the band and thought there were higher things in life to do. I wasn't interested in settling down with my girlfriend and it would be no problem to renounce my girlfriend. I wasn't interested in family and thought there were higher truths to be found before I accepted a slot In society.
MRR: At this point, what things have you learned or what do you understand - in other words, you said you were unhappy before, so how are you different now and how does that express itself in this new recording?
R: It's not like all of a sudden I've accepted God into my heart and relieved of all material distress. But the lyrics are just reflections of my realizations. A major one is just how people are intoxicated with... I guess the ultimate problem is we're gonna have to get old and die. It's the ultimate scary thing because we completely put it out of our minds. We constantly see people that are old every day and we're gonna be in their shoes and death is not far off. I was In India in the fall and got really sick, to the point where l thought I was going to die. It blew my mind. At first I thought, "Wow, why did I even bother coming here. I should go back and lead a nice quiet life In the U.S., be safe and sound and never ask any questions.' My next realization was that in this material body, you're not safe anywhere. Every moment is dangerous. And that there are certain truths to life that are meant to be found out before you die. Yet we've spent so much time intoxicating ourselves...
MRR: What are some of these truths?
R: I believe we're part and parcel of God or Krishna or whatever you want to call God, and everything is his creation. And we've got to find out what is our position on this planet. We're not matter and we can't get any pleasure from identifying with matter. And that's been proved. I don't believe anyone who says they are getting pleasure out of it. Even the happiest people - their desires cannot be fulfilled.
MRR: In other words, there's a set of tenets with Krishna Consciousness that puts you in touch with certain realities. How is that any different from what anyone else believes from other religions?
R: First of all, It's not a secular religion - it's a philosophy of understanding the soul. The scriptures are pretty heavy stuff, and the more and more I get into them, the more convinced I am of their potency. They are the only scriptures I know of that predict saints from other religious traditions - Muhammed is predicted, Lord Buddha is predicted, as well as many saints. It doesn't say that Christians or Buddhists are going to burn In hell, and I believe I have a better understanding of Christ's message than these born-again Christians... I'm not putting down Christ's teachings, but people who cheapen it - those who say they accept Christ Into their heart but are engrossed in sinful activities.
MRR: But a lot of that doesn't sound that different from things I've heard about other religions. It seems that the need that human beings have for religion is the some, regardless of the specific religion, and people argue with equal vehemence for the religion that they're involved with - that its prophecies are the true ones.
R: I've never heard of scriptures that predicted saints of other religious traditions. But I'm not trying to say my religion Is better than your religion...
MRR: But you do push your religion.
R: That's because the best way to be part of society is to be detached from society. Personally, I feel the Christians are so watered down and the only way they're going to get some answers Is through renunciation or serious study of scripture alone somewhere. They don't know anything about... If you go to a Christian monastery, they don't know things about how to control the mind. The thing about the Bhagavad-Gita or the Vedas, they talk about... the Christians may say it's bad to be attached to lust, but the Vedas will give a scientific method of controlling lust. It's an easier method. That's an objective comparison.
MRR: If I held the same talk with a Christian or Islamic fundamentalist who are purists and adhere to a strict regimentation of beliefs and controlling their impulses, it would be a pretty similar conversation.
R: When someone Is Krishna Conscious, and I'm only attempting to be Krishna Conscious, it's that the mood would be as you walk into a church or synagogue is, 'How nice,they're worshipping my Lord here," and shouldn't be a sectarian philosophy. God has many names and appears to certain people at a certain time or place, and did preach a similar message, a renunciation of material life.
MRR: What are the predictions for the future?
R: They said In the next 10,000 years religion will become so watered down that there will be nothing left except devotees to Krishna.They said chanting the Hare Krishna mantra will be heard all around the world, which has happened in the last 20 years... and this was predicted in the Vedas, written 5,000 years ago. It will rise for the next 5,000 years and decrease the next 5,000 years after that. They said the only other religion left will be complete fanaticism. Then after the next 10,000 years, religion and morality will be wiped off the planet. Then Kali-Yuga, this one we live in now, called the Age of Quarrel and Hypocrisy, will really start to set in. But eventually, the age is predicted for the lost 438,000 years. It talks about nuclear wars and how we'll be able to see the haze in the sky and there will be lots of wars and people will be demonic. You'll either change or be dwarfed in size and barbaric till the end of this age.
