Our concepts of who we are help us to navigate our world, but they are often overvalued and have the potential to trap us in form.
These traits create an image with which we identify and subsequently struggle to maintain as we are presented with life’s inevitable changes. In this talk, given at the University of Vermont, Ram Dass begins by asking the question, ‘Who am I?’. Are we the vast array of personality traits that arise in our day to day lives? Can we pinpoint exactly who or what we are within our body, mind or spirit? These questions, as Ram Dass explains, continuously led him back into the void, as every answer he had was ultimately untrue. He eventually learned to identify with the creator, rather than the creation, and his sense of separateness began to dissolve. We often fail to recognize that we too are a part of the lawful unfolding of nature.
From a higher perspective, we can sometimes see that it’s all perfect, but that attitude is difficult to maintain in the presence of real suffering. If we attempt to live in either of these extremes, then we’re standing, ‘somewhere’, and there’s nowhere to stand. Our incarnation isn’t an error, and where we are is exactly where we are supposed to be, in this moment. We can’t push away our humanity, as freedom comes through form, not in spite of it.
(University of Vermont – Burlington, VT – 10/30/1986)