01 Sep #110 How to Structure Your Spirituality | Dandapani
We tend to think of spirituality as a way to free ourselves. But the truth is, just with anything else of substance in your life, spirituality needs structure.
WELCOME TO THE DARIN OLIEN SHOW
Dandapani helps athletes and entrepreneurs leverage their minds to achieve their goals.
I was introduced to Dandapani by my amazing assistant Indira. And let me tell you, I am so glad she brought this guy into my radar. I didn’t realize how badly I needed his wisdom until I heard him speak it. And I have a sneaking suspicion it will be the same for you.
As a former monk, Dandapani knows all about structure and discipline. And now as a Hindu priest, he uses his wealth of experience and knowledge to help others discover their own spirituality. But if you’re expecting a quiet, reserved man who speaks in parables, that’s not what you’re going to get. Dandapani will break all your expectations of what a spiritual teacher should look and sound like. In fact, he’ll break all your expectations of what spirituality should be as well.
This conversation was mindblowing on so many levels. His concepts are simple. But Dandapani’s perspective is so earth-shatteringly accurate, you’ll wonder how you got by without hearing it before. No matter what your beliefs are, or what religion you were brought up in – trust me, you’ll get something from this episode. I can’t wait for you to hear.
ALSO IN THIS EPISODE:
- [00:06:10] Dandapani’s journey
- [00:10:28] The 4 steps to spirituality
- [00:15:00] Philosophy Funnel
- [00:29:39] To be or not to be a monk
- [00:33:14] The economics of energy
- [00:42:00] Learn to control your compassion
Instagram – @dandapanillc
Facebook – @dandapanillc
Twitter – @dandapanillc
Get 20% off CalderaLab’s organic, hand-harvested plant botanical skincare with code DARIN. Your skin will thank you!
Darin: You are listening to the Darin Olien Show. I’m Darin. I spent the last 20 years devoted to improving health, protecting the environment, and finding ways to live a more sustainable life. In this podcast, I have honest conversations with people that inspire me. I hope that through their knowledge and unique perspectives they’ll inspire you too. We talk about all kinds of topics, from amping up your diets to improving your well-being to the mind-blowing stories behind the human experience and the people that are striving to save us and our incredible planet. We even investigate some of life’s fatal conveniences, those things that we are told might be good for us but totally aren’t. So here’s to making better choices in the small tweaks in your life that amount to big changes for you and the people around you and the planet. Let’s do this. This is my show, the Darin Olien Show.
Darin: What’s up everybody? How are you doing? This is Darin Olien. This is The Darin Olien Show. Thanks for tuning in. Thanks for your time, your energy, and your commitment. I’m just gonna say it, your commitment for being better, your commitment for learning, growing, expanding, and we need it. This day and age right now, it’s so easy, I myself also get pulled into all this information, all of this craziness. We need to stay informed, but we need to stay up. We need to support each other. We need to support ourselves. Long-form conversations, it’s okay to disagree. Don’t be in judgment. And we need to create the future. That’s what I’m excited about. That’s the things that I am focused on more than ever, the future that is now. So taking that initiative to building and creating, find your tribe, find your people and keep creating the life that you want. Don’t stop, don’t ever stop. And this is a perfect segue from my amazing guest Dandapani. That’s right, Dandapani. He’s a Hindu priest, a former monk, who dedicated his life to his spiritual world, completely off everything and into his spiritual practice. He then had the awareness that he needs to do more to express more of himself and to take what he’s learned through that dedication and apply it and now he consults with the top entrepreneurs, the top athletes, and he is a very pragmatic person when it comes to creating. Now listen, I have met sages, saints, shamans, priests, monks. Throughout my life, I have done ayahuasca 20 years ago, I love the spiritual world. I love connecting and integration is so important because when you’re applying that to the world, it’s a whole nother thing. So the thing that I love about Dandapani is he’s got these very pragmatic tools. And when he learned from his teachers, his mentors, and his spiritual practice, he realized that they gave them steps that would allow him to learn about his inner world. And he applied that same power of, if you want anything, you need to find and look and learn the steps to get there. So if you want to be successful in anything and integrate yourself with your passion, your purpose, and build your future, Dandapani is an amazing advocate for just that. So hook in, hold on, or let go and enjoy my next conversation with the powerful, the magnetic, Dandapani.
Dandapani: Thank you.
Darin: -to this gathering of two beings. I got introduced to you by my marvelous and amazing assistant, Indira. And I started looking around at what you’re doing, and I think there’s so much that I’d like to get into. You spent your life, a lot of it, meditating, digging in, understanding the strength of the brain, the being, and obviously, right now in human history, at least in our 3d existence here. It’s pretty intense. There’s a lot going on and there’s a lot outside of ourselves that’s creating a lot of influence and instabilities. So why don’t you describe your journey a little bit before we start jumping straight in? And then let’s unpack some tools and some possible things where people can go or actually do internally. There’s a lot of things that we can think we need, even in our own journey of like the best supplement, the best meditation technique, the best app, the best whatever, and it’s just yet another extension of, maybe I don’t have it all together, maybe I’m not quite enough so, therefore, if I get this, I’ll be better, I’ll be happier. I’ll be more enlightened, all of that stuff. And I think, at least the messages that I’ve been hearing in some of your talks very much kind of cuts out, even those layers of distraction to then go, hey, listen, you have it all here so let’s start here first, is that correct?
