Do you see healing from deep childhood injury as a prelude to doing spiritual practice or can that healing be practice in itself?

Ram Dass: Any action in the universe can be something that is unconsciously part of the karmic web in the sense that it is not awakening you quickly. It is in the slow sense of working out your karma over lifetimes. Or it can be an intentional act to awaken. It can be either one. For example, when you help somebody, you can help them in a way where you don’t awaken through the process. They were helped, but you didn’t awaken in the process, and they didn’t awaken in the process, but they got their belly filled if you gave them food. Alternatively, you can give them food in a way that feeds their belly, and also both of you awaken in the process. So the same thing can be done in two ways.

Whether you can use your healing as an awakening process depends on the perspective from which you come at it.

The minute you have a little space around the whole process, you find a little bit of the witness in you that notices your predicament, and notices how you’re working with the predicament, and that witness is developing strength to the extent that you keep practicing it in the situation. So somebody comes to you and says, “I don’t know whether to stay married or not,” or whatever their issue is, and we’re talking about the issue and at the same moment we’re putting it in a contextual framework which makes it both relevant and irrelevant. That’s the way it’s spiritually growing. It’s spiritually growing to the extent that it shows you how you have been trapped in thinking you are somebody.

Now, the interesting issue that I’ve talked about before developmentally is that you really have to become somebody before you can become nobody.

It isn’t an error that when you were born you closed down into somebody-ness and then later you awaken out of the illusion of your separateness. That’s all part of the necessary sequence of taking birth and learning a curriculum on this level, if a child doesn’t close down, they don’t develop an ego structure that makes them functional on earth. So it’s necessary for that to happen. The question is, how they close down will determine, in part, how quickly they open later on because if they close down later and more conceptually, like at 6 years old, rather than at 2 years old, it’s easier for them to open later on.

So when you’re around parents who are very open, who are not immediately trapping you into your container, because they’re not trapped in their containers, it’s much easier for you to open later on because you grew up in a context that made your doing it your work, not theirs. It’s a very interesting issue.


– Ram Dass, 1989 Listening Heart Retreats – Q&A Session


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