Table of contents
The Transformation: Dr. Richard Alpert, Ph.D. Into Baba Ram Dass
From Bindu to Ojas
The Core Book
The Transformation: Dr. Richard Alpert, Ph.D. Into Baba Ram Dass
There are three stages in this journey that I have been on! The first, the social science stage; the second, the psychedelic stage; and the third, the yogi stage. They are summating—that is, each is contributing to the next. It’s like the unfolding of a lotus flower. Now, as I look back, I realize that many of the experiences that made little sense to me at the time they occurred, were prerequisites for what was to come later. I want to share with you the parts of the Internal Journey that never get written up in the mass media. I’m not interested in the political parts of the story; I’m not interested in what you read in the Saturday Evening Post about LSD. This is the story of what goes on inside a human being who is undergoing all these experiences.
In 1961, the beginning of March, I was at perhaps the highest point of my academic career. I had just returned from being a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley. I had been assured of a permanent post that was being held for me at Harvard, if I got my publications in order. I held appointments in four departments at Harvard—the Social Relations Department, the Psychology Department, the Graduate School of Education, and the Health Service (where I was a therapist); I had research contracts with Yale and Stanford. In a worldly sense, I was making a great income and I was a collector of possessions.
I had an apartment in Cambridge that was filled with antiques and I gave very charming dinner parties. I had a Mercedes-Benz sedan and a Triumph 500 CC motorcycle and a Cessna 172 airplane and an MG sports car and a sailboat and a bicycle. I vacationed in the Caribbean where I did scuba-diving. I was living the way a successful bachelor professor is supposed to live in the American world of
he who makes it. I wasn’t a genuine scholar, but I had gone through the whole academic trip. I had gotten my Ph.D.; I was writing books. I had research contracts. I taught courses in Human Motivation, Freudian Theory, Child Development. But what all this boils down to is that I was really a very good game player.
My lecture notes were the ideas of other men, subtly presented, and my research was all within the Zeitgeist—all that which one was supposed to research about.
In 1955 I had started doing therapy and my first therapy patient had turned me on to pot. I had not smoked regularly after that, but only sporadically, and I was still quite a heavy drinker. But this first patient had friends and they had friends and all of them became my patients. I became a
hip therapist, for the hip community at Stanford. When I’d go to the parties, they’d all say
here comes the shrink and I would sit in the corner looking superior. In addition, I had psychoanalysis at a cool investment of something like $26,000.
Before March 6th, which was the day I took psylocybin, one of the psychedelics, I felt something was wrong in my world, but I couldn’t label it in any way so as to get hold of it. I felt that the theories I was teaching in psychology didn’t make it, that the psychologists didn’t really have a grasp of the human condition, and that the theories I was teaching, which were theories of achievement and anxiety and defense mechanisms and so on, weren’t getting to the crux of the matter.
My colleagues and I were 9 to 5 psychologists: we came to work every day and we did our psychology, just like you would do insurance or auto mechanics, and then at 5 we went home and were just as neurotic as we were before we went to work. Somehow, it seemed to me, if all of this theory were right, it should play more intimately into my own life. I understood the requirement of being
objective for a scientist, but this is a most naive concept in social sciences as we are finding out. And whatever the psychoanalysis did (and it did many things, I’m sure) I still was a neurotic at the end of those five years of psychoanalysis. Even my therapist thought so, because when I stopped analysis to go to Harvard, he said,
You are too sick to leave analysis. Those were his final words. But because I had been trained in Freudian theory, I knew his game well enough to enjoy this terribly sophisticated, competitive relationship with my analyst, and I would say to him,
Well in Freud’s 1906 paper, don’t you recall he said this, and when I’m saying this you should be interpreting… For this I was paying $20 an hour!
Something was wrong. And the something wrong was that I just didn’t know, though I kept feeling all along the way that somebody else must know even though I didn’t. The nature of life was a mystery to me. All the stuff I was teaching was just like little molecular bits of stuff but they didn’t add up to a feeling anything like wisdom. I was just getting more and more knowledgeable. And I was getting very good at bouncing three knowledge balls at once. I could sit in a doctoral exam, ask very sophisticated questions and look terribly wise. It was a hustle.