Dandapani: So I think there are two parts. I’ll touch on the first request that you had, which was to share a little bit about my journey.
Dandapani: So I am Sri Lankan of ancestry, and that’s that brown DNA that you see on me. I was born in Malaysia. I migrated to Australia, my family did when I was a teenager. And so I did a bit of high school. I studied electrical engineering. I graduated from engineering school and I moved straight to Hawaii to be a monk. My guru’s monastery was located on the island of Kauai, in Hawaii. So I joined his monastery right after university. I lived 10 years as a celibate Hindu monk in a traditional cloistered Hindu monastery. So only monks and the vows would live there. And when my vows expired, I left. So instead of moving back to Australia, I moved from Hawaii to New York City. I’m no longer a monk anymore. I’m a Hindu priest and this is a traditional garb or outfit of a Hindu priest. And just for your listeners, in Hinduism, priests and monks are very different. So Hindu monks are very similar to Catholic priests and monks where they live celibate lives. They don’t get married, they don’t work and earn money. Hindu priests are considered to be householders. So we can actually get married. I can work on my goals, be an entrepreneur, do whatever I want. So I’m an entrepreneur Hindu priest. I’m married, I have a daughter. We live in Costa Rica. We lived in New York City for about 11 years. And then last year, we moved here. We’re building a retreat center and a botanical garden in Costa Rica. So that’s where we are right now. So what I do for a living if that’s how a simple way to put it, I work as an advisor to entrepreneurs and high-performance athletes to help them leverage their mind, understand their minds and leverage their minds to be the best at what they do. So essentially, that’s what I train them in doing. Then I have courses for people that I don’t work personally that people can subscribe to online and things like that. So that’s the first part of sharing a little bit about my journey. Your second question as to in terms of all these different things that are out, I was speaking of at an event I held in London last year, and someone asked me in the audience, they said, you know, Dandapani, every morning, I do meditation, and I do journaling, and I hear you talking about affirmations, should I incorporate affirmations in my morning practice? And instead, that’s not the correct question. The correct question to ask, the way to approach it is, where am I going? So I’ll give you a simple analogy. If I’m building a house that’s made out of wood, like potentially the room that you’re in, then do I bring stone cement and sand to the construction site? Or do I bring wood, a handsaw, nails? If I’m building a cement home, then I might need cement and sand. So what are we trying to achieve? What’s our goal? And then therefore, what are the tools that can help us go get to our goals? That’s the better way to approach it than what most people do is like, oh, I see that guy taking that supplement, it must be good. He looks fit, so I’ll take that. Dandapani, he looks like he meditates well, so I’ll just take that meditation, I’ll take this and I’ll take that and then you catch everything together, duct tape it together, hoping they’ll get you to the destination that you have no idea what the destination is. And therefore, you just spin around in circles and never make any progress. I think gaining clarity of the destination is critical. And then finding out what it is we need that can help us to get to that destination and then eliminating everything else. And having the ability to focus and say, these are the only tools I need. And you don’t need 100 tools. You need a few things, and you need to master them really well, and that’s all you need in life. And people in this place, I think where they feel they need to accumulate tools, and the sense of the more tools I have, the more progress I will make. I don’t think that’s necessarily true.
Darin: There’s so much here. How would you start to unpack some of those things and allowing to cultivate that balance that I think everyone can understand in this day and age, the need to contribute, the need to have a purpose? And at the same time, surrendering to the Dow, almost the primordial river of the universe and allowing that to occur. Does that make sense?
Dandapani: I’ll simplify the question in my mind. I always think that there are four steps when it comes to spirituality.
Dandapani: Step one is philosophy. We have to gain absolute clarity on what our philosophy is. Our philosophy defines the goal, the goal defines the path, the path defines the lifestyle. I’ll give you a very simple example. Now Christianity is a huge religion with many denominations. If you take somebody from one denomination and they subscribe to Christian philosophy, and you ask them, what is the goal? A person may be heard to say, oh, my goal is to enter the kingdom of heaven and serve Jesus Christ, my Lord, and Savior. So I need to go to heaven, and so Christ my Lord and Savior, that’s the goal. Now you have that clear goal, it’s external because heaven is somewhere up there. It’s where they typically point to in the sky. Then what’s the path to get there? And what is the lifestyle I need to live in order to stay on the path to get to that goal? Now, if you ask the Hindu like myself, the philosophy I subscribe to defines the goal as experiencing divinity inside of me. Divinity is pure energy that exists in everything, including me and you. My goal is to go inward and experience divinity inside of me. That’s the goal. Now, that goal defines a path. That path defines a lifestyle. So I always feel when it comes to spirituality, it’s always good to reverse engineer. Everybody works forward. Working backward allows so much more clarity of how then do I structure my life, my lifestyle, then is it part service, what practices I do? The lifestyle I live needs to keep me on the path that gets me to my clearly defined goal. But if you don’t have a clearly defined goal in your spiritual life, then it becomes a mishmash of everything. It’s like, wow, this sounds great, and that sounds really good, I’ll do a little ayahuasca, and I will do a little of this, I’ll do meditation, I’ll do some headspace, I’ll do a yoga, maybe paddleboard yoga, you know, why not? All of these things are helping me. Do you work out?
