The interesting thing is what we offer each other from moment to moment.

I don’t care what roles we’re in, only what we as human beings offer to each other. And I would say that when you identify with a technique, and you say, “Look, I’m a perfect instrument of that technique,” there’s a way in which you are giving that person a great gift, and a way in which you are starving them.

You’re starving them because you really aren’t ‘there’ with them. You are in your mind ‘doing something.’ I’m not saying you shouldn’t be doing something in your mind, but also you should be something else. In other words, somebody comes, and they lay a ‘trip,’ they tell me their whole story, and all of their storm, and all of this stuff, and I hear it all, and there’s another part of me that is just sitting, absolutely quiet, just like I’m sitting quietly now even as I’m talking. Then they finish talking and out of my emptiness, not out of my analytic process, comes a response.

Now, I’m not fooling myself that emptiness has the gestalt in it of all the techniques that I’ve ever learned. Those are all in there, but take a violinist for example. At first the violinist plays from conscious habits. When a violinist is busy with their technique, you hear that it’s exquisite music, but it just doesn’t ‘do it’ for you. It doesn’t allow you to meet Mozart, it just ends up with you saying, “What a technique that violinist has.”

However, if the violinist has learned the technique and then gone beyond the technique, then you’re both listening upward, it takes you through him or her to listen upward, and it’s a whole other level of the game.

I would say that I can’t hide from another human being at any moment. I’ve got to be really present in shared awareness and in love. Where they are is their problem, but I’ve got to be fully available in every moment.

Now the question is, is that a burden?

It’s only a burden if you hold onto the stuff, otherwise, you’re just sitting in emptiness all the time. You’ve got to hear that part of it, otherwise it’s a real drag. I’m not interested in stories; I’ve heard them all, I’ve heard everything, and we’ve all got it. None of this, “Mine was particularly bad.” You know? I’m not being cynical, but enough already.

Our culture is so obsessed with personality and individuality. We have two places we gotta go, one is to awaken to the fact that we’re a part of the system – we’re a part of families and communities, and an ecosystem, and that’s a fundamental identity for us, as much as our individualism, and if we don’t awaken to that, we basically don’t survive. Humans get done in.

The other is that we have to go out of our separateness into the place that I’ve been talking about. Those are the two jobs we have on Earth at this moment.


-Ram Dass