Artwork by Sam Brown
It turns out that the universe is lawful – not in a logical law, by the way. The law I’m talking about is what would be called the divine law. That is, it’s not logical law in the sense that a is a and not b. It’s the law that includes paradox and all possibility. Within that law of the universe, everything that is in form – whether it is on this physical plane or on any of the other planes I’ve been talking about – is all perfectly lawful. When we reduce it to our logical analogue, which is not an exact analogue but similar, we can think in deterministic frameworks. There is no free choice in the deterministic system. That is, if the laws are just running off, they are just running off, and the experience of the free choice is merely another run-off of the law. And under those conditions the past, present, and future are all perfectly lawfully related to one another.
Because we are in time, we think that the future has not yet happened. But it’s very much like being a character in a book, and you’re on page 23 and you don’t know what’s going to happen on page 24, because you think you’re the character in the book. But now imagine you’re reading the book – well, you could turn over and find out what happened on page 24. Now imagine you wrote the book. You would already know what happened on page 24. Hinduism and all these dualistic religio-philosophic movements talk about “the One” or the “one guru,” or satguru, or however you want to talk about it; Judaism says “The Lord is One,” and Jesus says, “My father and I are one.” When you go into these traditions, you see that when he has extricated himself from the attachment I’ve been talking about – physical, subtle, and all these different vibrational frequency plays – then he and consciousness are the same thing. And of course since it is all interchangeable, there’s only one of it. The way in which it keeps manifesting in form or in these different planes and coming down into clouds and then solids – and all this is perfectly lawful – you would say in effect, “He is the law.” God is the law.
That’s the way the word “God” finally comes in, which is a hard one for us. But you could say that’s why the Jews were so interested in the law, and what the Ten Commandments were that Moses brought back. Because the universe of form is merely the lawful manifestation of this energy into patterns, and because it is all lawful – past, present, and future – all are already. Therefore when you are around this being, my guru you see that he is no more in the present than in the past or the future, and to him it’s all equally available. Often when I’m sitting with him he would look at a being and later in just a little conversation when it just comes out for some karmic reason I don’t fully understand, he’ll say something about what’s going to happen to that guy. In the Tibetan tradition there’s like a lama who sends out postcards saying, “Next Thursday at 2 I’m leaving my body. I’m going to die. I hope you will come join me.” And everybody gathers at the Thursday at 2 and he turns around three times, he sits down, and he dies. You know that a fully conscious being always knows exactly the moment he’s going to die, if he cared. When he is going to “drop his body” is what the expression is – and that really is what it is, dropping the body. It means dying to the physical plane. Ramana Maharshi, very beautiful, had cancer of the arm and he wouldn’t have it treated and the devotees said, “Oh Bhagavan – God – take care of your body.” And he said, “No, it’s finished its work on this plane.” They said, “Don’t leave us; don’t leave us.” And he looked at them like he was bewildered, and he said, “Where can I go? Just because you’re not going to see me on the plane you’re addicted to, do you think I’m going anywhere?”
My experience with my guru over this time is that in five years he has slowly taken me over – which is a hard one for Westerners. Like my father asks me, “Are you getting married?” – because the woman I used to live with is in India with my guru, and he keeps calling her Mrs. Ram Dass. So I say, “I don’t know, he hasn’t told me yet.” My father comes out of the tradition where you don’t ask somebody else if you are going…”What do you mean, he hasn’t told you?” he says. “Don’t you make any decisions on your own?” And I say, “No.” No. Now from our point of view we really think we lost something. In the Christian Bible it’s called “Not my will, but Thy will, O Lord.” Because once you realize you are not who you thought you were anyway – how long do you want to play out the little melodrama that you think you’re doing it all? And if you don’t think you’re doing it all, and it’s still all lawful, you might as well just sit and listen to how it all came out. That’s the “Not my, but Thy will.” It’s what is called surrender - which we find so horrible because when we think of the word “surrender” we think of one ego surrendering to another. But if you imagine just surrendering into the law or surrendering the illusion that you are the choice maker… The idea is, when you surrender, is the result chaos? Is Freud right? Is the whole idea right that who we are is a wild animal? Or is that just more of the program?
– Ram Dass, excerpt from The Only Dance There Is