Darin: All the time.
Dandapani: So would you recommend to me to just go out there and start munching on carrots and broccoli because that’s going to get me a healthy body and healthy lifestyle? Or would you rather me be able to look at my body, see what my body needs, kind of come up with a plan and a structure, and approach it that way? I would imagine it would be the latter, right?
Darin: For sure.
Dandapani: The same way with spirituality, people come up to me all the time. It’s like, oh, should I do this breathing exercise? Should I do Kundalini Yoga? Should I do this? Should I smoke that? I’m like, what? Well, where the hell do you want to go? What do you want in life? You tell me where you want to go, and then I might be able to share what will help you get there?
Darin: I would imagine like, you can definitely define the religious sector. And then within that, this is my religion, this is my belief. And then within that, it’s absolutely, of course, individualized because the interpretation of all of that, as we can see around the world, the interpretation of that is clearly defined differently for virtually everyone in the world. So if I’m listening to this, and I’m saying, okay, well, where do I even start to understand what it is that I’m actually doing or where do I really want to go in my life, how then would I start there to even unpack the deeper questions or the deeper answers to then go, okay, I actually believe in nature. I believe in the universe. I believe that all things are connected. I believe in a certain level of this. But also, from your unpacking of it, that’s also very big. And if I look at it as if I want to unpack that and also be clear on it, that isn’t that clear. It’s just–
Dandapani: No, it’s not.
Darin: -philosophical, big, broad strokes that doesn’t allow me or anyone listening to be able to go, okay, well, this is what I believe in. And now, what is my plan? And I think I kind of fall in that too. I mean, I was growing up Christian and all of that stuff.
Dandapani: Well, the problem, Darin, is that we don’t get trained in this. We don’t get taught as to how to understand philosophy and how to see what we’re aligned with. One simple exercise to get people to do is something called The Philosophy Funnel.
Dandapani: Sometimes, I jokingly call it The Philosophy Tinder. There’s a book that my guru wrote, if you go to himalayanacademy.com, the book is called Dancing with Siva. Siva is spelled S-I-V-A. It’s a book about Hinduism. But at the back of the book, my guru has a section where he has listed down the nine major beliefs of each religion. So Christianity, nine beliefs; Islam, nine beliefs; Hinduism, nine beliefs and so on and so forth. And I think how many they are. I think there’s probably about 15 or so religions that goes into Daoism, Shintoism, and all that kind of stuff, Sikhism and stuff. Take a very, very simple approach, you can give yourself three answers. Yes, no, not sure. Don’t spend too long thinking about it. Because once you start thinking about it, you will never get to an answer. Who the hell knows what the real answer is? So take Christianity, read the first belief and ask yourself, yes, no, maybe, I’m not sure and check. And then at the bottom, tally what the numbers so you might read Christianity, all nine beliefs and go like, he’s got five out of nine. Then you might read Islam and you go like, oh, he’s got six out of nine. And then you read Buddhism, he’s got eight out of nine, and then Hinduism’s two out of nine. Then at the end of the test, you go, my God, I’m a Buddhist. So now you’ve fallen into the Buddhist bucket. And then within Buddhism, there are three primary sects, Buddhism has three primary sects. It’s like the same way Christianity has so many denominations. Hinduism has four primary sects. So Buddhism has three primary sects, and now you study each of those sects because you’ve already fallen into that bucket. Now you have to pick one of the three that’s in the bucket. Now you study that bucket, and then it’s basically a funnel process of narrowing it down, narrowing it down, narrowing it down similar to how you market your content to people, you funnel them and see eventually you get your niche market group that you’re targeting and selling your stuff to, which you probably know about. You do the same thing with philosophy as well because a lot of people, especially the spiritual people, and I’m showing air quotes for those who are listening to it, who would like to say that all religions are the same thing, in every religion says the same thing. And at the end of the day, it’s all the same, and it’s absolutely not true. At the surface level, yes, they all preach about doing good, love your neighbor, don’t steal, don’t lie, blah, blah, blah. But once you dig beyond that, they all contradict each other, completely. Hinduism believes in God, so does Christianity and Judaism, and Islam. Buddhism does not believe in God. So that’s a major contradiction there. Hinduism and Buddhism believe in reincarnation and karma, Christianity and Islam don’t. I mean, these are major contradictions. So you can’t say all religions are the same right off the bat. We’ve already like disagree on major core things. So all religions are not the same. So, therefore, like what you’re saying, Darin, you may have been born a Christian, raised with Christian teaching in a particular denomination, but as you have grown through your life and you worked on yourself, your life experiences may have given you different insights onto how life is. So now maybe you grew up Christian where you’re born, you live, you die, particularly there may be a judgment, the heaven-hell kind of thing concept. I’m not sure how old you are, but in your decades on this planet, you might have gone like, you know what, I really believe in this reincarnation stuff. I really believe that we’ve lived here before and we come back and we’re evolving over a period of time. So now you know which bucket you need to swing to, Christianity, Islam, Judaism doesn’t preach that so now you need to shift to its Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Confucianism, and then you just do a process of elimination. But I think the critical thing here is that we always should take a rational, logical approach to spirituality. And I think a lot of times people don’t when it comes to spirituality, it’s just all woo-woo, wa-wa, whatever, just anything goes. I don’t see why it needs to be that way. And then the second thing is that what you were born with and where you are today could be two completely different things. One was something you were given at the point of birth by your parents are encouraged to do potentially by family and community that you lived in. where you are today is a byproduct of your potential evolution or digression in growth. And where you are today is what you need to assess because if you refer back to what you were 40 years ago, you may not be aligned with who you are today and that’s where the struggle begins with most people. They can’t separate the two.
