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When your body is out of whack, you figure out how to get it straight. You try to sit down and meditate, but you can’t get your knees quiet – they hurt too much. You sit down to meditate and your back hurts. You can’t leave your body for 40 minutes without freaking out, so you may decide, “I gotta work on my body.” Maybe you’ll go into Hatha Yoga Asanas.

Maybe you’ll say, “Well, I really like working with my body, and I like to meditate, so I’ll do a body meditation and go into Tai Chi or something like that.” Maybe it’s that your body is pretty cooled out but your mind is agitated, so then you will go and sit in a Zendo, or you will study meditation and calm the mind, but then you think, “I can’t leave my heart behind,” so you meditate on things of the heart. You meditate on Jesus as a being of love or something like that. You’ll meditate on this being of love and of spirit, and you’ll keep opening your heart by bringing your mind to one pointedness in vision evasion exercises. I’m talking about the variability in practices.

Today we are at a monastery near Aspen, and in these monasteries the brothers give up their time and space freedom, and they give it up voluntarily in order to do their inner work. I’ve experienced the same thing, of wanting that external discipline, of going and saying to a teacher, “Do it to us, will you please?” and he says, “Alright, do this, this, and this, and then you can do this, and then you can do that.” And you say, “Thank you.”

In this process, you learn about your ability to surrender, because the first time he tells you something you don’t want to do, you say, “What does he know?” but at the same time you are faced with a voice in your heart saying, “Look, he knows!” So you’re caught in the struggle, and then you trust your heart, and you do the things even though you’d like to not do it, because you know that he knows, and that’s the way… it’s what you need, even though you don’t like it.

There are a lot of practices I’ve done that I haven’t liked doing at all. I’ve sat in a room where the door isn’t even locked, and I can’t get out of the room, and I hate the room, and all I can fantasize is how to get out of the room, and I can’t… because if I left the room, I’ll be in the same place I was before I got in the room, so I might as well stay in the room.

We are sharing our various ways of viewing the universe, and the consciousness that we bring to it allows us to see all these different places, stages, methods, and practices that are represented in part by those of us who are here.

Allen Ginsberg is here with me and we have very different practices in certain ways. Every time you ever hear of a troubled thought or a place where a statement can be made about man’s honest concern for his fellow man, in those places you most often find Allen Ginsberg, sitting in the midst of a maddening mob chanting, and he’s just “doing his thing.” You’ll never find me there because we have different practices. These practices are not better or worse, they’re different. And I think it’s a great opportunity in terms of practice for us to explore the different levels of perceiving and working with the universe that are reflected in Allen’s poetry, and in my ‘raps’ and in sitting behind it all here together – finding the place in all of this diversity where we are unified.

 

-Ram Dass

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