The following was recorded in 1976 at North Miami Beach High School.
Ram Dass: Miami seems like a good place to reflect upon greed. I was watching a baby feed, a very young infant feed. Now that's pure greed. Pure greed. There is no self-consciousness about it at all. And then we get socialized, and we mix greed with a liberal dosage of guilt and shame to control our greed. Then later, we mix it with rationalizations, a rational structure, to control our greed using our intellect. So when we are a controlled greed instrument, we are called ‘socialized’. We still have the greed; we still want what we want when we want it. Because when we are getting just what we want, when we want it, we have a certain feeling of, “Yeah, ah, right on.”
You know when you're really thirsty, and there's no water, and you've got a long distance to go and you finally get to a point where there's a cool glass of water, “Ahh.” Or you need to go to the bathroom, and you're on a long bus trip.”Ahh.” That moment of getting just what it is that you wanted.
It's a moment when you merge. It's like with sex, it's very clear - you want the orgasm, you think, “Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes.” And then, “There it goes, there it goes, there it goes.” But at the moment, nobody's thinking anything. Nobody's thinking “This is it!” There isn't anybody there to think anything…It’s a selfless moment, the moment when you're not busy being somebody doing something. The moment of flow.
Now the culture has been changing, and we're throwing off a lot of our guilt and shame.
So what happens then? Everybody tries to come back to basic greed to get what they want, when they want it. When you're hungry, you eat. Then you see people swelling bigger and bigger and bigger, just out of pure greed. More and more ease, more and more comfort, more luxury. More, more, more, more, more, more.
If I get just a little bit more, it'll be just enough. And for those moments, it is. It is enough. The problem is that those are moments in time and a moment later, they’re gone. You're all masters of going up and coming down. You know how to get up there. And you also know how to get down. And most of you, no matter how hard you push, come down.
You buy a new car, you get behind the driver's wheel, get that rush. Ahh, just the fantasy I had. Here it is. $4,000 later, I got it. You zoom down the road, the moment. A few days later, there's a squeak. A new dance. The moment has passed. People who are designing their lives around getting more try to get those moments in closer and closer together. Because if you can get them in close enough, you may not notice the space between them. So right in the middle of dinner, “What's for dessert?”
You're in dessert, I got some coffee. Bring the coffee. Let's go to the movies. We’re in the middle of the movies; what do we do after the movies? Let’s get an ice cream soda. Ice cream soda. Let's take a walk. Taking the walk. What do you say? This is great. Let's go to bed. Go to bed. What's in the refrigerator? And so it goes on and on and on. Always just getting ready for the next one to make sure there's not going to be a space between the one you're in now. Because God forbid, there should be a space. And the fantasy of the society is if you have enough money and enough power, you'll be able to do it, you'll be able to bring it off.
You get them in so tight, it'll just be one “Whoosh!”. It'll just be jetting to Tokyo for breakfast all the way. Right? But television, as an obvious media medium, has knocked somewhat of a hole in that fantasy, because it confronts you on the screen right between your feet, in your own bedroom, with faces of those people who made it.
And if you look in close, the vibration often isn't one you want.
It's as if I made it by everything society's that I should do to make it. And where is the pot of gold? What's wrong? But why worry? The sun will be up tomorrow, it'll be warm and toasty. I'll just worry about how to earn a living, keep my kids alive, get a little sun, have a little leisure, smoke a little grass. It's okay. I'll fill. But there is a moment when you don't want to fill anymore. When the futility of your predicament of grabbing at things that are in time becomes too apparent.
When that happens for an individual, he experiences despair. And in the midst of that despair is the seed of the next stage of his growth, of awareness.
You are here in this room almost without exception, because you recognize what I am talking about. That even if you are in the midst of collecting it all, of having a good home, good family, good insurance policies, good security, good fun, good sun, good nature, good social responsibility, good political activism, good health food, good clothes, good friends...
Back inside of you is saying, “What is it back in here that's yearning for something else?”
What is it? Is this just neurosis? And we are just a collective group of neurotics? We may well be, by the way. This may be the dissatisfaction of an affluent society grasping at straws, or it may be that we are pseudo-pods.
We are those things that go out from the amoeba, we are the leading edge of a shift of consciousness in which we are now reaching for something more profound, deeper in our own beings, deeper in the universe.
For example, in this group, many of you are shifting from identifying with that feeling towards the universe of, “My job is to master and control my environment.” Shifting to, “My work is to hear and flow with and be a part of my universe.” Now that's an entirely different ego structure. That is a shift in consciousness, that is the answer to the ecological imbalances that come from man's intellect attempting to control nature. That's called, in Chinese philosophy, The Tao, the flow, the harmony, being in tune with, being an instrument of the universe instead of a master of it.
But what a humble ego to be willing to do that. If that were Henry Kissinger, he would have to listen instead of just sending. That's the difference between a politician and a statesman. That's the difference between a knowledgeable person and a wise man.
We are collectively in training to become wise persons.
A wisdom that is going to be reflected in our beings, our actions are going to reflect the shifts in consciousness that we are about at this moment.