Interview between Jasmuheen of the Self Empowerment Academy and Hari
Question: Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Hari: Hello! My name is Hari, although my legal name is Robert Campagnola. I was born in New York in 1948, however at the age of 22 I left America and only recently returned to live in Florida in January of 2004, 33 years later. During those 33 years I was a member of the Hare Krishna movement and traveled all over the world giving lectures, counseling people, managing large projects, making music CDs, and writing. In many ways this was a rewarding period of my life, yet at the same time it was extremely stressful, demanding, and draining. I left the Hare Krishna movement in 1998 at the peak of power and influence. Although my departure was a time of tension and trial for all, I look back on my life without much regret. My experiences were required for my evolution and the pain was an integral part of that process. Since my departure I have researched and studied many esoteric, mystical and alternative systems of healing, self-development, and the practical challenges of life. Part of that process was the creation of a spiritual center in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the creation of a esoteric book publishing company. Since we published the books of Jasmuheen in Russia, we invited her to do seminars. I must honestly say that the meditations she performed were the best I have ever attended and since that time we have become good friends.
Question: Can you explain a little of your background in metaphysics and maybe even your involvement with Hare Krishna?
Hari: I suppose the foundation of my interest in the metaphysical comes from previous lifetime's experience and I'm not sure if a description of these experiences is within the scope of this interview, but I do know that when I was quite young I came to understand that I saw the world and dealt with it in a different way than everyone else I knew. Since I do not like to be alone, I suppressed that way of being and tried to become similar to all my friends. This was very hard to do as it was unnatural. I went to the University in the mid and late '60s and received a degree in the social sciences. It was at that time I started to take up transcendental meditation, the Baha'i faith and Zen Buddhism, spiced with a sprinkling of hallucinogenics. After a while I discovered I could cause anyone I wanted to call me on the phone simply by thinking of them doing so. This was more of a conversation piece than a useful tool. In the summer of 1970, after having been through the Woodstock experience and the loss of flower power's innocence, I became an existentialist and my infatuation with the non existence of anything but the present became solidified. After the death of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, there was a subtle and fundamental change in my perception of my future. In January of 1971, a friend of mine introduced me to the Hare Krishna movement and I entered the temple to remain until June of 1998.
While in the Hare Krishna movement, I met hundreds of extremely interesting and talented people throughout the world. Experts in the medical field, expert astrologers, healers, and a few powerful mystics capable of doing deeds which were simultaneously fascinating and useful. India was a treasure trove of mystical experiences and all in all I spent about seven years there. Not all of those years were pleasant or happy for I had my share of physical sickness and managerial stress while developing community projects there. Yet those times when I could taste the mystical energy within that rich, yet contradictory, land still remain with me and guide me throughout my activities today.
Coming to understand and taste the sweet, powerful, sometimes demanding and and always forgiving, energy of the predominating deities of that ancient land has given me the foundation of my life and the hope that regardless of my situation I can be of service as they desire. Learning the art of audible and etheric sound vibration and the ways in which it influences meditative practices was a great gift. There were many things about my experience within the Hare Krishna movement which were unpleasant, fundamentalist, and abusive, but my personal spiritual experiences were usually nice and I had the pleasure of working with many very wonderful people. Although I have left that organization, it is impossible to separate these experiences from my life and neither would I want to.
Question: What did you appreciate the most about the Hare Krishna teachings?
Hari: Again, I appreciated the connection to the divine deities, the spiritual sound vibration which is alive with their energy, and the desire for intimate union with the divine. Today I most appreciate the connection to Sri Radha, for she embodies and is the penultimate quintessence of the female half of Godhead.
Question: What do you feel in essence is the most important part of the Hare Krishna focus?
Hari: Besides the answers which have given above, I would say that the taste for association with those who think and feel similar to you and the potential for community within that spiritual context, is the life and the substance of that movement. I do not wish to enter into a judgment of its success or failure, but speaking optimistically this community spirit, when placed within the context of the spiritual sound vibration, the temples, deities and the meditative practices, seems to be the only lasting and essential aspects which can remain or are worth preserving.
Question: What do you feel personally today is the most important focus for us as individuals to hold to create a better world?
Hari: It is my opinion that creating a better world is only possible when the individuals within it become better persons. Being better seems to be a function of being all you can be, of actualizing the potential and capacities of the self. We are all born with psychological and emotional baggage, or put a better way, with challenges that are placed before us as catalysts for our evolutionary development. It seems to me that all hearts are filled with love, fear, dread, and insecurity. Lack of confidence in oneself, and a judgmental and condemning attitude born of bad experiences as a child and an adult, feed this insecurity and cause us to project that insecurity upon others in response to others' projections of their insecurity upon us. Due to feeling unfulfilled as an individual, we become absorbed in greed, envy and jealousy, and thus we engage in conflicts with others. The size, scale and scope of these conflicts may vary and may be unnoticed by our conscious mind, but certainly they becomes obvious to all when large-scale conflicts break out within a society or between countries, religions, economic groups, or with the environment.
