27 Jun 2012
June 27, 2012

A Heavy Curriculum



If somebody is a problem for you, it’s not that they should change, it’s that you need to change. If they’re a problem for themselves that’s their karma, if they’re causing you trouble that’s your problem on yourself. So, in other words when Christ is crucified, he says “forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing”, they’re not a problem for him, he’s trying to get them out of being a problem for themselves, because he’s clear. Your job is to clear yourself. In ideal situations you would clear yourself within the situation, but very often it’s too thick and you can’t do that. Now, what you do then is you pull back and you do the stuff you do in the morning or at night before you go to work, you do the stuff on weekends, you do the stuff that quiets you down and then each time you go into the situation to where you have to work, you lose it again. And then you go home and you see how you lost it, and you examine it, and then you go the next day and you lose it again, and you go home and you keep a little diary “how did I lose it today”, and you saw that, and then you go and you do it again, and after a while as you’re starting to lose it you don’t buy in so much. You start to watch the mechanics of what it is that makes you lose it all the time.

If I’m not appreciated, that’s your problem that you don’t appreciate me. Unless I need your love, then it’s my problem. So my needs are what are giving you the power over me. Those people’s power over you to take you out of your equanimity and love and consciousness has to do with your own attachments and clingings of mind. That’s your work on yourself, that’s where you need to meditate more, it’s where you need to reflect more, it’s where you need a deeper philosophical framework, it’s where you need to cultivate the witness more, it’s where you need to work on practicing opening your heart more in circumstances that aren’t optimum. This is your work. You were given a heavy curriculum, that’s it. There’s no blame, it’s not even wrong, it’s just what you’re given. You hear what I’m saying? It’s interesting. Can you all hear that one?

-Ram Dass, Summer 1989 


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  • http://www.truthstudy.org Jonny

    Wonderful! The Curriclum! Love Love Love!!!!

  • Sandy Hoerle

    Thanks for the reminder and the validation!

  • sharmishtha

    It is very interesting and hard! How many instances, how many lifetimes..does one have to work on this heavy curriculum? How do I love this heavy curriculum when it breaks me down in pieces?
    Yes, ultimately there is no blame, there is actually nothing, no feeling at all. Is it not being living dead then?

    • Robecology

      Ultimately there is no blame…how does that lead to “no feeling at all? How does that lead to “is it not being living dead then”? I think it’s the opposite. It’s the height of being alive to not blame others for your thoughts and predicaments. It sets you free to avoid hatred, to embrace and love everyone including your enemy…because it’s not your fault (s)he’s your enemy…but it’s not theirs either; they’re just suffering from a lower level of consciousness that you have risen above.
      But; as Ram says, it is a heavy curriculum. None of us stay in this high level of consciousness very long. That’s our curriculum. to meditate, to focus on keeping the temple (the body) fit, keeping the alter (the mind) pure…then we can say we’ve lived a long, loving fulfilling life. THIS is the heavy curriculum. After we’re dead we have NO curriculum.

      • sharmishtha

        Thank you for your reply. By “living dead” I meant exactly what you say. In eastern philosophy it is known as Jeevan Mukta (YES, quite opposite of the words I used..haha. Jeevan Mukta means liberation while living, as opposed to salvation after death). The reason I call it death, because it is the death of EGO. A good news, at the same time bad news for ego and mind. Yes, you are absolutely right. This state does not last long..and that is where my struggle is right now! Indeed a heavy curriculum. Hope I clarified my “dead” comment…:) :)
        As for the s(he), at this point of my life, I have quite given up on people. Can’t control who says/does what ;)
        Many blessings!

        • Robecology

          I don’t think Ram would approve of “giving up on people” as part of the “heavy curriculum”…I’m quite sure he’d suggest, as I do, that you “embrace” those around you who react negatively to you. Isn’t hate a form of love? There’s love, hate and indifference; I’d rather be hated than ignored (i.e. “given up” on)…

          Don’t give up on the haters!, and if you “hate” them or they “hate” you, realize that hate is just an insecure, immature, uneducated expression of love…they may “hate” what you do but they love you enough to “prefer” or even “demand” that you do something else…so the haters love you….love them back! Don’t give up on them…that’s death.

