In this talk from 1994, Ram Dass investigates the many roots of suffering and how our perception shapes our experience of that suffering.
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The Way We Deal (Opening) – Ram Dass shares the predicament he found himself in when he realized that even though he was so spiritually connected and in bliss, he was still suffering. He explores the way people find themselves in this kind of suffering that comes when we run from our problems and fears – choosing instead to stay high on the divine.
“Even though I was high and really out there in bliss and rapture, there was still suffering inherent to that situation. The reason was that there was an aversion to the physical worldly psychological stuff was I had gotten high through pushing it away. I didn’t really want to have congress with it. I began to see that the pushing away of the world was a stance and that stance made me frightened of that world, frightened that it would undercut my high – my feeling of spiritual connectedness.” – Ram Dass
Why Suffering? (16:35) – How do you respond to the immensity of the suffering around you in a way that doesn’t close you down? Ram Dass discusses ways that we can meet the suffering in our communities with compassion and equanimity, instead of armoring our hearts to that suffering.
“The cost of doing that veiling means that you protect your heart, and it feels protected and less vulnerable, but it is also deadened in the process. There is no longer the living spiritual interchange of energy that comes from being in love in the universe.” – Ram Dass
It’s All Perfect (28:55) – Ram Dass talks about the judging mind and the difficult teaching he was given from Maharaj-ji around the perfect nature of all things – including suffering. He looks at the ways we cut ourselves off when we veil ourselves to suffering.
“I could see immediately that one could use ‘it’s all perfect’ like ‘it’s all karma’ – as a rationalization for not acting. We are not talking about the cheap cop-out, which is not what we are dealing with here. What we are dealing with is where one can stand in one’s awareness that allows one to be in the presence of what is in the universe without closing the heart.” – Ram Dass
The Roots of Suffering (43:30) – What about the suffering that comes with old age? Ram Dass explores how much of the suffering that comes with old age comes from our mind’s perception of suffering.
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