Raghu Markus: Welcome to the Ram Dass Be Here Now podcast and I’m your host Raghu Markus.
Well, we’ve been talking a little bit more about what I call the ‘slice of life’ just being with Maharaji day to day.
At that point I was completely relaxed and felt at home in India, been there getting on just going on for a year at that point. In fact the thought of going home was like ooo, euw, I don’t think I can do that! Not that there was one jit of an idea of leaving. That was a whole other drama that took place later, but at this moment we were just day to day living up at this wonderful hotel in Nainital which is this British hill town that they kind of built a lot of hotels, or had them built, to get away from the heat in the summer. It’s a lovely place, a fantastic place.
So we were all staying there, I guess around 30 people or so, and obviously sharing day to day our experience going to see Maharaji, and Ram Dass of course was with us and he was, you know, kind of acting as the teacher. He wasn’t kind of, he was. Although there were some people who did not consider that part of their journey and that once we had all met Maharaji, we all had direct experiences with him but Ram Dass was older and we all had all kinds of issues all of the time so he certainly acted in that stead.
But then at one point he got a little bit … had enough of these Westerners, and their glamming on to him and a lot of manipulative egos were happening then so er, he … One day …
Once upon a time … Ram Dass walked, took about, I don’t know, from Nainital to where the ashram was, took about half a day; and he walked there while the rest of us took wonderful taxis and buses. And as a matter of fact, Ram Dass had, for a while, a Volkswagen bus that we used to use. Until Maharaji told him ‘No, you don’t .. No, Guru doesn’t drive. Guru is humble and takes walks or takes the bus.’ So Krishna Das ended up driving the Volkswagen bus and Ram Dass …. driving him out of his mind.
Anyhow, so he walked to Kenchi. And he gets there and we’re being served food across the courtyard from Maharaji who’s sitting on the bench tukit and he gets there and he’s not a happy camper. And one of the satsang goes over and gives him a plate of food – which he promptly throws back in his face! Which in India, food being totally, like, sacred, you can’t even not finish your meal. You might as well go slap the host. So this was a terrible, terrible event. And, er, he was really upset.
Maharaji called us over and Ram Dass was just sitting there glumly with this plate of food all over the place and said ‘What had happened?’ And we told him: ‘Well, Ram Dass is not happy with us, he thinks we’re being very adharmic.’ Or you know, in a simpler way that means self involved. Where our self interest was so high he just couldn’t handle it anymore, which of course to some degree it was.
And Maharaji just looked at us and said, ‘Hey listen’, though he didn’t say it like that, but he said ‘No one would have gotten here to me except for Ram Dass. You don’t know who he is’ and he went on like that.
Then he called Ram Dass up and he said, ‘You’re angry?’
And Ram Dass says ‘Yes,’
‘I just cant take this self interest of these westerners,’ (He said adharma of the westerners.)
And Maharaji said ‘You have to give up this anger, but I’m going to help you.’
And he got a glass of warm milk, and he said, ‘I’ll give you the milk but you have to drink it.’
Which is a key teaching.
Which is having the intention to want to let go.
So, and then, of course, Maharaji, it’s his job to provide it. But there is some relationship there from a guru and devotee. So that happened.
And um boy, this was, I’d say… Well, it’s a story that’s been told by Ram Dass, and others, many many times because, the real teaching in there of letting go, of volition to let go is SO powerful and again – this is another slice of life, slice of a day of hanging out with him and here is what Ram Dass is talking about.
Ram Dass: In Sanskrit, when you pursue yoga, which means union, yoga or union, you go behind the form. You go into the place where it is all one. All one. That place in Sanskrit is called sat chit ananda. Satchitananda.
Satchitananda is the kingdom of heaven. Ramtir the poet, who was a realized being, described satchitananda from inside. He lived on the other side of the doorway. See, on the other side of the doorway, there is no doorway. There’s only a doorway from this side. Another paradox. He says:
“I am without form, without limit. I am beyond states, beyond time. I am in everything. Everything is in me. I am the bliss of the universe, everywhere am I. I am sat absolute distance, chit absolute knowledge, ananada absolute bliss. Tat tvam asi I am that. Tat wam asi I am that. Satchitananda.”