MRR: If you choose to believe that that's how things are, then what is it that you are to do in the present? If they predict this bleak future, then there's nothing you can do about it because it's already determined...
R: In Bhagavad-Gita there's a war of the world, and Krishna is on one side, the pious family, and giving instructions to a warrior,Arjuna. And this warrior says he doesn't want to fight because there are a lot of people he knows on the other side. And Krishna says their fate has already been decided and they're all going to die anyway, but he's giving the warrior a chance to serve him. So Krishna is appearing through the Vedas, through the spiritual master, so we have a chance to accept it or reject it. He lets us choose whether to accept him, or to go on believing that we are strong, powerful, beautiful. Eventually those people will get humbled if they don't surrender to God willingly.
MRR: In this religion, the soul...
R: The soul is part of God and is permanent, while the body is always changing...
MRR: So you got reincarnated?
R: Yeah. The Christians say you go to Heaven or Hell. That's just taking another body. Just as we are changing bodies every seven years. So the energy of this lifeforce that is making Tim Yohannon a live man as opposed to a dead body, is passed on to another body. So a person that fully under-stands the self at the time of death... Prabhupada the founder of our temple, is a perfect example of that... when he left his body he was an old man, but was completely clear thinking. There are video tapes of his death. He was doing Sanskrit translations on his deathbed.
MRR: Again, I see so many parallels with other religions and the thing that strikes me...
R: Why shouldn't there be parallels? We're all basically doing the same thing.
MRR: ...there are certain truths, that you're here on this planet and your body is going to die. And beyond that, if people choose to believe in an afterlife or a heaven or a hell or reincarnation, well that's fine and dandy, but that seems to be as much of a drug as anything else. It's a way of easing your pain and rationalizing your existence to make some kind of sense out of life. When you talk of people being high on materialism or drugs, what you espouse seems to be another kind of high and escape.
R: I don't think it's an escape because actually we're facing the ultimate problem, which is death...
MRR: I think anyone who says they know what happens after death is full of f------ shit. They can choose to believe that, and if they believe it strong enough it can ease their pain in this life, but they should be able to admit, but can't, that there's no real proof of this. As much as you can point to scriptures in the Bible or other holy books, there's no proof. It's then a matter of faith because some humans need that security.
R: When you logically look at the soul and look at the body and practice certain austerities and chanting to get a better look at it, the body is different than the soul. You can see that from when you're a little baby to a grown-up to when you're an old man, that you're constantly changing bodies. And you're basing things on faith too, that the sun's going to rise tomorrow.
MRR: I don't know what's going to happen upon my death. Maybe...
R: We're changing bodies every seven years. You're in a completely different body from when you were a little boy, right? So you're right, we don't know. But I personally have to admit that the spiritual master or the scriptures... OK, maybe God didn't write these. They claim that Krishna spoke this on the battlefield, that an incarnation of Krishna wrote these down... maybe he didn't...
MRR: Did God hand Moses the tablets?
R: So what are they then? Whoever wrote them down had incredible vision, much better vision than anyone I've ever met or probably will ever meet. They were free from a lot of the vices that modern man, who is supposedly so advanced, is completely attached to. Free from sex life, they had incredible minds. We all pick people to emulate in this world, little heroes whether it's Ray of Today or Elvis Presley or whoever. So my hero is the compiler of the Vedas. If worse comes to worse, I'm following a decent lifestyle, not inflicting pain on anyone....
MRR: There are two things that bother me about religion. One Is that people claim to "know" the way or the truth. The other is that most religions, in the way they view history or strife or contradiction, is to say "accept it,and you will be rewarded in the afterlife." That stops people from putting energy into trying to change the here and now reality. If you're working on the assumption that maybe this is all there is, and if it sucks, then maybe you'll put your energy into trying to change reality, whereas ....
R: I don't think that's true ...
