The problem of ‘phony holiness’ is a drag. I’m a master at it, I’ll tell you. How to be phony holy, how to get ahead of yourself, because in our society we think our way into stuff rather than slow down enough to let it happen to us in a natural way. “I ought to meditate. I ought to get educated. I ought to, I ought to…”

Too many people have been living so much by the cultures defining what you ought to do.

I mean, I got to be a Harvard professor by doing what I ought to do. Even then I was doing what I ought to do to be a good Harvard professor, and it was only when I took mushrooms that I connected to something in myself that was true. It wasn’t somebody saying, “I ought to be this,” it was who I am. It was a certain quality of am-ness, or is-ness. I remember the moment when I was being thrown out of Harvard, when the chairman of the department and the dean said to me, “We can’t save Tim Leary, he’s too crazy, but we’ll save you if you’ll just shut up, we’ll save you, because you’re running a lot of programs and we need you.” They thought they did, but they found out they didn’t of course.

I remember the moment society was telling me how I ought to be. But the inner truth was connected so deep within me, and that was something I couldn’t control.

I stood up and I said, “I’d like to answer on behalf of our project.” The chairman looked at me and I looked at him, and that was it. He couldn’t save me anymore. I remember the moment of choice. I mean illusion of choice by the way. Don’t kid yourself, it’s not that great.

I remember that moment, at any rate, and the interesting experience of realizing how rarely in my life I had trusted that inner place in myself.

I mean, the way you could look at this from a cultural point of view is that Tim took psychedelics and then he stopped playing the game of society and he got thrown out of a major social institution. There was a moment when I got thrown out, when they had a big press conference and all the people were there, and they were all looking at me like I was this great loser because I had taken on Harvard and lost.

What had happened to me inside was so deep and so true that to deny it, it would have been impossible for me to go on with my life. I mean, I was a psychologist and a psychotherapist, and I thought, “Everybody is looking at me like I’m some loser,” and I was just  thinking, “I’ve won! This is the definition of psychosis… they’re all crazy! I was right!”

See how much meshuggeneh you get if you don’t watch out?


-Ram Dass