My conclusion is that if you wish to have a better world, you have to be a better person. To be a better person one has to be in contact with the spiritual essence of what one is, for this is the foundation of personality. Agitated people can attempt to make world peace and it is good they do so, but unless they develop themselves to the degree where they calm the fire within their hearts and minds, the simple nature of social interaction will cause an outbreak of conflict which will more or less threaten peace. Therefore the only person we can truly change is ourselves and the choices we make at each and every moment are the testing grounds for how much we have understood.
Question: What is your favorite personal tuning or refinement tool? What have you gained the greatest benefits from?
Hari: As an overall package, deep meditation and intense physical exercise seemed to be a perfect combination for me. To enter into the stages of deep meditation, I may use mantra's which are dedicated to Sri Radha, I may gaze upon the form of a deity before me such as Radha or one of the many forms of goddess Parvati, or I may simply relax totally to come to a state where my breathing slows and gradually suspends so that I may enter into the realm of consciousness I wish to experience. I then invoke a deity and tune to their energy and feel their presence. I prefer to tune to the feminine form of the divine as it resonates well with me. My tuning to these deities always includes feeling their energy by absorbing it within my heart and accepting it fully. I allow my love to meet the love of the deity and I create a unified field of love within an energetic us-ness, a oneness wherein our individual identities assume a new and more complete identity which embodies all desired experience. In such a state, it is easier to understand what we desire and to become confident of its manifestation. Although this is my favorite tuning experience, I do use other methods when I teach others and I enjoy these methods as well but since the question was to give the favorite experience I have explained my ultimate tuning meditation.
Naturally to tune to such exalted and all-encompassing energy gives me the greatest benefit, yet I have found it even more inspiring and nourishing to share that tuning experience with others. I personally have developed the most by doing programs with large groups of people, for I ride upon the enthusiasm that is generated when they come to understand the power and potency of their group meditation. Yet at the same time I have gotten great benefit from smaller group meditations where we have concentrated on a particular task that is relevant to us. Perhaps the most significant benefit has come from my working with the energy of people on a one-to-one basis. Sometimes, is a wonderful experience to help others find out the root causes of the situations or problems within which they presently find themselves. It is a bit of investigative work that sometimes leads us into previous lifetimes and extremely interesting experiences which are sometimes frightening and emotionally cathartic. After the investigative session is complete it is often beneficial for the person to have their energy field cleaned, their cakras cleansed, balanced, with any deep energetic obstacles removed, and so on. It never ceases to amaze me how my own situation immediately comes into balance when I contact my own personal power before I perform a cleansing or healing for others. I can honestly say that when I am actually of service to others in this way I get the greatest benefit.
Having always been in the situation of leading guided meditations for others, it is a wonderful experience to sit within the sessions of others and relax into the gifts they are giving to the audience, just as Jasmuheen did in her wonderful programs in St. Petersburg. When I get these rare opportunities I feel my evolution expands exponentially.
Question: What has been your greatest learning in this life?
Hari: Naturally, I could write a book about all the things I have learned in this life! But now you are asking me to restrict it to the greatest thing. That is a very difficult question to answer. I am not sure if this is really the most important thing, but I think that after the transformation which was literally forced upon me in 1998, I have come to understand deeply there is no value in judging others or condemning anyone for anything, for everyone does what they think is best when they do it. Having been on the receiving end of judgment and condemnation has given me a great insight into the defects of such a mentality.
Further I have learned that love should be the only motivating factor in my life. I can honestly say that my wife, Katarina, has shared with me this experience of deep and intense personal love and because of her I have the inspiration to share my love with others. I feel that she is half of me and has been so for a long time, and through our relationship I can understand that my deep love for her is just what my deep love should be for myself. I have spent so many years working for the sake of others and not considering myself as very important and this has caused chaos in my life. My present situation is most conducive to healing that imbalance. Previously I was always alone even when surrounded by thousands of people, but now I only feel alone when she is not there. Perhaps this is my greatest learning: to be with her is to be complete.
Question: What would you say to someone who is just beginning their path of self refinement?
Hari: I do not believe anyone is just beginning their path for I believe that all experiences we have ever had are steps in our personal and spiritual evolution. However, taking the question in the spirit in which it is presented, I will assume that a person in this lifetime is now seriously looking towards developing themselves and coming in contact with their essential self-ness.
I feel it is important for people who desire to become self aware to read a lot. Although reading the words of others is not equivalent to having the experiences of others, at least it can bring us to an awareness of what we philosophically resonate well with. When I use the word philosophically, I mean it in terms of the concepts which we use to express how we think and feel. There are many teachings and many more teachers and all of them are convinced that what they are doing is the best; and naturally so, for who would do something they didn't think was best? However what they think is best for us may not actually be so, therefore it is important to read many different systems, ideas, and methodologies and see what feels best for you at the present moment. Experiment with different methods, see how you feel with them, and see where these things take you. I certainly advise against being fixed in any one particular system or school, and I don't think it healthy to disempower yourself by surrendering your own capacity to decide what is best for you at all times to some guru or some teacher who in any way takes away or restricts your capacity to determine your own future. I would advise any seeker to always remain a seeker and not to develop a mentality of complacency or overconfidence in any person or system. But you don't have to take my advise as the absolute truth, for perhaps the catalyst for your evolution includes a certain restriction of your freedom!