MRR: The prophecy Is that this 5,000 years and that 5,000 years will be such and such a way, and history is already decided and set out in stone, then why try to really change things because you already know your soul is being saved and the hell with the rest.
R: That's what happened in the Christian tradition... there were things about reincarnation in the Bible, but they were taken out because the Popes at the time figured that' people think they'll have another life to live then they're gonna act really simple this lifetime. But I definitely think that by becoming a devotee you actually disengage yourself from all these problems, and by preaching you disengage other people and eventually... I definitely don't think it's a cop-out; it's actually getting to the root of the disease. You can't just cure the symptoms... if we have a massive animal slaughter problem, you can't just concentrate on that, or we have starving children here... it's like blowing on a boil... you got a boil and if you blow on it, it relieves pain. But you're not conquering the disease. The disease is that people think they are their body and are attached to this bodily conception and they think they're God. By cultivating qualities of a devotee, you will kill the disease. What happens when we think we're this body? We're proud - proud I'm Italian, proud I'm black, proud I'm a woman...
MRR: No, I don't feel that way. I'm not proud of my ethnicity or nationality, etc. I understand that I'm mortal, what my failings are, what some of my strengths are. I try and improve my strengths and limit my weaknesses, and try to give what I can give.
R: But you're still seeing things from the point of view of a man... it's tunnel vision. For one thing, I can say that by doing humanistic work for society, you're going to overlook pIants or animals or other things that are being completely exploited. The root is to overlook the body, the shell of the living entity and this will cut down all the barriers set between races, boy/girl, dog/cat, tree... and you start respecting life. That's one thing, and then realize that everything is in a suffering condition. And then start cultivating the idea that everyone has that ≥I'm God, I'm very powerful and very beautiful and...≤
MRR: No, that's bullshit...
R: You have a limited vision; you're not thinking what Joe Blow in North Carolina is doing because you can't see what he's doing. But once we cultivate some humility and realize that we are pretty insignificant and not...
MRR: There's nothing more cultivating of humility than to understand your mortality. That's very humbling. You don't need to believe In God to come to grips with that. Anybody who has a close call with death... it's going to affect the way they view life.
R: I think they will for a brief moment, until they become healthy again.
MRR: You're talking in these generalities, saying things about the way people think who are not Krishna Conscious. I know an awful lot of people who are religious per se, which does not mean they don't have a spiritual understanding of nature or consciousness.
R: You can say that the mass of people are persuing just fun and sex and greed...
MRR: Most people are selfish and want the easy way out...
R: So I'm sorry if I meant to draw lines of 'us and them'.
MRR: But you do proselytize; you're trying to make people aware of this and convert them, and you believe that you know and understand God...

R: No, I don't say that, I preach up to my realization, so far. But punk does the same.
MRR: It's one thing if punk tries to deal with all the contradictions and conflicts that go on in the world, but it's another thing to say that you have THE answer.
R: I personally don't say I can understand God, I can't say I love God, I can't say I envision God. But I can understand that these previous great teachers like Prabhupada had more vision than me. But I can definitely say that we're very insignificant and try to overcome these vices or sexlife and meat eating and intoxication. And I recommend chanting. These are things I can preach about because I know they have a beneficial effect on myself. Life is short and we're fooling ourselves if we think it's going to be really long. We're fooling ourselves if we think we're just going to be happy. We're living in a romantic world based on TV shows where this false idea of happiness is going to come from attachment to material things. Our wife isn't going to save us, our kids aren't going to save us, our money isn't going to save us... these are things that aren't that far off from what punks are saying. When I talk to kids I don't go into how you'll feel ecstatic love by chanting when you reach a certain level.
MRR: No, because you're engaged in a subtle seduction. You won't clobber them over the head, you're...
R: Why shouldn't I. I think it's my duty as a human to stop suffering, and I think there is suffering in... the attachment to sex life. It gives us no pleasure.
MRR: I disagree. There are lots of people who... R. The pleasure isn't much compared to the anxiety you go through. OK, in a way sex life was very pleasurable, but what type of pleasure did it give us?
MRR: Sensual pleasure... we have senses...
