In part one of this classic talk from 1969, Ram Dass shares the experiences of his journey to that point in time, from Harvard professor to psychedelic explorer to finding his guru in India.
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Here We All Are
Here we are all together, and all we can do is share our journeys with one another. Ram Dass begins to share the experiences of his journey: growing up in a middle-class, upwardly mobile family; getting his Ph.D. out of fear; becoming a Harvard professor but getting frustrated that he didn’t “know” what life was really about. He talks about becoming friends with Timothy Leary, who introduced Ram Dass to psychedelics. Ram Dass describes the power of his first trip and how it felt like he was shedding his various identities.
“But every now and then, just before I’d be going to sleep or when I’d be in the bathtub or something, there’d be that moment when there wasn’t somebody else’s eyes to look into to tell me how wonderful I was. And I knew that it wasn’t enough, it didn’t make it.” – Ram Dass
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What Goes Up (20:00)
Thus begins the second part of Ram Dass’ journey, the quest to stay high and never come down. He talks about getting fired from Harvard and shares stories of experimenting with almost any psychedelic substance he could find. But he always came back down. Extremely discouraged, Ram Dass describes the decision to go on a trip to India in search of answers, and the chance encounter with the person who would lead Ram Dass to his guru.
“I now knew what it was that I was reaching for; I understood the possibility, but I didn’t know how to get there.” – Ram Dass
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Meeting the Guru (35:30)
Ram Dass details his first experience with his guru, Maharajji. He talks about going from thinking it was all a big hustle to having his rational mind shattered by this stranger’s intimate knowledge of him. He tells the story of giving Maharajji a large amount of LSD, which had absolutely no effect on him. Ram Dass talks about the man who became his teacher and introduced him to ashtanga yoga.
“ I cried and I cried and I cried. I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t sad. The closest I can come to a description of feelings was like, ‘I’m home,’ or, ‘It’s over,’ or, ‘Phew,’ or, ‘It’s alright,’ or ‘Wow,’ that kind of feeling.” – Ram Dass