Now my predicament as a social scientist was that I was not basically a scholar. I came out of a Jewish anxiety-ridden high-achieving tradition. Though I had been through five years of psychoanalysis, still, every time I lectured, I would get extraordinary diarrhea and tension. Lecturing five days a week made it quite a complex problem to keep my stomach operating. But whatever my motivations, they drove me so hard that despite the fact that I was a very mediocre student (in fact, I could never get into Harvard no matter how hard I tried, even using all my father’s political influence) I finally found myself on the faculty of the
I could study 10 hours and prepare a really good lecture on Freud or human motivation, but it was all as if it were behind a wall. It was theoretical. I theorized this or that. I espoused these ideas, these intellectual concepts, quite apart from my own experiential base. Although I could bring all kinds of emotional zeal to bear on my presentation, there was a lack of validity in my guts about what I was doing. And, to my suppressed dismay, I found that this stance was considered acceptable by most of my colleagues who seemed, in their attempt to become "scientific", to think of personality in terms of variables. Children were nothing but ambulatory variables, and no matter how hard we tried, by the time we got to the legitimacy of a highly operationally-defined variable, it had lost its gut feeling. So the concepts we were working with were intellectual fun and games, but they weren’t affecting my life.
Here I was, sitting with the boys of the first team in cognitive psychology, personality psychology, developmental psychology, and in the midst of this I felt here were men and women who, themselves were not highly evolved beings. Their own lives were not fulfilled. There was not enough human beauty, human fulfillment, human contentment. I worked hard and the keys to the kingdom were handed to me. I was being promised all of it. I had felt I had got into whatever the inner circle meant: I could be Program Chairman for Division 7 of the A.P.A. and I could be on government committees, and have grants, and travel about and sit on doctorate committees. But there was still that horrible awareness that I didn’t know something or other which made it all fall together. And there was a slight panic in me that I was going to spend the next forty years not knowing, and that apparently that was par for the course. And in off hours, we played
Go, or poker, and cracked old jokes. The whole thing was too empty. It was not honest enough.
And there was some point as a professor at Stanford and Harvard when I experienced being caught in some kind of a meaningless game in which the students were exquisite at playing the role of students and the faculty were exquisite at playing the role of faculty. I would get up and say what I had read in books and they’d all write it down and give it back as answers on exams but nothing was happening. I felt as if I were in a sound-proof room. Not enough was happening that mattered—that was real.
And as a therapist I felt caught in the drama of my own theories. The research data showed that Rogerian patients ended up saying positive statements, and Freudian patients ended up talking about their mother because of subtle reinforcement clues—it was so obvious. I would sit with my little notebook and when the person would start talking about his mother, I’d make a note and it didn’t take long for the patient to realize that he got his
note taken, he got his pellet, every time he said certain things. And pretty soon he would be
In the face of this feeling of malaise, I ate more, collected more possessions, collected more appoints and positions and status, more sexual and alcoholic orgies, and more wildness in my life.
Every time I went to a family gathering, I was the boy who made it. I was a Professor at Harvard and everybody stood around in awe and listened to my every word, and all I felt was that horror that I knew inside that I didn’t know. Of course, it was all such beautiful, gentle horror, because there was so much reward involved.
I had an empire in a place called Center for Research in Personality: a corner office in a building I’d helped design; with two secretaries and many graduate and undergraduate research assistants. I had done all this in about three years. I was really driven. Until you know a good, Jewish middleclass, upwardly mobile, anxiety-ridden neurotic, you haven’t met a real achiever!
My Judaism was a political Judaism. I came out of a tradition of folk religion—the spirit escaped me somehow, although we did all the Yom Kippur and Passover Services. But Dad was on the board of trustees that hired and fired Rabbis, so how could I get into a feeling with a spiritual leader if my father was hiring and firing these guys.
Down the hall from my big empire, there was a little office. It had been a closet and they needed an extra office, so they cleared out the closet and put a desk in there and in that closet was Timothy Leary. He had been bicycling around Italy, bouncing checks, and David McClelland found him and brought him back as a creative gift to western science. Tim and I became drinking buddies together. Then we started to teach courses together, such as the first year clinical course—practicum—on
Existential Transactional Behavior Change.
The more time I spent with Tim, the more I realized he had an absolutely extraordinary intellect. He really knew a lot. I found him extremely stimulating and the students found him exciting to be around, because of his openness to new ideas and his willingness to take wild risks in thinking.
One night when we were drinking together, we plotted a trip across North and South America, and when I said I flew a plane, he said,
Great, we’ll fly in your plane.
And I said,
Wonderful, and neglected to tell him that I had only a student license.
So I secretly set about getting a license in order to meet him on August 1st in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where he was summering. There we would start our journey.