Darin: You know I don’t put a lot of thought into my skincare routine, I just don’t like spending the time. But now, I turn 50, I’m thinking about it a little more. I’ve been using Caldera Lab’s The Good serum on my skin at night. So I was stoked when they introduced a new product line that compliments The Good, The Clean Slate. This stuff is amazing. This stuff is pH balanced for the skin as a cleanser using biome friendly, probiotics, and mineral-rich ocean silk extracts to naturally cleanse the skin. Come on, that’s just the way it’s got to be. Then I follow through with the base layer in nourishing day moisturizer design to protect your skin from environmental stress like pollutions and even blue light radiation. It uses plant stem cells, I dug into this a little bit, it’s incredible science, to deliver intensive hydration without that greasiness. It feels like I have nothing on my face, but I can feel the nourishing benefit. So that’s my morning routine. And then at night, I wash with the cleanser again and follow up with The Good serum. It’s easy, it’s quick. I wake up with awesome skin every day. Super easy. Fantastic. So all you have to do is head over to calderalab.com/darin, that’s C-A-L-D-E-R-A-L-A-B dot com forward slash D-A-R-I-N. Or use the discount code DARIN in all caps and then you get 20% off. So cool. So give these guys a try. I promise you your skin will thank you.
Darin: It’s so wild because growing up I felt the sense of the Christ energy. But I was so confused in the churches, and it was so stuffy and controlling. And it just didn’t make any sense whatsoever. As I grew up and moved out of a small town and traveled literally all over the world. I’ve been to India, I’ve been chanting all day, all night. I followed gurus. I got to study with Wallace Black Elk of Black Elk in the Native American traditions, and it goes on and on. And nature speaks very clear. I’ve had recapitulation of other lives. This clears you and I speaking and it goes on. I’ve done ayahuasca 20 years ago.
Dandapani: How old are you now?
Darin: I’m 50.
Dandapani: So 50. So, where you are today in 50, over the last five decades, all the experiences you’ve chosen, and you craft it for yourself by traveling and meeting and being so open and curious about all these things have allowed you to experience something deeper that potentially and I say potentially contradict what you were taught when you were growing up, or when you lived in your family in a small town. So the question is, a lot of people then cannot renounce what they were given when they were growing up because they feel a sense of attachment, a sense of guilt, so they hang on to that. But at the same time, they go, everything in my life has taught me something so different. And having the courage to pursue what you’ve experienced, as opposed to what you’ve been told is where it lies, and most people cannot step away.
Darin: Yeah. You got me thinking in a different way. I don’t know where it all resides, but I definitely want to kind of take that test at the end of the book. Why not take that assessment? Why not critically look at it? And that’s one of the gifts that you’ve laid here is why don’t I critically look at it just like I would any business I’m going to get involved with, whatever. And like why don’t I critically look at that, and ask myself the questions that can reveal maybe more of the truths that are even subconscious that are already playing out as a result of five decades of being on the planet.
Dandapani: And you know, Darin, I think the big thing is that when it comes to spirituality, people think structure, process, or goals are not necessary. They think that in spirituality, one should be free, a sense of freedom, I want to be connected to the universe, I’m not held back, there are no boundaries. This is all bullshit. I spent 10 years living as a monk. And I was so blessed to have one of the most, if not the most enlightened human being I’ve ever met in my life train me. He was all about structure, discipline, outlining a path, and defining the goal clearly because then it allowed me to harness my energy, channeled it down a path with clear guidelines, boundaries on either side to allow me to keep my energy within a certain parameter, focus it towards a clearly defined goal in order to achieve and experience it. It’s like a hose, if I put it in that spray mode, it’s all over the place. But if I can put it to jet mode, I can funnel that water to the one plant that I need to water. And we take this approach with everything in our life. Everything in our life has structure, the most mundane things, you put a shoe on, you put your socks, your shoes, you tie your laces, you never mix those steps out. Taking a shower, you take your clothes off, you go in the shower, you turn the water on, you check the temperature, you get wet, you put soap on, you wash the soap off, you dry yourself, you put new clothes on, you leave. Eight-nine steps I shared, do you ever mix it up? Why don’t you say like, hey, I want to be free man. Life is about being free, let’s diversity, let’s just mix it up. I’ll go in the shower with my clothes on, put soap on my clothes. Cool, man. Let’s feel some peace, brother. Why don’t we do that? Everything else you allow structure. But when you come to spirituality, you don’t have the balls to commit, to define your goals, and all of a sudden, you tell me this bullshit about the universe gonna guide you. You think Pluto, Jupiter, and Uranus are sitting around planning out your life? Give me a frickin break. They’re not. I think they got better things to do than think about your pity life on this planet. So don’t cop-out, put the responsibility on these planets in the universe. Do the work. Figure it out yourself. Imagine if I said to you, Darin, you know what, I’m a little bit overweight. I’ve got the 20 pounds from COVID around my belly. But you know what, the universe is going to guide me. I’m just going to surrender, man. I’m just going to surrender myself to the universe. And in about three months, I’m going to be ripped and healthy. The universe is gonna guide me. What would you say to me? You’d go, the guy’s nuts. Why don’t we take a logical, reasonable approach to spirituality like we do to business, to everything else in life? It’s an easy excuse not to do the hard work. No one wants to do the hard work.
