Search & Read
Five Satsangs in One
- Are You a Person or Not?
- Why We Are Here
- Greedy for Experience
- Who Is the Wanter?
- Drop Out and Go to India?
- Relationships and Shiva’s Penis
Are You a Person or Not?
Linda: Dear Ram, you say my understanding of how one reaches the top of the mountain does not allow you to see what I am getting at. Okay, I can accept that, but please explain what you are getting at.
Ram: As far as your statement about how one reaches the mountain, I’m saying that you are the mountain. You cannot reach it, because it is you. So if you feel that you are not “there” then you need to know what the mountain is. When you understand what the mountain is you will see that it is you and you will no longer have to reach it.
From what I gather you seem to think that you are X and the mountain is someone or something else. Is this true?
If you are the mountain and you don’t know it then the only thing left is to get the knowledge of the mountain. The traditional teachings say that you are the mountain. So if you have a different view, how do you reconcile it with the experience of hundreds of thousands of realized souls since time immemorial – experience that has crystallized in the form of the scripture? If this is a non-dual reality as the scriptures say, then how can there be a “you” and a “mountain”?
So I’m confused about who you are. Over the last couple of years I’ve patiently tried to get a handle on what or who you actually think you are, and I must say that I’m still in the dark. Your self-idea seems to be based solely on personal experience. There’s nothing “wrong” with that, but when I come up with something from my personal experience, I don’t just accept it as truth or fact. Firstly because experience is very fickle, unreliable and contradictory, and secondly because I may very possibly be drawing incorrect conclusions about who I am from it. What I do is check traditional sources and see if it jibes with them. If it does, I know I am on the right track. If not, I look more closely into my experience and the conclusions I’ve drawn to see if I could be wrong. You’ve said several times that people don’t understand you. If your experience does not intersect with universal experience, how can anyone understand and appreciate it – unless they just happen to have had the same experience and come to a similar conclusion about it? In fact if self-knowledge is based solely personal experience, how can you understand your self? Perhaps the confusion you feel about what to do and how to do it comes from trying to create a “you” out of many disparate feelings and experiences. Scripture says we are a partless whole. I take this to mean that we are not a somebody abstracted from many disparate experiences but are something that precedes and transcends our experience, something that apparently suffers and enjoys experience, but is unchanged by it. If I’m somebody subject to change by experience, then I have to continually update my sense of self based on what has just happened. I was Person X yesterday, now I’m Person Y and tomorrow I’m going to be Person Z. This, as you can see, could cause a lot of confusion.
The idea I have been trying to communicate is that you are not a personal somebody. Because you have not responded to this idea I have to assume that you do not see yourself in this way and deal with you as the person you purport to be. The problem with this is that sometimes you are one person and sometimes another. If you are always changing, how can you deal with yourself? How can someone else relate to you? In a relationship with oneself or others there has to be a solid understanding between the two parties, a basis of communication and something they can both refer to when conflict and confusion arises. If each person has a completely unique personal view of himself or herself and life, then that person is going to find himself or herself in conflict or worse, irrelevant to the world around.
And so relationship and learning, growing, etc. will not happen, and the person will feel isolated and lonely. Nobody wants this. If there are two yous, a “higher” and a lower, particular and universal, the same applies. If you are cut off from essential part of yourself, it does not feel good.
I’d like to know you. I’d like us to have an understanding and build a relationship. I’ve tried over and over to provide the basis of a relationship by engaging you on the level of spiritual ideas and I don’t feel that anything solid has come of it. In most of my relationships there is a noticeable trend, a movement toward the same goal, something that provides the basis of a good friendship, something that one can build on and work together on.
Why We Are Here
Linda: Rational or not, I feel as though I am just not very good at being a human.
Ram: Concerning your statement that you don’t make a very good human being, I believe that God put us here because this is where we work out what needs to be worked out. He could have put us in a world that doesn’t require working anything out, but did not. If we are going to work out what needs to be worked out effectively we need to honor and respect the world and know how it works because everything that we get comes through the world. If a person is not successful it is usually because he or she is not getting the right support from other people, people who can help attain their goals. And to get the support of others, others need to see that they are loved and respected and paid attention to. This applies not only to family but to everyone. If you live in your own world and have no way of making that world come alive for others they will ignore you. If you are so wrapped up in the way you see things that you do not take the time to see how others see it, others will ignore you and the help you need will not come. The same holds true for your relationship with your self. If you ignore the intimations coming from your true self, it will have to assume that you don’t want to communicate. It won’t feel lonely, but you will.