          • sharmishtha

            Point well taken…I hope to live it :)
            Many blessings,

          • Friend

            All is Perfect; all will strengthen us when we ‘let it’.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/nicktara Nick Tara

    I feel as though this message was handed down from God to Ram Dass to share with me at this specific point of time in my life. It was so relevant and actually I felt that I was the person who was a problem to myself. Namaste and love to all believers. Stay strong in this time of change.

  • http://www.jimdenise.com denise

    ♥ ♥ ♥

  • someone

    I disagree with the lesson that one should just roll over and accept everything that happens to them, even if those things are negative. If this were the case, then nobody would even bother to try and better themselves physically and mentally (for the good of all), because we would all just have to accept that “this is the way it is”. It is completely normal to be upset by the actions of others; if we didn’t, then nothing would ever change, we would merely have a self-imposed emotional dissociation from the events of our physical circumstances.

    The more I travel this path, the more I find it to be riddled with hypocrisy and insanity. There are many truths to be learned, but they are hidden amongst a slurry of untruths delivered as if it were the truth.

    We preach unconditional love and compassion, but the more I try to remove myself from an emotional attachment to the dynamics of suffering found in life, the less compassion I feel, because it just seems so false. I feel like an uncaring psychopath observing the world in terms of cause and effect rather than feeling the plight of others. How can one empathise emotionally with the plight of others yet at the same time view their actions as neither harmful and destructive nor helpful and balanced? You cannot; you can only empathise intellectually if that is your goal, which makes the entire thing a hypocritical mess.

    If somebody decides to go on a destructive rampage and inflict physical suffering on others, am I to just stand by and watch because some guru told me that any such wrongdoing I perceive is all my head. No way. We all co-create this reality, and we all suffer and gain happiness as part of it. But if others cannot see through the illusion that their actions are harmful and destructive, then it is not wrong for me to feel that way (and I may accept any suffering that such a judgement causes me) and attempt to share my understanding with them. And I fully accept and hope that others can guide me away from unwholesome acts to truths that I may be obscured from too.

    I have endured much existential guilt, anxiety, and suffering as a result of attempting to follow such spiritual teachings to the letter, because I cannot do it. My thoughts are just as much a result of external influences as they are from my internal volitions, and my attempts to be a complete monk and aspire to some vision of thoughtless Godhood preached by gurus has left me feeling worthless and empty.

    Why should I even bother to continue to eat food to keep myself alive if by doing so I am causing suffering – via karma repercussions – to other beings such as plants? I do so because it is in my cellular nature, because I believe that I can hopefully offset the negative karma caused through positive actions enacted whilst I am alive and healthy. Spiritual teachers tell me I should keep my body healthy, which presumably includes consuming healthily, yet such consumption is also the continuation of cause and effect. I DESIRE food and water, and I will never be able to change that in this lifetime, or any other lifetime where the “I” is alive.

    Sure, I know you’re thinking this is all my fault because it is just my thoughts running wild and thus all the suffering is in my head and bears no relation to reality. But my thoughts are as real you are, because they too are a part of reality, an element of cause and effect. The very concept of trying to erase negative thoughts towards your enemy is contradictory to the teaching that resistance is the root of suffering. If I resist my thoughts of negativity and forcibly try to replace them with feelings of love, I will fail because they will be false feelings, and I will be smiling through my teeth.

    I can only be who I am, and make small steps to try and spread harmony as best I can. We are all in this together, there are no mistakes, even thoughts are not mistakes, we are all just trying to be happy with the situation we find ourselves in. We are many (infinite) eternal beings of light all exerting our divine will in a timeless realm, and the combined effect of that is our consensus reality. Nobody is any better than any other, nobody is of higher consciousness than any other because we are all enlightened at our core level of momentary singularity. We are the same, and I refuse to feel any shame any longer about what I am, what I think, and what I do.

    • Robert Pike

      I’m sure R.D. didn’t imply that “one should just roll over and accept everything”. He’s simply saying work on yourself, don’t work on them.

