Ram Dass explores Truth and the use for Spiritual Lineage

There was a moment when Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and I were doing a dialogue together, and I remember one particular moment in which we agreed that freedom was the issue. I asked Rinpoche if there was anything he wouldn’t give up for freedom and he said his lineage… I said, well better luck next time.

What I see is that there are exquisitely articulated methods for the transformation of the heart-mind, these methods are in a variety of traditions, and they are passed down purely from one heart to another.

I just realize now that the power of anything I say to you is based on the truth of the nature of it, and where it’s coming from in my being. If I’m speaking from a place in my being that is my deepest truth, and it’s not a hustle, there is a likelihood that if that truth is the way it is, it will resonate with that place in you, and you will feel safe to explore that place in yourself. I realize that’s how faith works in the transmission of things. In a sense, within all of the things I’m saying, there are things that are true and things which are not but regardless they all sound true to me because they are coming from my deeper truth.

What you do is you say your experience the best you can, and you tell other people to trust their hearts, use what you can, what you want, and whatever else you don’t want, don’t use. You don’t have to decide if I’m crazy or not, just what’s true for you. I don’t have any business in it either way.

Now, in the story of lineages, the transmission is passed from individual to individual, from and through specific teachings. I think we should honor and appreciate and treasure the fact that human consciousness has valued and transmitted ways to become free, and I think that’s what honoring a lineage means. I think we’ve got to separate the practice of honoring a lineage from the desired results of honoring the lineage, which is to be free. That means freedom from the lineage itself as well.

It’s not that you need to be free from all form, but realize you can be free within the form, so that if I meet a person from the Sikh lineage, or Ningma or whatever lineage, we’ll look each other in the eye and we will respect each other’s journey without feeling coerced, or judged, or that anything has to be changed in us or between us.

Now, I’ve been put down a lot for my eclecticism. I’m sort of a dilettante. People say you shouldn’t dig shallow wells, you should dig one deep well. All I can say is that when I, in my heart of hearts, look at all the people I have known now over the last 30 years that have been following lineages and not following lineages, I am hard pressed to tell a lot of differences between them.

-Ram Dass

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