At the time I was a consultant for a School Mathematics Study Group, a mathematics program in Education at Stanford. I got my license and an airplane on the same day and flew to Mexico the next day in a death-defying leap. When I got there, I found that Timothy had done some other type of flying, just about the week before. Frank Baron, who was a psychologist at Cal, an old friend of Tim’s, had introduced him to an anthropologist in Mexico and they had come to know about the Tionanactyl, the flesh of the Gods, the Magic Mushrooms of Mexico, which one obtained from Crazy Juanna, a woman up in the mountains who ate the mushrooms all the time. Contact was made with her and the mushrooms were obtained.
Tim had eaten nine of these mushrooms—so many male and so many female mushrooms—with a group of others around a swimming pool and had had a profound experience. He said,
I learned more in the six or seven hours of this experience than I had learned in all my years as a psychologist.
That is a strong statement!
When I arrived in Cuernavaca, the mushrooms were all gone, and so was the zeal to go on a trip across South America, because what was the sense in doing external journeying when obviously what Timothy had been looking for was inside his own head.
So I hung out in Tepetzlan with David McClelland and his family and in Cuernavaca with Tim and his entourage, and then flew back to the United States with Tim and Jackie his son, and an iguana.
And I went to be a visiting professor at Cal and Tim went back to Harvard. And by the time I got back, Timothy had a large psychedelic project going.
He had consulted with Aldous Huxley, who was then visiting at M.I.T., and Aldous and Tim and a number of graduate students had contacted Sandoz, who produced a synthetic of the magic mushrooms called psilocybin, and they had gotten a test batch of this and were busy taking it and administering it. When I got back to Cambridge in the spring, I was invited to share in this bounty.
The night that was chosen turned out to be the night of the biggest snowstorm of the year and it was to be at Tim’s home in Newton, a few blocks from the home of my parents where I had been visiting for dinner. I plowed through the snow, came in and we sat around the kitchen table and there were about three or four of us and we passed the bottle of pills and I took my 10 milligrams. That was my preparation and my set and setting, but beyond that I trusted Timothy. I had seen that Timothy had had a profound experience and he was somebody with an intellect that I understood. I knew that he was not interpersonally destructive—he might be destructive of institutions, but not of individuals. He was a very loving person.
We took a very small dosage, (later we were using 5 or 10 times as much) and the first part of the experience was comparable to a strong pot-high, I’d say. A little more dramatic, a little more intense. Clearly though something happened.
During the first part of this experience with psilocybin, we got into a very low-level tragi-comedy type thing. Tim’s son’s dog had been running in the snow and upon entering the warm kitchen lay gasping and panting. To our timeless minds, his struggle for breath continued too long and we thought he was about to expire. What could we do? We could hardly carry the dog through a blizzard in the early Sunday morning to the vet’s some four miles away, especially since we were all very high, and thus not sure about the dog’s state. It seemed our concerned mounted and the dog passed into a nearby room where it appeared to collapse. We finally decided the only path was to summon 11-year old Jackie from the Late TV show upstairs. Since he wasn’t under a chemical influence, we would watch his interaction with the dog, rather than frighten him with our own suspicions.
Jackie was not pleased at being disturbed by us, (merely to find out what he was watching on TV), but the problem was quickly solved by the dog, who, upon hearing Jackie’s voice, leapt back to life, ready to play.
Now a few hours later I had gone off by myself to reflect upon these new feelings and senses. A deep calm pervaded my being. The rug crawled and the pictures smiled, all of which delighted me. Then I saw a figure standing about 8 feet away, where a moment before there had been none. I peered into the semi-darkness and recognized none other than myself, in cap and gown and hood, as a professor. It was as if that part of me, which was Harvard professor, had separated or disassociated itself from me.
How interesting… an external hallucination, I thought.
Well, I worked hard to get that status but I don’t really need it. Again I settled back into the cushions, separate now from my professorness, but at that moment the figure changed. Again I leaned forward straining to see.
Ah, me again. But now it was that aspect of me who was a social cosmopolite.
Okay, so that goes too, I thought. Again and again the figure changed and I recognized over there all the different aspects I knew to be me… cellist, pilot, lover, and so on. With each new presentation, I again and again reassured myself that I didn’t need that anyway.
Then I saw the figure become that in me which was Richard Alpert-ness, that is, my basic identity that had always been Richard. I associated the name with myself and my parents called me Richard:
Richard, you’re a bad boy. So Richard has badness. Then
Richard, aren’t you beautiful! Then Richard has beauty. Thus develop all these aspects of self.