Darin: You just blasted me. That was incredible because it’s so true. And why I’m laughing is because you just put a freaking target on it, and it’s so true what everyone does. It’s all of a sudden, I’m targeted, I’m on a ship, I’ve got my bow, I’ve got my sail. But all of a sudden, spirituality, pull the sail down, pull about, and now all of a sudden, you’re just flailing around in the ocean.
Dandapani: Would you approach your business that way?
Darin: No. And maybe I have in some respects over the years, and I certainly won’t anymore.
Dandapani: It doesn’t work, right? It doesn’t look, you don’t get results. Would you approach your body that way–
Darin: No, not at all.
Dandapani: -in getting your body healthy and fit and strong? You won’t. Then all of a sudden, I don’t understand. I wish someone could sit down in front of me and educate in my humble dumb mind on why it works in spirituality, but it doesn’t work in everything else. I don’t understand. I have struggled to understand 47 years of being in this plant. I don’t understand why everyone else thinks that works except me.
Darin: Well, there’s a delusion. I mean, clearly, there’s a delusion to a part of it. And let’s unpack that a little bit more about your nozzle that you turned into a focus. Okay, so 10 years, and it was Kauai that you were on?
Dandapani: Yeah, Kauai.
Darin: Amazing. So you’re on Kauai, you’re a monk, you signed up, you’re in it, do you even know how long you’re going to be there?
Dandapani: My goal was to be a monk the rest of my life. Unfortunately, my guru died three years after I joined and things changed a little bit. And then they stayed 7 more additional years. And then I felt we were not aligned, so I left. But if not, I wouldn’t be here today talking to you.
Darin: So you went, you committed everything, your whole life.
Darin: Literally, which is a really, really, really big deal. So what for you, if you can distill it down into what did you get clear about with your guru helping you? What were the parameters? Who are you beforehand? And what led you to understanding your own cultivation of energy and where that energy was going? And what results did you feel you got or garnered or gained during that time?
Dandapani: I’ll share a little bit about the before-the-monetary picture because it will help show the before and after. So I wanted to be a monk since I was four or five years old. And it wasn’t till about eight or nine that I realize my purpose in life.
Dandapani: My purpose in life was enlightenment or self-realization. And that can be elaborated. So being a monk was the most efficient way to attain self-realization. So I would meet gurus and teachers and try and learn from them, but where I was struggling was, I was not making progress. And it wasn’t till I actually met my guru that had a very structured systematic step-by-step approach in defining the goal did I finally find that I was actually having traction? Because before then I would try this, I would try that, I would do it, I couldn’t sustain change. I couldn’t sustain practices. He allowed me to become really clear on my philosophy first of all, what do I believe in? And he didn’t force any philosophies on me. He just helped me define mine, reincarnation, karma, this, that, I believe in energies, God in heaven, is it everything? Then that philosophy defines the goal, the goal defines the path. What is the path to get there? And then the lifestyle, what is the lifestyle I need to live in order to stay on the path? All that allowed me to create parameters upon which I could operate within the same way that a company would have a vision statement, a mission statement, and core values. What are the core values? Core values, basically, the white lines on the freeway to keep you on the freeway, so that you could get to your destination? Really, essentially, that’s what it is. If we abide by these core values, it’ll funnel us to where we want to go, which is our vision and mission. So the same way he helped me define all of that spiritually. Now, instead of my energy going all over the place, I was able to, first of all, harness it, withdraw it, accumulate it in one place, and now funnel it and channel it in one direction. Imagine the power behind that when you could funnel with clarity, your energy towards one direction. And I always tell people, once you know what you want in life, the greatest blessing is you know who and what you don’t want in life. So now it was very easy for me to say no when someone came up to me, hey, do you want to do this Kundalini Yoga thing or do you want to do this? And I’m like, no. Why? Because it’s not helping me get to where I want to go. And then the traction begins right now. Now, your wheels are on traction, you’re not spinning in the mud anymore, you’re actually making progress. And how do you see you making progress because the person that you were five years ago is very different than the person you are today. And those are the signposts of making progress on the spiritual path. But you should be able to define very clearly where it is you want to go. The same way that I’m sure in your business, you define where you want to go, we want to do so much in sales, or physically, I want to lose X number of pounds, so I want to be this or I want to be that. We do this and everything, and having that structure allows that, but somehow people think that spirituality should mean freedom, to be free. They don’t understand that the greatest freedom comes from structure and discipline. I have never been so afraid in my life as I have been when my life is so structured and so disciplined.