R: ... which is getting us more and more attached to this bodily suffering, anyway. The more and more we become attached to this gross body, when the body suffers we identify with the body even more.
MRR: But if somebody becomes addicted to that, then you can say...
R: You don't think American society is addicted to sex?
MRR: To sex, but that's different from sensuality and open feeling and communication,some of which can only really be accomplished through sexuality. There are lots of different types of communication - some is verbal, some is spiritual, some is very much sensual. There's lots of ways to communicate.
R: There's lots of communication going on in high schools and colleges... right. And there's lots of abortion going on, lots of disease going on, lots of rape going on, because we're giving in to that type of communication. And when we talk about world problems, we're talking about billions of dollars every year going to the fashion industry and cultivating sex. It makes our whole society tick, and for anyone not to be disgusted with It, I think they're just crazy.
MRR: Your reaction to that exploitation is to reject sexuality or repress sexuality, whereas some other people might say that a healthy reaction to the selling of sex is to have sex be sensually and emotionally real instead of packaged and sold. So you're going to this other extreme of repression. Isn't sexuality a human impulse?
R: No. Well, I think it's an impulse, but it's a nurtured impulse. As a human being we can discipline our mind and senses, just like the impulse of anger. That's what separates us from animals. If I slap a dog, he'll bite me. If I slap you, you might say, 'Cool, maybe Ray had a hard day.' You can reason things. But certain things I believe are nature and some are nurtured. Sex is nurtured, and the way society is set up, it's pushed. Every time you walk down the street or read a newspaper or get on a subway, you're bombarded by sex.
MRR: Look, we've lived In a very sexually repressive society, and it's only in the last 20 years that we've tried to come out of that. And in exploding out of that, it comes out haphazardly because it was repressed for so long. It would seem to me that the healthy response to that is for people to get educated about sex, to not fear sexuality and deal with it in a healthy way. We've had religion forever in modern history, and we've had sexual repression forever, and that leads to a lot more abnormality and inhumanity than going the other way, which is to learn about our bodies and emotions.
R: I think you have to learn more about our philosophy because I don't think It's repression. If you meditate on sex and are stopping the actions of sex, then you're repressing. But a devotee doesn't make that his meditation. He's not frustrated because his senses are engaged in other activities for God.
MRR: That sounds like sexual fascism - and sexual control is the basis for all fascistic power. We have energy and impulses which can be channelled in certain ways, and that does distinguish us from other types of animals, but I would say that the societies in history that have been the most sexually open and honest and free have been the healthiest and least warlike and least competitive and exploitative.
R: Like where?
MRR: In certain primitive societies, in the South Seas, Thailand...
R: Where they just have casual sex every now and then, is that what you're saying?
MRR: No, where they're not inhibited about it and yet not exploitative about it. They're just open, In the same way that...
R: The Idea we're trying to cultivate is self-realization, find out what the self is and detach it from the body and identify it with the soul, linking up the soul with Krishna - and that is the source of real happiness. But the identification with the body, the pleasure... I didn't mean to say there's no pleasure with sex, but with pleasure there's a lot of suffering, and from engaging in sex, which is the strongest pleasure, suffering is inevitable. As soon as the body becomes a little bit sick or weak, we're completely attached to it and we suffer. But by being renounced... I know lots of devotees that are renounced and free of possessions.
MRR: That's the same in most religions...
R: ... so sex is something that entangles us more and hurts our position of humility - because when we're with that 'special person', they're thinking that we're the greatest. We find a person who admires us, finds us attractive. 'You're my #1.' To them, we are their God, at that moment. We are satisfying them and we do this for our whole life, surrounding ourselves with people who look up to us, and we give them a type of respect in return.
MRR: There's nothing very wrong with people treating each other with respect and liking each other and helping each other.
R: But if we're cultivating the idea that I'm helping you culitivate that you're God and you're helping me cultivate that I'm God, then it's no good.
MRR: That's your definition. Because people treat each other with respect doesn't mean we're false Gods. Yes, we have egos, which is part of human nature. And part of the human experience is pain, In fact it's more pain than happiness. Most of humanity is very unhappy and they f------ know It. A lot of that unhappiness comes from deprivation and oppression.
