I often find tremendous difficulty in making decisions…how do I know if it’s my head talking or my intuition or heart?
Ram Dass: If you were a completely enlightened being, every action would come out of the fullness of a thorough understanding or a oneness with everything in the universe. As Kalu said, “Once you are nobody, you are everybody or everything or everywhere”. It would come out of the fullness, and there could be no errors, because it would always be in harmony with the deepest wisdom of the Dao, of the way. But we take birth as humans, because we have karma, clinging of the mind; and as the Dao says, “The truth waits for eyes unclouded by longing” so that we don’t hear the truth fully, we only hear the projections of our own desires, so that again and again, we make decisions that end up not being in the deepest harmony with the way of things.
The art of growth has to do with how quickly you admit error.
What we do is constantly make decisions from where we’re sitting; then that decision leads to a new moment, and then in the new moment you listen again, and often you realize that the new moment suggests that that previous decision just led you into a new moment in which there is another decision that isn’t gonna be consistent with the last one.
To the extent that you define yourself as somebody, it is very hard to be inconsistent, to the extent that you keep coming back into the existential situation with the trust that if I keep listening to the moment, and keep being true to what I’m hearing, while people may be upset with me, because I am not consistent, I will stay as close to the truth as I hear it, and that’s what I can offer myself and the universe.
We don’t know from moment to moment what level we’re saying it at, because the ego is so exquisite at masking and imitating the deeper voices of our truth. It’ll constantly be saying, ‘I am the voice of truth. Jump off this bridge.’ And you have to keep listening as deeply as you can, and then when the situation requires it, you appear to be making a decision, and then you listen again, and you listen again, and you listen again, and you listen again.
I mean, I’m a master at this game, I’ve published articles. I published a whole chapter of an article called “Egg on My Beard” which was a description of how I got caught in a whole spiritual scene for a couple of years. Took hundreds and hundreds of people with me, and got caught in the projections of my own desires for power and for enlightenment, and then I had to admit that I got caught in something that wasn’t clear, and the minute I realized it wasn’t clear, I had to extricate myself from it in a way that kept my heart open, and then I did it, and then I had to publicly admit that I had done that.
Of course it’s embarrassing not to always be infinitely wise, but I feel that what we can offer each other is our truth of the process of growing, and that means we fall on our face again and again. Sri Aurobindo says, “You get up, you take a step, you fall on your face, you get up, you look sheepishly at God, you brush yourself off, you take another step, you fall on your face, you get up, you look sheepishly at God, you brush yourself off, you take another step…” and that’s the journey of awakening.
If you were awakened already, you wouldn’t do that, so my suggestion is you relax and don’t expect that you will always make the wisest decisions, and just realize that sometimes you make a decision, and it wasn’t the right one, and then you change it.
– Ram Dass, 1989 Summer Retreats – The Listening Heart – Inner Tuning (Q&A, Part 2)
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