Don’t Tell Anyone, but I think Pope Francis works at Google

On April 14th I gave a talk at Google HQ on Meditation, Creativity and the Power of Mantra. The day before my talk I was driving back from a lovely weekend meditation retreat down in Big Sur where we sang kiirtan and meditated and ate yummy vegetarian food and went to check out about five hundred elephant seals who were sleeping on the beach.

With all due respect, I have to say that these amazing creatures looked like nothing so much as  collection of extremely overweight elephant sealsslugs sunning themselves. Except when a couple of the males woke up to fight over which particular 2000 pound female slug they had matrimonial rights to. And then we discovered a herd of zebras roaming right there on the Californian coast. I’m not making any of this up.

So there we were, my friend Sudama and I, happily driving up one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world towards San Francisco, when a show came on the radio about Pope Francis. This seemed appropriate since the fabled flower people’s city is named after the same Italian saint who inspired our new pope’s name.

Naturally, that night I dreamed that when I arrived at Google to give my talk, who should show up but Pope Francis? To my surprise he came up to me and we had a fascinating conversation. He seemed like a very nice man.

Then the next day I got to speak to the crowd of about eighty ‘Googlers’. (Just to be clear, I had stopped dreaming at this point. This is what actually happened. The dream ended with my conversation with Pope Francis.) Although I was tempted to ask them how come they call themselves ‘Googlers’, rather than ‘Googlings’, or ‘Googlets’, but I am proud to say that I restrained myself.

I was explaining about the different layers of the mind and how each of the eight limbs of yoga (Astaunga Yoga) is designed to purify and perfect one of these layers. I got to talking about dreams.

“When you dream, your conscious mind closes down, and you experience the content of your subconscious mind as reality, but it is often quite mixed up and non-linear.”

You have to use words like non-linear with these people or they will stop listening.

“Yesterday I heard a radio show about Pope Francis. Then last night I dreamed that I came here to Google to give this talk, and Pope Francis turned up and we had a very interesting conversation. You never told me that The Pope works at Google! You guys are so secretive!”

That got a good laugh.

OK, next Monk Dude style Google joke:

“This morning I was thinking to myself, what can I say to these Googlers to convince them that meditation is going to make them more creative. How can I make it clear that it is relevant to them? I mean, who am I to talk to these people about creativity, with all their PHd’s and flying cars?”

Laughter

“Oh sorry. I meant to say self-driving cars. I forgot that the flying car project is still a secret.”

More laughter.

Not bad eh? But wait for this last one.

“And then it struck me.”

On the screen pops up a cute octopus – the very one in this picture. His name is Doogaloogue. Each of his limbs

Octopus black represents one of the eight limbs of yoga. Now you yoga philosophy aficionados out there will know that the first limb of yoga is Yama, which is usually translated as ‘abstinences’, meaning things you should not do, like killing and stealing and lying to your mother. But it could also translate as… wait for it…

“This first limb of yoga, Yama, could also translate as ‘Don’t be Evil’.”

That really got them, because of course ‘Don’t be Evil’ is the motto of Google. But you knew that.

So I had a great time with my friends at Google. I mean if you’re going to talk about creativity, you had better come up with something original. Especially if you’re talking to a bunch of people with Phds and secret flying cars.

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Dada