Losing them, fixing them, forgetting to put them in
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Ram Dass is an American spiritual teacher. His seminal book is Be Here Now in which he articulates Eastern philosophy for a Western audience.
Recently, a friend said to me, “You’re more human since the stroke than you were before.” This touched me profoundly. What a gift the stroke has given me, to finally learn that I don’t have to renounce my humanity in order to be spiritual — that I can be both witness and participant, both eternal spirit and aging body.
You are the Ancient One. Everything that ever was, is, or will be is part of the dance of your being. You are all of the universe, and so you have Infinite Wisdom; you appreciate all of the feelings of the universe, so you have Infinite Compassion.
But let me give an example of the scale of the destruction that’s going on. We know that the amount of solar energy necessary to sustain the hydrological cycle in the Amazon jungle — the energy necessary to lift that water into the atmosphere — is equivalent to the energy put out by two thousand hydrogen bombs a day. The vegetation that grows there captures that much energy. It creates a huge heat engine that drives the winds of the world, those winds that the ancient mariners knew, and the same winds that deliver moisture regularly and predictably to North America and to Europe. Those winds don’t simply exist — they’re continuously being created and maintained by large biological systems. The Amazon is one of the vital organs of the living planet.
The philosopher Gurdjieff pointed out that if we wish to escape from prison, the first thing we must acknowledge is that we are in prison. Without that acknowledgment, no escape is possible.
At this point Maharaj-ji said, “Oh, I didn’t realize you were so attached to money.” And with that he took a set of tongs, reached into the fire, and began pulling new, unburned rupee notes from the fire until he had returned all the rupees to the sadhu. After that, the sadhu did not sit on Maharaj-ji’s tucket anymore — but at his feet.
When you finally want to become free, because you’re tired of getting high and coming down, then you become appreciative of everything in your life. And then you’re going towards hotter and hotter fires. You’re looking for those things that catch you. You’re actually looking to find out where your anger and lust and greed and doubt are, because you want to clean up your act. Not because you’re a goody-goody gumshoes. Not even because you ought to. Not even because you better or else! Just because you’ve got to.
You’ve taken an incarnation that is absolutely perfect to work out your karma. I’ll tell you how form-fitted it is. It isn’t just some schlock, factory-ready garment. This thing is so tailor-made that every experience in your life — every single one of them, what you felt on the toilet this morning, every one of them — is designed within that game to awaken you, if you want to use it. You’re given an entire road map out.
The anger will go through; there will be no place in you it can hang its hat. The sticky thing in you is your model of who you think you are. But if you think of yourself as a soul going to God, then other people’s criticism either of your personality or of your body has no real effect on you.
There is a moment when you have looked up to the peaks of the Himalayas and you see the snow, the pure white snow, the pure mind of the Buddha, the diamond-blue-white, crystalline-clear, pure love of the Christ; but you have to also, if you’re going to make the game perfect, look down and see the blood on the snow that comes from the bleeding heart of Jesus. You have to see the suffering. You have to see your incarnation. You have to see all of it, with strength, with compassion. For only that person who simultaneously looks up and down can stand before God, can stand in God, in perfection.
One day in 1971 my Guru asked me what I did about the letters I received. I replied that I answered them. Two letters had been brought to him that day. One letter he put on top of his head and the other he held between his hands for a moment. Then he tore up both of them and threw them on the ground.