Still residing in India, Raghu and another Canadian go to meet Maharaji, who gave him a feeling of being home for the first time and showed him unconditional love. Meanwhile Ram Dass continues his spiritual evolution and learns the meaning of “renunciation of desire” and explores different vehicles to get to and maintain a place of pure oneness.
Ram Dass also discusses polarities and how they relate to karma and unattachment. Truthfulness is the most profound quality for Westerners to understand, because it is the one they struggle with the most.
When the heart is totally open and truthful, there is no risk or vulnerability at all.
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Raghu: Hi, I’m Raghu Markus, Well, after five months in India, I finally arrived in the foothills of the Himalayas on a late spring day, wondering what in the world was in store for me. Ram Dass had said, “Nobody can meet the guru, and if you do meet him, you meet him for a day”. Well, I thought I would meet him for a day, return home, mission accomplished. I’d finally experience what Ram Dass had been speaking about in America. The night before I was to take the bus to the temple where I could meet Maharaji, I met another westerner, a young woman who I knew from Montreal. She was the girlfriend of a DJ I had hired at the radio station and had traveled to India looking for adventure and somehow found out Maharaji’s whereabouts. I was amazed because she had never shown any interest in spirituality. Well, next day we went to meet the guru at an amazing temple nestled in the mountains; with a streaming river running by it.
I sat with a few westerners I had met the night before, including the woman from Montreal. Suddenly the doors to his room burst open, and to my astonishment I realized I knew him. I knew him because whatever I felt from Ram Dass he was the source and it was beyond what my experience could categorize. But mostly it was a feeling of being home for the first time. I dove at those feet. Wasn’t even a thought in my mind. I later thought about it and wow, I was so screwed up in my head about that Swami, and this was like, not even a thought. Anyhow, then he looked at me and at the young woman from Montreal and said through a translator, “friends from Canada”? And then time stopped in its tracks. It was as if we had been sitting there for a month. I noticed the space the, the very ethers were enveloping my entire being. And I remember thinking, this is the unconditional love that Ram Dass talked about. He wasn’t bullshitting. This was real.
Ram Dass: And what they said to me at the time was; “Well alright, don’t give it up if you can’t. Later everything will be possible. Now it’s important for you to work with that energy”. That’s all they said. And I, in my sophisticated western sense, said, “Well what about tantra? How about tantric sex”? And they said, “Well that isn’t part of this particular yoga. We, uh, we’ll have to explore that independently.” I have since thought a great deal about tantra and talked with many people who are using tantra. Tantra is very simply, its a much broader thing than sexual tantra. Tantra is merely the process of using anything external that is available through your senses to go beyond it. That’s all, this is tantra; using a mala is tantra. The guru external of myself is tantra. Anything external to yourself that you use is tantra. So when you use another woman, another person, a woman, or your sexual partner to work through the sexual relationship, to go beyond it, that is a tantric method. Now the problem with tantra is, that there is a very grave risk of getting trapped in your method. And you see that this is particularly difficult as we talk on. When you are dealing with the desires that are the strongest. Because, the whole matter of enlightenment that is required is what is called renunciation. But when you think of the word renunciation, many of you think in terms of people living off in the woods, having like milarepa, or something like that. Well that’s an external manifestation of renunciation.
Renunciation very simply means not the renunciation of action, but the renunciation of the desire. It doesn’t matter what you do, it’s how much you’re attached in doing it. That’s what the critical issue is. You can live like a Westerner. If Maharishi Mahesh wants to stay at the Hilton it’s cool; as long as Maharishi Mahesh doesn’t give a damn about staying at the Hilton. If he would be just as happy in a hut, he can perfectly well stay at the Hilton. And if he can’t be just as happy in a hut, he maybe can’t afford to stay at the Hilton. Spiritually he can’t afford it. See, and that’s the measure each person has to look at for himself, as to where he, it’s an internal matter. It has nothing to do with any..there is no external way. You can have a person living in the jungle, looking like a renunciate and he’s completely attached to the model he has of being a renunciate. And what is so seductive is that most of the yogas have a trap in them that one becomes attached to one’s yoga. One becomes attached to one’s vehicle.
