Nowhere to Go

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During the months I was in yogi training at Maharaj-ji’s little temple in the hills, I got really high. It felt like light was pouring out of my head. At one point I had to go to Delhi to get my visa renewed. I went as a yogi. I had long hair and a long beard and māla (prayer beads), and I was wearing white. As I was walking barefoot through Connaught Circus, in the center of New Delhi, I felt the shakti, the spiritual energy, everywhere. I loved it. My newly spiritual ego was along for the ride too.

I put in my visa application and collected the mail from American Express. Then I went to a pure vegetarian restaurant for lunch. I was hungry, but I was maintaining my yogic purity. In India they treat holy people with great respect, but if you’re a white holy man from the West, that’s really very unusual. So I was doubly holy, and they were very respectful. They watched me eat. I had the vegetarian special, and I ate very consciously and yogically.

At the end they served a dessert that had two little English biscuits in it. I knew those weren’t yogi food. You know, when you’re pure, you can smell which food is pure and which is impure. But there is always a very oral Jewish boy in me too, and he wanted those cookies. So while I looked holy, I carefully edged the dish over and pushed the cookies into my bag. I looked as if I was thinking of something holy. I ate the biscuits in the alley outside the restaurant.

Then I went back up to the mountains, an eight-hour bus ride, and as I entered the temple, I went to touch Maharaj-ji’s feet. I looked up at him, and he said, “How did you like the biscuits?”

– Ram Dass

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