      Ken Keyes put it well in “Handbook to Higher Consciousness” by calling our needs for others to change as either an “addiction” or a “preference”. Obviously if you’re “addicted” with a certain type of behavior, you go through a health destroying “withdrawal” of blaming, shouting, and separation (and of course many worse things are possible); whereas if you live a world of “preferences” then if the friend/lover/associate doesn’t behave as you “prefer” you politely, calmly offer alternatives, or give reasons for your “preferences”; then work on accepting them as they are – “unconditional love” as it were.

    • Sara

      It’s not that we shouldn’t try to prevent suffering, that suffering is okay, it’s just that everything is perfect just as it is, although from where we’re looking at it here it’s very hard to recognize that. Suffering fulfills a necessary purpose within God and we choose it freely, it’s not forced upon us. It becomes easy not to judge others when you recognize that what you hate within them is also within you, and therefore within All – even the most horrific things, they are part of God. We come here to neutralize all that bad energy, it is within us as individuals – some more so than others, but that isn’t their fault.

    • Sharon Carruth

      To Someone, I really like that you ‘think’ for yourself and don’t just believe everything you read. You make some valid points and I hope that Ram Dass addresses it…not for an argument at all….just dialog back and forth =) Thank you! Sharon

    • Greg Ferguson

      I think you are mistaking judgement with observation. If you notice someone about to harm you or anyone by all means defend yourself . It’s only when you let someone else’s behavior get the best of you and take it personally. Defend yourself. .. kick his ass if you have to butt understand that he did it because he’s probably a sick person instead of letting it rent space in your head or get emotional about it to the point where it his you twice. See the bigger picture at all times. It takes practice and the way to learn is… just meditate and you will automatically start knowing what the gurus mean for yourself. Greg Ferguson

    • Lloyd

      Great. Accept yourself for who you are. Go with all you are saying above. The thing you may realise later, though, is that no genuine spiritual teacher is saying what you think they are. It is a misperception on your part. It is impossible to become a perfect being until you are a Buddha. Until then, you are fatally flawed, as I am, as Ram Das is. But this is OK, it is to be observed, and forgiven, in yourself first. Because if you cannot forgive yourself, how can you forgive others?

      Other people do ‘bad’ things because they are acting from their conditioning and current set of beliefs, as you do. Our job is understand this, and not judge the person. That does not mean we don’t act in opposition to any damage we perceive. But we do it out of love, not anger. If we act out of anger, we end up adding to the problem, not solving it.

      Look at your statement “Sure, I know you’re thinking”. You don’t. You never really have any idea – you are just projecting your own idea onto others. I really love what you have written, because it is good stuff. The thing is, you are reacting against your own interpretation, not the actual teachings. It doesn’t particularly matter though. Follow your own path, nobody (especially Ram Das) would advise anything different. Sounds like you have already reached this conclusion for yourself!

      Good luck and love to you.

    • Cynthia Baraza

      Finally! “someone” makes more sense to me and is actually dealing with the reality of our human nature and circumstances…and not afraid to speak out….you said everything I’ve been trying to say..well put and glad to know I’m not alone in my thinking…

  • Marjorie Gray

    Thank you! I thought I was posting a comment, but it got lost when I signed in. Basically, thanks for the reminder!

  • http://souluniversity.org/ Soul Dancer

    As I come to learn the wisdom of Aristotle’s famous words:

    “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”

    the more I realize judging even myself – is less than optimal use of my time. Since I’ve so much more to learn, clear, love than what I’ve already learned, cleared, loved – it matters not what I think or feel about myself let alone what others think or feel about me . . .

    Those who have me ‘figured out’ – I wish them well as they continue that illusion.

  • Jane Jones

    “Unless I need your love, then it’s my problem.” This statement makes the being dependent, and the fact is we want to be independent of this need. Perhaps babies need love for survival, well we all do, but we learn, to get love from within where we align with the divine. I totally get this “heavy” curriculum as I went to this institution of “higher” learning too~ ;) <3

  • Amidha K. Porter, M.A.

    The thing that keeps me from donating to this site, as much as i love Ram Dass, is that you keep hounding your readers to donate.

