A thought is just one of the lions at the gates of the inner temple – it really sucks you in, but you’re not going in the door, because you’d rather hang out and enjoy that thought than get on with it. That was Ramakrishna’s problem; He was madly in love with Kali, the Divine Mother, and he just wouldn’t go beyond it. He wouldn’t give her up, so he got hung up on dualism. He wanted God out there, and finally his Guru said, “You’ve got to go on,” and Ramakrishna said, “No, I’m not going.” The Guru picked up a rock and stuck it against his forehead and pressed very hard. Ramakrishna and the Divine Mother shattered into a million pieces, and then he became one.

What is so incredible is that when you are with what might be called a ‘realized being’, a clear conscious being, there’s nobody there at all… they’re just an empty vessel, and through them comes optimum response. When I’m with my Buddha, there’s nobody in there thinking, “I think I’ll tell Ram Dass this will be good for him,” it just keeps coming out. What comes out is the optimum response that’s suitable for the particular moment, but that moment is much bigger than one thinks it is.

The moment involves past, present, and future, so that often the guru is saying something to me, which is only in this moment, which I don’t even understand… then a year later, when I’m sitting with somebody, and I say it, it’s exactly the thing that they needed to hear. It’s very far out to see the inter-relationship in the universe to that extent. To think that when my Guru was thinking he would say this, so that I would know it a year from now, and say it to somebody else in Phoenix was very unlikely.

That’s saying past, present, and future are all in the present. A conscious being is part of all of that and out of him comes the optimum soul. Interesting.

Ultimately you live simultaneously in all of the planes of consciousness all the time, so that in a way, it’s like a vertical cut up – you look at somebody, they’re there; they’re not there. There’s an interesting series of stages in Karma Yoga, the yoga of living daily life as an exercise in becoming pungent, where you develop a witness – a place in yourself that watches your whole melodrama, your dance. It doesn’t judge you, it doesn’t try to change you, it’s not trying to become enlightened, it’s just watching the whole thing.


-Ram Dass



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