Sweat broke out on my forehead. I wasn’t at all sure I could do without being Richard Alpert. Did that mean I’d have amnesia? Was that what this drug was going to do to me? Would it be permanent? Should I call Tim? Oh, what the hell so I’ll give up being Richard Alpert. I can always get a new social identity. At least I have my body…. But I spoke too soon.
As I looked down at my legs for reassurance, I could see nothing below the kneecaps, and slowly, now to my horror, I saw the progressive disappearance of limbs and then torso, until all I could see with my eyes open was the couch on which I had sat. A scream formed in my throat. I felt that I must be dying since there was nothing in my universe that led me to believe in life after leaving the body.
Doing without professorness or loverness, or even Richard Alpertness, okay, but I did NEED the body.
The panic mounted, adrenalin shot through my system—my mouth became dry, but along with this, a voice sounded inside—inside what, I don’t know—an intimate voice asked very quietly, and rather jocularly, it seemed to me, considering how distraught I was,
…but who’s minding the store?
When I could finally focus on the question, I realized that although everything by which I knew myself, even my body and this life itself, was gone, still I was fully aware! Not only that, but this aware
I was watching the entire drama, including the panic, with calm compassion.
Instantly, with this recognition, I felt a new kind of calmness—one of a profundity never experienced before. I had just found that
I, that scanning device—that point—that essence—that place beyond. A place where
I existed independent of social and physical identity. That which was I was beyond Life and Death. And something else—that
I Knew—it really Knew. It was wise, rather than just knowledgeable. It was a voice inside that spoke truth. I recognized it, was one with it, and felt as if my entire life of looking to the outside world for reassurance—David Riesman’s other-directed being, was over. Now I need only look within to that place where I Knew.
Fear had turned to exaltation. I ran out into the snow laughing as the huge flakes swirled about me. In a moment the house was lost from view, but it was all right because inside I Knew.
Around 5 in the morning I walked back, plowing through the snow to my parents’ home, and I thought,
Wouldn’t it be nice; I’ll shovel the walk—young tribal buck shovels the walk. So I started to shovel the walk and my parents’ faces appeared at the upstairs window.
Come to bed, you idiot. Nobody shovels snow at 5 in the morning.
And I looked up at them and I heard the external voice I had been listening to for 30 years, and inside me something said,
It’s all right to shovel snow and it’s all right to be happy.
And I looked up at them and I laughed and did a jig and went back to shoveling snow. And they closed the windows and then I looked up and inside they were smiling too. That was my first experience of giving a contact high!
But also, you can see in that moment in the early morning the seeds of the breakaway. The seeds of the ability to be able to confront, and even disagree with, an existing institution and know and trust that inside place that says it’s all right. It’s something I could never have done without anxiety until that moment—until that day.
Now I thought at that moment,
Wow, I’ve got it made. I’m just a new beautiful being—I’m just an inner self—all I’ll ever need to do is look inside and I’ll know what to do and I can always trust it, and here I’ll be forever.
But two or three days later I was talking about the whole thing in the past tense. I was talking about how I
experienced this thing, because I was back being that anxiety-neurotic, in a slightly milder form, but still, my old personality was sneaking back up on me.
Well, the next day I had to give my lecture in Social Relations 143: Human Motivation, and it presented me with a bit of a problem because I couldn’t find anywhere in the psychology teachings anything about what had happened to me the night before.
Now, what we did at first at Harvard was to tell all of our colleagues about this extraordinary thing that was happening to us, and they all shared our delight, as any scientists do when a fellow scientist finds a new avenue into the unknown. And so the first week they listened with delight. And then at the end of the first week we all went back into our experimental cell—the living room by the fire and opened the bottle again and took some more psylocybin to chart this course further. And the next week we had shared a deeper experience and we came back and we spoke to our colleagues. Now they couldn’t hear us quite as well. It wasn’t that they were changing, it was that we were. We were developing a language among ourselves. If Admiral Byrd and an exploratory party are going deeper and deeper into the polar region, the things they think about and are concerned about and are interested in become less and less relevant to somebody living in New York City. This was our situation.
