The following excerpt is from a Ram Dass lecture that took place in 1973, before Neem Karoli Baba left his body.
Talking about Neem Karoli Baba (Maharaji), I get speechless. On the physical plane he is a jungle sadhu who in recent years has started to spend more time in temples around northern India that devotees have built in order to try to capture him, or hold onto a little bit of that light. And he appears in one, and stays for a little while, and then just when they get all their rituals in order to hang onto him forever, he’s gone. In the middle of the night he just disappears again – I mean, not in any astral sense, he just gets someone with a car to take him off somewhere, and nobody knows where he’s gone, and then he turns up somewhere else. And he floats around in that way, so that nobody can really control that kind of light in him.
When you’re with him, when I’m with him, I experience many levels. At the personality social level, he’s often infuriating and frustrating and repetitive and childlike and stubborn and willful and playful and funny and an old man and a little child and very concerned and very indifferent, and that’s one level.
At another level, when I’m in his presence, I experience ecstasy and bliss from the depth of the love that our relationship has for me. And that’s the drunken kind of love where I often find myself just dissolved into tears because I’ve just never experienced such profound love from any being.
And often just when I’m going into that he will interrupt it with some question like, “How much money does Stephen make?” or something like that just to bring me back to the plane. He keeps me very firmly down on the physical plane until my work is done. He doesn’t allow me to just float around in bliss very much when I’m around him.
Then there’s a deeper level, like when I first met him he asked me why I’d come back and I told him it was to purify myself more. He said, “I am always in communion with you.” And I have more and more deeply understood that to be the case, and in fact that’s now who he is for me.
He is a being who is with me always, and sometimes he’s with me so closely that I am him – I’m saying things to people or I’m acting a certain way towards people and I look at their reaction and I see that they’re not reacting to me, they’re reacting to him. That is him just coming through me completely. And at that point I don’t feel his presence because in some sense I am his presence. And then the rest of the time I just feel like I am constantly hanging out with him at a very subtle plane. And at this plane I just feel him as this gentle, firm guide, who’s slowly drawing me towards himself, just pulling me ever so gently. And there’s no rest, it’s a continuous process.
And I take almost everything that happens to me as a part of his teachings to me, I take everything, if I can remember.
If I get uptight about wanting to do good about something, I see him saying to me, “Well, you’re still caught, aren’t you? You still really care, don’t you?” And I can just constantly talk with him all the time at that level.
-Ram Dass, 1973