Think of the fine energy now. What is the fine energy? What is the quality of the fine energy? It permeates everything. Remember I said about padmashambava? He is pure light. He is pure consciousness. He is pure love. He is pure wisdom. He is pure energy. Do you understand that identity? I am talking about a specific identity. A very cold systematic identity.
When you go up the pyramid – and this is what Plato suspected when he got into his realm of pure ideas. When you go up the pyramid – follow beauty all the way back, follow love all the way back behind interpersonal love. Follow energy back as the physicists are doing and you’ll end up at the top of the place where it all turns out to be the same. Do you understand that that fine energy we’ve just been talking about, is the same exact thing as what we call consciousness. The universe is conscious. It is consciousness. It’s not self conscious. It does not know it knows. It just is. It is. It is consciousness. Satchitananda.
My guru he’s the guy that lives on the other side of the doorway, he just is.
He doesn’t sit around knowing he knows. The candle flame doesn’t sit around saying I am a candle flame, it’s just being a candle flame. If there is a requirement, a motive, a desire – desire brings the guru from being in the place where he is just like the candle flame, just part of consciousness, the vast pure energy that is consciousness, it brings him back down into form. Brings him down into form. Brings him down in to knowing he knows. I mean, I meet a guru and I’m there by chance and I go up and in a few minutes, he tells me all about things that have happened to me in my past. And he tells me things that he can’t know by any means I know he knows. By any of the usual techniques of knowing one knows. So when he does that to me, he completely takes me the next step. He creates the faith. He blows my mind. ‘Lest ye see miracles ye shall not believe,’ Christ says with great compassion. I was one of those people. It’s the kind of western cynicism that is the basis of science also. I’ll entertain the hypothesis. That’s cynicism. The ‘know’ hypothesis. The ‘no’ hypothesis: There is no relationship until I can demonstrate with a certain degree of probability that there is a relationship.
And he did that thing and he cut through what had to be cut through. Now did he sit there and say like, ‘Well here’s this cat I think I will remember…, I will tell him that.’ No, that’s thinking, that’s knowing you know. He isn’t there at all. He was just being. He was being a leaf on a tree like, and I came along and there was in me a desire to get ahead, to cut through my cynicism and it was my desire which brought that thing out of him. It was my desire which brought that thing out of him.
Now this is very far out and if you can grasp it, it’s really very very important. Very important. Because to be that pure energy is just a state of total being. And when I say ‘You aren’t who you think you are’ it’s because you define yourself in terms of doing versus being. Knowing you know your thoughts, your body and what it does. You say I’m a lawyer or I’m an architect or a hippy or whatever you are. You define yourself in terms of social roles, in terms of actions ‘How do I know myself?’ As if I’m a behaviourist studying myself from outside. The fact of the matter is that when you go in and in and in and in and behind that role and that role and that role and that one too, you get to a place where you just are. Just pure is-ness. Pure is-ness. Pure awareness, pure consciousness, pure energy. If you really reside in that, then you live in satchitananda. That means you no longer live in this time space locus, called the body. That’s the beginning of what is, at the lower levels, is called astral travel. See astral travel still means going from point A to point B, so it must mean that some finite being that goes from A to B. The guru is beyond astral travel. He is point A and point B.
That’s when I said if we knew who we really are there’d only be one of us here. There’s only one consciousness in the whole universe. And when you cut through the drama, you reside in that place, in this place, in here, in here, in here.