R: And overindulgence.
MRR: A very small percentage of the world population is in the luxury position of overindulgence.
R: Most Americans who are in that position, though, are suffering.
MRR: They may not know it, but, yes, they are suffering. But religion puts the accent on the spiritual, and taken to an extreme it denies the physical. And the physical goes to this other extreme - those who are just into material life, they deny the spiritual. It seems to me there is some kind of happy balance.
R: I think I'm in happy balance. We're here in the material world. We're here, have a tape recorder going, I'm identifying with material things, but I believe that I'm spirit and can't get happy by identifying with that. My reality Is, THE reality is, everything we know that we are assuming is reality is temporary. Everything we invest all our love in, all our time in, all our dedication to, is taken away. I believe that by understanding the spiritual side, the material side is also taken care of. No one's been able to convince me otherwise. I believe that by watering the tree of the spiritual side, all the leaves of the material side...
MRR: So all those people who are poverty stricken who may have strong spiritual beliefs, then that's OK?
R: It's bad, but we can say there's how many pounds of grain tied up into America's liquor industry...
MRR: But having certain beliefs isn't necessarily going to change that situation.
R: If people in general had these beliefs, there would be less greed in the world. There wouldn't be intoxication. There would be no whiskey industry that's locking up so much grain that could feed the world, there'd be no meat industry that locks up the pound-to-pound/grain-to-meat thing.
MRR: There are a lot of people who feel that way who are not religious. You don't have to be locked into a religious dogma to come to that kind of understanding.
R: I'm saying that by cultivating the spiritual roots, the leaves will be watered.
MRR: In the '60s, the hippies said that if everyone loved each other, all the problems of the world would evaporate. So they went off to farms and communes, and nothing changed. It doesn't work that way.
R: OK, I'm not trying to say I have this monopoly on truth. I'm not trying to be proud.
MRR: How an individual comes to grips with their spirituality is their business, and how they decide they're going to interpret nature and the universe and death is between them and their spirit, right? But when It becomes an organized thing with a sectarian organization, and you begin trying to convert other people to that perspective, that's different.
R: True, we are a movement. We're trying to establish Brahminical qualities, which are non-violence, humility, understand the self and the position of the self, detachment from material things.
MRR: But when things become organized, then a perception arises that this group, in order to distinguish itself from another group, has some kind of lock on the truth. And when they then try to convince other people of that, they feel that they have an answer that other religious organizations lack.
R: The mood should be that God is all-knowing and we are limited. We can't be proud.If I'm doing that, it's wrong.
MRR: You're not doing that blatantly, but there's an underlying inference that that's how you feel.
R: I have some strong beliefs, And I have faith, in what it's proved to me so far. As I get deeper and deeper into the philosophy, I find that it's more and more on the money.
MRR: Tell me something about violence here. You say there's supposed to be non-violence...
R: In Brahminical times there was violence, according to a person's body type. People worked according to their body type. A scholar would be a Brahman and would cultivate non-violence, a leader of society, the judges of the court of law. He'd be renounced, and therefore uninfluenced by material desire.
MRR: But there is a justification for other people to use violence?
R: The thing is...
MRR: For instance, I read some interview with Harley of the Cro-Mags, and he talks about his previous violence and doesn't feel bad about It, and you get the feeling that violence is justifiable in his mind, based on his understanding of Krishna.
R: I believe that's a warped interpretation, because Prabhupada said we're all lower than the lowest class of men were in Vedic society, the way we were brought up. And he's cultivating... if anyone goes out and says, 'I'm a warrior, I'm a fighter in the name of God," they are just trying to be God and are getting off on controlling other people's destiny. That's wrong. It's non-violent.
MRR: So there is no justification...
R: Unless someone... actually, if someone attacked a devotee, the devotee would probably walk away or try to get out of the situation, or maybe defend themselves. But if someone was to strike a devotee, I would stick up for that devotee.
MRR: I remember reading a couple of years ago that the head of the Krishna temple in Berkeley was arrested for having a whole arsenal of weapons.