    • http://crvdmedia.com/ Noah Lampert

      Hi Amidha,

      I’d encourage you to not look at it as “hounding” and more of a reminder that the only way the foundation can continue to offer these articles and media for free, is due to the generosity of people like you. While there are certainly donation forms at the bottom of articles it’s, of course, your decision whether you’d like to donate or not.

      Many websites gate content and make people pay before letting them see it. So yeah, it may be a little annoying but you can always choose to ignore it and enjoy the content for free. =)

      • Amidha K. Porter, M.A.

        There are donation forms ALL OVER THE PAGE, ALL OVER THE WEB-SITE, numerous on every single page! There are plenty of such foundations that put ONE hint maybe at the top of the page, and people can do what they want. You are INDEED hounding people. That isn’t the Ram Dass I’ve met on several occasions.

        • http://crvdmedia.com/ Noah Lampert

          When you say “ALL OVER THE PAGE” do you mean at the bottom of articles and in the sidebar?

          To you this may seem excessive, but as I’m sure you can appreciate, not everyone has the same experience when they come to a website. What may be excessive to you may actual be helpful to someone else.

          Again, no donations are required to enjoy the content. Perhaps, rather than expressing your displeasure to the world, you could just continue to enjoy the content for free?

          Also, I’m not personally doing anything. Just pointing out a different perspective that you seem to be having trouble perceiving.

          The Ram Dass I know most likely wouldn’t squabble over a donation form on a website. He’d be happy that people are gleaning whatever wisdom they can from his words.

          Namaste and have a great day!

          • Amidha K. Porter, M.A.

            I am not “expressing my displeasure to the world,” I am trying to point out something that diminishes the teaching and the teacher. And if you think I am the only one who feels this way, you are making a big mistake. I am a teacher in a large international spiritual school, and I have heard the comments i am making on numerous occasions. i am just the one brave enough to say it. Now. I see that you need to have the last word, even to the point of subtle put-downs, so I will end this, and if you must, once again, have the last word, go right ahead.

          • Daniel Robinson

            “If a donation request is a problem for you, it’s not that it should change, but that you need to change.” – Ram Dass

    • Lloyd

      Personally, I find I can ignore them quite easily, because they are at the bottom of the content. The stuff you want to read is not at all interrupted by the donation request, which would be annoying if it did. That is my personal experience.

  • Jane Jones

    Excellent lesson, and for me, exactlly what i needed to understand in my heart today~! Thank-you Baba Ram Dass~!!! :) <3 My personal observations; when the "flow" stops and karma knocks at the perceptions door (my own unique way of seeing the world at this time) then I open the door to my heart (it may have been blocked that's why the reactionary karma). Now I have a job to do~!!! My heart now open examines my perception and truth. Was the incident worthy of a reaction in this way. Does this reaction have a beneficial growth for me? In other words, am I learning some deep knowledge/wisdom from this incident, or does this "negative" space create a deep detachment or "loathing" of the incident. Examining the heart takes heart knowledge. To develop this one must be walking or trying walk in love at all times. If an incident is created which effects the flow of love, then one must wonder; why is there a hole where my wholeness in love should be. We must fix those holes and make them whole with love again. This is the human mission~!

  • Guest

    Tough to do when the situation is AT HOME. There is no quiet place then to retreat to, to do the inner work. Because work happens at work, so inner work doesn’t happen there. Sometimes you have to leave the situation all together and learn from it after the fact.

    • Lloyd

      Sounds like you need a room at home where you can shut the door and retreat, if you have the space?

    • Raeann Thomas

      Same problem here.

  • Stephanie Allard

    Haha. I am a beginner. I called my psychiatrist today I thought so I could rest with the idea that he got angry during my session last thurs. Afterward I decided I would not share with him the things where he cut me off. At first I thought why do I put myself in position to be invalidated. Ah neither do I need to be validated.

  • Stephanie Allard

    Why does it matter not what I think or feel about myself. Give me some wisdom to not let it matter. Then it might extinguish itself.

