Question: You say every life situation is a perfect lesson. How is that so?
Ram Dass: The universe is made up of experiences that are designed to burn out our reactivity, which is our attachment, our clinging, to pain, to pleasure, to fear, to all of it. And as long as there are places where we’re vulnerable, the universe will find ways to confront us with them. That’s the way the dance is designed.
In truth, there are millions and millions of stimuli that we are not even noticing, that go by, in every plane of existence, all the time. The reason we don’t notice or react to them is because we have no attachment to them. They don’t stir our desire system. Our desires affect our perception. Each of us is living in our own universe, created out of our projected attachments. That’s what we mean when we say, “You create your own universe.”We are creating that universe because of our attachments, which can also be avoidances and fears.
As we develop spiritually and see how it all is, more and more we keep consuming and neutralizing our own reactivity. Each time we see ourselves reacting we’re saying, “Right, and this situation too, and this one too, Tat Tvam Asi, and that also, and that also, and that also.” Gradually the attachments start to lose their pull and to fall away. We get so that we’re perfectly willing to do whatever we do – and to do it perfectly and without attachment. It’s like Mahatma Gandhi gets put in jail and they give him a lice-infested uniform and tell him to clean the latrines, and it’s a whole mess. And he walks up to the head of the guards and he says, in total truth, “Thank you.” He’s not putting them on or up-leveling them. He’s saying, “There’s a teaching here, and I’m getting it; thank you.” What’s bizarre is that we get to the point where somebody lays a heavy trip on us and we get caught, and then we see through our caughtness and we say, “Thank you.” We may not say it aloud because it’s too cute. But we feel, Thank you. People come up and are violent or angry or write nasty letters or whatever they do to express their frustration or anger or competition, and all I can say is thanks.
–Excerpt from Grist for the Mill: Awakening to Oneness