It’s Just a Matter of Timing

Many years ago I spent time with a Tibetan teacher, Trungpa Rinpoche. In an interview he suggested a meditation technique in which one expands one’s awareness outward. He suggested we do it together. So we sat facing each other and he said, “Just expand outward.” And I started to expand outward.

After about twenty seconds he said “Ram Dass, are you trying?” And I said, indignantly, “Yes!” He said, “Don’t try, just expand outward.” And it absolutely blew my mind. Really. That was an exquisite teaching at that moment. Don’t try, just do it. That’s really what right effort is about. I think the key to right effort is timing.

I used to go to meditation courses and I hated every minute. But I thought, “It’s good for me.” And I would squirm and my legs would hurt and I’d day-dream. I’d count the hours and days until I could get out. And I felt so righteous about doing it. And then I thought to myself “Do you think this is really getting you liberated?”

I mean I’d come out so neurotic and just waiting for a steak and a milk shake. I would have fantasies during the meditation course of what I was going to eat the first day and how I’d drive in the country and how free I’d feel. But I kept going to these courses because I was feeling it was “good for me”. I felt I had to do good in order to be good. Then I decided if this was the only way to liberation, I guess I wasn’t going to make it. So I gave up. And after a few years I noticed that I started to yearn to just sit quietly. And it was a whole different ball game. An Indian Saint, Ramama Maharshi, once said, “I didn’t eat and they said I was fasting.” Same thing!

It has to do with timing. It’s as if our minds see in advance where we’re going, and then our mind-overkill makes us imitate where we think we’re going, which doesn’t give us a chance for our intuition to get us moving in a timely manner. Somebody came up to me the other day and said, “You know, I’m just tired of being ‘should upon’.” Me too!

Mainly I was doing it to myself. You know, “You should do this, you really should.” I almost distrusted that I had a true yearning for God. And that’s where the ‘shoulds’ were coming from, that lack of faith. The more I trusted myself and said, “Well, okay, I’ll just be what I am” the more I began to feel this deep pull towards God. And these methods which could help me, such as meditation started to be a joy rather than a mountain to be climbed. It’s just a matter of timing.
The question is about the balance between inner work (work on yourself) and outer work. I’ll tell you, each person has got to intuitively trust themselves.

– Ram Dass

16 thoughts on “It’s Just a Matter of Timing”

  1. Thank you, Ram Dass, for these posts that appear on Facebook several times a day. I always read them, and always feel the love that emanates from your words. Sending well wishes from the heart for your health, and hoping you are among us for a long time to come. You brighten my day.

    • Considering I come to his posts from Twitter and you come to them from Facebook, it appears it’s not all about timing — but about repetition and environment as well!

  2. Living in the “should” world is not being present in the be here and now. It is all we can be..who we are at this moment because that’s all there is; unless dwelling “in the head” and living through residual memories that are not present but mirrored if one is not aware of the process of simply being present…we are a present to the present.

  3. I read the Tibetan Book of the Dead at age 19. The Bardo and its 49 days stuck, but very little else did as I went to Vietnam.

    Forty years later, I got my next exposure to what the Tibetans said, when a psychologist at a Veterans Hospital taught those of us with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) not “to try” and not “judge” while “studying” mindfulness meditation at an in-patient program. It finally clicked!

    Timing is indeed everything.

  4. It seems to me that there is a timing to letting go of the shoulds…..and a timing for simply following them. Religion is a set of shoulds. I used to feel that these “shoulds” had no purpose nor did religion but now I see so many people that feel that way and I wonder if it’s not just an excuse sometimes to do whatever we feel like doing. Religion is a gift to many people before they start seeking enlightenment. It keeps them on a path of greater purity, of less sin. Society may be kept stronger as people follow certain “shoulds” even if they’re not sure what the purpose of them is (and a strong, pure society is a better place for seeking enlightenment). I think that a regular meditation practice that feels like a pain in the butt and is mostly a time to daydream can be very useful. Eventually the attitude will change and that will be good. But we don’t have to wait to feel a sense of joy in meditation before we take on meditation retreats. I think that’s just our mind trying to take control of us. Joy, pain, daydreaming, our mind is trying to make us it’s slave, meditation is a time for not letting it do that. Ram told Lakshman that their brother Bharat would never try to hurt them or start any conspiracy against them even though Lakshman suspected him. Ram told him that Bharat was a worshiper of ideals and lived his life by them. I believe Ram is telling us that we will never stray from Him (God) if we worship and live by these religious ideals.

  5. Ram Dass so right on. You have been my inspiration since the 60’s and as I come into old age I am still learning every day from you. Being in the moment – it is truly what even Jesus Christ said if you read his words carefully – that was his message as well. Thank you – Sat Nam – Namaste.

  6. Hello Ram Dass

    lets talk about this, maybe you will enter into a dialogue that might reveal something. I read all the nice stuff you write, its cute, no insult. But, and there’s always a But, But You are God, everything you related was the part you have been forcibly attached to, relating to God that you feel is separate from the God you are. So the interplay is God (illusion) relating to God (illusion) that has been projected as separate. So this Drama you have written of here is a situation you had no input in. Except you were in a state of attachment, and still are. So since awareness cannot be cultivated, grown, nurtured, taught or anything else except experienced, these dramas are only preparation for the experience of awakening, maybe. While you may speak in a positive light of God (existential illusion), and it is Illusion Do-ing the speaking, has it ever occurred to you we may be in the hands of either a sadistic or uncaring God .And if God has spoken inside you with recognition of this, The illusionary mind and body I have been attached to would like to hear if there are any other possibilities And lastly has the mind that is attached to the body you are with ever considered that our “Original Being ” may be as temporary as our 5 senses are ?.

  7. Hello Ram Dass
    I feel like going a little further. As soon as I get out of the Guru continents, no enlightened ones speak of reincarnation, unless they we trained in the Guru countries. If your in the Guru countries speaking of reincarnation is good for business. You ever notice how they are always a former master, or a king ( enlightened of course). Like Buddha I destroy hope and fantasy. Anyone who speaks of mystical events has been convinced by existence (illusion) that the experience was real. Existence (God) can do anything it wants, with total authenticity

    Because existence shows one previous lives does not mean anything, except you are getting some attention from God. If one goes to the feet of the Guru and has a mystical experience, that is an experience between thou and existence. The guru did nothing, is not capable of doing anything. Except sucking it up!

  8. I feel we all need to just take the learning and avoid the trap of confined thinking. The stuff that says it takes x amount of time or x amount of steps or tells us the boundaries. Everything we need we already have inside us, we just need to learn how to find it and use our own intuition how to progress and share that knowledge. So thank you for adding to that knowledge. Steven

  9. I have a life- long friend who is addicted to food. She is just over 5′ tall and weighs over 300 lbs. She always talks about ‘trying to do better’, ‘trying to lose weight’, ‘trying to eat less’.
    I told her to stop trying, and do it. She didn’t get it, and continued on.


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