Now in India it’s an interesting thing. When you are very much caught in nature, it’s said you are at the mercy of the gunas, the various aspects of nature. And you are bound by an ‘iron chain’. And when you have finally managed to separate yourself from tamas, which is ignorance and darkness, the forces of darkness, and ragas, which is the forces of action and high energy, and you become a very satwi person, meaning a very pure person; working towards enlightenment. All the desires that are left are the desires to become enlightened. Then you are attached by what is called the ‘golden chain’. And the statement is, that a golden chain is certainly nicer than an iron chain, but baby, it’s still a chain. See. And finally, you have to give up being the good guy seeking enlightenment. You see. You have to give up all of your vehicles, all of your models, all of desires, all of your attachments, all the way along. But it has nothing to do with your external behavior.
Work with that cuz it’s a very critical point. Now to say a little more about the Brahmacharya, first. I finally did adopt confidence, which I would like to point out that Brahmacharya is quite different from celibacy. Because it is one thing to merely turn off overt sexual acts, and you can live out your fantasies or store up your energies or something like that; sublimate, displace, something like that. Brahmacharya is the process of taking energy that is existing in the body, in the form of what is called Bindu, which is a form of energy that is used in sexual behavior. And through a process you work at in your body, to convert that energy into a finer type of energy that is used in spiritual work; which is called Ojhas. And so the conversion is from Bindu to Ojhas. And it is, it is a process that many of you recognize involves Pranayama, Kundalini. It involves working with the spine and opening up the Sushumna, the think that opens up the spine. I’ll talk more about that when we come to Pranayama. However, the difference is you’re not just stopping sex, you’re redirecting the sexual energy, and the experience is certainly highly parallel to much of what you reach for when you towards a sexual experience. And the part that finally awes you, is to appreciate the fact that all the time I was reaching through the motorcycle, through the airplane, through my sexual partner, through power, through fame, through any of those things, for that feeling inside myself, that feeling which we can call fulfillment, the feeling of ‘it’s all right’, the feeling of ‘yeah’, or ‘wha’, or the feeling of contentment, the feeling of bliss; the feeling of anunda, bliss. That feeling, all of it, even though I use those external things to start the process, they were my yoga, that feeling came from the same place inside, always, always. Somebody gives you a big job and you must be pretty good and you feel that great feeling. That’s that place. There’s an ego thing that got you there, but it’s the place. That’s that place. You just have your moment of orgasm and ahhh. You have merged and it’s an unitive thing. And you look at the other person and you say, “I love you.” It’s just like looking at your mala and saying I love you. It was a vehicle. It got you to that place. And then when you begin to understand that that is the case; that all those places are the same place, and that it’s a place inside you, then you say, well now, isn’t there a direct method of going to that place and staying there?
And then you start to understand what Brahmacharya is. Because this whole process is a process of residing in that place all the time. I must explain to you that when you really understand… My guru used sahaja samahdi. That means he is in a fully realized state all the time. Now I’ll tell you exactly where he is. If you were making love to somebody, sexual love, and you are very relaxed, and it’s a very beautiful experience, and you get very close, and as you approach the moment of orgasm, there is a merging experience, so that instead of being her and me, or, you know, the other person and the self, there is just the experience. And there are so many arms maybe and so many legs, but even those may be gone, and there is just the feeling of the experience. And both people are merged in that place. And if your sex is particularly good, you are in that place and you try to maintain that place, cuz that’s the highest peak, it’s the blissful union, the yin yang merger. The polarities have come together. If at that place you pull your head back from your beloved to look at your beloved; in other words, you go back into the polarity to love the beloved, as a separate entity, only to go back into the merger. You understand that place where you just keep going like; oh, ah, oh, ah. It’s just that. That’s where he lives. That’s where he lives. His beloved is God. And he goes right in and out of that little place. It’s just like, at the rate of breathing; rate of breathing. He’s going into the union, back to the duality. Back into form, form to formless. Right at that edge. He just comes back into form enough, keeps the body going. And comes back to worship, comes back to worship.
