In this excerpt from Miracle of Love: Stories about Neem Karoli Baba, Ram Dass discusses what surrender is really about.
Ram Dass shares how to not get stuck in righteousness and move through our anger into a place of faith and beautiful surrender to the Universe.
A large number of Westerners were being housed in an empty house belonging to one of the Indian devotees. We filled it with our bodies from wall to wall. Each day we would make our way to Dada’s house where Maharaji was staying; there we visited with him and were lavishly fed with meals, many sweets, and much tea. But then Maharaji stopped seeing us. Each day we would go to Dada’s house and be fed; but without Maharaji’s darshan, it lost the source of the appeal. Although I loved being with him, I didn’t mind so much for myself but there were many Westerners who had just recently arrived, and a number of them had not yet even met Maharaji. Day after day they waited, following us from house to house, but I could see that soon they would tire of this game and leave. However, there was nothing I could do.
Then one day I was called to Maharaji’s room and told, “Ram Dass, commander-in-chief, don’t bring anyone here tomorrow until six at night.” I had my orders, and when we returned to our quarters I announced that we would not go to Maharaji the next day until six. The next evening all the new people and most of the old devotees arrived, as ordered, at six. We found that some of the old devotees had ignored my instructions and arrived at four. These people had been fed; but more importantly, they had had a long visit with Maharaji. And when we arrived at six, though we were fed, we were not allowed to visit him.
Late that evening I was again called in to see Maharaji. This time he seemed angry with me and said, “Ram Dass, today people came at four. Tomorrow I don’t want anyone to come until six.” Again when we returned to our quarters I made his wishes known, specifically making them clear to those who had ignored me.
The next day it was worse. Not only did the original miscreants go at four, but now the mutiny was spreading, and other old devotees joined them. At six I arrived with the new devotees, who still assumed that my orders were to be honored, and a few of the old devotees who were sticking with me. And again we were faced with the same situation. The group that went at four got a long darshan with Maharaji and we got none. I was beginning to get angry.
The next day no such instruction was forthcoming, and we all came early but we were kept singing in the living room while Maharaji stayed with the Indian devotees in the kitchen. After some time a message came that Maharaji would see the women, and they all rushed out of the room to have his darshan. After some time, during which we were to continue singing, a message came that half of the men were to come for darshan. Of course, all wanted to go, but the meek and the righteous and some of the newer people remained behind with me, weakly carrying on the singing while we jealously listened to the laughter and talking in the other room.
Then the message came that Maharaji would not see anyone else that evening. And I became furious at this arbitrariness. That some of the new devotees who were kind enough to wait should not have darshan seemed grossly unfair, and I sought out Dada and expressed my perturbation. My anger was not masked, and Dada said, “I think you’d better tell Maharaji yourself.”
“I will,” I said.
Dada went into Maharaji’s room and soon I was called in. There were only the three of us. Maharaji looked at me and asked, “Kya?” I knew of course that he knew what was in my mind, and I was in no mood for games, so I said, “Maharaji, you know my heart.” But he wouldn’t be deterred from having me explain, and he just reiterated, “Kya?”
I said, “Maharaji, you aren’t being fair.” And I proceeded to tell him of these new devotees who couldn’t see him. When I finished my explanation I sat back on my haunches, waiting. I guess I felt I deserved an explanation and was waiting for one. After all, Maharaji wasn’t living up to the rules in my guru guidebook.
He looked at me quizzically, looked at Dada as if he didn’t understand, then he reached forward and gave a yank at my beard and said, “Ah, Ram Dass is angry.” That was all. And then he looked directly into my eyes and we held the gaze.
During those moments I saw clearly my predicament. Maharaji had not acted “rationally” or at any rate “fairly,” and he wasn’t apologizing for it, either. I had a choice. I could get up and walk out of the room and leave him, in which case I would be left with my righteousness, but no guru. Or I could surrender to his irrationality and unfairness, knowing that he knew and I didn’t. I bowed down, touched my head to his feet, and surrendered again.
– Ram Dass, excerpt from Miracle of Love: Stories about Neem Karoli Baba