In this talk from 1976, Ram Dass talks about what we are beyond this lifetime and asks, “who are you?”
Time after time we have experienced a cycle of birth and death. Each time we are born into a new identity and cling to that incarnation as if it was all we had, until the moment we get a glimpse of something more.
Who Are You? (Opening) – Ram Dass explores the concept of reincarnation. He has us think of ourselves as an entity, one that exists over large spans of time, going through experience after experience. A being caught in a near infinite cycle of birth and death. Ram Dass explores the concept of reincarnation.
A Clockwork Being (16:30) – Ram Dass imagines a clock which represents the cycle of the soul. At 12 o’clock, a being is in total harmony with everything around it, no separation, and a perfect flow. At 12:01, something happens and we become separate. The clock ticks forward as we spend life after life trying to control and gratify, attempting to return the state of being we forgot.
“On and on it goes, rush after rush. Between every rush in which you are lost in the rush and you have lost your self-consciousness into the experience, and you go back to the source. Between every one of those rushes is that little panic of separation, and there is the seeking of the next rush. If you are really good, you can get them closer and closer together and you can almost have the illusion there is no space. You figure, if I had more money and more power I could do it, that’s around 4:30, by 5:59 you realize that’s not gonna work.”
The Moment of Awakening (27:50) – At about 6:01, there is a point when there is a moment of awakening; it is a point where you begin to know or sense who you are. It is at this moment when you see that who you thought you were is not who you are, it is just who you think you are.
In this awakening is the recognition that an incarnation is an opportunity to move into harmony with the will of God or away from it. That is who you are, that is what you are doing here.
Forward Unto Midnight (44:30) – The journey forward to midnight is the slow liberation from our clinging so that we may return to the source. From 6 to 9 o’clock we spend lifetimes bouncing between highs and lows. Moving closer to God, to the source of being, and forgetting it again; each time remembering more and more, getting closer and closer to God.
As we move closer to realizing God, we are reminded not to forget our incarnation our humanity. The formless and the form are two different faces of God. When we look at the perfection of the work of God, we are looking at the perfection that includes life, love, and humanity, but that perfection includes the suffering, violence, and pain.
“If you want perfection in your spiritual journey, you must honor your incarnation and become totally free of it”