Now you understand what chit means – absolute knowledge, absolute knowledge. I mean can you imagine what you’ve been doing? You’ve been… when I said to you that there’s nothing I can say to you that you don’t already know. You didn’t believe me. You didn’t really believe me. You thought I was putting you on. I mean you are absolutely, probably, and I do the same thing… you go into the book store and you buy a book, like there’s something in the book you aren’t! You realize you’re already the book? If you but knew. I mean my teacher, he’s a very pure being. He’s not as high as a guru. He’s got a number of siddhis or powers – he’ll take a book like this, and he’ll pick it up and, ‘Yeah, there are a few things in there that’ll be helpful to you.’ You gotta be around these people for quite while before you understand they’re not putting you on. In their world there are no hypes. There is nothing but total truth, total purity. Total purity. They live in the spirit. They live in this place.
So what we are in is a journey called the evolution of consciousness. It is God coming to know Himself, which finally becomes Himself. Because you understand how… Let me show you the levels, the way it works. You’re at the physical plane where you are receiving vibrations at a certain rate, so all you see when you look around you in this room are other gross physical beings. You’re not seeing any of the astral beings in this room at the moment, most of you, some of you are. Some of you see the astral body in each other by seeing auras. Others of you don’t see those auras. Some of you when you see the aura you think it’s a trick that the light’s playing on you, because you don’t trust the processes that happen in you. Many of you are higher than you let yourself be most of the time, that’s the fact of the matter. Most people are constantly having experiences where they break through the veil and they reject it almost all of the time. Because it doesn’t fit in with the existing model. It’s always happening.
The physical plane is the plane at which you’re at this vibrational rate, and you gotta body and you’re …. What keeps you there … And now you’ve got to understand what I’m saying about desire is… What keeps you there is your own desire. The only reason … like Ramakrishna Paramahansa, a beautiful, beautiful saint in India, Ramakrishna. Ramakrishna was in such a high state, he had a terrible time staying in his body. It was terrible problem, he kept drifting off. And he had to keep creating desires in order to stay in his body. In order to be, to hang out, cos his trip was to help people do their thing I guess… I don’t know, I’m not in cosmic government. So I, I don’t recall giving him this assignment if I did. So he’d say ‘I’m thirsty, get me a glass of water.’ And they’d bring him a glass of water and he’d say ‘Oh I couldn’t touch a drop.’ They’d say ‘I thought you wanted some water,’ ‘I just wanted to want something, to bring me back here.’
(Background noise. Rocks tumbling and falling noise…)
For those of you who don’t understand. over there is a raised platform and around it there is a pool that is filled with charcoal and there’s no water in it at the moment, and all that you hear that sounds like horses in stables is the charcoal and …. somebody may have just fallen off the….
(Continued rocks tumbling and falling noise)
It is desire, it is our desire that keeps us in this physical plane. I’ll explain more about that in a second. Now there’s a physical plane and when you have finished with the desires that keep you at the physical plane, when you have finished with that level of desire, then you move into the next plane which is called the astral plane. And the astral plane is the plane where beings dwell, just like you and me except their desires are more subtle and the desires do not require that they have physical manifestation. And all the beings you’ve ever read about in all the nursery books and all of the fairy tales, and the bible and all these things about demons and devils and goblins and fairies and nymphs and padmashambhava and all these, they all hang out on the astral plane and they’re all real. Because that plane is just as real as this is, it’s just another cut. Another vibrational cut. It’s just another vibrational cut.
And if you can go from …. What happens to most people, like we’ve all witnessed recently the drama of James Pike and his son Jim. And Jim shot himself and then, or died somehow, I guess he shot himself, then he was in contact with his father after, across the planes, through a medium. A medium is a being who can tune in on the astral plane. Now what happens is in this astral plane the next level out it has a number of layers to it.
You got to understand that all the time we in the west were busy, charting the moon, in trips to the moon and how to work in the frontiers of the west and how to dig in to the oceans, there have been a lot of guys who have been busy charting the inner worlds. And these other domains and there are beautiful maps and charts if you can read them. If you have enough faith to be able to open yourself to be able to see what they’re about. So there are many, many, many levels. Some, oh you can probably in most of the Sanskrit literature there’s six or seven levels above this one. The first one out is what is in the Christian bible, is called heaven and hell and it’s that kind of a level. It’s got all those things in it. See the Lord, the Christian Lord is a manifestation. He’s got his throne and he’s got his angels and all that around him, that’s all astral and as Bagavada Gita says, those that pray to the gods, go to the gods. If you desire to go to heaven that’s where you go – to heaven, which is the first plane of the astral plane. Seems like a groovy place to go. There’s six more above it so don’t, you know, get too hung up there, but it seems like a nice place. Good people go there.