Greedy for Experience
Ram: My mind has been thinking about you lately, trying to understand the nature of your problems. I wish I’d come to see you because I would have been able to more quickly figure things out by observing you physically and talking directly with you. As it is I’ve tried to piece things together from the information I’ve received in your emails. Since I don’t like to go off half-cocked it has taken me a long time to come up with a reasonable analysis of your situation. In a way I think I’m not really the one to help you. Most of the people that the Lord sends to me have pretty much finished their worldly duties and can give their full attention to the discussion. Perhaps the advice I proffer can be useful, but along with your problem I think you’re pretty much in denial and probably won’t even accept my analysis of the situation, much less the prescription for the cure. I’ve received no positive feedback from you on recent suggestions. Of course change involves doing things differently and letting go of certain things to which one is attached, so it is understandable if you cannot accept what I’m about to say.
Anyway, I’ll try again to see if I can get through. I suggest that you not look for more work, that you quit worrying about your debts and take more time off. You are chronically fatigued. You do way too much of everything and the symptoms are getting more serious. You suffered a minor heart attack recently. So the solution is not, as you say in your email, to work another job, the solution is to take some of the pressure off. If you are so attached to your lifestyle that you can’t live in reduced circumstances, then you need to look at that attachment. If you want to kill yourself to preserve a certain style of life, then I think you are fool. There is nothing more important than your health. If you fall down the social and economic ladder a couple of notches, so what? I went from a fabulous home in a ritzy neighborhood and high-powered work to flophouses and poverty in two years, and it was one of the best things I did. Are you going to let your pride stand in the way of happiness?
You are right. You are not good at being a human being. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t be good at it. I would state the problem in terms of values. Succeeding in the world’s or your ego’s eyes is more important to you than your health and your peace of mind. The spiritual path is about gaining peace of mind yet you live in such a way that you only make your mind more agitated. You can’t hang onto the superficial materialist values that are driving you and think that you are going to be happy. You are not a materialist person, in fact I find you to be one of the most spiritual people I’ve met, yet you are behaving like a greedy materialist. Greedy for what? For experience. You believe the solution to every situation is that you should do more. You will not forego a single activity. When you should stay home and rest you’re off on some foolish adventure, cramming it into the weekend, staying up all night in a wet forest, exhausting and injuring yourself – and then off to a demanding job on Monday morning. You can do this when you are twenty and get away with it, but you cannot do this when you are in poor health and sixty.
On top of it your ego confuses you with silly New Age jargon. There is no question of not accepting financial prosperity. You are not financially prosperous, because you are so greedy for experience that you spend more than you make. Your belief, which is patently false, is that you shouldn’t have to cut back on one expense, but that all you have to do is “accept prosperity” and the bucks will automatically flow in and solve your problem. The fact is that at whatever level of prosperity you are you will not feel prosperous, because your craving for experience is so great that you will inevitably live beyond your means. Prosperity has nothing to do with money. It is a feeling that comes when you have a peaceful mind.
There is no sense yakking about spiritual topics with you. You need to come out of your otherworldly dream and stop distracting yourself with mindless activities. You need to accept the fact that you are here in this body on earth for a reason and that reason is to understand how this world works and make it work for you. When you have figured that out you will quickly become enlightened. All the work you’ve done on the spiritual plane will be right there for you and will take you home. But spiritual seeking is useless unless you face yourself, refuse to indulge yourself like you do, quit making excuses and live a more practical, sensible life.
So here’s the deal: it is painful for me to see you suffer. I hate hearing about all your setbacks and tragedies and frustrations. It is particularly painful when I can see that you haven’t a clue about how you are sabotaging yourself. The solution is so simple it doesn’t even occur to you. You have repressed the voice that tells you to slow down and let go. You have come down foursquare on the side of the idea that if only you had more money and more work your problems would sort out. You work like a demon as it is and you make plenty of money and it hasn’t helped. If the money were inadequate, how can you spend it on things you don’t need? Don’t you think there is a reason why you can’t find additional work? You say your higher self will take care of you, but you do not see that it is preventing you getting this new job – for a good reason. You have wonderful explanations of why you can’t find work (your age, the economy, etc.), but how about it being that you don’t need it?
