Question: How can I judge myself less harshly and appreciate myself more?
Ram Dass on self-judgment:
I think that part of it is observing oneself more impersonally. I often use this image, which I think I have used already, but let me say it again. That when you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.
The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are. And, there was a period of time where I used to have a picture of myself on my puja table. Later I had Caspar Weinberger, but earlier on I had me. And people would come and say “My God, what an ego this guy has got. He has got his own picture on his puja table.” But really, what it was, was a chance for me to practice opening my heart to myself. And to appreciate the predicament I am in. I mean I could see the whole incarnation. If I am quiet enough, I can see his storyline. I mean history is his story. Or herstory. And her story is just the storyline of our predicament. And it’s finding a place from in yourself where you see the unfolding of law. Dad did this; Mother did this; economics did this; education did this; opportunity did this; drugs did this; Maharajji did this.
All of this cause and effect, previous incarnations. All of this is just an unfolding of a storyline. A drama. The Ram Dass story. There he is. How will it come out? How did it come out? And you are just sort of watching this story unfold. It has nothing to do with me. Because I’m not that. That’s just a set of phenomena happening. And when you look at yourself as a set of phenomena, what is to judge? I mean is that flowerless than that? It’s just different than that. And you begin to appreciate your uniqueness without it being better or worse. It’s just different. And cultivating an appreciation of uniqueness, rather than preference, is a very good one. It’s just when you get inside identification with your personality that you get into the judging mode because then you are part of that lawful unfolding. You are not stepping outside of it at all. The witness or the spacious awareness is outside of it. It is another contextual framework.
As you are more quiet inside so that you notice and you can see your own thoughts a little more clearly, you will see your father’s voice and your mother’s voice and all your education principles’ voices inside your head constantly saying things to you. And you will see that — what Freud calls the Superego. You will see that that judge is inside. And you keep giving it power by identifying with it. And you feel yourself at war with yourself. That there is a part of you that is doing it, and there is a part of you that is judging what you are doing. And as you are quieter, you see the dynamics between the Superego, the Id, the ego. And you see it all as just phenomena. Because they are phenomena. As a psychologist, I can study those phenomena in another person; why not study it in myself? And part of what drugs did for me, and then meditation did for me, and all the spiritual things is it helps me stand back and get outside of it. To see it for what it is. As just stuff — phenomena.
13 thoughts on “Ram Dass on Self Judgment”
How can we meet Ram Dass other than flying to Hawaii ???
Can one invite Ram Dass to Colorado just for a get-together ? Can one do that without a lot of money but with one big heart ?
Dear Ram Das
Thank you for this post.
This appeared. on the very dayI needed it most, at 60 I often harp on my regrets and failures rather than looking at the joys and successes . Now viewing myself as the bent tree, much nicer outlook.
What a beautifully lucid post – I am struck by how clear it seems after having read it, and how it did not occur to me before. Thank you!
this is an incredible post*It touched me deep down untill the roots of the fundaments of me & this so called personality*Thnx from the depth of my Heart & Soul for being so precise, so unique, so caring & graceful* Love & Light..
stand back and get outside of it.” I agree…it is this awareness of consciousness being outside of our body, our lives, our universe as in lives within in another space, yet can share this illusionary one. I really dig this…thank-you Maharaji Ram Dass ((( love…ahhh )))
I am a musician (http://www.soundcloud.com/caliconscious) and this is so true especially for artists, always judging their work and trying to perfect it instead of accepting the unique beauty that is original work and releasing it into society to really make an impact on the world. That fear of judgement is what has so many musicians and other artists holding on too long to the art they use to express themselves. Thank you for the reminder to treat yourself as a tree as well as those around you and to let the leaves turn color and to fall when they are ready to fall to grow new beautiful leaves. One Love.
Ram Das would maybe tell you he is already there with you and you are with him, in the soul’s heart space. Just as he says he and his guru and God are ONE. We humans want physical presence—it is part of our nature that it is so, but, really, that very human quality can make us miss another deeper contact.
Are you aware that Ram Das does live webcasts? That is likely as close as I will get ,but for some reason, it always nourishes my need for deeper contact with his essence. May I also recommend the DVD Fierce Grace? I bought it because watching it and sharing it always brings him right in and close to me.
Thank you Ram Dass.
Just a note, in ancient Greek the word Istoria, the language that originated the word history, simply means “story”.
I’m gonna practice this….seeing people as trees, just the way they are no stories, and keeping my photo on my alter to open my heart to myself. …
Seeing is freeing. Thank you. xx
Thank you for the enlightening words! I made a part of your words into an inspirational picture quote.