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Ram: Dear Linda, yours was a very good letter, very truthful. I think you do understand. You have been suffering at your own hands for a long time. Actually, you’re just a rebel. You’re not rebelling against anything out of a noble principle, you’re just rebelling. It’s what I call a contrary nature. There’s a great Beatles song that says, “You say yes, I say no. You say goodbye. I say hello…” It’s something that comes from childhood. Mom says, “Wash your hands,” and the kid says, “No.” There is nothing to it at all. Just pushing against the grain. I was like this until I was twenty-six. Then I hit bottom and my personality shattered. And I realized that I was just reacting against nothing but my own perversity.
Linda: I think I am just in a state of frustration and it is as though I am fighting back at the world in general.
Ram: Yes, you are frustrated. The frustration is the symptom of the war that is going on in yourself, the war between the “spiritual” part and the wanting, material part. It all comes back to your self-knowledge. Ultimately, to get rid of this conflict you need to see that you are not an incomplete, needy person. God did not make you this way. You are “cast in the image of God” – meaning whole and complete. The “world” made you this way. But it does no good to fight against the world, because (1) the “world” isn’t anything substantial. It is just a frame of mind, a bunch of irrational, incorrect beliefs and opinions that you unwittingly imbibed bit by bit over a long period, and (2) as an adult you have to take responsibility for whatever you are carrying with you, even if it was something you did not ask for. Getting mad doesn’t do a lot of good unless that anger is channeled into some constructive program to clean “the world” out of your mind. It is much better to understand where you went wrong and begin to see things differently, then set out to live the right kind of life. For me India has always represented a simple, spiritual way of life. I learned how to live this way here and I keep living that way in the West and I’ve had no regrets. Tonight, for example, is Christmas Eve and there are several parties for foreigners going on.
I could go and make a lot of ridiculous small talk, get drunk or stoned and have a “good time.” But I chose instead to write to you, go to bed early and go for my walk around the mountain in the early morning. I will like myself a lot better if I do this than if I go out, stay up late and am too tired in the morning to exercise. It is a choice.
Every minute of the day you have the power to choose between what is right and what is easy. Easy means just running off some old pattern. Right means what will lead you to a quiet peaceful mind, a mind that you will like. But to make the right choice you need to be clear about what your are doing here on earth. Are you here to get what you want or are you here to enjoy this divine life? There is a saying in A Course in Miracles, “From what you want God won’t save you.” More often than not when I quote it, I get a look of complete incomprehension, sometimes anger, from the person to whom I am speaking. The idea that mindlessly pursuing one’s desires may not be all that healthy seems completely revolutionary. The ego hates it.
There is nothing wrong with your desires, actually. Some are quite healthy and will lead to God. But some aren’t. So just because you want something does not mean, ipso facto, that you should have or not have it. You need to look at each one that comes up and think it through. What is the likely outcome? Do I really need it? Can I do without it? I’ve got my mind pretty much where I want it now because I’ve been working on it for over thirty years. And I can actually override it at will without it causing a big fuss because it has come to understand in its limited way that doing without many of its petty wants is actually empowering.
Sure, it’s hard work. Sure, nobody is going to understand what you’re doing, particularly in America. But it is the only work worth doing. When you’re on your deathbed you need to be able to feel that this has not been a frustrating, wasted life.
Anyway, I’ve run out of steam on this idea for now. I’m glad that you have taken to heart what I’ve said. Keep thinking about it. This is the issue that is begging for your attention. If you don’t face it and allow that needy, greedy person to continue to run the show – well, there is no sense going on about it. It is just not an option.
~ Much love, Ram