To make a long story short, I was galumphing along as a Western scientific materialist, as every good member of this society is, where the shopping malls are our temples, and our eyes glaze over looking at our gods and goddesses.

Then something happened to me: This crazy guy Tim Leary gave me some mushrooms. After that nothing was ever the same again. What happened at that moment was that I saw that I had been a product of an acculturation that was so profound that I was convinced I was who I thought I was, and I awakened to realize that wasn’t who I was at all.

It was as if I connected with my soul. Now, it’s not that the soul wasn’t there before, and it’s not that the soul’s messages weren’t available. It’s that my ego had created a reality in which those messages were either irrelevant, or didn’t even exist because of denial.

When I was born I didn’t have a differentiated framework. I had a disposition to it, a genetic disposition, or a karmic disposition, but basically, my awareness was dealing with undifferentiation from everything else. I mean, I had no labels and I didn’t know myself from a tree or anything else. That’s all the stuff that I’ve learned.

Piaget, a prominent psychologist, describes beautifully all those stages of learning and early childhood cognitive processes, of the development of the sense of ‘self’ and then ‘other.’ Then he goes into how all the stuff we do becomes about manipulating the ‘other’ to get gratification. The way I put it into the kind of simple framework that I need for this discussion is that when I was born is when I started my training to become ‘somebody.’

The soul is a useful illusion. If you’re a Buddhist, you know the soul is gonna go sooner or later, because everything goes. Things are things which go. The nature of things is that they go.

When I awakened and realized I wasn’t who I thought I was, and that everything that I did I could still do, despite this, I started doing it from a different vantage point in my consciousness.

I’d come home into a part of my being that I had been cut off from by the effectiveness of socialization I had undergone. The socialization to become a ‘someone’ had been so effective and I had gotten really good at it, because once you’re ‘somebody,’ you can be ‘somebody special,’ and every one of us wants to be a ‘special somebody.’ Remember that.


-Ram Dass