Once I was with the dean of students at the University of Michigan. They took me to his house, and he’s got a puja room, and every morning he gets up at 5 o’clock, and he goes and he does his whole thing. He does his asanas and his meditation, and his reading of holy books – which is what I had told him to do about three years ago. He does it, every day. And then at 7:30 he takes a shower, and his kids come and he plays with them, and has his breakfast. And then he goes and “deans” all day.
Now, the flipside is when you consider those two hours from 5:00 to 7:00 as what it’s about, and all the rest is the supportive thing. And this is all a method. I’m just giving you methods, and all methods must be let go at the end. Okay? Don’t get hung up. I mean, you know, “Okay, but isn’t it all important?” Yes, it’s all important, when you know it isn’t all important. As long as you think it’s all important, you can’t have it. Can you hear that?
So for people that have had communes, I’ve always told them to take one room and make it into a retreat, and then take turns being in the retreat, and the rest of you take care of the person. You just need a large closet, and really, if you want to spend an interesting two-week summer vacation, just go into a room and close the door. Take a sleeping bag, maybe have some food left outside the door every day. If you really want to do it fiercely, just take the sleeping bag. If you want to do it a little more gently, take some holy books. Some knitting. A diary.
At Lama, what I do is for the first week, I let people take in all this stuff, you know, all their ways of keeping holy. But then the last two weeks, I just put them in the room with the sleeping bag and say, “If you need to, you can go out and take a walk for about ten minutes, once a day. You can go to the toilet, and you can eat.” Because that’s what you do. You really climb the walls. Because we’re so hooked on external stimulation. But if you’re going to do this work, that’s one of the fiercest ways to do it.
It doesn’t mean you have to go into a cave for life. You start to do it in bigger cycles. Sometimes I retreat for a few months, and then come out into the world for a few months, and then retreat. And I trust my flow. It’s like endocrinology or something like that. I just feel, a pulling backwards and going in and then I go in, and I’m in for a while, and then I can feel the pulling outwards of, “I want to go out and serve and do things. Far more karma out there.” And I go out there, and then I can feel that pulling back again.
And I trust it. I’m not worried about being consistent.
– Ram Dass