When we come into the room we’re all clothed in different kinds of outer garments. Some of us are wearing jackets and coats and fur and leather and wool. Just as we come into this building all clothed in our identities.

If you asked somebody at the door, “Who are you?”

Let’s say I ask you this, “Who are you?” Just think about it for a second. Who are you? Who are you? Ask yourself now, “Who am I?” Give yourself an answer. Who am I? What level do you say it at? What level do you answer it at? Do you answer in terms of profession? Do you answer in terms of age? Do you say it in terms of color? Nationality? Religion? How about personality or astral sign? I’m an Aries. I’m a man or I’m a woman. How about that one? That’s pretty deep. I’m a seeker on the path. Like that one? I’m a good person. I’m lazy. I’m fat. I’m somebody who wants to know. I’m somebody who’s walking in this church. How about that one? I’m a sentient being. I’m God. I am a patterning of molecules. Energy. I am the next thought. I am the thought of “I.” I am the thought of “I…..” What happens when we get off that thought? Then what?

What is the “us?”

Well, what’s your reference group? When does your reference group get to the point where somebody starving in another country becomes us starving as well. And if we’ve got wheat in the middle west, it’s our wheat, so if you are hungry and you’ve got wheat in your hand, you put it in your mouth. It’s not – “We’re giving food to them, those people starving, because it is all us. We are dropping napalm on ourself. And it hurts; it burns. We want to stop the suffering to our reference group. Or maybe just women, if that’s your reference group. What’s your reference group? “I’m a woman.” Right, that’s interesting, and beyond that, here we are.

Who you think you are each day, completely determines the universe you live in.

So, if you are saying, “I am a woman,” then what you are aware of in the universe is that everybody seems to be divided up roughly into men and women. You walk down the street and you see there are so many men and women. You’re aware of, depending on your sexual predisposition, of breasts and groins and things like that. But if you say, “I am someone who is hungry,” your reference group changes again, maybe it becomes broader and you start to move around in these perspectives.


-Ram Dass