Welcome to the Ram Dass Here and Now podcast.
I’m your host Raghu Markus.
Well, we’ve been doing these podcasts for a little bit now. Seems like maybe we been going for a couple of months. And the idea that we had was to deliver to you a little bit of an introduction from me, which is, you know, kind of how I met Ram Dass and went off to India and met Maharaji and that journey. And also the lectures that we are presenting of Ram Dass are from the late ‘60’s. They basically are his transformation story and they are his guidelines for living a spiritual life, it’s as simple as that and they probably most of them formed the basis for the book, Be Here Now, which most of us hopefully remember, if not, pick that book up – it’s an amazing book.
So I started noticing in these lectures something pretty interesting. I mean they were done… Ram Dass went to India is ‘67. He spent about six months there after he met Maharaji and came back to America and as everyone knows, he started going around lecturing, after, of course, Maharaji telling him not to tell a word about him. Now I just want to point one little example out of something…. He went back to India after those … maybe a few intervening years. He was in America, ’68, 69 and a part of ’70 and then he went back to India and that’s when a bunch of us went over as well.
So in this lecture – and actually its part of the lecture that follows this little introduction, Ram Dass is talking a lot about how he manipulated his, what he calls, ‘puny ego’. The move in and out of finding consciousness but at the same time it was, a lot of manipulation is going on, in his mind. And he was getting high. So he’d out of space and time, but he’d always crash. Which was one of the big motivations he had to get to India originally.
So he talked about all of this and he talked about once you’ve seen through the illusion … then, well there’s really no going back on one level and this is what he’s talking about in the lecture, but at the same time you recognise you have this personality and you’re going to live with it for the rest of your life, but at the same time you’re able to get behind it into a witness and a non judgemental basis. So your life becomes something other – once you see through this illusion and that’s what he’s talking about.
So I was just looking through some notes I have from when I was there way back when and Maharaji said to us one day regarding this very question, that Ram Dass brought up before Maharaji said it years later, he said ‘You must honour your personality to gain freedom from the tyranny of thought forms.’ I mean that’s amazing, I mean I didn’t remember it but something so valuable. And what’s even more amazing is that Ram Dass had this thing coming through him from Maharaji even before Maharaji himself said it to us. Well maybe I’m getting to dramatic but, um, regarding manipulating that puny ego I’ll tell a little story.
I was sitting …at one point one of us in the group made a whole bunch of these cute stamps of pictures of Maharaji gave them out to everybody. Maharaji used to ask for them and we’d go ‘Here’ and he’d take the stamps and of course you’d expect him to give equal amounts to everybody who was there and he’d give the whole damn thing to one schlub that you cant…, oh my god he gave it to this person, one person. Anyhow, so I’m sitting in front of him, not right in front of him but about twenty thirty feet away, he was talking to somebody and he asked for some stamps and I had some stamps – right in front of him, I ripped them in half, went up to him and gave him half. Well he looked at me like I was handing him poop. I mean it was like ‘Are you out of your mind?’, like it was right in front of him, it wasn’t like prescient or anything going into the universe or whatever it was just right in front of his eyes. And he goes ‘Ni! JAU!’ which means leave immediately, which I did, and um, then I go look for a place to hang myself because I was so depressed for days. I mean that was just a transparent ridiculous puny ego thing of holding on to something.
So a couple of days later I went, I was back in Kenshi, and he asks anyone got any stamps and sure enough I had those same stamps you bet I gave them all to him and he gave them all to somebody else and he turned back to me and he had his finger pointed as he does, you can see it in some pictures, with that look on his face, ‘Watch out buddy’. Anyhow, that was just, I mean, we were just in our twenties at the time, I mean we didn’t know nothing. So that was a little slice of life of being there with Neem Karoli Baba ….
Ram Dass: So what happened to me was I went through the doorway and I thought oh wow it isn’t like I thought it was at all. I mean if I’m going to spend my whole life manipulating this puny ego through a set of power games and instead of sensual gratification and what’s the payoff – the end… is it’s all gonna end anyway, cos it’s all in time and suddenly I know who I am in that moment when I’m quote stoned, quote high, I am out of time I am out of space. But boy did it feel valid. Did it feel real. It feels like it’s the first real thing that’s ever happened to me. Everything else had a certain like hustle quality to it.
Except my suffering I mean I was really into my suffering. I mean really get into your suffering. Self pity. That’s real. Everything else may go but boy you got to suffer.
And we’re just coming out of the dark night of the protestant ethic. You know. Suffer baby, that’s the only way you’ll be good. Suffer some more. Go on really suffer. Oh – feels so good, hurts so bad. We’ve all done the trip, we’ve all done the trip. Suffering is great, it’s like straightening by fire. It’s pure fun, its very good. But the funny thing is… you want to know another paradox? This trip requires total suffering, but it’s got to be suffering that’s no suffering. I mean you just got to go the whole suffering trip but you can’t be the guy that’s suffering.
Do you think, by the way, that when Christ was standing there and they’re nailing nails in, and he goes ah man does that hurt? He’s probably watching the guy that’s nailing the nails in with absolute compassion. He digs why the cat’s doing it, what he’s stuck in, how much dust covers his eyes, why he’s gotta be doing it, that’s the way it is. He says the night before, he says, well, tomorrow’s the big trip, I gotta go on it, you know, I gotta go do this thing. Yeah right, there are the nails, wow look at that.
I go to the dentist and the dentist says ‘I’m going to have to drill near a nerve, I’ll give you Novocaine.’ ‘No don’t give me Novocaine,’ ‘What do you mean? You want Novocaine, it’ll be terrible.’ ‘It’s pain, it’s interesting.’ ‘Well, alright.’ ‘Aaaaaaaghhhh! Boy, its pain. It’s really interesting.’ Really it’s interesting. So who am I? Am he who feels pain? No. That’s the thing. Once you know that, then pleasure and pain, and fame and shame and loss and gain, are all the same. They’re all just happening to you. It’s just like…. Ooooo. You know you’re standing on a bridge watching it all go by. Wow, look at that. Boy … ooouch.
Once you have seen through the illusion, and that is, I told you… it wasn’t your choice. It’s just karmic… your karma that in this particular life time and I know you all went through changes when I say this particular life time, you mean there were other life times? You mean you believe in reincarnation? Well I’ll take you through that very gradually in about five minutes. We’re gonna go the whole trip tonight. It’s the last night, let’s blow it all.
For some reason or other this trip, you woke up. I mean you went through lots of trips before this and you can see all the trips you went through out on the street, you’re meeting them all the time. Guy carrying the burden of his personality through life. I’ve spent 32 years in analysis, and I’m now making… I’m now coping. Boy he’s not gonna make this round.
But the minute, the moment has come, where the veil just gets thin enough so you see through for a second, so that when you go to church on Sunday and they read, they sing a hymn:
‘Humbly I adore thee, verily unseen who thy glory hidest neath these shadows mean, lo to thee surrendered my whole heart is bowed, tranced as it beholds thee shrined within the cloud.’ That’s a hymn from Epailean the Protestant hymnal, the words were St Thomas Aquinas. Now you could very easily be somebody who has gone to the Episcopal church on a Sunday morning, cos somebody took you or because you were looking, and you may have sung Humbly I adore thee, verily unseen … Just think of all the thousands of people who sing that and they don’t know what it’s talking about. They’re just doing the words, as if by praying to aisles, they just doing the words as if doing the words is going to do it for them. But the seed hasn’t been planted, the veil hasn’t lifted, they’re on an ego trip, ‘Look how good I am going to church.’ It’s called the golden chain in India, the golden chain. They’re good people, they’re not bad people. Bad people are like doing heavy things, they’re laying heavy things on each other, whereas good people are laying heavy things on each other too but it’s er… the word heavy is too complicated to use. Like it’s going through a metamorphosis, it’s got a whole new meaning now.
But good people are in a tricky position. Because they’re doing what the outer manifestation of the thing is but the inner thing isn’t happening. Very poignant. Very poignant. But it’s alright cos they’re going in the right direction. Another round or two. Another round or two and they’ll make it. They’ll hear the words that they’re singing. I go to church in a little town I live in in New Hampshire and all the people singing hymns and nothing’s happening. They walk in all up tight and they walk out all uptight. Maybe they’re a little calmer. I see them and lights flash and I get so stoned I wanna run down the aisle and shout Wow, look at those words, that’s really here. You’re singing about it all just as it really is, just like the book says. It’s not like you think it is at all. Psychotic. Watch it, watch it, watch it, careful.
This psychosis business is an interesting business. I er, you see if you go through the door way too fast and you’re not ready for it and you’re getting bound hand and foot and thrown into outer darkness you may land anywhere. And lots of people land in mental hospital. The reason they do that is because they went in through the door with their ego. See they said like, wow, I’ve been invited to the wedding feast. I mean, dig me Sam Jones in heaven, now Sam Jones standing at the right hand of the Lord. There’s the Lord, and there’s the angel Gabriel and there’s Sam Jones. They don’t understand that you have to die to be born. That only when you are born again do you enter the kingdom of heaven. See they went in on the first round and what happens is they go on a huge ego trip. It’s called Messianic Complex, its called paranoia, delusions of grandeur. I have a brother who is in a mental hospital, he thinks he is Christ. Well that’s groovy I am Christ also, but he doesn’t think I’m Christ, he just thinks he’s Christ. Because it happened to him and he took his ego with him so he says like I’m special and when I say to him sure man you’re Christ, I’m Christ too and he says you don’t understand. And so when he’s out he steals cars and things like that because he needs them, because he’s Christ, it’s alright. So they lock him up. And he says, I don’t know, he said me, I’m a responsible member of society, I go to church, me they put in a mental hospital. You, you got a beard, you wear a dress, you, you’re out free.
Sure because as far as I’m concerned we’re all God, that’s the difference. That’s the difference. And if you really think another guy is God he doesn’t lock you up. He’s funny about that. But you have to be really pure, you got to really think it, you can’t just make believe you think it. Anything less than total purity, back out into outer darkness. Send him round again, send him round again.
That’s what you learn after a couple of hundred psychedelic trips. So I might as well get straight because I’m beginning to feel a bit like a yo-yo. I keep going up and coming down. Up and down. As long as there’s an up and down, as long as there’s a high and low in your head – outer darkness. As long as you’re in the world of yin and yang – outer darkness. It takes a lot of purification. Purification of what? Purification of thought, purification of body. Freedom from attachment.
And after a long time of going up and down, without understanding why I was going up and down, or how to stop it, how to stop the going down. Slowly, slowly it dawned on me. Now why did I keep trying? The answer is very simple and almost all of you know the answer already, the answer is once the seed is in you you don’t have any choice, again its karma. And I keep raising that nasty word and I’ll define it in a moment but it’s built into you, once you have seen what it all is like you just cant go back to playing bridge. It just doesn’t make it.
It’s like, imagine you’re a pre pubescent, you’re just at puberty, see, and you have been playing um, Olly olly in free, um Hide and Seek, or you’ve been playing baseball, and you’re really… you collect baseball cards, you’re really into collecting baseball cards and coca cola caps that have baseball players and you’re really into it, I mean, really, I mean it’s really important, really important. And then some strange thing happens, uncontrolled by you … and you find yourself turned on by the chick next door. And through some strange set of circumstances you find yourself kissing her and all kinds of lights flash. Well, from that moment on the baseball cards are just different. They’re just different. You can go back and say ‘Well that’s all interesting but the baseball cards are really what’s important.’ That’s called defence.
The thing happened, the seed got planted.
No turning back, no turning back.
