In this talk from 1993, Ram Dass explores how spiritual practice helps us escape the prison of our egos, then leads a 20-minute practice with the breath as the primary object of meditation.
The Trap of Your Own Finite Self (9:20)
Ras Dass cuts to the chase of what spiritual practices are all about. He simplifies the predicament we’re all in, how we are put into “somebody training” and get imprisoned in our egos and our roles. He talks about how spiritual practice can open us up to new planes of consciousness and help us escape from a preoccupation with ourselves as separate entities.
“Well, are we real or aren’t we? Well, it turns out we’re relatively real. We’re as real as anything else, but no more so then. And there’s a lot of else that you are, also, that you’re not being because you’re busy being who you think you are too much of the time. So that’s the predicament, that’s why you do practices, to get out of the trap of your own finite self.” – Ram Dass
Samadhi Practice (27:40)
Ram Dass sets the stage for a 20-minute meditation practice. He talks about how practice is a way to connect to the mechanics of our mind, not just the content of our mind. One strategy for doing this is a Samadhi (concentration) practice, which helps free our awareness from identifying with the phenomena that arise in our consciousness. Ram Dass provides some key meditation instructions.
“Let me say, as you begin this 20 minutes, that this is a practice that I have done now for 22 years. And the most intensive I have done is where I did two months of it, 17 hours a day. Alright? You’re gonna do 20 minutes. So, as you’re doing the 20 minutes, one of the thoughts you’ll probably have is, ‘He’s done that 17 hours a day for two months?’ Then you’ll understand what a psychotic you’re listening to.” – Ram Dass
Don’t Forget the Breath (39:05)
Ram Dass guides the Samadhi practice. Using the breath as the primary object of meditation, he introduces two traditional points in the body from which to watch the breath: the tip of the nose, or a muscle in the abdomen. From there, it’s a matter of keeping the awareness on the breath. Every time the mind wanders, come back to the breath. Ram Dass ends the meditation with a simple reminder: don’t forget the breath.
“Any model of whether this is hard or easy is just another thought. All the metaphors I suggest are just more thoughts. Let them arise, notice them, go back to the breath.” – Ram Dass