All systems of meditation are based upon deep relaxation, for the self can be reached most easily when we are freed from all external stress as any form of stress distracts us from feeling our being. Therefore it is beneficial to learn the art of deep relaxation within the context of visualization for this leads to very exciting meditations which can create freedom and personal power.
Please don't be too demanding upon yourself. Avoid judging your own advancement according to the terms and conditions placed upon you buy some system, some authority, or your fellow practitioners. You are what you are and you can be nothing else than that. There is no use beating yourself over the head for not being equivalent to someone else. You can only advance in your own way, at your own pace, when you are ready. Artificially pushing yourself to try to induce exalted states before you are ready is a surefire way to defeat your endeavor. Learn to love yourself. Stop judging yourself. Get that little South American dictator out of your heart and enjoy your liberation from your own self-inflicted torture.
Set goals that are attainable. Remember the first and foremost work of an aspirant is to understand completely your present situation; to know precisely where you stand on the path of your own evolution and to accept it and embrace it as the culmination of your many lifetimes of hard work and struggle. And when you get to the point of knowing where you really stand, you are now ready to make the next step in your evolutionary process. If one does not know where one stands, where one is actually situated, than whatever step one takes will be from a place where one is not and there is not much benefit in doing that. Of course all experiences benefit us in one way or another, but when one is interested in consciously evolving, it is more advantageous to take steps from where one is factually situated and to continue doing so along the path of progressive evolution.
Question: If you had the ear of our world leaders what would you like to tell them?
Hari: I suppose I would start with a more detailed and socially relevant version of what I have said above, along with an analysis of how their mentality must include the needs and desires of all the people in this world not just those in their own country. I would try to explain to them the most wonderful win-win concept; namely, "there is only one of us." When one understands the pain we give to others is our own pain, it transforms the decisions one makes. The size or influence of the country is an impetus to being of service to other countries, not an invitation to exploit them. Trying to replace other's cultures or ways of life with one's own is a formula for intense conflict and eternal dissatisfaction. Mutual respect depends on offering to another that which is relevant to them within a context which has meaning for them. One cannot buy respect, love, appreciation, or any form of improperly desired benefit, for human nature is such that we are influenced by other's appreciation and empathy of us when it is accompanied with a practical manifestation of it.
I read in "Conversations with God" a very interesting concept. If all the leaders of the world; all the governments and corporations, disclosed all of their economic dealings by giving an account of all the money they have spent or earned in detail, it would create such an atmosphere of honesty it would transform the way in which everything operates. Indeed, if it were done today there would be worldwide revolution and therefore it would be wise before adopting such a system to first clean up the financial policies of all institutions and rid them of unjustified inequity. In this book, the personality who was speaking as God also said it would be advantageous to limit the personal wealth of every individual to $25 million. Can you imagine the benefit to the people of this world if all of the excess capital were to be used in ways beneficial for all people? One can easily imagine the destruction of world poverty and the establishment of programs for the health and education of all. It is conceivable that such a move could go far further to creating peace than any other methodology known to man today.
I do not purport to being a learned politician or even an adviser of one, rather I am just answering the question. I suppose these concepts would have to be developed by those more familiar with the internal mentality and external working structure of one in a leadership position.
Question: To you, what is love?
Hari: This is the essence of all questions, for understanding love is the basis upon which all development takes place. Love in one sense is simple; it is an emotion that one feels for another. Yet within that one emotion is intertwined an unlimited amount of potential activities, some creative and some destructive. Therefore understanding the essence of love would certainly include being freed from conditions which would bind or restrict that which is loved. Love must be free and without pretension for it to be real. I feel love must be without demands and without expectations, offered simply as an expression of the self. Love which is given as a means to control others or to get benefit from others is not love of all. Love which is given without any attachments, without any conditions, without expectation of return, and when required, out of the desire to be of service, is love which is approaching the natural condition of love. Love in its most natural state is simply being. When we are, when we feel ourselves to be in our natural condition of beingness, we are love and nothing else. This is the state of the divine. The divine is always love and nothing else for there are only two states in existence -- love and fear. As no fear exists in the divine, there's only love for love is the very energy of existence. When we come to understand our being and simply be, we are then the love that we are and qualified to tune to that love which is everywhere and which is of the divine. In this state we can truly understand what is love. For love is all there is.
Articles or posts by Hari in read-only format. Here you can find health tips, meditation techniques, explanations, essays, or anything else that does not fit within the other forum topics.
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