Darin: What were the defining moments of your structure when you started realizing, so you’re like, harnessing, what were the things that you were doing to harness the energy and then the focused energy?
Dandapani: One, I would say defining clearly my goal. As I define the more clarity I have on my goal, the more clarity I had on what and who I did not want in my life.
Dandapani: This is the concept of, I call it the economics of energy, very simplified perspective that we only have a finite amount of energy today. And at some point, tonight, you and I are going to be exhausted, we’re going to go to bed. Depending on how well we sleep, our energy bills back up again. The next day, we go out and we invest energy into people and things around us. But most of us never evaluate who and what we’re investing our energy in. We just give our energy away. So I always tell people, entrepreneurs, that I work with, treat energy the same way you treat money. So if I said to you, Darin, hey, I’m creating a new startup. If you invest $100,000 in it, it would be very helpful. Would you write me a check for $100,000? Probably not. No matter how wealthy you are, you only have a finite amount of money. And before you spend that money, you ask questions, well, what’s your project about? What will be my return on investment? Can you show me a plan? How do you plan to use the money I’m going to give you. So the same way, realizing that I only have a finite amount of energy, realizing that my goal would be a byproduct of my investment, my energy, I have this thing where I say life is a manifestation of where you invest your energy. Whatever you put your energy into will start to manifest allowed me then to realize very clearly that my energy is finite each day because I do get tired at night. My goal is to wisely discriminate who and what I’m investing my energy into. It allowed me then to frame my days, not so much in terms of how much time I spent with people. It wasn’t about time management anymore. It became more about energy management. Where am I investing my energy? And the important thing to understand yet the other thing I realized this role in this journey here is that energy does not have the ability to discriminate between what’s constructive and what’s destructive. Meaning that if I put energy into something destructive, it will grow and become more destructive. If I put energy into something positive, it’ll grow and become more positive. Simplify, we are looking at energies to look at energy the same way I look at water. If I took a watering, I water the garden bed, the weeds and flowers would grow. The water has no ability to discriminate between the weeds and the flowers. Energy is the same way. So having that clear goal, understanding the concept of energy, and the ability to focus that energy allowed me to make sure I never channeled energy into anything that was not aligned with my purpose. And now the goal is to live a purpose, focused life. The byproduct of that is happiness. If my purpose defines my priorities, which allows me now to know what to focus on. When I focus on my priorities that are defined by my purpose, the byproduct of that is happiness. One of my priorities is my daughter. When I take my daughter to the beach in the evening here in Costa Rica in Nosara where we live. And I spend an hour with her an hour and a half with her just messing around the beach, the byproduct of that is happiness. I’m focusing my energy on my priority, which is my daughter, the byproduct is happiness. So that was the big things that came out of that hole learning.
Darin: Yeah, I realized that as I get focused in life, for sure, over the years, I’m very aware of what I’m doing, who I’m hanging out with. I mean, it’s already kind of happening. But at the same time, it’s easy to be like, check this new project out, check this out, can I just have a little bit of your time. It’s been so hard for me to say no to things. And because I’m like, yeah, I should say yes because there might be something cool and this might be an opportunity.
Dandapani: Can I pause you one second there on what you said that might be an opportunity. I struggle with the same thing too because I’m creative, I’m interested, I want to be part of things. And I realized a few years ago that opportunities are not opportunities if they’re not aligned with your purpose. So if something comes up, the first question I asked myself is, is it aligned with my purpose? Understanding that finite energy, finite time, that those are my finite resources and finite financial resources. So I want to channel those three things to things that are defined by my purpose in order to manifest them knowing that by living a purpose-focused life, I lived my best life. And as I get uplifted as a result of that, I uplift everyone around me.
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Darin: So my goals are I want people to live an extraordinary life. But it isn’t about eating the perfect food and it is and it isn’t, take care of yourself so that you can kick some ass in life. That’s really because if you’re beaten up, you’re sick, you’re tired, just like you say, if you’re not sleeping well, you’re not gonna have much energy left to do anything else. And so I want to help people in their health, and I am doing that as well as the health of the planet. Everything I’m involved in has something to do with that, and obviously, that’s broad, and there’s a lot of things coming. So it’s sometimes like, shit, it’s too much coming, but I’m also interested in so much of it. And it’s like, now I’m at this point where I’m like, no, I have to really kind of find these places where I say no to things, and no is becoming stronger. But at the same time, I realized that even the finite side of things, I don’t have the energy to exercise some of those things to the fullest potential that they would require in order for them to express themselves at the biggest level that they could. And so that’s where I’m coming to the place where I’m like, I really love this thing, and this business and these people, but I know deeply that it can’t be maximized in the way that it’s set up. And I don’t have the time to do it.
Dandapani: I’ll share with you a quick story. Do you know this gentleman, named Cal Fussman?
