If there is one day in a life that was the end of one thing and the beginning of another thing that was the day I met Ram Dass…
Before that I was running around to every yogi who came to America. I remember doing asanas with some guy, some crazy yogi, on the floor of this lower East Village apartment with cockroaches running over my body and mice scampering around with some guy, some crazy yogi. But nothing ever really touched me.
I was living in upstate New York with these maniac Jungian acid-head mountain climbers. And they were saying they were going to see Richard Alpert who had just come back from India and did I want to come? Now they call him Ram Dass. American yogis? Come on, give me a break. I said I’d stay and take care of the goats. So they left. I can still see their car. They had this old beat-up Jaguar sedan. English racing green. They were supposed to be gone two days and they were gone like three or four days. They returned and drove their car across the dirt road through the field just as I came out of the goat shed. We had two goats: Alice Bailey and Madame Blavatsky. I had just milked them. The car pulls up and stops and the guy whose place it was comes out of the car and he’s like totally insane. There was light shooting out of him. I just said, “Write down the directions. I’m leaving now.”
I ran out to my cabin, got back into my old Volvo, and I hit the road through the coldest snowstorm night of the year. It was freezing. I had to drink hot mocha coffee all night long just to stay up. It took me like 14 hours to get there. It was a five-hour drive. I pulled up. It was a beautiful snow-covered scene. I pulled up in the driveway, turned the engine off and it was like silence. Total silence. My heart went blump. It just leapt, you know. I thought, that was weird. What was that? Then I went up to the door and knocked. This guy opens the door and he just smiles and points upstairs and I thought I’m getting the fuck outta here. This is too weird. Anyway I went upstairs and Ram Dass was there and we spent the whole day together. The minute I walked into that room, I felt something that I had never felt before. It was an inner knowing. Without a word being spoken, I knew that whatever it was I was looking for, and I didn’t know what to call it at that time…EXISTED. It was real and was in the world. I didn’t know if I would find it or not, but just knowing that it was real changed my life.
And then it was late afternoon and he said, “You can stay for the evening if you want or you can leave, but whichever it is now is the time to do it.” I said, “Well I have to drive my school bus in the morning so I have to drive home.” He had given me a mantra at one point during the day and he says, “Whatever you do, your mantra will protect you.” I thought that’s a weird thing to say. I had to go. I get in the car and I hadn’t slept the whole night before. I started driving and I got really tired. I drove for maybe an hour or so, then I pulled off the road and I set the alarm clock and put it on the dashboard. I set it for an hour and I went to sleep. The next thing I know I am driving along the road and I dont know where I am. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know where I came from. I don’t know where I’m going. I woke up driving!!! I had woken up in my sleep, turned the alarm off, and hit the road, all the time totally asleep. Finally I realized I was driving and I remembered him saying, “Your mantra will protect you.” I screamed that mantra all the way from New Hampshire to New York.
But the thing was my whole life changed that day because everything I had dreamed of and hoped was true. Everything that I longed for and wanted but couldn’t really believe was real I realized was real when I met Ram Dass. I didn’t know if I would ever really get a piece of it or not, but I just knew it existed in the world, you could find it, that it really was there. And that made such a difference . . . It was completely different after that.