  • anonymous

    this is TRUE.

    about 18 months ago I was in a very broken-down place, at times it was as though I was in a depersonalized, floating state of ego-death. I was weirdly at peace during these months, and I had the most self-love I’ve ever known. there was no inner critic. I was living moment to moment, in-tune with myself. my fatigue was so horrendous that being Present was all I could do. it was not depression, it was as though I was going to die soon, and I really felt I was dying, and all of my ego and pain and self-imposed non-sense gave way … and I realized that I AM LOVE. and an eternal soul. I also realized that God IS love, and is always there. always. I also felt beaming gratitude for any ‘bad’ thing that I had ever experienced as I could see how those experiences shaped me and brought me to this place of serenity, clarity and unattached objectivity. It seemed I was able to view other people’s behavior as soley there own, completely independent of me, or of truth. I found the enneagram very helpful at this time, too, as it seemed to be a wonderful map of those people’s ego fears, indeed most people behave just as enneagram suggests, interestingly, even myself. I am a type 9, and during this time I felt very Alive and liberated.

    since then I have recovered a fair degree physically from the chronic fatigue, and I have much less debilitating stress in my life. I have also made a lot of progress in healig some false beliefs, and trauma, I carried with me for most of my life. … as my physical energy started to rebound I found myself less able to live continuously in this zen-like state. and so trauma has had to be addressed, but I’m grateful.

    A good analogy is: Imagine there was a war, enemy against enemy fighting out in the field, … and then suddenly both sides look up in the sky and realize that there is a huge meteor headed for earth. The authorities notify the citizens of earth that in 12 hours everyone, the enitre planet, will be blown-up and destroyed. … the war ends. after an initial panic there falls a calm over the face of all the lands. enemies sit down together. hold each other even. all that mattered, no long matters. we are all vulnerable and all that matters is being humane in the last moments before destruction. the quiet waiting, and possible peace, in the final minute before the meteor strikes … That is the goal. Its not that nothing matters, it just that only way is important matters. love and people. … THEN the meteor misses the earth, we are all going to live. And, eventually, people fall back into being people, love gives way to fear and pride, and the war ensues. …. In my analogy the war was outside of the Self, but in reality the war inside our own Self. So, you can see how when health starts to recover that trauma would need to be addressed and some peace and clarity may again be shroweded by … our self.

    For me it took years of trauma, and then a more concentrated few years of intense stress, after intense stress, including isolation and physical health problems… to finally get to a place where I just STOPPED. and decided to just Love My Self. Listen to my self. Take responsibility for my own happiness and feelings. Do what I wanted to do, as though I was on vacation. I treated myself like I was my best friend. And it became very clear, very fast, how entangled and blinded most of humanity is at any given time. The answer is within us.

  • Brendalee

    a shift in consciousness makes the things unknown, known, the stuff we focus on, and tell ourselves we are not quite enough, that our lives with all there beginnings and ends lacks, so we are riddled with the ego, demonstrating the attitude “Lack of”, when we do this the universe seeks to give us more of what we don’t want by focusing on what we do want, by focusing on just being the observer, by focusing on who we truly are – I am you you are me we are one – we begin to see the bigger picture of compassion and how without it we can’t love, or feel the love constantly. We then still have obstacles to overcome until we can feel unconditional love and demonstrate it.

  • Synthia Jones

    awhile back, I read something that said, ‘Think you’re enlightened? Spend a week with your family’

    • jennifer

      Haha Thank you for that i have just moved back home….so funny!


    For me, Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching applies….

    Simplicity, patience, compassion.
    These three are your greatest treasures.
    Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
    Patient with both friends and enemies,
    you accord with the way things are.
    Compassionate toward yourself,
    you reconcile all beings in the world.”
    ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

    By ” enemies” my interpretation is ‘those that have distaste or dislike FOR me… If I am centered, I will be able to reconcile their dislike of me by being ‘patient’ with them i.e. don’t let them get me wound up , so to speak…. speak with them simply ( don’t engage them AS THEY ARE LIKELY looking for some manufactured drama) have patience with them ( As through exercise of patience we allow ourselves to remain calm and centered/ unbothered) AND THROUGH COMPASSION FOR MYSELF/ MY WEAKNESSES I find compassion for them…., that is the doorway to having compassion for this individual… Further, this “enemy” then becomes my teacher/ and, if I am aligned with this philosophy/ I become her teacher.. Any exchange with an “enemy” becomes an opportunity to learn and grow not only for oneself but for the other……..and the greatest teacher being, of course, the source / dao… where all peace lays….

