INTERVIEW WITH PANDA

February 2007 Panda’s garden, Goa, India

BY CARLO TORRE for a TV documentary
by House of Media, Zurich – Switzerland

 

Carlo Torre: How did you come to Goa and is Panda your real name?

Panda:  I actually came to Goa because of a girlfriend, she liked it a lot so I decided to come with her and that’s how I ended up in Goa. At first my name was not Panda I had another name. Panda is my spiritual name that I got in an Ashram in India. I don’t want to go into details about that now but anyhow I use this panda name for about the last fifteen years or so.

Carlo Torre:  I heard you used to be a famous juggler and even won a title.

Panda: Yes in my past I used to be a professional juggler.  I was an IJA champion when I was about seventeen or eighteen.  IJA stands for International Juggling Association. I then developed a show with a friend. We worked 18 years together as a duo.  We had a theatre show called Dr. Hot & Neon.  It was circus theatre, which was juggling and other circus arts combined with magic and dance all mixed together.

Carlo Torre:  Tell me a little bit of how you got from being a juggler on the stage to doing Tai Chi?

Panda: I first began Tai Chi when I was 12 years old before I had developed anything.  So basically Tai Chi became my philosophy in life, because I started to live the Taoist philosophy from that age.  Because of that I started to combine Taoist philosophy with my juggling… So actually when I was juggling I was practicing Tai Chi because I was incorporating the same philosophy and principles.

I studied many different types of holistic healing techniques and for a little while I was treating people as a healer but then I realized at a certain moment all these people I started to help, they would keep returning to me. Their symptoms would go away at first but then after a while they would return to me with the same symptoms again.  Then I realized, well actually I’m just taking away their symptoms and nothing is really changing on a deeper level.  So I went back to my original source and started to do this Tai Chi work. I started to teach Tai Chi because I knew Tai Chi started to change you from the inside to the outside rather than just taking away the symptoms from the outside.

So by doing that I was helping more people in a positive way. They were changing from the inside by giving up certain concepts and ideas that were causing their illness. Most sickness first starts in the mind as an attitude that slowly develops into resistance and that resistance is called dis-ease, which means not relaxed. Most of our problems are coming from stress or dis-ease, that’s why I do this work now.  I found that I could actually help people in a better way then just removing the exterior symptoms of what was troubling them.

Carlo Torre:  So you’re saying Tai Chi is healing actually?

Panda:  All holistic arts are healing; meditation is healing, if you want to realize your “self” or to experience your true nature. First you have to heal yourself before you can experience it. If you’re messed up or confused, you first have to clear the confusion and the doubts before you can experience your own purity and your own wholeness.  In the end that’s all your doing when you truly experience your own divinity all your dong is experiencing yourself but without your problems.

Carlo Torre:  Explain to me a little bit about spirituality, we get a lot of spirituality here in India.  Do you think it will disappear because of all the new modern influences?

Panda:  Well, spirituality can never disappear because under everything is spirit. The only thing that happens is that people don’t pay attention to it or they ignore it, because it’s covered up through their desires or through their distractions.  By being distracted and by being in our outer senses all the time is what takes us away from our true being. If we have no peace and we’re not connecting to our own inner peace basically what we’re left with is our neuroses. (Laughter from Panda and Carlo.) If your not connecting to your own inner peace your basically neurotic.

Carlo Torre: Do you think in the West they have lost their spirit?

Panda:  No I don’t think they lost their spirit but I don’t think there are many outlets for it because in the West everything is so structured and your spirit is not a structure, your spirit is something that is free. So in India, because India seems like a very chaotic place because the animals are all running around the cows are on the roads. The rules don’t seem as strict here and because of that your spirit feels more comfortable.So your spirit can breath in actual fact because your spirit does not come from a nine to five job nor does it fit into some time schedule.  In the West the pressure of the western structure is very strong and controlling.

In the East your still living by the nature, the law of nature, which is things are still influenced by the power of nature, of when the sun sets and the sun rises, everything is still a little bit more connected.  In the West everything runs not from the power of nature but on the structure of business.  That’s very different, that’s not natural that’s unnatural that’s man made. Here in India you can still go to places where everything is still running on the rhythm of natural things and when we’re running on the rhythm of natural things we feel more relaxed because that’s our true nature.