We had the choice along the way of stopping to bring everybody else along, or going on. But these experiences quickly became indescribable. I’d get to a point with my colleagues when I couldn’t explain any further, because it came down to
To him who has had the experience no explanation is necessary, to him who has not, none is possible. And we would feel this frustration when they’d say
It sounds very interesting. And we’d say,
In order to know, you’ve got to try it. And they’d say,
No, that isn’t scientific. It isn’t appropriate to test your own product. You do it first on animals and then on graduate students…
So then the next week, we’d sit around on Saturday night and say,
What should we do? and we all knew what we were going to do, and we would
turn on. We were exploring this inner realm of consciousness that we had been theorizing about all these years and suddenly we were traveling in and through and around it. At the same time, of course, by the second week, it was as though we had just been traveling in Tibet, and now, back in the school lunchroom, who do we hang out with? We hang out with the guy with whom we went to Tibet, because we shared this very powerful experience.
Pretty soon there were five or six of us and we were hanging out together and our colleagues said,
Ah ha, a cult is forming, which was true for us. A cult is a shared system of belief.
As to how to work with this stuff, Tim said,
We don’t know what this is about yet and there are many models, but it would be best not to impose a model too soon, because a model that exists in the West for these states is pathological, and the model that exists in the primitive cultures is mystical and religious and it’s better we keep wide open…
So we did what would be called a naturalistic study: we gave the psilocybin to maybe 200 people who were physically healthy enough and we said,
You take it under any conditions you want and all you’ve got to do is answer this questionnaire at the end, so we’ll know what happened. You do it however you want to.
So we gave it to jazz musicians and physicists and philosophers and ministers and junkies and graduate students and social scientists. And at the end we had these 200 protocols and the first analysis we did showed up very clearly that the reactions were a function of set and setting—a function of their expectations of what was going to happen, and the environment in which they took the drug. If they had it in a very paranoid environment, and they were expecting to have excitement, they tended to have paranoid excitement. All it did was intensify one’s expectations.
However, the data also showed something else. Out of these first few hundred, you could see that there was some kind of a step ladder of experience. There was a kind of probablistic hierarchy of experience, so that the most likely experience everybody had was a heightened sensitivity to all of their five senses and speeding up of the thought process.
Then the next type of experience that people would frequently report was an interpersonal shift of figure and ground, where they would look at another person and see the way in which the other person was similar, rather than different from themselves. And it was as if the whole Western mind-training of individual differences had been made background instead of figure, so that you’d look at another human being and say,
Here we are. You’d see differences more as clothing, rather than as core stuff. This was a profound perceptual experience for many people.
For example, we had a black psychiatrist, Madison Presnell, working with us, and I had been trained to be a very liberal person about black people, which meant that you didn’t have feelings. It was a phony kind of liberal thing. I went out of my way to be liberal. You know, that very self-conscious kind of equality. And Madison and I turned on together and I looked at Madison, and there we were, the same human beings. It was just that he was wearing that skin and I was wearing this skin. And it was no more or less than that. It was that shirt and this shirt and it had no more relevance than that. And I looked at that, and suddenly there we were, whereas before I had been so busy with my super-liberal reaction to color of skin, that I couldn’t relax enough to share this unitive place.
… I remember being in a dark room with another person and one of us spoke and one of us said, ‘Who spoke, you or me?’ It wasn’t clear from who’s mouth the words came.
And then there was a still less frequent experience where one looked at somebody and he started to see the other person as cellular structure or patterns of energy rather than as a person.
And finally, a few subjects (maybe 3% or something like that) transcended all form and saw just pure energy—a homogeneous field. It has been called the White Light.
There was research being done by the group with prisoners, to try to change their rate of recidivism. And there were attempts with ministers: a study was run by Walter Pahnke and a group of the research community on Good Friday in Boston University chapel, with twenty ministers—advanced minister-training students—ten received psilocybin and ten a placebo. It was a double-blind study on Good Friday in a chapel. It was absurd, because a double-blind study was absurd. Everybody knew something was happening. It was as if you were proving the obvious. Somebody who had taken the placebo which made their skin crawl reacted by saying,
Well, maybe something’s happening, and then another minister would stagger into the room and say,
I see God! I see God! and it was all too obvious in a short time who had had the psylocybin.
Now my own experiences were horrible and beautiful and I kept working in different environments and settings and whenever anybody that I trusted brought along some new chemical, I would open my mouth and off I’d go. I was interested in doing this exploring.
For example, at one point I had been in the meditation room in the community house we had in Newton, and I was for four hours in a state of total homogeneous light, bliss, and then I recall starting to
come down and this huge red wave rolled in across the room. It looked like a cross between a William Blake (that picture of the wave) sketch and a Hieronymous Bosch painting, and it was all my identities, all rolling in over me. I remember holding up my hand and saying,
NO, NO, I don’t want to go back. It was like this heavy burden I was going to take on myself. And I realized I didn’t have the key—I didn’t know the magic words, like
Hocus Pocus or whatever it was going to be that would stop that wave, and it rolled in over me and then …
Oh, here I am again—Richard Alpert—what a drag!
