Raghu: Welcome to Ram Dass Here and Now. I’m Raghu Markus and I’m the host of this pretty wonderful podcast that we’re doing – I’m enjoying it. I’m getting lots of feedback from everyone and that’s a pretty warm experience and I appreciate everything. Sharing this wonderful legacy that Ram Dass has created over all these years, that turned us on at the time, it’s great to have new people getting turned on, there’s nothing more fun than that, let me tell you.
I think I mentioned in the last podcast that we found this trove of unreleased tapes of Be Here Now, from the Be Here Now days, really, and many of them comprise what is now that book. And many of them actually aren’t used at all in the book, but they’re part of the fabric of what Ram Dass was trying to transmit – did transmit back in the day. In last week’s podcast there was a lot about meditation, I think it was a really constructive thing to share because that is such a basic thing that allows us to breathe a little bit easier, certainly, some kind of regular meditation practice. And this in particular, this one he described, which is Vipasana, insight meditation, focusing on the concentration part which is following your breath, is specially effective, I believe. He talks more about meditation and just dealing with thoughts, and so on and so forth.
And I don’t know how this came about, because when you’ll listen, you’ll hear, but a bunch of soldiers came to see Maharaj-ji, were traveling up through the mountain so they stopped at the ashram. This happened many times while we were there as well. They come and they pranam, they bow down, they pay their respects to the saint. So Ram Dass is going to tell the story. I’m not going to try, not for a second, try and match his gift here. It’s incredible because Maharaj-ji puts one of these soldiers into Samadhi, into a trance state, where he was bowled over, he was pushed over to the side and nothing would happen, he was completely in a state… You know, we had that experience as well. In fact, when we first got there, a couple of us were in the room, they had just arrived, two women actually. They were in the room with Maharaj-ji and one other person, his name is K.C. Tewari, he was also a… I mentioned Dada Mukerheje who was a mentor of ours and a great being, and so is this man, K.C. Tewari. And Tewari, though, used to be one of the examples of Maharaj-ji’s people that he would just glance at and tap him on the head and he would go completely utterly rigid, into an altered state where he was not aware of his body or anything around, in a trance state. In Hindi, it’s called Samadhi.
So he put him into Samadhi in front of these two mid-twenties, early twenties American women who Ram Dass had turned on, they had gone to India. We were ready for anything, but we were completely naïve about everything except maybe reading about it in a book and then suddenly see someone hit on the head and Tewari goes completely stiff. And Maharaj-ji said: “Well, what happened to him?” “He seems to be in samadhi, in a trance.” “Oh, really? Would you like to do that?” “Oh, God, yes, please,” they said. So he would tease us with these things.
One other time that I remember, we were in his ashram in Brindavan, which is near the Taj Mahal, and we were sitting around him, I don’t know, there were ten or twelve of us, and we were sitting with one of the translators who was… again, one of his other samadhi people, he tapped him on the head, his name was Gurudav Sharma, wonderful man, and tapped him on the head, and he’s gone, standing up. So Maharaj-ji said: “Get a couple of people, hold him up and let him down now.” And they let him down and he was stiff like a board but straight out, not in a cross-legged position or anything. And Maharaj-ji said: “Pick him up.” It took four guys, the guy weighed like 2,000 pounds. It took four or five guys, literally. He said: “Take him in that room.” And they took him in that room and Maharaj-ji went in the room and suddenly you heard slapping, banging, all kinds of awful sounds like he was smacking him around to get him back and then he stumbled out of the room.
So these things happened quite often. They weren’t that… I mean, this would happen with various people, but there’d be a couple of people that were always, you know, obviously they had the karma to just absolutely… the body could stand going into this incredible state. Pretty interesting stuff, and this was our day to day with this being.
So, let’s just move right on here with the second half of Ram Dass talking about meditation and dealing with the mind as he says: “Who would have thought that you’re not your rational mind?” Who would have thought that that’s a reality, and this is one of the most important initial things that he brought to the West: There is another way, you are not your rational mind. And he had the substance behind it. So, here it is, Ram Dass, here and now.
Ram Dass: When the I thought go, the I thought and the breath are one and the same thing. They are the last things to go. The last things to go. So when you give up the I thought and go into this place, you go through the doorway at that point, you go into the doorway, you go into your atman. At that point, your breath becomes very very very shallow.
I recall my guru was sitting one day having darshan and many trucks with soldiers came by, stopped and the soldiers all came off to touch the guru’s feet. They did the whole thing. And one guy, for some reason, which I didn’t understand but the guru obviously did, something about the guy’s karma or something about… what… maybe… I don’t know. It was levels appropriate apparently. He said to this guy: “Come here, sit down here.” He said: “You’ve been fighting with your commanding officer.” “Oh, yes, Maharaj-ji, I’m sorry.” He does it all the time, he knows it all. He really blows your mind, he keeps doing that. The guy said: “Will I get that promotion?” And he said: “No.” And the guy won’t get the promotion, just because he knows.
