Good evening, my name is Ram Dass, which means, “Servant of God.” However, I also use it as an acronym for “Rent-A-Mouth,” because sitting up here implies something that I don’t really cop to.
It’s hard not to get into a model of who I am and who you are because of the way we’re sitting. And as far as I can see, you know what I know. It’s what Aldous Huxley calls the “perennial philosophy”. I know you know it because when I say the deepest thing I figured out, you’re out there going like, “yes, yes.” But we need to gather in these kinds of ritualistic processes to say it to ourselves again. It’s like Satsang, or Sangha – to come and experiment in truth.
See, I don’t even have any idea who to be tonight because I’ve spent so many years becoming nobody that now I could be whatever somebody is appropriate, and since the lights are set up I can’t see you, so I’m basically talking to myself. That’s interesting. It changes the whole nature of the lecture, by the way, because the lights are up, I can see some people sitting there like someone else brought them and they’re having to be here.
My best image, which I’ve told so many times, was that image in the ’60s, late ’70s when everybody wore white during my lectures and smiled a lot… that was the stage of our development. So during this time, I was giving a lecture in which I was telling about my acid trips, which was sort of like we were sharing maps. We were psychedelically sharing map readings and there was this woman in the front row, probably in her 70s, and she had a little hat on with strawberries and cherries, and she had responsible oxfords, and a patent leather purse, and a net around her hair.
Everything I said she nodded to, and I started to think, “How does she know?” I mean, everybody else looked like an acid head, but she didn’t. So I’d say something more outrageous and I’d look over and she’d be nodding her head.
So then I thought she had a problem with her neck, you know? And I’d watch to see whether it was connected with my speaking, and finally, at the end of the lecture I just couldn’t resist and I kind of willed her up to me. I just looked at her and smiled and she came over and she said, “Thank you, that’s just the way I think it is.” She was taunting me now… and I said, “How do you know?” and she leaned forward very conspiratorially and she said, “I crochet.” Norman Rockwell takes acid.
So I was humbled. I realized that a lot of methods work. Because I was as much a part of that thinking, “It must be the same way as everyone else along the way.”