There is an intense desire, once you have tasted something as sweet as spiritual awakening, to want to share it with people you love.

The desire is so strong that you get into a proselytizing stance that awakens in them a paranoid defense, because you’re saying to them, “Who you are, just as you are, isn’t enough. If only you knew what I know, or had what I had, you could be happier than you are.”

After a while, you learn that all of the karmic stuff you create when you start to judge somebody else as doing something that is less than what they could be doing, because you don’t know why they are the way they are. I mean, if a kid needs Nintendo, you think, “Why are you spending time on that shit, man, when you could be, ya know, doing this?” …”What are you out of your mind? Leave me alone, I want a new Nintendo game, I’ll meditate if you give me a new Nintendo game.”

After a while you come to appreciate that what you can offer another human being is to work on yourself to be a statement of what it is you have found in the way to live your life. One of the things you will find is the ability to appreciate what is, as it is, in equanimity and compassion, and love that isn’t conditional. You don’t love the person more because they are happier the way you think they should be.

I remember after my mother died in 1966, and we had a big farm in New Hampshire. After some weeks, it turned out that people found out I was back there, and people started to come to the house at the farm. At first it was a few everyday, and then a few more, and then they’d bring their parents, and they’d bring their ministers, and it went on until we had like 300 a weekend coming by, just to sit under the trees and talk. My father, he’d count cars and he’d say things like, “Ya know if you charged a dollar a piece, you’d be a rich man.” You know, he just saw this as potential for business, but he was at the time mourning very deeply my mother’s death. I was out on the lawn talking about the exact issues about grief and illusion and soul and what happens at death, and he walked by to go in to watch the ballgame, and I looked at him and realized that if he just stopped and listened, the very thing that he was suffering from would be alleviated, and it had been brought right to his front door, and there was nothing more I could do about it. Nothing. I couldn’t make him hear it, and what I’ve learned over the years is to appreciate that people have different agendas at different stages of their lives, and because of different backgrounds, and I had become an environment that is available.

I really now wait for people to ask… I don’t come onto people, I don’t like to teach where I’m not invited to teach. I only want to go with people who want to hear what I have to say, and I’m learning how to play that as close to the edge as I can.

In general, I’m saying you don’t come on to other people about spiritual issues; you keep your own council, and stay available, and when they ask, you share, and you create environments where they could, if they wanted, hear it by having the opportunity. I think you can force people to mimic stuff, but I don’t think you can force their hearts, I don’t think you can force the human heart. Meher Baba says, “What we are selling is catchy… It goes from one heart to another.”


-Ram Dass