So he says to the soldier: “Sit down.” The soldier sits down, and he reaches over, he touches the soldier and the soldier goes into Samadhi. Just like that. So I look. The guy is sitting right next to me and his eyes are turned off and he was just there sitting and talking, and suddenly, boom, the guy… The guru says: “Push him.” Well, I can’t push another guy I don’t know. “Push him, push him, push him, push him.” OK, I push it’s like a rock, nothing, you know. “Push him.” So I push, he rolls over, he stays, completely like he’s a rock. So he says to one of the people: “Bring him nearer, bring him nearer. Bring him nearer.” It’s all demonstration for me. He says: “Plug his nose.” I plug his nose, no breath. So he says: “What do you see? What do you see?” I don’t see anything. “Is he dead?” I guess so. “Any pulse?” No pulse. Dead. “Hm.” He smiles.Back to the guy, he’s: “Thank you, Maharaj-ji, thank you, Maharaj-ji.” And the guy walks out.
What do you feel it’s all about? A lot of naughty stuff. Oriental bakery. Snakes and ropes if you like that, you know. But that’s all that. They were in cahoots. It’s so far out. So much farther out than you even think it is, that’s what’s so far out about it. How far you can get is never as far as this thing really is. I can’t even begin.
I’m not the thought. Who would ever thought you weren’t your rational mind? Who would ever thought it? The way it describes, certainly your rational mind didn’t think it.
I lectured in Harvard a few weeks ago and the guy says to me… You know, I started at seven, it was now 11:30, so one guy says to me: “What make you think your system is any better than my system?” he said with his rational mind. And I can’t answer. No answer. No answer. Because, what I’m talking about… In order to understand what the guru did, when he did that – and I’ll explain it to you. What he did when he did it… you cannot really totally comprehend it with your rational mind, no matter how hard you try. Because it’s a meta-system, if you will. But if you can say “I am not my thought” and you know it, go behind your own thought process. Then you know. Then no words are necessary. Ramakrishna, I think it’s Ramakrishna, says that the whole situation – maybe Vivekananda said it – the whole situation is like a horse and a carriage and the horses are your desires and the road is your sense-object and the reins are your ego and the coachman is your rational mind. And all the time you’ve only been born once. The coachman is merrily running along and he’s just like the chauffeur who drives a Cadillac and the woman says: “Take the evening off and you keep the car.” So he goes home and he takes off his cap and he puts on a suit, he gets his wife in the car and they go out riding the Cadillac. And for all the world they feel like they are Cadillac owners. That’s the coachman’s trip. He’s doing his thing, he’s really running the show. He’s Herman Kahn, the essence of the super-rational. And then at some point along the way the little visors open and the guy back in the coach, who nobody has heard from, reaches forward and says: “OK, enough, you’ve had it. You work for me. In fact, this coach and you and everything is mine. And you are only even getting this freedom to do it because of the reflective light from me anyway. And I decided to take over the show now. Thank you very much, you’ve been very helpful.”
If I get interested in the problem of why no matter how much we ablate or implant electrodes in the brain, we get lots of things about thoughts, but we never get close to what we call awareness, or consciousness. Because the brain is really a response mechanism. It’s a servant. But we have elevated it to a penultimate division. So the guy in the coach says: “I’m taking over.” It’s the atman. And your mind then becomes the servant, rather than the master.
A realized being’s mind is absolutely empty. Absolutely empty. It scared me at first. I’m not a realized being by a long, long shot, but nevertheless as you do this work you mind gets emptier and emptier. As a student, gains by day will increment the way you gain our daily lives; lots upon lots until a last constrain.
So there you are, you’re suddenly walking down the street and you notice you’re not thinking anything. Your mind is completely empty. Well, it’s like a taxi that doesn’t have a meter, doesn’t have a fare. You’re not doing that for work, you’re not doing anything. Because your mind is empty.
When there is a call for your thought to take something, then it is available. When the water needs to flow downstream, it flows downstream until then it flows downstream. It doesn’t just keep running on and on and on because you don’t know how to turn it off. The problem is, when guru-ji talks about all of us being machines, he’s really right. We’re completely at the whim of the horses and the reins and the driver and now think this, hear that noise, what’s that? Oh my goodness. Just watch a person going from whim to whim, from thought to thought… oh, this itch; oh, this thought, now the plan, I’ve got to plan for the future. What was that? Are you all right? What’s happening? Oh, look at the flowers, aren’t they beautiful? Oh, I smell incense. Oh, I feel so good. Wow. On and on and on and on and on. You know how many years we’ve all been doing this? Just the runaway driver… yeah, let’s go!