Persian Rumi says: I died as mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I ever less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
With angels blest; but even from angelhood
I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
I shall become what no mind e’er conceived.
Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
Proclaims in organ tones, ‘To Him we shall return.’
God and that fine energy and padmashambhava and your atman is all the same stuff, all the same thing. It’s behind it all, it’s behind the physical plane, behind the astral plane. And we got one more plane to go, we got the causal plane. The causal plane is what Plato was talking about, it’s the plane of pure ideas. And the planes are like this – they’re, each plane subsumes the next plane. When you finish with the grossest desires that keep you here in the physical plane, then you’re left with a lot of subtle desires, like you want to be god of the wind, baby, you’re gonna be the god of the wind. I mean you don’t realize how it’s all gonna come out, wait til you see, it’s really gonna blow your mind!
You’re going to be everything you ever wanted to be, that’s the funny part about the astral trip. You can do it all. Everybody does it all. It’s in store for everyone, don’t worry about it, you don’t have to be chosen. You can do anything you want, in the astral plane you can create your universes, you are given that privilege. You’re also given the wisdom to know how to not screw it up. Because your ego has gotten very subtle, very subtle. It’s still desire, as long as there’s desire there’s still ego, as long as there’s desire there’s still an astral plane. Your desire creates your universe that’s the rule of thumb, desire creates the universe be it physical, astral or casual. See, you get finished with the gross things that keep you on the astral plane. I mean you really want to have that full colour experience. You want to travel like light. You want to bathe in ambrosial bliss. Want to hang on to bliss cos it feels so good. Sure man, you’re gonna have plenty of chance. Then you’re going to give that one up too. Gonna to give that one up too.
I have a guru brother who is in the Himalayas. He’s in a cave in the Himalayas. He is a 23 year old westerner from Laguna Beach. He happens to be a very high being, I’ll tell you why, what, who he was in a second. He is spending most of his time in this cave on the astral plane. He’s doing his astral work at the moment. Because the rules of this game are, when you start the trip, as you get purer, as your mind gets calmer through meditation, as you learn to work with the energies, you can easily get out of the time space locus and the gross physical plane, then you go in to the next plane. But you got a lot of work to do there, because it’s very seductive and you gotta go a lot of trips there just like you go on trips here.
And if you do enough you can do the whole thing, physical, astral, causal all in one life time, once you’re on the path, if you just don’t get caught in the cul de sacs. This is what he has to say about this. He’s in this cave in the Himalayas, this is his letter to me:
Crystal clear illumination here we are, sitting in the flowers, rock, raindrop, birds, fire, spring light. Last night we tuned the sitar to the morning star and the goddess herself came in dazzling brilliance, as mind dances sahajananda, (the great ananda the great bliss.) Vastness, effortlessness, emptiness, wrapped up in two hands hold hot wooden bowl of chai. (tea) With wisps of mists and steaming jade.