Carlo Torre:  Is that the magic and reason why people keep coming back here?

Panda: In life people basically want two things actually, peace and love. Peace and love are always here but they are inside of us… so whenever I have an experience from an external situation and it makes me feel peace or it makes me feel love that peace and love does not actually come from the external cause. That peace and love is coming out of me so it’s somewhere inside of me and the external situation is only what trigger’s it to come out.

People have basically devoted most of their life to their external senses and because of that they think peace and love come from the objects or from the events. It’s not true because if you laugh where is the laughter coming from?  It’s coming out of you.  So the laughter must be inside of you to come out of you.  The laughter is not in the object.  I’ve never seen an object laugh. It’s always coming out of a person so obviously the laughter or the beauty is always coming out of the person so it’s coming from within us.

Carlo Torre:  So do you think it’s something we lost a little bit in the West that everybody is only thinking about a bigger house a bigger car and only about themselves?

Panda: No I don’t think that’s true I think there’s a lot of people that are concerned about other people and the situation of things but what is missing in western society is nobody tells you your peace, your love come from yourself.  They’re always trying to sell you something so you will buy it, so those things that you bought will give you peace or give you love. In most societies it’s about external things making you feel better.  There should be some good education that teaches us to spend time with our “self” so we can feel more whole because if we don’t spend time with the “self” we feel very distracted and stressed.

That’s the reason why we like to take vacations and holidays so we can relax and be with ourselves.  In the West they’re starting to find that out that if you treat the workers just like workers and don’t give them a chance to relax and to be, then you have poor workers. So now they’re trying to bring in massage or shiatsu or some other kind of holistic practice to help the well being of people because they’re finding out if they help the well being of people they will be better workers.

If you just work someone and you don’t give them a break to let their souls have some food then of course they’re going to crash or break down at a certain point and that’s what’s happening now in western society.

Carlo Torre:  Tell me a little bit about your background of how you learned Tai Chi and how you found your teachers.

Panda:  As I said before, since I was very young I was always interested and attracted to spiritual things.  I don’t expect other people to understand this but I understand now that many things come from our past lives. Some deep tendencies or interests we’ve had in our past lives we also carry on in this life now.  For me it was quite obvious I was doing spiritual work before. I was guided in this life by my internal interest for spiritual practices such as healing and self-realization. So I studied a lot of different things that made me more aware and conscious of myself, my patterns and my unawareness of “self.”

Slowly I became more aware.  My desire also became stronger for actually what I wanted because in the beginning I really didn’t know what I wanted. Because I started to do Tai Chi at such an early age, the philosophy of Tai Chi influenced all my actions and because of it I lived the path of least resistance.  The Tai Chi principle of going with and not resisting led me to all my teachers and masters that in the end helped me realize myself, which is basically to understand “who am I.”

What I realized was; I am not my personality; my mind or my body; I am a spirit that lives inside this body.  If I identify too much with this personality I will suffer because the personality is made up of judgments and opinions, dislikes and likes.  That’s why we suffer because we’ve become so identified to the personality of who we think we are.

If you experience your being, you will realize it doesn’t have a sex it doesn’t have an opinion or religion, or judgment it just is, which is basically peace and love that’s all.

Carlo Torre: When did you have a Master and when did you start?

Panda:  I had many teachers and masters that taught me different things. It’s a process and it’s still a process. I’m still learning.  This is the thing about if you’re on the spiritual path. The spiritual path does not have an end to it.  It’s not like somebody can say I’m enlightened or this is the absolute enlightenment it’s not true because consciousness is never ending.

Consciousness is always expanding it never ends so as long as I keep learning I will keep expanding once I stop learning then I become closed and start shrinking.  That’s what you see happen to people as they grow older that stop learning and they start to shrink physically and mentally. But if you’re cultivating your spirit or have a spiritual practice and open to growing you’ll see, as you grow older you will actually become bigger in the sense you will actually become lighter in your attitudes and you’ll enjoy yourself much more.  Those qualities are expansive instead of the opposite of closed and contracted shrinking and becoming smaller, smaller and smaller.

Carlo Torre: Lets talk about the subject, instant Enlightenment what are your views on this?

Panda:  OK I want to say first that I don’t believe in this idea of enlightenment. I think that the word enlightenment is very misinterpreted because of the whole concept of enlightenment.  First of all enlightenment is not a concept because a concept has to do with the mind and to be enlightened is to be out of the mind. Also if you say your enlightened your not because you’ve made a separation of I am this and you are that, yes?