Okay, I want to make the parallels between the sexual gratifications, which are usually genital sexual, but in Westerners that are very sophisticated and have worked much in opening themselves up sexually, get so that it is not any longer genital sexuality, but total in the Freudian sense of everything becomes sexual, erogenous zone. The whole body and the whole mind becomes an erogenous zone, one large erogenous zone. And people are just merged in a sexual union. Well that place is the place we are talking about. I used to kid. I didn’t understand. You see, before I went to India, I remember giving a lecture and I remember saying, “You know there are some of these yogis in India who go sit in the mountains and they sit cross-legged and you feel, poor guys, there they are all alone. But man, they’re really like an orgasm all the time”. And everyone laughed. And I laughed. And it was all very funny cuz I didn’t believe it. Now that I know how Shakti and Shiva merged through Kundalini. And now I know it from inside. Now it’s quite a different matter, quite a different matter. Alright, in Pranayama I’ll talk more about what you do about the sexual energies. Let me just deal with the other things in Yama. Now the implication of non-killing is interesting, because. I wear leather sandals, but these leather sandals come from the Gandhi ashram in Delhi, which are made from cows that died naturally. Every time a cow dies on the street, they call up the Gandhi ashram and they send a truck over and they take it and make sandals out of it for nuts like me. And it’s like my teachers. The way he started to teach me about this. He wrote on his slate, “snakes know heart”. Meaning, when you are pure of heart, when you don’t mean harm to anything, you don’t have to worry about snakes, because they are appreciative of where you are at. Right? They won’t do you in unless they feel a threat from you. And that is the reason why I am, part of the reason, why I am on the diet I am on, which is a vegetarian diet. Because they feel, and I only do what I’m told, but they feel that since you are what you eat, and since the cells of animals that die violently have all of the chemicals that are released at the time of violent death, fear and anxiety and so on, that this does effect the constituency, the components, the composition of your cellular body.
And as your consciousness gets finer and finer, then what you are made up of is your environment, in which that consciousness is dwelling. It’s the temple in which you are living. And if that temple is full of those kinds of vibrations, its a much finer energy than gross body level, the finer level of energy. If your body is made up of that, it’s going to bring you down. It’s going to catch you up. It’s going to create a bad environment in which to work. Non-killing, non-stealing, and non-receiving of gifts; there’s another element to them which is very interesting, which is very relevant here in the west. And that is the degree into which, and truth is part of it also, the degree to which one sees any other individual as object in relationship to oneself. That the polarities that we exist in, in the west, have gotten to be such, that we create our polar opposite all the time.
I know many of you will feel uncomfortable when I say this, but the hippies create the police as much as the police create the hippies. That the liberals create the conservatives. The protesters create the John Birchers just as much as the John Birchers create the protesters. That as long as you are attached to whatever pole you are representing, the vibrations which you are sending out are creating its polar opposite around you. If you can do whatever is your karma, which may be walking in a protest march or fighting in Vietnam, or being a conservative or a liberal or being a housewife or being a yogi, and can do it without attachment and do it fully and thoroughly, but without attachment, then you do not create that karma, do not create the polar opposite. And therefore, what they are saying is that certain acts have in them the implicit recognition of treating other people as objects. When you steal from somebody else, when you harm somebody else, you are harming yourself. But the key one that we Westerners have to explore is the one of truthfulness. Because I realized finally, that there was no where to hide, that I could not afford any longer not to tell the truth. That the subtle kind of deception that we impose upon ourselves had to go, had to go. I’ve got a new routine now. When people come to visit me up at my cabin up in New Hampshire, I say to them, “I”m not interested in social visits, if we’re working together. And I demand, in this situation, total truth”. I say, “ Is there anything you can think of that you can’t tell me”? Anything you can think of? Don’t think of rhinoceros. Is there anything you can think of that you can’t tell me”? Well one guy thinks I look like an ape, so he doesn’t want to tell me that. Another guy’s got some sexual hangup. He doesn’t want to tell me that. I say, “Well, if you can’t trust me enough to share all that with me, if you think I am still at the place where I’m going to hurt you, or you feel hurt-able, then we’re not ready to work together. Now the implications of that are this. Sounds like John Kennedy. I want to say this about that. That just like I said at the outset of the lecture, the geese do not mean to cast their image, nor the water to receive their reflection, or the water to receive their image. When somebody visits me, I am being the witness, that place which is independent of personality and individual difference, and I am trying to make contact with that place in that other person. And at that place there is no game involved. There is nothing he can do to me or I can do to him. That is the place I went to in that session. How can you hurt me? Kill my body? That’s your karma not mine. Truthfulness is perhaps one of the most profound ones for the Westerners to understand because our level of paranoia is so deep seated, so profound.