Dandapani: This good friend of mine, and he does a lot of interviews with a bunch of amazing people. So anyway, Cal and I were in San Francisco a couple of years ago. And he was returning to his hotel one night and a prostitute followed him into the hotel. He’s sure she’s pregnant. And Cal tells the story much better than I do. It’s on his podcast. So she followed him in and he is kind of trying to avoid the prostitute and not having to want to take a picture of him and the prostitute. And so finally he runs to the elevator as the door opens to go in and she follows him and just turns around to her and says, I’m so sorry, I can’t help you. I don’t want anything. She was like, what makes you think I want your help? Then she storms off. So then he goes up to his room, he sits there and he’s thinking to himself, he is feeling really, really bad because he’s like, you know, maybe she’s pregnant, she’s hungry, I should have just given her some money and see if she needed help. And one of the things I shared with him is that it’s so important for people like us that want to help other people that we learn to control our compassion because there are so many people that need help around us.
Dandapani: I get emails all the time, Darin, on every platform you can imagine and every one of them is somebody having a crisis in their life, can you help me? And it’s physically not possible. And there’s not one advice I can give that would solve. It would require a back and forth, and I can’t. So I need to learn to control my compassion. And the same way I need to also control my interests in all the things that I have. So we’re building a botanical garden where 33 acres here in Nosara, Costa Rica. We’re building a botanical garden and a spiritual sanctuary. We’ve planted over 2,000 exotic trees and medicinal trees and flowering trees and fruit trees and I love landscaping, I love driving a bobcat, I love carpentry, I love sports, I love playing tennis, I love graphic design, I love photography, I love entrepreneurship, I love going for walks and business. How the hell am I gonna do all those things? Absolutely not possible. I love my family. So I just need to say no to even some of my interests. So between driving the bobcat, shoveling, pruning trees, working in the garden, landscaping, carpentry, photography, what am I gonna say no to? So I literally cannot do all of them. And not only can I do all of them but in what you were saying, I can’t do all of them to the fullest potential where I can truly experience the height of those things like you said, right? So I would touch the surface of everything, I would go abroad and shallow as opposed to narrow and deep, and I prefer to go narrow and deep to get the most profound experience. So I see I control my compassion, and at the same time, I say no to even my own interests. Harnessing those interests is critical because it’s not it would just die.
Darin: That is so wise and it’s such a beautiful way of sharing it because I’ve never been bored in my life because life is just wow, and there’s so much to do. By the way, I am exactly the same. I live on 50 acres, surrounded by nature, and I’m on my tractor all the time. My dog, we’re in nature. There’s so much to do. I actually have to turn off what I’m seeing that needs attention in order for me to come and actually do the things that I really am driven to do right now. So it goes down to exactly the same thing that you said. Once you get clear on the biggest goal, there is all these other sub-goals that start lining up within that. And if you don’t have that, then it’s very difficult to achieve, to accomplish, to narrow that nozzle of focus in our life. And at the same time, the spiritual side of the deep fulfillment, there isn’t anything more important than that. And I think everything is off-shoot.
Dandapani: And you’d always be scratching the surface. We can retreat doing paddleboard yoga, and a week, they’re doing ayahuasca, and then another day doing, I don’t know, whatever people do like personal meditation. Then I’m gonna do, like a headspace retreat. I’m gonna do like a cleanse, Oprah’s 28-day, 25-day meditation joint thing. You could spend your whole life doing 50 million things. You’d scratch the surface of everything. You’d never go narrow or deep. You never have the most profound experience. As you asked me, what was the biggest things that came out of that structure and discipline? For me, that structure and discipline, the clarity of goal that my guru taught me allowed me to go deep within myself and experience the depths of me. The energy inside of me that is present and everything and everyone around us, that energy that cannot be created nor can it be destroyed, law of thermodynamics is present inside of me, touch into that to be able to be so focus that you can not only touch it, stay there long enough to experience it in greater ways. That is why we’re here on this planet, but we need to take a structured approach, we need to take a disciplined approach, we’d never get there otherwise.
Darin: It’s so true. You gave me such a gift today because even though I’m highly structured in this area, I’m lightly structured. I always give myself time and meditation and journaling and all of that stuff around it, I have been breathing different breathing techniques– nothing wrong with it because there’s performance breathing, there’s enlightenment breathing, there’s freaking, I’ve had all kinds of–
Dandapani: How much money has been made off those breathing techniques?
Darin: Oh, man, I tell you.
Dandapani: I had somebody post a comment the other day, one of the video person’s like, I’ve been watching you for the last 6-7 years and you’re always saying the same things. Don’t you have anything different, anything new? I’m like no actually, I don’t. I say the same shit over and over again. Because at the end of the day, that’s the mastery, right? The profoundness of experience comes from the repetition of the same practice and the refinement of it over and over and over again. I work with one of the best soccer players in the world, he doesn’t want to learn a hundred things. He doesn’t want to learn a hundred techniques. He just wanted a few and he wants to master them to be the best. And everyone else is like gathering tools, bags and bags of tools. We’re all full of tools. Not really sure how to use them very well.
