Yogi Barely

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NT: So for you it's more about bargain shopping.

Dâ Prem: It's about not living a life of luxury, but just living within your means.

NT: So if you find yourself desiring a Ferrari or a leather sofa or J.Lo, then . . .

Dâ Prem: I just don't really want those things. I don't have a car; I take the bus. The sofa I have is fine, or I can sit on the floor. This is my life. Those longings exist in a moment, then they're gone. My guru doesn't want me to beg like some swamis do, holding out a bowl and asking for money. So I have a job, which teaches life lessons like getting along with others. I'm the shipping and receiving manager at Glendale Community College Bookstore.

NT: Do the other shipping clerks know you have supernatural powers?

Dâ Prem: I don't think I do have supernatural powers. And if I did, I probably wouldn't tell you. It's just one of those things about swamis: If people find out that you have supernatural powers, they're going to want you to perform miracles for them. I guess you could say I have powers, because just achieving a higher state of consciousness is a kind of power.

NT: I read that swamis can cause their bodies to dematerialize.

Dâ Prem: That's a higher power than mine. You're reconstructing the atoms in your body, and then putting them back together in a different place. In order to do that, you have to be able to switch your body-mind consciousness into spiritlike consciousness, which is a power reserved for higher beings. We call them angels of light.

NT: We both grew up on the west side. How come you came out a swami and I came out a hack?

Dâ Prem: Well, I'm meant to teach people yoga, and you're meant to write things, I guess. It's about finding your calling. I mean, you love the writing process, right?

NT: Are you kidding? I abhor the writing process.

Dâ Prem: Wow. Really? I love writing! I'm planning to release a book. I write essays about life in my spare time. Are you sure you don't love the writing process?

NT: Forgive me, Swami. Now, I understand you're getting ready to make your maiden speech. What does that mean?

Dâ Prem: It's an important step because my plan is to lecture across the country, so doing my maiden speech -- maiden means first -- is a big step for me. I'm doing it at the Glendale Public Library. I don't have much time, so I can't teach all that I know. I'm going to talk about yoga, and achieving enlightenment, but I can't really teach all that I know about these things in a short amount of time.

NT: How do you remain humble when you know all these things the rest of us don't?

Dâ Prem: I guess it's hard in a way, because your ego wants to say, "Wow, yeah, I have all this knowledge," but there are things I don't know. Not knowing things creates a balance. Like, I don't know things about fitness, I don't know how fiber optics works, I don't know who a lot of the popular people on television are.

NT: I also read that the sleeping man becomes a yogi; that "the sleeper thus dips unknowingly into the reservoir of cosmic energy which sustains all life." So, when I'm asleep, I'm a yogi?

Dâ Prem: When you dream, your dreams are dipping into the astral plane. Sometimes you can go to different states of consciousness. But that doesn't mean you're a swami.

NT: Is your mom a swami?

Dâ Prem: No. She's a Mormon. But I think she's probably proud of me. I told her about this interview, and about the talk I'm going to be giving, and she seems pleased. Although she's of the Mormon faith, I'm still happy for her, and she seems to be happy for me.

NT: I've got to know: What's the meaning of life?

Dâ Prem: It's to live, to learn, to evolve, and to enjoy life to the fullest, without bringing harm to others. Do you really hate the writing process?

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela