We have to constantly ask ourselves, “How do I use my every moment to get there?” It’s got to be done with the flow of love and the quietness of mind. It’s like the women in India who go to the well and come back with jugs full of water on their heads. They’re talking and gossiping as they walk, but they never forget the jugs of water on their heads. The jug of water is what our journey is all about. In the course of it, we do what we do in life, but we don’t forget the jug of water. We don’t forget what it’s all about. We keep our eye on the mark. At first we have to prime the pump a little bit to do it; and we keep forgetting and remembering and forgetting and remembering, That’s what the illusion is. The illusion keeps pulling us back into forgetting. Lost in our melodrama; my love life, my child, my livelihood, my gratification. “Somebody ripped off my stereo,” “I don’t have a thing to wear,” “Am I getting enough sex?”… just more and more stuff. And we keep forgetting into it.
And every now and then, we remember. We sit down and meditate, or we read Ramakrishna or Ramana Maharshi and suddenly, “Oh yeah, right; whew! That’s what it was about.” And we remember again. And then a moment later, we forget. But what happens is the balance shifts. If we can imagine a wheel whose rim is the cycle of births and deaths, all of the “stuff” of life, conditioned reality, and whose center is perfect flow, formless no-mind, the source, we’ve got one foot with most of our weight on the circumference of the wheel, and one foot tentatively on the center. That’s the beginning of awakening. And we come in, and we sit down and meditate, and suddenly there’s a moment when we feel the perfection of our being and our connection. And even beyond that, we just are. We’re just like a tree or a stream. There’s only a second or two of it there at the hub. Then our weight goes back on the outside of the wheel. Over and over and over, this happens. Slowly, slowly the weight shifts. Then the weight shifts just enough so that there is a slight predominance on the center of the wheel, and we find that we naturally just want to sit down and be quiet, that we don’t have to say, “I’ve got to meditate now,” or “I’ve got to read a holy book,” or “I’ve got to turn off the television set,” or “I’ve got to do…” anything. It doesn’t become that kind of a discipline anymore. The balance has shifted. And we keep allowing our lives to become more and more simple, more and more harmonious. And less and less are we grabbing at this and pushing that away.
- Ram Dass, excerpt from Grist for the Mill: Awakening to Oneness