Our teacher is prolific. As much as we want, he gives. He gives and gives and gives. Even now, at age 86, post-stroke and confined to a wheelchair with speech aphasia, he gives talks and podcasts and interviews and workshops, leads retreats, sits on Skype and continues to write books.
His capacity to give is matched only by our desire to receive. Our insatiable desire to hear the story about the aikido guy on the train, one more time. To hear the anecdote about the different channels and planes of consciousness, to be reminded to be in our soul, not our role. To hear again about being under the stars and meeting Maharaji and touching his feet. He gives. And we hungrily steep ourselves in his love.
I first met Ram Dass through his recorded talks on YouTube. I had an office job from 2009-2012 where I would spend my day doing pretty mindless work while streaming hours upon hours of his lectures into my consciousness. The talks were rich and varied and dated from the 70’s on into the 90’s covering every topic possible. I could listen to the same talk time and time again without growing tired. My aimless wandering through the vast reaches of YouTube playlists took me to uploads by RD fans that were augmented with psychedelic guitar riffs and synthesizers and looping vocals, holding the teacher to his psychedelic roots. I would get pretty irritated if someone from my job interrupted me when I was deep in a good lecture on the process of awakening, but mostly I was left alone to listen. I listened and listened and listened and listened and listened and tuned in the best I could. Ram Dass’s ability to articulate the spiritual journey so vividly, to reflect back to my experiences I was having in my own search for truth, and to entice me onward with tales of higher states and expanding love, was incredibly exciting and freeing and inspiring.
Along with listening to the talks, I read Paths to God, Grist for the Mill, Be Love Now, How Can I Help? , Polishing the Mirror, and of course, Be Here Now. In any way I could, I brought Ram Dass along as a companion on my path because I trusted him.
I trusted him. I trust him.
The December Maui Retreat theme this year was – Trusting Heart: Finding Faith and Love Wherever You Are. Ram Dass said that he first trusted the mushrooms. The whole room laughed at this statement. But what he said is very profound and honest – he trusted the earth, the wisdom of the Mother. She humbled his mind and opened his perception through the gift of psilocybin. She has done this for centuries – allowed us to see things another way, to see through to the other side, invited us to witness how we are all a part of her, all connected. All one. Sub ek!
He trusted the mushrooms because he knew they would tell him the truth. They were not going to give him a put-on – intellectual, religious, psychological or otherwise.
Next, he said, he trusted Maharaji because he read his mind and he loved him. Someone else with this siddhi could have read his mind to show off but Maharaji read his mind to invite him into love. Both the mushrooms and the guru knew that his mind was his gift and so they gave him freedom through this portal. And the love – the love of the guru was sure. Not a put-on. Not a hustle. Just a gift. Just – ahhhhh!
I learned what is trust with Ram Dass. His strength, his faith, his courage, give me the same. He knew so that I could too. He trusted this knowing, his experience, his path, his journey and that is what he instructs me to do. In an age of deception, my teacher keeps me on my toes with the truth. I must hold my experience as true and learn to listen to my own heart. I must trust the unfolding of my path and surrender my fear to love. Surrender my mind to my heart. Stop playing the game of persona and allow the soul to direct. His confidence in the truth and in love is like a giant redwood tree of strength that all of us can lean on when we are unsure.
Ram Dass once told me – When I get confused, I surrender. What power lies in this direction! The teaching takes me straight to my own heart and out of the mind and gives me instant access to the truth. It is fierce. And it is fueled by grace.
It was several years after my office job YouTube-listening marathon that I met Maharaji. I was on Maui for a private retreat with Ram Dass and I suddenly was talking to this guru in my mind. I say suddenly because I cannot actually remember the before time, the time prior to being in Maharaji’s care. I certainly was not communicating with him on any conscious level before I set foot in the Ohana in Haiku. I had never even really tried. I had a copy of Miracle of Love but I
didn’t really get it. I had heard Ram Dass speak about his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, and all of the encounters and stories around him but it did not sink in. I was satisfied with Ram Dass and his teachings. I did not feel the need for an additional guru.
But now I was at Ram Dass’s house and the guru’s picture was everywhere and I was talking with him. Or he was speaking to me. I didn’t really question it. It just was. I was suddenly communicating with this being that I had heard so much about but had never met. I was in constant dialogue with him and taking in as much I was able to at the time.
Ram Dass has said that he communicates with his guru in his imagination. He said that there is a room in his consciousness called imagination and that is where he meets Maharaji and they talk.
He gestured that his mind was judging and skeptical of this: Your imagination – is that real? to which he replied (to himself and to us),
“My faith in my imagination is real.”
Though I have undeniable experience of contact with the guru myself, I still often fall short of the faith that my experience is real. And any time that I do doubt, I am most certainly in pain. The desire to hold on to one illusion over another is mind boggling – when I could be in a room called imagination hanging out with the guru. I think I do this myself, and Ram Dass reminds me, we are doing it together. We are all meeting in this room called imagination. The real and the relatively real. Through our faith. Through our TRUST in the teaching or the mushroom or the guru’s grace. We step into that room together and hold our faith like a torch of knowing. And when we cannot do it ourselves, Ram Dass is already there, giving us the rope, leading us along, deeper into the room, deeper into the experience of love. His faith is the foundation for my trust to grow. He went there so that I can dip my toe in the waters of surrender and hopefully remember myself in the reflection.
A Room Called Imagination was written by Be Here Now Network teacher Melanie Moser. Find more teachings from Melanie Moser at meditatewithmelanie.com and be sure to subscribe to the Shakti Hour Podcast.