R: Before I got into Krishna Consciousness, I heard lots of stories like this and wanted to check them out before I got serious about it.What happened was that Prabhupada was the spiritual master, a pure devotee and modem day saint. And when he left the planet, he predicted all hell would break loose because that's what happened when Jesus left, etc. And in his name, his followers would twist things around, start a war. So in 1977, Prabhupada initiated 10,000 devotees all over the world, and most were pretty young and had only been practicing for 10 years. That attracted people from scientists to lawyers to criminals to bums. The devotees tried to cultivate humility. So when he left, he left 11 people to initiate disciples, to take over. Unfortunately, some of the people he left weren't ready to initiate, and didn't understand their position as a servant of God. When people bowed down and worshipped them, they didn't understand that a spiritual master would actually see himself as a servant to his disciples. Instead, they got proud. I can't blame them, because I'm sure they had good intentions when they came to the movement. I tried to be humble, but with people coming up to me after a show saying, 'Ray, you're great, you're great,' you start getting proud and think, 'I guess I was pretty good tonight.' Similarly, when these people were powerful and charismatic, and people gave them worship, they weren't ready for it and fell down. This one guy was having sex with disciples. There was corruption. So, a lot of people left. And it almost destroyed the whole movement. But once they got found out, they all got kicked out. I really respect those people who stayed with it during that; they have an awful lot of sincerity. How many people within the straight-edge scene can say that when the desire becomes strong that they stick with it? How many people do you know within the political scene that gave in to comfort, family life, sell-out, etc.?
MRR: That's a characteristic of human beings - most people will take the easy way out, most people are lazy and greedy.
R: Krishna arranges it that way and fulfills.
MRR: But even within Krishna, It turns out that people are people.
R: Right, I've been conditioned not just for 23 years of this life, but for billions of years because I've been a living entity In a material body for billions of years and have been cultivating the 'I am something special' attitude and have been looking for that type of prestige.
MRR: Did you hear what you just said? You can say that with all confidence?
R: I can't say that I know that, but it's a belief. I respect the great teachers and believe in reincarnation. I believe we're changing bodies every moment. I don't think it's a big leap to say that this energy can enter another body. This argument has been going on between atheists and theists for thou-sands of years.
MRR: I'm not an atheist, but it's eerie to hear someone say with complete confidence that they've been around for billions of years.
R: Well, if all these religious scriptures all over the world parallely made up some lies...
MRR: I don't think they're lies but that human existence is a painful thing and understanding your own death is very scary, and people come up with any amount of reasons or beliefs or rationalizations to make that more flotable and less painful and to give their life meaning.
R: Are you saying there's no meaning?
MRR: I don't know If there's a meaning or not, but anyone who comes along and says that they KNOW there is a meaning and know what has happened and will happen, I think is crazy. A crackpot, just as insane as someone who says they absolutely know that there is no God.
R: Look, in science you can test something and get a result. In Krishna Consciousness you can go into it curious, test it, and get a certain result.
MRR: How can you know that there is reincarnation?
R: How do I know? I don't know what I was, but I can understand it. Part of trying is to accept. I'm not saying it's yes.
MRR: You are saying it's yes.
R: Because certain things have been proved to me enough and this thing makes a lot of sense to me, so for me to hold back and just keep arguing with it... I don't know.
MRR: You told me with a totally straight face that you have been in bodies for billions of years. Look, there's certain physical phenomena which you can do... in other words, if you practice yoga and chant, there's a certain effect that can have on you physically and mentally and psychologically and spiritually. So there's one body of reality which you can point to and verify, but at a certain point you make this leap of faith because you need to, to the unproven because if they say this part is true, then that part must be true, too.
R: Your type of logic is saying that a scientific experiment is happening, and that if I add hydrogen and oxygen I'm going to get water. You're showing me it, but if I close my eyes, it's not happening. So I've been telling you things, but if you're just going to close your eyes....
MRR: Tell me how you KNOW that in the past you have been somebody or something else, and will be somebody else after death?
R: How do I know? Because when I was a 5-year-old boy I was in a completely different body.