I won’t stop caring for you if you do not heed my advice, but there is no sense wasting time giving profound spiritual teachings, making small talk or giving advice that is not valued. Your problem is no mystery. And the solution is no mystery. My suggestions are just generic advice that will work for anyone and everyone. They are scripturally sanctioned. There is nothing personal in them and I have nothing invested in whether or not you take them. They are good for you and will make your life better. If you don’t like the fact that you have to let go of something to get something greater, then you deserve your suffering.
I know this sounds unpleasant, but you have not yet hit bottom and are not really serious about sorting yourself out – although the writing is on the wall. So if you won’t cut back, then the best thing is for you to crash. Sometimes people are so stubborn they need a big disaster to wake them up. I hope you’re smart enough to heed this warning before that happens. Some years ago the Lord sent a young gay man to me. He was quite confused and quite unhappy. And I could see that his problem was that he was not actually homosexual. After a failed love affair with a woman, he got the idea in his head that maybe he was gay, but he was actually heterosexual. I told him this and suggested that he give up the lifestyle, not only because it wasn’t right for him but because it was dangerous. He didn’t listen. About ten years later I was sitting in a restaurant in San Francisco and he came up and greeted me enthusiastically. I could see that he was dying of AIDS. I didn’t quite know what to say because it was obvious that he was a goner. But I said, “How are you?” And he said with a lot of happiness and joy, “I’ve never been happier in my life.” Two weeks later he was dead.
It was very nice that he had finally attained peace, but at what cost? Had he taken my advice he’d have found peace and had a nice long life to enjoy it.
Please don’t take this as an attack. Think of it as tough love. You need to listen to someone who will tell you the truth. You are simply too self-indulgent. You are a typical greedy American. You think the solution to everything is more, more, more. More money, more work, more exciting, pleasing activities – whatever. Please take this to heart and get to work simplifying your life. The mantra you need is “Less is more.” Chant it daily. It means fewer ego-driven activities equals more peace of mind. Peace of mind is what you need. You will not get it through money or any other worldly way. You get it by getting rid of the things that are disturbing you.
Linda: Dear Ram, thank you for the letter. Actually, that is one of the most on-target letters that you have sent to me in a long time. I agree with at least 95% of it. You are correct when you say that I want too much of the material world. Actually, I have gotten worse about this in the past few months than I have ever been. Probably about 35% of my debt is due to my getting things that I did not just have to have…
Who Is the Wanter?
Ram: I’m glad you basically agreed with my analysis of your situation. Let me just add a little more to it. I made the statement that you were “greedy for experience,” and I would like to talk a little bit about this.
I think that you haven’t been critical in your thinking about want. You probably picked up your views when you were very young. People who have reasonably strong materialistic inclinations invariably believe that what they want is what they need. They feel a sense of lack and a picture of something that will remove that feeling (a vacation, a love affair, a better job, a new car – literally anything) comes into the mind. Without thinking through the whole process of materializing the object, they assume the object will erase the sense of lack. So they set out to get it one way or another. If they are spiritually inclined they may pray for it or do a ritual meant to manifest it. Most ritualism is about getting wanted objects, as is the idea of “materializing” things and situations popular in New Age culture. There is nothing “wrong” with wanting things, but if you think through the process of getting and enjoying and keeping things you will see that it creates problems of its own – and only temporarily solves the “lack” problem. If you obtained something and you never wanted that or anything else again, it would be intelligent to pursue that thing. But this never happens.
When you start to mature you find yourself questioning the wanter. You should have realized that for all the wanting and all the getting there is a serious limitation in the idea that getting what you want will solve the existential problem – unless you want the understanding that you are whole and complete, not a needy, wanting creature.
Who is it that wants all these things? Why is this person feeling incomplete? These are reasonable and natural questions one needs to ask because at the end of the day, no matter what you get, the wanting persists – and wanting hurts. And really, from a spiritual perspective a wanting person is an ugly person. Excess desire contorts and constipates the personality. I am reminded of the lyrics of a Frank Zappa tune: “What is the ugliest part of your body? Some say your nose. Some say your toes. I say it’s your mind – your mind – your mind.”