Once you sense the possibility, once you just feel that other thing inside of you, you start in this, and it’s almost a completely unconscious mechanism of searching. Looking for the messages. ‘Do you know?’ ‘Do you know?’ ‘Do you have the key?’ Where’s the next message? Where’s the next message? And the interesting thing is there is always a next message and it’s always available to you. Now that’s a hard one. Some of you and this is why I’m going through this thing of, like… people saying what’s going to happen when you go away? Who’s going where, first of all. Second of all, it has nothing to do with me. The process is going on in each individual. Whenever you are ready, you hear the next message. The next message is where you are when you’re ready to hear the next message. If you come here this evening and you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about you are not ready to hear this message and you can be sitting here and there’s no message. Somebody else comes here and they say ‘Wow that’s the message I was waiting for.’ Both of you are in this room at this very moment. The hand writing is always on the wall saying, ‘Magic theatre for mad men only, price of admission, your mind.’ Herman Hesse’s metaphor in Steppenwolf. Always there. Question is can you see it. The funny thing about all of the secrets of the east, or all the secrets of mysticism, is that they’re not secrets. Nobody is saying don’t tell him. They’re telling it, they’re yelling it… and saying ‘Except ye become converted and come as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.’ That’s a secret. Think of how many times you’ve heard that. And you said ‘Well yeah, that’s really interesting, that’s great, that’s a minister talking he’s doing his thing. He’s gotta earn a living too, he’s a good guy.’
Because you cant… it isn’t a.. the secret is a secret to you because of where your head is at. Your receiving mechanism isn’t tuned for that particular frequency.
Ok now, no nonsense, how do I really think it is?
I’ve been on a trip now… My trip has taken me through psychology – more or less responsibly. Um, then it took me from my academic career, psychology, into psychedelics and exploring the within chemically, which led me to end my psychology career, rather um dramatically, by being fired from Harvard. Then I pursued the psychedelics for a long time and then I got that feeling of being a yo-yo and then I finally went to the east looking for … seeing if anybody knew anything else, since I didn’t know enough to figure out how to do this trip. I couldn’t stay inside the door. I didn’t know what to do next. I kept reading the books, but I didn’t understand them. They were yelling the secrets but I couldn’t hear them, because I was looking at them from the wrong place, that was my problem. And I couldn’t get my head in the right place, to see what they were about. Because I still wanted to know I knew, see. I was still a western rational man. ‘We’ll figure this thing out. Psychic phenomena – very interesting, we certainly must do further research.’
So I went and I looked and I looked and I looked and as long as I looked like a rational man looking I didn’t find anything. I just found my own shadow all the time. It’s all you can ever find is yourself. You only read yourself. You only talk to yourself. You only ever know yourself. That’s all there is. That’s all there is. Strange.
And then – I gave up. I saw that my whole game didn’t work. Didn’t work. It gave me all the rewards that were seemed to be offered. But it didn’t work, there was this place in me that knew it wasn’t working. I knew there was something else and I couldn’t get to it. Couldn’t get to it. At that point I gave up and then I was ready for the next message, and the next message was standing right there, it was sitting right in the, in a hippy restaurant, in the Blue Tibetan restaurant. In Kathmandu, Nepal. And the message took me by the hand and took me the whole trip and took me to my next message giver. Who was a being who had, who had, finished the trip. He didn’t come down anymore, he was inside the gates. There he was, he was a realized being. And he did the thing, he blew my mind, he finished me with my rational trip.
That is a brief chronology of the series of dramas that unfolded in this illusion that one calls sadhana or spiritual path.
Now after having studied psychology and guided psychedelic trips and read eastern books and met realized beings and listened to innumerable stories from people about other realized beings and their own trips and inner heads and being a psychotherapist for ten years and all this is the way it looks to me. I’m not asking anyone to buy anything, there’s no sale going on here. There’s no sale. Because nobody’s sending a message. You and I are here, we’re observing this process. That’s all that’s going on. If I’m trying to convince you, I might just as well pack up my … whatever holy men have and wend my way down 3rd Avenue. Because if I’m trying I can be sure of failure. There’s no trying, because there’s no you and no me. Here we are, we’re just exploring how it is. I’m our mouth. I’m our mouth.
I once took LSD with Alan Watts and his wife and he started to talk, and he talked for eight hours and at first I got a uptight. I mean, like, you know, I know something, why doesn’t he ask me? He’s just gonna talk all night? Then it dawned on me that he was just our mouth. He was our mouth, and it was beautiful because every time our thoughts didn’t fit with what he was saying, what he was saying would change. He was extremely sensitive, and he was the most erudite mouth he, I’ve, ever spoken through.
How is it? How is it then?