Baba Ram Dassji (that’s me) is nowhere to be found where a hollow bamboo is growing outside the window. Who could have imagined that right from the first, mind is absolutely pure. Who could have believed that right from the first, not a thing Is. Here in the north country winds blow heavy from Himalayas as I collect sticks and wood for the fire as abiding is no abiding I am abiding in this cuti, this cave. A lot of ancient Chinese days and nights with gong blowing mind and flying sky dragons and vajra yogini dancers, lightning bolt goddesses, dancing in the wall of time. Complete abandonment. The nectar is ama kala dripping everywhere at every moment from union, wisdom, love, dance, of sun and moon, which conceives Bodhi chitta, (conceives pure intellect – intellect one level down), naked, freezing to death in the middle of a roaring fire, lay it down, drop it, let go. Sing it out, throw it out. Going all the way is holy but alas some linger on the path to see and smell the pretty golden sunflower. Or hold hands with eternity. Or practice ecstasy bliss. Or circulate the light. Or reach neither perception nor non perception but lingering anywhere you might get stuck for kalpas (for ages). But the sahaja siddhi Samadhi, (the final Samadhi), is really no Samadhi. Therefore it’s really the end. Since there is no end, you can’t put the end anywhere. Blue sky and Buddha sits throwing blanket over shoulder, sending apples in all directions at once. Ram Dass baba kaisahi tikkahai buntacha agni jaow jaow jaow and lingering is gone, gone, gone, well gone, long gone, gone beyond the beyond. Maharaji, (our guru) is nothing special. And yet his body fills the universe. You can’t go forwards or backwards or stand still. Move. Move. Move.
You can feel that letter he’s moving in and out of the levels just as he’s writing it, just as he’s describing these different levels.
Now when you go from physical to astral to causal, you’re still with the subtle desires, the desires for pure idea. Pure idea. Thought creates matter. Mind creates matter. The causal plane is the world of ideas that creates the universe. Right at the top of the causal plane is where we call, what we call ‘Godhead’. The Godhead. It’s the first place into the universe of form. It’s the first world form. It’s the place where God created the universe. His mind, his thought, manifested into the universe.
His thought manifested into all the lower levels of the causal plane, all of the astral plane and all of the physical plane. His thought manifested into all of that. And when you go back and back and back and back you go to that place where you become one with the Godhead. You are God at that point. You are the idea that lies behind the universe. You literally are It. See, I can’t make you believe you are It, you are It. And the funny thing is, you’re still not finished!
And as far as the Buddhist is concerned you haven’t even begun the trip, you’re still hung up in form. Because he says ‘Baby it’s all illusion, no matter how groovy it gets.’
I mean this physical plane’s obviously illusion, it’s all a dream. Then you go to bed at night and you go to sleep and then you dream. Now you notice about your dreams, they’re very real and yet they don’t have any physical form. That’s the astral plane, you’re dreaming in the astral plane.
And then when you get to the point of just pure ideas … Sometimes when you’re a very high physicist, or … poets, you see they touch just pure idea. Sometimes art, or a vase or something yet so essencey that you feel you are touching God by being in connection with that piece of art. Because its pure idea. It’s the idea of ‘vase-ness’ if you will, that place, it’s causal. Causal plane. It’s a mind of the causal plane that created the vase. Created the vase.
But then you go finally through the final door and you go from the form into the formless. Into the void. Into the beyond beyond the beyond. The Tibetan mantra is Gate gate, paragate, parasamgate bodhi swaha, ‘A wisdom that has gone beyond the beyond to the homage’. When you have crossed the ocean of samskara, the ocean of illusion, the ocean of desire, the ocean of attachment. You can call it whatever you will, it’s all the same ocean. When you have crossed all the form you become, you enter into the state of formlessness. It is eternally quiet. It’s eternally quiet. It never was.
‘Push far enough towards the Void,
Hold fast enough to Quietness,
And of the ten thousand things none but can be worked on by you.
I have beheld them, whither they go back.
See, all things howsoever they flourish
Return to the roots from which they grew.
This return to the root is called Quietness;
Quietness is called submission to Fate;
What has submitted to Fate becomes part of the always-so.
To know the always-so is to be Illumined;
Not to know it means to go blindly to disaster.’ says Lao Tsu in the book of Tao.. enough into the void hold
“Push far enough into the void. Hold fast enough to quietness. And of the ten thousand things, non can be worked on by you, I have beheld them wither. They go back. See all things, howsoever they flourish, return to the roots from which they grew. This return to the roots is called quietness. Quietness is called submission to fate. What has submitted to fate becomes part of the always. So to know the always so is to be illumined. Not to know it means to go blindly into disaster”
Transcribed by Sue Friston