Robert Thurman returns to share stories about Ram Dass, discuss his psychedelic years, and explore the topics of reincarnation, identity and activism.
Robert Thurman is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University and President of the Tibet House U.S., and is the President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies. Keep up with Robert at bobthurman.com
Uncovering his intention behind this conversation, Raghu invites Robert to share some of the remarkable experiences he has had with Ram Dass. To set the stage, Robert dives back through history, contrasting his wild psychedelic beginnings with those of Ram Dass. Exploring how those sparks ignited a wave of change to wash through them both personally, and the culture at large.
“Ram Dass was a psychonaut, a voyager in the mind through serious psychedelics. He’d really been through heaven and hell, which I think opened him – as it did for so many – to then receive the darshan and blessings of Neem Karoli Baba. If he had been a straight, square psychologist when he met Neem Karoli Baba, I don’t think it would have been the same outcome.” – Robert Thurman
Take a journey back through time and space with RamDev as he recounts stories of meeting Ram Dass and traveling to India to meet Maharajji on Ep. 42 of Healing at the Edge
It’s All Perfect… And It All Stinks (16:10)
Recounting times with Ram Dass in India, Robert shares a story of when Ram Dass was so upset by the genocide in Bangladesh that he told his guru, Maharajji, that he wanted to drive his Volkswagen down to go help. Maharajji replied to Ram Dass, “Don’t you see, it’s all perfect?” to which Ram Dass answered, “It’s all perfect… and it all stinks!”
“If we get too fixated on the evil that’s going down, we might become where our activism is based on rage, and anger, and hatred of the evil doers, and then we’re just adding to it and we will not improve the situation.” – Robert Thurman
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Buddhism, Reincarnation, & the Selfless Soul (36:08)
Robert and Raghu recollect Ram Dass’ use of the word “soul,” and how that concept is generally viewed as going against the Buddhist notion of “Anatta,” which can be translated as “non-self” or “soullessness.” Robert, inspired by Ram Dass, dives into how the concept of the soul actually does fit into Buddhism – through the concept of a “selfless soul.”
“If you realize that your identity is always changing, its a continuum, and its affected by what you do at the coarser levels of identity, then the soul becomes what your evolutionary, karmic, genetic stream has carried until you become a Buddha.” – Robert Thurman