Statement no 1: We, rational man, is not the highest being on the evolutionary scale at this moment. There are beings, there are realized beings, that do not live in bodies whose awareness functions at a higher rate of vibration than ours does. They do not process data through gross senses, though eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin, nor do they know through their intellect. Statement No. 1.
Statement No. 2: We are all eligible to enter the next evolutionary stage to the extent that we are able to extricate ourselves from the time space locus in which we find ourselves. By which I mean changing ones vibrational rate if you will. Available to everybody, it has nothing to do with you gotta wait til you die. Available right here now, this minute, here and now. In fact if you could turn off your senses and turn off your intellect, right now, you’d be here. You could really be here, it’s as simple as that you don’t have to plan – should I go become enlightened or become a physicist? It doesn’t work that way. You don’t have to do that.
If you think of mass as solid – that’s because you are trusting your senses and you look at something and it looks solid. Most of the time, if you’re at the usual way of seeing things. Everybody agrees it’s solid. When it hits you it hurts. Must be real. When you get a little more sophisticated in rational ways, if you get a little further into physics, you understand about the relationship of mass and energy and you understand that what appears as mass, only appears that way because of the receiving apparatus of the senses. And that in fact all solids are in fact just energy, they are patterns of energy. You could call them slowed down light. Slowed down light.
And when it is slowed down and forms into certain patterns it gets gross enough so you can see it from your eyes, its just like going from infra red or ultra violet through the spectrum of the visual field, when the rate, the vibrational rate changes you can see it, or if it gets to a point where you cant see it or cant hear it. When it gets too high only dogs can hear it, you can’t hear it.
As you go up in that rate, of that frequency, that vibrational frequency, you get to light. You get to thought. The reason we can’t measure thought yet really, is because we just don’t have apparatuses for measuring at those vibrational rates yet.
There are thousands and thousands and thousands of cases of people transmitting thought from one being to another. I once visited J B Rind down at Duke, North Carolina and JB was sitting there with this peculiar position on his desk, piled like yay high and in closets are letters from thousands of people describing the experience of thought transmission. But when he tries to do it in the laboratory he can only do a little better than chance. It’s like we know it exists but we can’t know we know it. It’s one of those problems. We can’t know we know it.
Keep going faster and faster in the vibratory rate and in the smallest of the unit that’s vibrating until you get to the tiniest quanta of energy, the tiniest quanta of energy, it is so tiny that it’s only in combination that it makes up atoms or makes up the components of atoms even.
Physicists now work with these things theoretically. That energy is so fine that the entire universe is composed of it and its solid. You, Mars, the air, the vacuum, the flowers, the candle flame, my thought, it’s all made up of the same stuff. It’s just in pattern, just in pattern.
Now if you are able, this is a fact I am telling you now from where I am sitting. If you are able to pursue the discipline of extricating your awareness, your consciousness from your own senses and from your own thought, you’ll become part of that finest energy. What are the qualities of that energy? It is totally interchangeable in everything in the universe. Totally interchangeable. So that if a part of it was a part of this flower this moment, it might be a part of Mars the next moment, or a part of the vacuum the next moment. It’s all the same stuff. At that point, when you look, if you could look at the world, if you could clear away all of that stuff out of your eyes and see the universe at that level of energy, if you could turn your receivers so you could get it at that level, all you would see was a homogenous white light. You’d see the clear white light. You would see that is all and everything, and yet it has no form to it because it is where energy lies behind form.
When you are able to extricate yourself from the time and space illusion and it is an illusion as it turns out, the question is who am I? Who am I, Am I this body? Am I these senses, am I this thought process? Cogito ergo sum.* It’s a lie. It’s a lie. Sum ergo cogito is perhaps reasonable. That’s a lie too, but so are all words.
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* Cogito, ergo sum
Usually translated from the Latin as ‘I think, therefore I am’. Possibly the best known of all philosophical quotations; this is from the French philosopher René Descartes in Discourse on Method, 1637, where he attempted to prove his existence as a thinking being, by thinking. ‘I think, therefore I am’ comes to us in English via two translations. Descartes’ original statement in French was “Je pense, donc je suis”.
Transcription by Sue Friston