Friday, February 14, 2020
4:15 a.m. Yesterday’s session suddenly clarified something that perhaps ought to have been obvious all along: Everything you are telling us describes things we have always experienced, things we have always known. It isn’t that these are new experiences or feelings, but they are new ways of putting together the pieces.
And we have been saying so from the beginning.
True, you have. But yesterday it sank in. When you first mention “vast impersonal forces,” or describe the outside world as a “shared subjectivity,” we have a tendency to cast about, looking for whatever can you mean. We think, “this must describe something new and strange.” And suddenly I see, no, what is new and strange is the picture as it is put together. The elements are the same as they always have been.
And, think about it: How much is ever new under the sun? But there are different ways of seeing, and a new way of seeing makes new everything it looks upon. A child’s understanding is not the same as a grown-up’s. In some ways it may be clearer, in some ways quite blind, but the reality behind appearances is the sane.
What we perceive and what we make of it, makes our world.
Naturally. Your own psychic constituent ideas color your physical perceptions and are colored by them. Nobody sees the whole world.
Yesterday we spoke of Lincoln and Mountbatten. Today, perhaps you could speak a little about Ram Dass.
All right. I watched a ninety-minute film called “Ram Dass: Fierce Grace,” filmed after his stroke 20 years ago, but including clips literally from when Richard Alpert was a baby, including pieces by Tim Leary, and Ram Dass’s father, and one of his elder brothers, and many people who were interacting with him. The point of the movie was that his stroke was difficult, and entirely changed his life, but was not an accident, not a curse, not an irrelevance.
We need to ask you to stop and go deeper on this, for none of this describes the importance of the film to you as reminder about you, and about life, and about 3D life as experienced by those around him because of him.
It really is an ingrained habit, isn’t it? In considering somebody’s life, I tend to imagine it as it must be from the inside, rather than looking at it as it affected others.
That is your bias; others have the opposite bias. Our bias is to combine the two, to try to cancel them out so that you may learn to see your own lives in just that way.
There seem to have been a couple of defining moments in his life, yet one could equally well say his whole life was a pattern of defining moments that flowed smoothly in one direction.
As could be said of you all. We all. Continue.
He had the things of this world handed to him. His father was rich, he had a warm family life as the favored youngest son (favored by all, according to his brother Bill), he got a good education and applied his talents, became a Harvard professor at a young age. Smooth path.
Then he and Tim Leary and Ralph Metzner took LSD and his inner world blossomed. He realized he had been asleep until then. He used acid extensively and thought he was awake. And, in a way, he was. Then he met Maharaji in India and was transformed, in an instant, by the overwhelming combination of knowledge and love he experienced.
You are close to it now.
He had always assumed that if people really knew everything about him, they wouldn’t like him. But this man did know everything, and loved him. And Alpert’s heart burst open, and he was suddenly a different man living in a different world with different possibilities. Not that he would put it that way, but I would.
All right. And this is what made Richard Alpert into Ram Dass (which means “servant of God”). Not the LSD: That merely opened the doors of his own little room to show him that most of the world lay beyond. It was the experience of unconditional love for him in particular, not as a general statement or a philosophical concept but as penetrating entirely to his inmost being. Maharaji’s knowing gave him intellectual authority over Alpert. His unconditional love freed Alpert from his own limitations, and turned him into a conduit of that love.
Would the Harvard professor have wanted to, or dared to, talk about God? Would the man transformed by acid-fueled insights have been able to transcend his intellectual gifts and move into his heart? And, as he pointed out late in the film, late in his life, without the stroke, would he have developed so many unsuspected sides of himself that came out only in the new conditions of his life?
Now, consider. He was told, God, guru and self were all the same thing. We are all one thing. How many times can it be said? How many times can it be heard and yet not heard, the words not really sinking in? So let’s put it another way:
- There was Ram Dass, a specific bit of subjectivity.
- There was Maharaji, a specific bit of subjectivity.
- There were the filmmakers and everybody in the film, and everybody who watches the film, and we are all specific bits of subjectivity.
- And there is “the world” – meaning things, places, events, everyone’s actions and reactions past present and future – and this is a shared subjectivity.
You don’t need to say “God” if the word frightens you. You don’t need to say “shared subjectivity” if the words sound like a meaningless concept. You don’t need to do anything. But you can.
Of course may – if you permit yourselves. Who else is going to stop you?
Now consider Ram Dass’s life not only in connection with your own, but with Mountbatten’s, and Lincoln’s. Three bits of subjectivity, each highly complex, each working out his own salvation, each contributing in a conspicuous way to the rich tapestry of the world; that is, each contributing a specialized contribution to the shared subjectivity. We mention them because they are known, but every person in the church listening to Ram Dass speaking, every anonymous sailor under Mountbatten’s command, every illiterate farmer Lincoln called neighbor – they all were the stars in their own movie; they all were bit players in the overall movie, as were Ram Dass, Mountbatten, and Lincoln.
Ram Dass learned that the world was wider than an intellectual understanding of it. He learned that when Albert took his first bit of LSD. But it wasn’t until he came into the presence of universal love through Maharaji that he learned that “all is one” was more than a phrase.
Now, did he give up living his individual subjectivity after realizing that? You might as well ask if he stopped wearing his body. But he lived it differently, realizing that any one bit of subjectivity was at the same time infinitely valuable and infinitely small as part of the larger subjectivity of which it was an intrinsic part.
So many words, and I wonder, after spending so many mornings this way, how much will any of it change anything? But then I remember, that doesn’t matter, not that it could be measured in any case.
You each do your work, you play your play, and it all works out. And of course you realize, we could say “we” as well as “you” and it wouldn’t change anything.
So today’s theme was – ?
And next time? (Sunday, probably.)
We still could look at incidents in Lincoln’s life from a new point of view. We’ll see.
Okay. Our thanks as always, for all of this.