Question: If everything in ourselves and the world is constantly changing, how do we make a decision that we will be able to live with in the next moment?
Ram Dass: Well, you make a decision based on the optimum information you have available now, and on the total moment by quieting the mind, and feeling the present deeply. If you are quiet enough, and can find the place in you that is behind time, then your choices have within them the nature of the way things will change.
However, for those of us who don’t have that much clarity of mind, you make a decision now, knowing full well that conditions may change to make it inappropriate later on. And I come back to Gandhi, that our commitment is to truth, not to consistency; and in a changing environment, you have to understand that conditions will change.
The minute you start to try to live your life as if nothing will change, you become an enemy of the way of things.
It’s just like when you pitch yourself against death, death is part of the way of things; and when you try to stand against nature, you have to close down and arm yourself, and so you learn to dance with change.
And you learn to have less certainty about what the future holds, of who you’ll be when you grow up, or how it will all come out. Because when I look at my life now, there is nothing – 25 years ago, 30 years ago, 40 years ago, 50 years ago – everything I thought about who I was and how it would come out had no similarity at all to the way it is.
Who I am now hardly recognizes who that was. Who was absolutely sure he would be around all the way through. Who he was at Harvard would have hospitalized who I am now. And who I am now feels great compassion for who he was then. I doubt if we’d be much of friends. We would have very little business with one another. He would be very judging of me, which would be very poignant.
So I have learned, since I have gone through so many transformations of who I know myself to be and how it is, that I must assume that those will continue. There’s no reason to assume they won’t, although they may not. Because I can’t know that. So I’m not planning to continue to be who I am forever. It will keep changing.
And you get to be at home with change. You get to be at home with uncertainty. You get to be at home with not knowing how it comes out. And you make a plan knowing full well that it may be totally irrelevant a moment later, and you’re at peace with that.
- Ram Dass