In some people this sense of wanting is more or less non-specific. There is a great unquestioned sense of lack that causes them to become “experience-hungry.” They just cannot sit still. Life is seen as a jam-packed, unending series of activities. Not doing anything to get what one wants is considered wasting time. They often feel excessively virtuous because they work so hard. This usually starts in childhood. Kids are often so happy at just being alive and having fun being in the world and learning about the world that they refuse to sleep. They don’t want to miss out on any experience. Even when there is really nothing to do or doing a doing will not produce beneficial results, experience-hungry people continue to generate experience through their actions. This kind of person never goes to sleep at night without contemplating the next day’s (long) list of activities.
One problem with the doing idea is that there is always a limit on experience, the most obvious being that one day you are going to stop experiencing altogether. Be that as it may, you can only experience so much because the human organism is quite limited. And more experience creates relatively more experience, but it also creates more craving for experience, so along with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction one continues to experience dissatisfaction in proportion to the degree of one’s want-inspired doings. Another problem is that the wanter is not in control of experience and the results of experience. So, much of one’s experience is negative (one gets what one doesn’t want), and this generates the desire to avoid certain experiences. So getting what one doesn’t want adds to one’s sense of lack too.
One fact about wanting that is generally ignored is that wanting is painful. When you say you want something you are just saying that you don’t enjoy not having something that your mind imagines will make you happy. It may have nothing to do with your actual physical situation. You may be in the peak of health sitting in the lap of luxury and feel absolutely rotten because you have been unable to obtain something you want. In Western societies this aspect of desire has been completely swept under the carpet for an obvious reason: it is bad for business. Wanting is presented as very desirable and intelligent and one is taken into the fantasy of the object so quickly, by advertising, for example, that one never has time to question the want at all.
It is probably unreasonable to expect the wanter to disappear altogether. It seems that wanting is the bedrock condition of the individual self that we think we are. So except in exceptional people, people who have seen through the whole wanting state of mind and abandoned it for life in the present, most people need to learn how to manage their desires. The philosophy of karma yoga, which is the foundation of all Vedic spiritual practice, evolved in response to this question of desire. It is a conscious practice, a change of attitude based on a clear knowledge of how karma and desire work, that will purge the unconscious of unnecessary experience and the craving for experience. If you want to know more about it you should read my Chapter III.
An experience-happy person afflicted with excessive desire can make an interesting adjustment that will make life a lot more enjoyable. Since they are incapable of giving up wanting, they can learn to want things that will solve rather than exacerbate their sense of existential frustration. For example, if you understood the value of peace of mind and pursued a lifestyle that produced peace, you would find that your need for money would decrease – along with the concomitant worry. You would learn to desire and value “downtime” and leisure, not as an interlude between frantic bursts of activity, but because it allowed the body and mind to rest and heal. Desire is not a healing energy. It is not life-affirming, contrary to the romantic and commercial notion currently in vogue. You could learn to value people for who they are rather than as vehicles for the attainment of your desires. You could take up activities, like walking, that improved your health and reduced trips to the doctor – which costs a lot of money – which in turn you have to work hard to get. Once you have understood how inherently frustrating wanting is, you could actually start wanting not to want and slowly dismantle the superstructure of thought and feeling that keeps you running frantically after this and that.
Wanting and not wanting, desire and fear, take a lot of energy. If you’re gross and don’t value the mind you will ignore the fact that not only are you physically tired, you are mentally and emotionally exhausted. Like an angry caged animal the mind that moves incessantly between its likes and dislikes wastes a lot of energy. One thing you notice when you begin to reduce your desires is an increase in energy. When you meditate, holding the mind on the silence, your batteries are quickly charged. Even if you let the mind run but do not identify with it, it becomes efficient and makes more energy available.
Drop Out and Go to India?
Linda: No, I don’t really rest while awake. I don’t sleep well either. I must stop or else I’ll be even sicker than I feel already. I am doing things to try to accomplish this. One of the things I want more than any other is to be in India next year and free of all of this. Is that running away or being where I am supposed to be? At this point, I don’t even know anymore. I especially don’t know today.
