How do We Find Our Spiritual Orientation?

Each of us has a dominant theme in this incarnation.

Some of us are primarily head-tripping. Most of us lead with our hearts. We have these incredibly intricate mosaics for describing our individual differences. These differences have an interesting place in the scheme of things; are they real or false?

Part of how we define our inner work is that we learn to listen to all these individual differences. Then we can determine what our particular path is.

For each individual, there is a unique karmic predicament, and for each individual, there is a unique dharmic possibility. It’s called ‘dharma,’ meaning ‘practice’ or ‘path.’ Very rarely, you know it beforehand. Most of the time, you don’t even know of it when you are doing it. It sort of sneaks up on you, because nothing else works. By the time you understand your dharma, you’re practically finished using it, but it’s not terribly important that you know everything about where you’re at.

When we first understand there’s a journey, a path, we tend to get somewhat hysterical. We want to sell it to everybody, change everybody, and whichever path we buy first, we try to convert everybody to it. The zeal is based on our lack of faith, cause we’re not sure of what we’re doing, so we assuage that discontent by trying to convince everybody else.

But we’re all moving into a new space, we’re finished with the first wild hysteria, and we’re settling down into a humdrum process of living out our incarnation as consciously as we know how to do. If in the course it turns out this is your last round to get enlightened, fine. If not, that’s the way it is — there’s nothing you can do about it.

You can’t bulldoze anybody to beat the system – you are the system.

The desire to beat the system is part of it.  So is the total frustration when you see that you are trying to stand in the way, and you can’t stop trying.

Our full Western achievement orientation is, “Accomplish, succeed, man over nature, my own power, I’ll understand it, control it, master it and have it,” which works for practically everything, except what it is really about.

You sit down, and you try to meditate, but your mind becomes wild and irresponsible. Millions of thoughts suddenly whirl through. Everything will suddenly become terribly important. “You forgot to call, and you have to go to the bathroom; your knee hurts.” You doubt the method before you’ve even done it. “This will never work.” But that work shows you a lot.

It shows you the agitation of your thinking mind. Now, that only works once you have enough of what we call ‘prajna,’ one system, or ‘punyam’ in another system, or enough wisdom to understand that the thinking mind is an exquisite servant but not the master – that who you are is not your thinking mind.

You have to be deeply rooted in that wisdom before meditation makes sense.

You have to be rooted in that wisdom sufficiently so that you can see thoughts as stuff rather than as defining reality.


-Ram Dass

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