You know, when I went to India I couldn’t believe those people were really existing. In the villages, they are so pure. They are really so pure. Like somebody would walk ten miles out to the temple to bring me some food; just because they wanted me to have it. And what would I do as a Westerner? I would think well what’s in it for them? What do they want from me? I couldn’t accept the fact that a person could be doing that pure an act just out of the feeling of wanting to do it. And when I first read the Ramayana, the story of Ram, it was at a time of yuga, when things were much purer and not the Kali yuga, we’re living in now. He was an incarnation in the sadhu. And his life is such a reflection of purity, that I would cry at such purity, because I never met anybody that pure. I couldn’t even conceive of anybody being that pure. I mean, it was just like it blew my mind when they didn’t ask me for a contract, the temple. When they didn’t ask me to pay for my food or my clothing. What am I getting into here? There was one voice in me, saying baby, are you paranoid? And watching those layers of paranoia, like a onion just being taken away one by one as they were making me naked, so that my heart could be that open; so that I could really be there with another consciousness because I started to live in the place where there was nothing you could do to me. And when there is nothing you can do to me, I can be totally here for you, because I’m not vulnerable. I’m not going to be hurt. There’s no risk. There’s no risk at all.
And when you once know where that place is with another human being, you realize you can’t afford not to have it, because you just gypping yourself so badly. I can tell, when somebody comes to see me, I look into their eyes, you see. In the old days, when I looked into someone’s eyes it was a power play. I want to control them or show them how deep I was, or look to see. I was doing something. Now I look at someone’s eyes and I’m doing mantra. I’m just empty. But I’m really here. And I can feel their eyes. And sometimes you look into somebody’s eyes it’s like a deep bottomless well and their just there at every level. Every level you touch upon, they are there. They’re just pure consciousness that you meet. And others you go just so far and you feel the level drop, because it’s too risky to get in that close. I mean, I just met you. How can I be in love you you? And I only look that way if people, you know, that kind of thing. And to realize that that place that you are, which is pure consciousness. Which is……I’ll play a little game with you and give you the clues. It’s light. It’s energy. It’s also love. It’s the same exact place. It’s purusha. It’s pure energy. It’s the same place in you as it is in me. And when we look that way, we are in that place together. And then we are both witnessing all the rest of our acts, which is all out there; from this other place. That’s only if you can be truthful. If you figure you’ve gotta hide from me, you’re still attached to your self image, which has some secrets going. You’ve got some closed doors in your head. And all I am saying is we cannot afford the closed doors anymore. I can’t anyway. Everything in my life is an open book. You can ask me anything. I’ll tell you all my perverse sexual experiences. If there is a Freudian here that wants to play. Cuz it doesn’t mean a damn thing to me anymore. That’s Richard Alpert, that poor hung up cat, poor hung up cat. What a hard life he was leading. I’m not going to spend the rest of my life being attached to an old model, and have it hold me down. It not worth it even though there is all this social impropriety in being identified with it. Tough. Now, to shift gears for a second, every morning I got up at around 4:30 or 5:00, would go to the river to bathe, meaning pouring cold water in a loda over oneself in the dark. This is up in the Himalayas, so the temperature is sometimes 30. It’s not Tibet, but it’s chilly. You’re barefoot in the snow and stuff. It’s interesting. You develop a thing called dumo, which is body heat. Which is a way of working with the inner things so you create the heat. For example, one of the Tibetan initiations about dumo in the Tibetan sects is when a guy is really ready for the initiation, they take the group out to a river bank in the