When the way rules, coach horses fertilize the field. When the way is lost, more horses breathe in the parks. “The Book of Death.” When one is in in the way, there’s nowhere to go, there’s nothing to think about. As I’m going to show you in a minute. Nothing to think about. There’s no way to go, so the horses have no carriages to pull, so they’re all sitting in the field, just doing their thing, fertilizing. When the way is lost, more horses breathe in the parks. Nobody is at rest, everything moves. That ends up contentment once found. What is the samadhi all about? When you get through that doorway, what is that like? What does it feel like? What does it look like? What does it smell like? What does it mean to be sightless, fingerless, neckless, tongueless? And trying-less-ness, less trying? What would it be like? What would it be like to be the guru? How would you like to be this guy with the blanket up in the Himalayas? What is his life like? What does it feel like inside?
What you’ve got to understand, first of all, is that he lives outside of time and outside of space. That’s an interesting one to work with. Let me see if I can tell you about what it means to live outside space, out of time. What do you see? I’ll read you what it says in the paper before I do the example. It says: “To him that hath, shall be given.” And it says: “Awakening consciousness attained in even a small degree will help us notably in our context.” That means once you start seeing through the game, you will get it all. So “to him that hath, shall be given.” That’s what that meant. There are all these weird lines on the Bible that you never understand, until you finally understand at all. Then it’s all obvious.
OK, what do you see? I’ll tell you what you see. You see a pen tearing through a piece of paper. Now if you will imagine for a moment that you are a… the reason you see that is because you see three dimensions. You see depth, length, height. Now imagine for a moment you are a two-dimensional being; you are a paper being, you are part of this piece of paper. So you only see length and width. And that’s all you’re capable of seeing. You’re part of this paper, all you see is length and width. Now what do you see? I have it, I guess. You see a pen through a piece of paper? (“A paper with a hole in it?”) Well, you see a paper and you see a round black thing in the middle, like a flat, round coin or disk. It can’t have any dimension because you can’t see the dimension of it. And if the pencil had a point and it came in through the paper, you’d see a little thing getting bigger and bigger, like a puddle. But if I said to you, you are now a two-dimensional being, a being with two-dimensional senses, I’d say: “You know what that is? That is a pen going through a piece of paper.” And you’d say: “You are nuts, there is no pen going through a piece of paper. That’s a black circle in the middle of a piece of paper. You understand the example? Anybody doesn’t see this part? OK.
Now, if you are the guru, this pen is time. In other words, he sees in the fourth dimension. You are a paper being, you only see in three dimensions. In other words, now it’s here, now it’s here, and now it’s here. He sees all that at once. In fact, everything is to him like a solid. Time exists, past, present and future. What appears as accident to us – you know, why that puddle gets bigger and bigger? And he’s saying: “Oh, it’s a pen passing through paper.” How did you know that? “Well, I just see it.”
There is the future, there is the past; the puddle is the present. We see only the puddle. He sees that and he sees that too. How does he do that? I mean, if he really does it. He may be just putting you on. But let’s say he really does it. For a moment, set aside all your skepticism and accept the fact that I’m telling you the truth. He really does it. He really knows the future. What about all those stuff that is called accidents? No, no accidents. He really knows the future. And he really knows the past.
When I was passing through India on the way before I met the guru, David and I decided we met some very lovely girls and we decided to take a horse back trip up to the Amarnath Cave, a very holy cave. And it was up at about 13,000 feet, we went for about three days, it was very first class the way we did it because David had much money. So we had ten boys carrying bags and leading songs and tents set up and brandy for dinner, you know, we were saddhus, really. And we’d meet saddhus along the way and we’d share a pipe with them, of hashish. And we went over ice caps and it was cold and we were very cold; it was very melodramatic. Took beautiful pictures, colored photographs.
And finally we got to this cave, after many days of walking. And all I saw was a big cave. It was interesting, because there was a lingan in it – which is a phallus, which is made of ice. And as the moon changes each month, the phallus gets smaller or larger. And in certain seasons it’s very large or very small, and that was a symbolic season. And this natural lingan that changes, and this cave, which is a big square hole in the rock, way, way, way back in, is supposedly left over from the last Yuga, that is, it’s very old.
So I went all the way up there and I looked and, wow, it was beautiful, but it was raining and it was cold and after we looked for a little while, wow, that’s interesting, now why don’t we turn around and go back, OK? OK, let’s go. That’s been loving, that’s been great. Very, very interesting, can I take some more pictures? Right. Got them? OK, let’s go. All set, everybody ready? Buckle up, here we go.
Five months later, I’m sitting one day with my guru, who is like, oh, 300 miles away from that, and he always sits on the same place, he never moves. And we’re sitting quietly on a day, he says to me: “You went to visit Amarnath Cave?”
“Acha, yes. Acha.”
“But you didn’t understand it, did you?”
“It’s all right, it’s all right.” He pats me on the head. “It’s all right.”
Transcription by Ana Ban