    Simplicity, patience, compassion.
    These three are your greatest treasures.
    Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
    Patient with both friends and enemies,
    you accord with the way things are.
    Compassionate toward yourself,
    you reconcile all beings in the world.”
    ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Chingction
    Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

  • Synthia Jones

    I, for one, am totally ready for the heavy curriculum to lighten up!

  • Shiva Murti

    My understanding (HA!) of existence is that we have ZERO INPUT, so what is talking and what is listening.
    Ram Dass, Awareness cannot be grown,cultivated, controlled, or programed

    What did these Hindus do to you? Did they Guru you?

    Guess it gets you “what you want” within the illusion.
    But youare confused, and confusing so many.

  • Pingback: What I Need From You | Mindfulness Meditation & Yoga

  • Daron Rainer

    I have been trying to teach this lesson to my 3 year old. He is always blaming other people for how he feels. Often he says things like “Skylar makes me so mad,” or “You are making me angry.” It is not easy for him to understand that how he responds to a situation is all in his head. It is difficult for adults to get it, much less a three year old.

  • Bart van der Horst

    Yes just a constant awareness to an inner compulsive system, just being very aware of it without condemming… it will weaken.

  • Oanh Nguyen Hoang Tu

    It’s great way of approaching the issue. With much gratitude.

  • Susan Birks

    Love, (Pure Light, Pure Truth, Pure Self ) knows all of its own ( read you, me ). You and I are blessed aspects within this Purity and we struggle to unite in order to transcend the sum of our parts. The experiences we have on our journey to transcendence will always elude our language, and language seems to separate. Let us then Be beings of The Purity, The Divine and act..BE…in Love. I want to practice BEING love…it does not need me to define it..but it does call to me to BE it… _/_

  • beinghuman

    thank you all for your comments and words… it all seemed to resonate with me. Aren’t we all emotional beings just trying to be human? Hypocrisy is within me and in others because we are human. I agree if someone close to you pushes your buttons, you may express negatively to them and to yourself about them, or that situation, but I think all boils down to saying it is because they care as much as you do. My father always said if I didn’t say anything to you, then it would be like I didn’t care. If two people are in a heated argument it is because both parties care deeply, and have an attachment to the thing they are arguing about. If the argument was about a child for instance, how are they supposed to rise above? Rising above to me is pretty close to not caring at all. Heated moments are learning opportunities yes, but perhaps because we are human, not at that moment, but at least after some reflection we can then see them as learning opportunities. Unless everyone is single for the rest of their lives, we need to love, but we also need to care and to get angry or defend or just express. The hardest lesson for me (and I’m not a great student) is that those who are the hardest to love are the ones who need it the most.

  • John Brig

    “There’s no blame, it’s not even wrong, it’s just what you’re given.”
    Like being born with dark skin to parents who were slaves, thus they were born to the condition?

  • Raeann Thomas

    Easy to say when you are a spiritual leader where all your needs are met and all your worries are cared for at all times. Not so easy when you are just a regular person out there in the world.

  • Robert

    I have to disagree. There is one fault to suffering…it’s not respecting the laws or rules of Ecology, of balance, of human’s proportion to the rest of life. It’s us not respecting the suffering of earth – mother Gaia – herself. When we…any family…any person in a position to bring a child in to the world, or adopt a child….ignores the limits of their environments and have more children than they can afford to care for, or are emotionally prepared for, then nature, or God, or whoever or whatever force you want to call it, will make us suffer the consequences. When we control our reproductive drive we will end the suffering. Wars, poverty, hatred, starvation are all just symptoms of our violation of these laws…they are not, in themselves, the cause of suffering. We are adding 190,000 more to the planet every day; that’s more births, than deaths, every day. Every day, we invite suffering to continue, and grow. See http://www.worldometers.info/world-population