MRR: Ray, you're insane.
R: Wasn't I in a completely different body at 5 years old but was the same person?
MRR: You were in a body that was evolving, the some f------ body,
R: What is the same. Every cell is different. If the body changes every seven years, and I'm 23, then my body is 2 years old now.
MRR: You don't turn it in and get a new one every seven years. It's a gradual evolution of growth and aging. The tattoo you have on your wrist there will be with you till you die, even though many seven years will hopefully have gone by. You're In the same corpse that you emerged from the womb in. That's a physical reality. But when that corpse turns into dust, you're saying you're going to be in some other corpse, and I want to see how the f--- you know that.
R: All right, I talked like I did know. It's a belief, a leap of faith. So, I'll take a step back and say that for 23 years I've cultivated that conditioning.
MRR: But down deep you do believe that, and that's an Important element because you HAVE to believe that in order to accept this whole religious program, to be a devotee and not let any cracks appear In your tidy structure of order and explanation. You're running away from reality.
R: How am I doing that?
MRR: You've used the term disengagement, and that's something I associate with one possible reaction to the misery of life. You set yourself apart from the possibly overwhelming problems of current reality and no longer are active in the struggle to change the here and now.
R: I think I am trying to constantly change things, much more than 99.9% of the people out there. How could you even say that?
MRR: You're trying to get people in tune with your consciousness....
R: Before we can start boycotting Ronald Reagan we've got to boycott ourselves. Everything I've found that I hate in people I find I have in myself anyway,
MRR: Sure. But no one's going to got pure and then the world's going to be different. Look, you're as f---ed up as you ever were, and I am too. We don't become pure. We can try to modify and learn...
R: I don't believe that. I believe we can become pure, but I don't believe that I am pure. I'm not John the Baptist. But I think through this process you can become pure.
MRR: If you're a human being, you can't become pure. It's a contradiction in terms. You can try to restrict yourself through a regimen, but you don't get a clean slate.Your psychological make, your upbringing, it's not going to disappear. You, Ray, have this devilish sadistic sense of humor. You can repress that a lot of times, but there are times where that ego definitely comes out, don't you think?
R: But I believe eventually that can be dovetailed and used in a constructive way. You can use that biting type of humor in a constructive way and not just in a degrading way. I'm not trying to become 'peace,man'. The word "guru" means 'heavy' and 'sat' means 'cut', and they will chastise and blow people away. He's not walking on water holding a dove in his hand.
MRR: But In order to do that, you've got to feel like you are pure.
R: No, no. You've got to know more about this because you have to understand your position. A guru sees himself as a servant. It works scientifically in that if you get proud, you fall down from your position. We could argue about this forever, but you have to accept certain truths in life.
MRR: And you have to accept current realities. There are things we know, and lots of stuff we don't know. You can hope it's true, but a lot of it is faith. We have to admit that it's faith and not necessarily fact. So let's bring it back into temporal reality now: what do you want to do next?
R: I want to become Krishna Conscious, and maybe I can do that with music. Maybe I can't. I like studying. I always look at it like this: If worse comes to worse and there is nothing, then what am I doing? Devotees are pretty happy, pretty nice guys. They're usually pretty considerate. The ones I've known have been very interesting and philosophers. You can at least have a substantial conversation. They aren't attached to vices, running out and buying cool surf clothes, didn't talk about stupid things. Personally, if I wasn't a devotee I'd like devotees. I always say to myself, 'Well, if there isn't a God, I've surrounded myself with nice people who are not only spiritually conscious but materially conscious. I've put myself in a nice atmosphere. What am I doing now? Living on a farm. We try to do organic farming, plow the fields with oxen, treat the animals with respect. We try not to buy from major companies, try to be self-sufficient. It's not like I'm compromising my standards. These are things that even materially speaking are nice things. So even if there is no God it's a nice way to live. And I get to travel, don't get caught up in working for some sap that I don't want to work for. I'm not going to get caught up in the whole fashion thing or the money thing like all my brothers and sisters are into, and hopefully I won't turn out like my parents.


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Cover for 'The Razor's Edge' zine issue #2
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