Ram: Well, the idea is good. But it won’t work unless you have looked at the reason why you are so full of desire, why you are in such a hurry, why you are a compulsive doer. You mentioned that you even wanted to reduce your debts faster. Of course this is a good idea, but given your penchant for overwork, it will just make matters worse. If you had thought about the consequences of your actions before you performed them, you wouldn’t have bought those useless things and you wouldn’t be worrying about paying them off now. So what has to happen is that you have to put some kind of check on yourself. The way to do it is to think things through beforehand and see where you are likely to end up if you follow a certain course of action. Instead of just mindlessly giving in to your desires, you need to think about what you can actually reasonably expect to gain and what the cost is. If the likely result is that you will be more secure and peaceful, then do the action. There are no free lunches here. Everything has a price. Excess activity and desire wears out the body and mind. This is just a fact. There is no way around it. So if you come to India it should be with one goal: to live a simple life. If you look at the lives of the spiritual masters and mistresses you will find that they are prime examples of simplicity. And this is something worth emulating. I could have pretty much anything I want. I have the education, the background, the connections, many practical skills, the knowledge how to create wealth, etc. But I live a very simple life for one reason – I do not like my greedy mind. It is ugly. And so a long time ago I set out to get it under control, and now it is a well-trained beast. It does not call the shots. I treat myself well, but I also know how to do without. It is a valuable knowledge.
So India or America nothing is going to change until your goal is clear. Once you have made up your mind that the old way isn’t for you anymore and you have settled on a simple, stress-free life, it won’t be difficult to accomplish. To me “hitting bottom” means you have to have become completely fed up with yourself. You need to repent, say to yourself, “I’ve screwed up and I would like to see things differently. I am ready to do things differently.” Just running off to India with the belief that something miraculous might happen to change you or your life will not work. The change has to come from within. Just saying that you should change is not good enough. Good intentions stink. You have to make up your mind once and for all then get on with your new life one day at a time.
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 and 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 and get drunk or stoned and have a “good time.” But I chose instead to write to you and go to bed early, then 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.
Relationships and Shiva’s Penis
Linda: In response to the letter to your friend with a potential relationship: I think that relationships are very important to spiritual growth. Until we have learned how to relate to others, we cannot truly relate to self. That is one of the main reasons we are here on this earth, in this maya.
Ram: I’m not sure I agree with you that relationships are important to spiritual growth. My view is that everything helps one grow, the presence or absence of relationships included – if you see life as a learning or growing process. If not, not. I think it is much more important how one conducts oneself in and out of relationship than whether one has them or not. You see a lot of people who are in relationships who aren’t growing at all. And probably most relationships are as much about insuring emotional security as they are about growth. As long as someone believes he or she needs someone else to feel secure, how likely is it that they will rely for security on the self? Furthermore, you see many out of relationship who have a strong connection with the self. And you see those who don’t.
I used to be into “relationships,” but over the years I have come to the conclusion that the very idea of “relationship” is spiritually detrimental. Why? Because “relationship” as it developed in America in the sixties and seventies is really about having one’s cake and eating it too. It was a response to what was perceived by our generation as our parents’ generation’s dysfunctional marriage institution. We figured we could keep the good stuff, the warm, fuzzy, emotional stuff, and forego the commitment. Until this time people courted and then married. But courtship didn’t work anymore, because the rise of consumerism made our generation incapable of waiting to satisfy our desires. You don’t have relationships in India, because the only options are marriage or non-relationship. Young people commit to the institution of marriage and wait until it is appropriate for them to marry. Committing to an institution is probably more reasonable than committing to another person.
Whenever you find someone interested in a relationship you have the issue of commitment. I can’t see that if there is a genuine love between two people the issue of commitment would arise, married or not, in sex/love or not, because love is superior to commitment. So to me the whole idea of commitment is bogus. If you know who you are you don’t have spare commitment anyway, because you are committed to Truth. Commitment to Truth takes care of every relationship. If you’re in one or out of one you see the “other” as none other than your self, and therefore there is automatic love and respect – and no need for commitment.
Linda: My other thought is that too many people who decide to be celibate and spiritual are following the teachings of the religious gurus and family expectations, etc. instead of reaching the place where that is the next step in their personal evolution. One can do the expected, go to the top of the mountain and sit in bliss all of their life, but will not have learned the many lessons and cleared the sanskaras they came into life to take care of.
