So there was one interesting thing Maharajji did that I always retell to myself when I’m back in the green room getting ready to come out for a lecture, here is the story…
I’m in Allahabad, India with Maharajji in 1971, and there are maybe 30 people in the room with him. It’s called “Darshan” for those of you who might not be familiar with these terms.
It’s where a spiritual teacher just hangs out and people have a chance to sit around quietly or ask questions or just look or listen or just be there. It happens once a day or twice a day when that particular spiritual being is in town. So, I was there, minding my own business, and sitting back a few rows was a very distinguished looking Indian gentleman, and my guru was making a great deal of this man, treating him with great respect.
Finally, my guru started to say, “Well, you know who we have here,” and then he proceeded to talk about me as a great professor. I mean, he was laying it on thick… real thick, and I was thinking, “What is he going to do? This is so absurd!”
So, the man said, “How very interesting. Perhaps Ram Dass would like to visit the court,” because as it turned out, he was the head of the Supreme Court of the state. Now I grew up in a family of lawyers, and I’ll tell you I didn’t go to India to visit the courts.
However, I turned around, and I said to him, “Well that would be very nice.” That’s the thing you say to somebody who wants you to do something you don’t want to do. That would be very nice.
So he said, “Tomorrow?”
Now I realized I was getting trapped, so I said thinking very cleverly, “You’ll have to ask my guru.” So the man turns to my guru who says, “Ohhh, if Ram Dass said that will be lovely, then that will be lovely!” and he looks at me like, you know, “Don’t screw around, baby.”
So off I went to the Supreme Court, and you know I watched murder trials, and it was lovely. Then I was taken into the bar, the room where the lawyers hang out in their black robes and wigs, and it’s great fun. They surrounded me, because I was a Westerner from the States, and they started to ask me about Nixon’s China policy, that was right at the moment you remember Nixon was cozying up to China, which was a huge threat to India.
I had read Time magazine, so I was extremely erudite, and they were all very impressed. So, that evening at Darshan there was a man there, and he was very distinguished looking, and we struck up a conversation. He said he had been very impressed with me and asked if I would come and speak at the Rotary Club. I said he would have to ask my guru, because I wasn’t gonna get caught twice.
Maharajji said to him, “Oh, come, everybody listen, Ram Dass has been invited to speak at the Rotary Club…” and I just thought, “That turncoat.” I mean, here I am doing it straight, and he’s doing this to me. I’m gonna get another guru.
So then he turns to me, and he says, “What are you gonna talk about?” It had just dawned on me that I was gonna talk, let alone what I was going to talk about.
I desperately thought, “The Dharma is the law of the spirit,” and the lawyer was nodding.
Maharajji said, “Are you going to talk about Hanuman?”
Now Hanuman is a monkey god, for whom I’m named, and I said, “Of course, I’m gonna talk about Hanuman.”
Maharajji said, “Are you gonna talk about Christ?”
“Of course, why wouldn’t I talk about Christ?”
So, now the lawyer was getting more and more concerned, and he said, “No, we thought Ram Dass would talk about Nixon’s China policy,” and Maharajji looked aghast, “You could never trust Ram Dass with anything that important! He can only talk about God.”
I said, “Yes, that’s right, I only speak about God,” and the lawyer hemmed and hawed, and he said, “You know, it might be better if I get a small group of people to my home for you to come and speak to instead of all those big wheels…” and I never heard from him again.