Ram Dass on Discovering Your True Work Path (Part 2)

Years ago I went to a silent meditation course, and I had a roommate. It was a 10 day course and we couldn’t speak to each other. We shared a room, and I was a little sloppy and his corners were all neat on his bed and his clothes were all lined up, and that’s not my particular preoccupation.

So I started to feel that he was thinking I was a real slob and he really didn’t like me, and I was probably snoring and disturbing him, and I got to feel he really hated me. Within the silence, you can play with such wonderful paranoia, you know, and I just decided – I mean, by the end of it, I hated him for hating me, you know.

We came out of the retreat, and the first thing he said to me – the first thing was, “I can’t tell you what an honor it’s been sharing this room with Ram Dass,” and I just thought, “Oh. Shit.” I wasted those ten days, hours just being absolutely convinced he hated me, filling my consciousness with it when I could have been getting enlightened you know?

So the next time I went on retreat, we had a few minutes, and I said to the guy who was going onto the upper bunk, “What do you do?” You know, I wanted to know everything quick so I wouldn’t have to spend all day worrying about him.

He said, “Vice President of industrial loans at a bank,” and I asked him what he was doing here. He told me that he had also had the same position back in the 60’s, but thought, “Geez, I don’t know, but I want to get stoned and live in commune and I want to write poetry.”

So he left his family sooner or later, and wandered around the world for years. He said, “Then I was with a beard and a sweater and I was walking down a street in San Francisco and I met the President of the bank. He said to me how fantastic it was he should meet me on the street, that I was the best they’d ever had, and would I come back? So, I just thought… why not? I bought a tie and I shaved and I went to work.”

I asked him if it was different when he went back than it had been before, and he told me, “It was entirely different. Before, I was busy being a Vice President of industrial loans, and I was meeting potential borrowers. Now I go to this place, and I hang out all day with these beings and the business we do together is industrial loans. But what it is, is beings meeting beings.”

See, his identity was no longer in his role. He fulfilled his role but he wasn’t lost in it. And that has a lot to do with how you play it in the business world – whether you can up-level it or whether you get caught in it.

I’d say it takes a lot of truth with yourself to hear the kind of work you can do, where you are in your own development, because it’s hard to acknowledge that you really want money and the things money can buy, and by making believe you don’t want them sometimes, you end up deceiving yourself and picking up something that is not your true being and you end up angry and frustrated because you picked wrong. So there is a process of being very honest with yourself about what you need at that point.


-Ram Dass


Read part 1 of this blog here.

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