Ram: This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. If someone attains spiritual bliss, the idea of clearing samskaras and learning lessons in life isn’t an issue. Spiritual bliss, if by that you mean self-knowledge, is the lesson of life. People search the self for many reasons, but the main reason is that they are suffering in some way. I think it’s the same with celibacy. People practice it because it feels good and/or it saves one dealing the ever-present downside of sex: attachment, etc. Furthermore, who do you know that has cleared their samskaras? It seems to me the only reason one would do this kind of work would be to get the kind of mind that would allow one to see that, as the self, one is actually free of everything in this life, including growing, healing, learning, etc. At what point do you give up this mad desire to change, to be pure, to be happy, to have relationships, etc? At what point do you take yourself as you are and let yourself be?
Linda: They think they will be so pure that they can end the cycle of samsara when they are only putting it off for another lifetime. So it is not really that odd that at some point while sitting on that mountaintop the idea that there may be something else for them to do presents itself in one form or another. Is it a step backward to explore what that is about and determine one’s own need to participate? I think not.
Ram: I think not too. But just because you decide to explore relationship or sexuality or whatever does not mean that you will come to the conclusions that allow you to lay it to rest once and for all. After all, if someone attained spiritual bliss and then went off in search of something else that was supposed to take them off the cycle of births and deaths, why would they have the sense to understand the real meaning of relationship – which is that you don’t need relationships to be happy? I think you’re forgetting that the purpose of spiritual life is happiness in this life in this body. If you have that, then what’s to do, spiritually or otherwise? If you don’t, nothing you are going to do, including relationship, is going to give it to you. If there were an activity or object in the world that could deliver happiness, it would have done so by now. There is nothing you can do here or obtain here that will solve the existential riddle, except understand who you are. And this is something that comes independently of the physical details of one’s life.
Linda: Too bad that we teach them to feel guilt over even considering leaving the mountaintop instead of allowing it and welcoming them “back” when they are truly ready to be there.
Ram: Well, I’m not with you on this one either, Linda. I don’t see that there is any “back.” Either you understand why you were on the mountaintop or you don’t. There is no alternative. The same with worldly life: either you understand what it is all about, its limitations, or you don’t. If “back” means that you take up an idea that you had formerly rejected, then there is always the problem of why you didn’t figure it out when you were on the mountaintop. There is a woman here right now who is a good example of what I’m saying. She was with Amaji for twelve years, celibate and all that. Last year she decided to leave the ashram and felt she needed a relationship (as always, for her “spiritual” growth) and she fell in love with my friend. Well, the long and the short of it is that the “relationship” didn’t work and now she’s sitting at Ramanashram eight hours a day, “in bliss.” What is wrong with this picture? So whether she has spiritual bliss or a relationship, she is confused and doesn’t understand the value of either.
I’ve noticed that most people don’t really get into what they’re into. They never test their limits or the limits of the idea they’re following, so they never really break through into the level of transcendent understanding. They bounce around all over the place, always trying to figure out what to do next, looking for a way out of their present predicament instead of seeing that it is not here on earth that they are seeking. So they may end up like my father, who on his deathbed left these words of wisdom: “Well, son, if I have to sum it all up I’d say, ‘Too soon old, too late smart.’” I don’t see it as smart to just pursue things in this very ephemeral life, believing that some “learning” or “growing” experience is essential for your enlightenment. I think it’s smart to write life off altogether and look at oneself to see if there isn’t some way to see oneself that allows one to accommodate whatever is in front of one experientially.
Linda: As for myself, I enjoy giving my love, my sexual love, to another so much that I in no way want to spend my life without that opportunity at hand.
Ram: That’s fine, I suppose, but isn’t this a bit like fiddling while Rome burns? I mean, here you are: very unhealthy, deep in debt, just suffered a heart attack, overworked, etc. and you have a view of sex that one would expect to find in a teenager. What use has all this good sex or fantasy of good sex been if your life is a mess?
Linda: I can envision myself as Shivaji’s consort, sitting on his thighs, penetrated by his penis in a state of constant bliss – as a Buddhist described his vision of Mt. Kailash. If that makes me less spiritual, then so be it.
Ram: I have been around for a long time, have met some very amazing people over the years and I think you rank up there with the best of them. This is not a criticism, it is inspired by a sense of wonder.
~ Much love, Ram