Darin: Well, that’s it, right? You’re scratching the surface on hundreds of them, thousands of them as opposed to knowing one, two, three deeply. And ultimately where’s it going anyway? What’s the source of it all anyway? What’s the goal of all of it anyway? So if you just look at it all underneath it all, we all want the same thing. We want to be happy, we want to be healthy, we want to have purpose, we want to be connected and feel and perceive that oneness on some level whether you’re gonna listen to this and say it’s not my goal, whatever. It’s funny that when you reach a certain status or you hit a certain monetary goal, inevitably, either the pain never gets squelched and the person’s still ruminating just torture of themselves and their destructive path then they make a billion dollars, or they hit this goal and then realize, oh, that’s not what I really wanted anyway. We’ve heard that story over and over and over again. So I am curious to kind of learn more. I am highly disciplined at just one little aspect when my father, I think I was 7, he asked me what I wanted to do. You know what I told him? I want to move to Shaolin and become a Shaolin monk and learn the art.
Dandapani: Were you a fan of David Carradine?
Darin: Of course. Absolutely.
Dandapani: Kung fu was like my thing.
Darin: It was the who that person was and the energy. In my small town, I started karate class and there was an adult class and they allowed me to come in and I got so disciplined, it was my first meditation. They were teaching us traditional karate and traditional meditation and all of that stuff. I got so focused. I’d go home, I do all the homework and practice the forms. I’d come back and ask the teacher a million questions. Do you know what he finally did? He says, I don’t have enough attention for this kid, you got to go. He kicked me out because I wanted to–
Dandapani: Are you serious?
Darin: Yeah, but anyway, I just thought that was funny. So I do thrive in discipline but I also have to admit, I’ve gotten so saturated with a lot of shiny objects in a lot of ways. The most success I’ve had when I’m super focused.
Dandapani: And that’s the problem, I think people like you and me in the contrary is that there are so many opportunities come our way, so many requests. The more we do, the more podcast we’re on, the more this. The more people hear about us, the more people will want to engage with us and then it dilutes everything. And I think it’s so clinically important for me the reminder every day I tell myself is that my life is finite. I don’t say life is short because life is not short. If I live another 20 years, that’s a long time. If I’m stuck in traffic for 5 minutes and think that’s a long time. So life if finite and how do I want to live that life? I want it to be an amazing life. You know Darin, 3 years after I joined the monastery, we found out one day my guru had cancer and within 3 months he died. And one of those things he said towards the end of the period right before he died, he was on his deathbed, was what an amazing life. I would not have traded it for anything in the world. So imagine being on your deathbed to be able to look back in your life and go, that was spectacular. But you can only say that if you have clarity of purpose, clarity of priorities which have been defined by your purpose, and that ability to stay focus on those priorities and not get distracted by shiny objects, by opportunities that are not aligned with your purpose because the resulting effect, Darin, is that happiness, that contentment, that fulfillment, to be able to control your compassion, harness that energy, focus that compassion, focus that energy all through its one area going there deep, creating much more profound impacts than shallow and broad.
Darin: You’re absolutely right. It’s just completely reorientated myself even in this moment. And how can people learn more about this, how can people get some assistance either by you or things that you’ve put in place for people to define some of these clarities, some of these purposes that they are looking to create some clarity around?
Dandapani: Yeah, so I would say that I have an app which has 3 courses on it. You can just look for the Dandapani app on the AppStore or PlayStore. There’s one course on meditation, one on managing energy, and then the other one is on focus. I recommend doing the focus course because in order to find purpose, you need to be able to focus long enough to go within yourself to discover your purpose. If you’re too distracted, then you’ll never get there. So that’s one I would recommend. And my weekly email so you could go to my website which is dandapani.org and subscribe to that for free. And then I do post on Instagram quite regularly, so if you’re looking for little bits of information, those are some good places to go. And I have also an active YouTube channel that’s over 100 videos with all my contents on there.
Darin: I’ve seen some of those things. There’s magical wisdom in that. What I’d like and what’s different about your message is that it’s teaching people how to stop long enough to access themselves, and that’s the point. So I’m excited to check it out. I know other people and that other one of managing energy. I know people all over the place who struggle with that all the time, even myself with what we just talked about. All of the things coming every day, all day. So I know people are gonna love exploring what you’re doing. And it doesn’t matter what you believe in, it doesn’t matter what your religion is, all it does is allow you to access yourself to define what your beliefs are so that you can have the hose, more focused on spraying the plants that you want to spray.
Dandapani: Exactly. And I think these are just fundamental tools and learnings that every human being should have regardless of whether you are religious or atheist or agnostic.
Darin: Take it from a monk who spent time focusing his energy. I know that you’ve enlightened me today on the difference between haphazardly having a spiritual life and the difference between the goals and the things I have set up in this life and then the not-goals that I have in my other life. So I’m deeply grateful for your time that we’ve spent here today. And I know we’re contributing to each other’s lives today and the time that we’ve had. So I really appreciate it. Please stay connected and we can jump down another rabbit hole another time.
Dandapani: That would be lovely. Thank you for having me on your show.
Darin: For sure. Thank you, my friend.
Darin: What a fantastic episode. So tell me, what is one thing you got out of today’s conversation? If this episode struck a chord with you and you want to dive a little deeper into my other conversations with incredible guests, you can head over to my website, darinolien.com for more episodes and in-depth articles. Keep diving my friends. Keep diving.