Thursday, February 11, 2010

An Evening with Ram Dass

The setting was:
Consciousness and Current Events ~ An Evening with Ram Dass
April 15, 1993 ~ Boulder, Colorado

I was sitting in an auditorium on the University of Colorado campus one evening and heard words that forever changed my life. They are as potent and viable now as they were then, maybe even more so. Ram Dass was center stage, sitting cross legged on a low stool with a small table upon which rested a large vase of flowers. He mesmerized the audience for hours. I never wanted to leave.

I have transcribed his words from an audio cassette (the punctuation is all my own) that I bought as I left the auditorium that very night. I have listened to it dozens of times and would like to share them with you now. After he read a story written by a friend of his about one old man, a belligerent drunk and a young martial arts student, he said that all of us now are in “old man in kimono training”. You can read this story in his book, How Can I Help? Stories and Reflections on Service (with Paul Gorman) (1985) ISBN 0-394-72947-1 .

“People would come to me and they would say, 'It is all going to hell. It’s Armageddon time. Don’t you think?'

Then other people would come and they would say, ‘Ahhhhh, it is the Aquarian Age at last. It’s the new consciousness; the New Age. Isn’t this wonderful?’

So I thought I should have an opinion. Despite the third patriarch warning me that the great way is not difficult for those who have no opinion.

So I thought, if it is going to be Armageddon, that means that I am going to die at some point. And since this is just one round, I might as well prepare for the moment of death so I can get off to a good start the next time around, karmically, so to speak. I want to die without clinging, so I better get on with it. I gotta quiet my mind of all of the clinging, draw my awareness back from identification, and I must open my heart.

Karoli(??)Rinpoche, a great saint, said to me 'Ram Dass, there are only three things you should do this life. Honor your guru ~ meaning the devotion and the celebration and the appreciation of the universe. Deepen your emptiness and deepen you compassion.'

So what am I gonna do? I am going to deepen my emptiness and deepen my compassion and that is going to lead me to what ever I can do to relieve the suffering around me. I am going to quiet my mind, open my heart and do what I can.

If, (on the other hand) it is to be the New Age, what is the best thing that I can do to help facilitate it?
Turns out, it’s quiet my mind, open my heart and do what I can to relieve suffering.

So what difference does it make?
Isn’t that far out?
What difference does it make?

……and I find this a very exciting moment. Incredibly exciting. We are as close to the edge of death, and mystery, and awe, and uncertainty, and we are feeling the rapid rate of change. The information age makes it all available which forces the technology, forces the recognition of the “us-ness” of the system. And the interdependency of it all. And I can feel how clearly the work on myself is reflected in the way in which I do for every human being.”

…so who will be the old man in the kimono?

Ghandi once said, ‘My life is my Message’.

We are being invited to play, My Life is My Message.

Happy Valentine's Day
From the Heart
* annette

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