OK so let’s forget about this concept of enlightenment.  If I try to explain enlightenment, I would say, lets look at the word: ‘enlightened’ OK this word obviously has something to do with light. OK what is light then?  Light is something that brightens something up, for example if I’m in a dark room and I turn the light on the darkness of the room disappears. Light also means not heavy such as a feather is very light.  So someone to be enlightened would literarily mean someone who dispels darkness or shines and has a light ambience that surrounds them.

Carlo Torre: Ok I would like to ask a different question. Some people say if I take enough drugs I also get my meditation do you think that’s valid?

Panda:  I can only say this, in my past I experimented with drugs but when I experienced my inner-self or my ‘being’ no drug ever got close to that.  I don’t think any drug can ever get close to what that is. I can’t put it into words for you because that experience is beyond my mind.  Drugs basically stimulate our senses, it’s not real because that experience comes and goes and anything that comes and goes is really not real.

Drugs can stimulate our senses to experience something different from what we’re used to, which is very good in the sense that it can let us have a different perception about things and sometimes having a different perception about things can be very helpful. But to use a drug to stay on that level becomes a downward spiral instead of an upward spiral.  When you take a drug it seems like an upward spiral at first but in the end if you continue the spiral is actually going downward.

Carlo Torre: So let’s talk a little bit about the past. We had some great parties here in Goa that we really enjoyed. What was the spirit then, you were one of the few people that didn’t take drugs. There was a certain momentum building up from these kinds parties. What was your experience from these parties?

Panda:  I had a good time! -(Laughter)- you know we’re talking twenty years ago. Twenty years ago I think I was twenty-five, twenty-seven when I first came here to Goa.  When your young you like to try different things and it’s like everything is new, it was an exploration of myself. I think that’s one of the great things about India, it’s really a great place to explore yourself and to try different things.  Having the experience of all these different things helps us to be where we are now.

Carlo Torre: Yes, it was a lesson. Let’s talk a bit about the changing of Goa, when there were no package tourists and now we have so much package tourism. Do you think it has changed a lot since then?

Panda:  The exterior environment changed a lot but the interior environment has not. That means exteriorly there are much more things built up, there’s more noise, traffic, more sellers, there’s more houses and less nature and more pollution. But the interior feeling has not changed. The interior feeling is what we don’t see, which is invisible that is still here.

Carlo Torre: So you say the spirit of Goa is still here?

Panda: Yes, the spirit of India is still here.

Carlo Torre: We have much more people coming here now and because of that there is so much more garbage. Do you think we should responsible for the garbage?

Panda:  Yes but not only the garbage; I think people should also be responsible for themselves. Because people are not responsible for themselves that’s why they also suffer, because they always point the finger to “other” by pointing our finger to “other” nothing ever changes because you expect “other” to change.

The only thing you can change is yourself.  So stop thinking about “other” and start acting yourself if you want something to change. Yes it depends on us if we want Goa to be clean we have to look at our own rubbish and take care of our own rubbish instead of waiting for somebody on the outside to do it for us.  We have to start to take actions ourselves.

Carlo Torre: Tell me how easy it is to be in India for you as a foreigner is it an easy thing? Do you blend quite well with the locals or do you feel that there is some separation?

Panda:  I don’t feel any separation here at all. I feel very good with the locals.  I feel good with myself and I think that’s why. Because I feel good with myself and I come from a place within myself that is peaceful. When I see the other people I see that inside of them and because I see that inside of them they see me that way too.  If I came from a point from within myself from being frustrated and I looked and acted frustrated towards them then they would look at me and act from that point of view also.

Carlo Torre: Thank you very much.

Panda: Ok Carlo, Thank you.

 

On the following page are my books and DVD along with some video excerpts. I have written these books and produced a DVD in hopes of helping and inspiring people towards their own soul-realization.  DVD & Books

Todays Fortune Cookie

Find me on Twitter and Facebook

 

VIDEO TESTIMONIALS

RECENT STUDENT TESTIMONIALS

Guillaume Louise
Robert Anita
Maher Marianne

ARAMBOL, GOA, INDIA – COURSES, 2017-2018

2-Week-Courses