sub-zero wind. And they sit naked by the river and they dip sheets into the river. And they cut a hole in the ice and they dip sheets in them and they put the sheets on the backs of these guys. And how many they dry with their own body during the night is the measure of how high they are when they pass the initiation. Two glasses of milk a day, internal heat, where is it all leading? What have we Westerners been doing all this time? What do we think this body is all about? I met a yogi who had been buried alive for three years. It’s like a siddhi. It’s a power. It’s a little feat. It’s like being a high wire walker. It doesn’t take you to enlightenment. He wakes up at the end of three years. He’s just where he was when he went to sleep. However, it’s impressive. And his arm was all eaten away because they hadn’t packed him right and the ants had eaten away one arm. And I talked with the people who were there about how he did it. And I was told that the only amount of oxygen you need really, is for your brain cells and your heart muscle. And that your cells store plenty of oxygen for that purpose.
And that’s why when you do go into samadhi, you stop breathing. And when I first started to do Pranayana, I went through that little place, which I’ll tell you about in a minute. It scared me, because in my model, you don’t stop breathing. That’s it, for your body. Alright, after the bath, back by the little coal stove, then breathing exercises, pranayama, and asana, meaning Hatha yoga, then chai tea at about 7:30. Then I usually would read something from the Gita, or from the Tao, or from some holy book. I was only allowed to read the books of realized beings. And that’s a very subtle and interesting point. See, when you read a book, written by a guy who’s writing about realization, what you’re really getting from him is all the reasons why he isn’t a realized being. I mean, some of the great Westerners that are writing beautiful insightful books about Eastern method, all they are really doing at the vibrational level is they are taking people on their own trip, as to why they are not the realized being themselves. And therefore, rather than being Typhoid Tessie, you know, that kind of carrier, and getting involved in that; the rule of the game is you read only books written by people who made it. You can read the writings of Rama Krishna. You can read the writings of Ramana Maharshi. You can read the writings of Gautama Buddha. You can read the writings of Christ. You can read the writings of Krishna and Ram and so on, all the rishis, in India.
But you don’t read all the ones that we would look to as really good books in the field, good books in the field. That’s study, which is part of niyama, which is part of the second armor. So I read a little bit of something, maybe from the book of Tao, and then I would reflect on it for a while. Then I would go into a formal meditation for about an hour, which I’ll explain later. Then around 11:00 I’d write a little bit for an hour. I would sort of writing notes and ideas, working on a little book, I guess. Then around 12:00, my meal was placed outside the door. Sometimes around 11:00, instead of writing, the teacher would come and he would teach me for an hour or so. We’d sit with chalkboards talking with one another, teaching. He’d like say, “If you wear leather on your feet, the whole world is covered with leather”. He’d write that first. So I’d think about that. That’s makes pretty good sense. Everywhere you walk is leather, if you are wearing leather on your feet. You think it’s you, but its just the shoes, its your foot. Then he’d say, “If you think of God, everywhere there’s God”. Same way, other words. Then he would say,” Desire is the trap. Desirelessness is moksha, meaning liberation. Desire is the creator. Desire is the destroyer. Desire is the universe”. What he was saying to me was, your desires create your universe. You desire sexual gratification, you live in a world full of sex. You desire peace militantly, you live in a militant world. When you are a peaceful being, you live in a peaceful universe, because the vibrations that go out from you are peaceful, and the people that are involved in them experience greater feelings of wanting to be peaceful. It’s simple. It’s the way it works.
Transcribed by Jessie Senibaldi