Buckle in for a classic talk from Ram Dass that dives deep into the concept of awareness, and the disruptive phenomena of the attractions and aversions born from karma.
Links from this episode: East Forest x Ram Dass | Changing Lenses
Raghu Markus primes this mind-bending Ram Dass talk on awareness by sharing a few quotes on the subject from Tibetan Buddhist master Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
“Your view should be as high and vast as the sky. Pure awareness, once it manifests within the mind’s empty nature, can no longer be obscured by negative emotions…” – Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
The Sky is Awareness (20:18)
What does it mean to be aware? Ram Dass compares awareness to the sky, while our lives are the clouds passing by. He discusses the Dzogchen tradition, which is deeply connected to this conception of awareness.
“Let me explore with you another way of defining who you are. Look at the cloud again, and become aware of the sky that surrounds the cloud. I invite you to identify your awareness with the sky. In your awareness there is your life that is cloud. In other words, your whole concept of who you think you are, all your sense experiences of your body, all of the stuff of ‘me,’ is all the cloud. And the cloud is being appreciated or embraced or carried by the sky. The sky is just awareness. It’s much easier to describe the cloud than to describe the sky. The sky doesn’t have a beginning or an end, and it really doesn’t have qualities, it’s just sky. That’s the quality of awareness. It doesn’t have a trip. The sky doesn’t have a trip, it’s just hanging out.” – Ram Dass
Explore more about Dzogchen with Lama Surya Das as he talks about Awakening with Mindful Awareness
Attractions and Aversions (33:10)
Into this space of pure awareness arise the phenomena that reflect our attractions and aversions, the projections of our karma. Ram Dass talks about how identifying with who we think we are, only feeds into separateness, and how he sees his life as an experiment of resting in awareness.
“The quieter my mind gets, the more I see the way in which an agitated mind, in its zeal to end the suffering that it can’t bear, in itself or others, acts in a way that exacerbates suffering even as it’s trying to relieve suffering.” – Ram Dass