In these few years we had gotten over the feeling that one experience was going to make you enlightened forever. We saw that it wasn’t going to be that simple.
And for five years I dealt with the matter of
coming down. The coming down matter is what led me to the next chapter of this drama. Because after six years, I realized that no matter how ingenious my experimental designs were, and how high I got, I came down.
At one point I took five people and we locked ourselves in a building for three weeks and we took 400 micrograms of LSD every four hours. That is 2,400 micrograms of LSD a day, which sounds fancy, but after your fist dose, you build a tolerance; there’s a refractory period. We finally were just drinking out of the bottle, because it didn’t seem to matter anymore. We’d just stay at a plateau. We were very high. What happened in those three weeks in that house, no one would ever believe, including us. And at the end of the three weeks, we walked out of the house and within a few days, we came down!
And it was a terribly frustrating experience, as if you came into the kingdom of heaven and you saw how it all was and you felt these new states of awareness, and then you got cast out again, and after 2 or 300 times of this, began to feel an extraordinary kind of depression set in—a very gentle depression that whatever I knew still wasn’t enough!
Now at the same moment, there were obvious changes going on, because that checking back, over and over again, to the inner place inside myself, made me less and less attached to reassurance from the environment that I was all right. So I remember the moment when I was thrown out of Harvard…
There was a press conference and all of the reporters looked at me as if I was a prizefighter who had just lost a major fight, and was headed for oblivion, that kind of look you have for losers—real losers! And they stood there looking at me that way. Everybody was looking at me that way, and inside I felt,
What I’m doing is all right.
Everybody, parents, colleagues, public, saw it as a horrible thing; I thought inside
I must really be crazy, now—because craziness is where everybody agrees about something—except you! And yet I felt saner than I had ever felt, so I knew this was a new kind of craziness or perhaps a new kind of saneness. But the thing was, I always seemed to be able to skirt the line: to keep it together. I didn’t ever DO anything quite crazy enough.
I was the guy that people would come to and say,
Look, would you calm Tim Leary—he’s too far out. If you’ll calm him and protect him and so on. And I’d say,
I’ll help him with pleasure ’cause he’s that great a being. And I’d help raise money and run the kitchen and clean the house and raise the children…
Well, we realized then that what we needed to do was to create certain kinds of environments which would allow a person, after being into another state of consciousness, to retain a certain kind of environmental support for new ways of looking at himself. After all, if you see yourself as God and then you come back from this state and somebody says,
Hey, Sam, empty the garbage! it catches you back into the model of
I’m Sam who empties the garbage. You can’t maintain these new kinds of structures. It takes a while to realize that God can empty garbage.
Now in 1962 or 3, Tim and Ralph Metzner with him (I was just given author’s credit because I took care of the kitchen) had come across the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which was a very close description of a number of these experiences. This book was 2,500 years old, at least, and it had been used all those years for preparing Tibetan Lamas to die and be reincarnated. And when we opened it, we would find descriptions of the 49 days after death before rebirth, that were perfect descriptions of sessions we were having with psychedelics.
How could this be? The parallel was so close. Tim rewrote the book as a manual called The Psychedelic Experience, a manual for psychological death and rebirth, arguing that this was really a metaphor about psychological death and rebirth and not necessarily physical death and reincarnation.
Tim had gone to India, Ralph had gone to India, Allen Ginsberg had gone to India, I checked with everybody when they came back. There was Tim, being Tim and there was Ralph, being Ralph, and there was Allen, being Allen and I realized that they had all had lovely experiences and seen a beautiful country and so on, but they were not finished looking for something.
And by 1966–7, I was in the same predicament. I was aware that I didn’t know enough to maintain these states of consciousness. And I was aware that nobody else around me seemed to know enough either. I checked with everybody I thought might know, and nobody seemed to know.
So I wasn’t very optimistic about India or psychedelics. By 1967 I had shot my load! I had no more job as a psychologist in a respectable establishment and I realized that we didn’t know enough about psychedelics to use them profitably.
Then, along came a very lovely guy—Francis Mechner—whom I had guided through some psychedelic sessions, an interesting guy, who had gone to the University of Chicago in his early teens and had taught seminars in Chinese Economics, had started a company called Basic Systems, which had been sold to Xerox, and now he had retired. He was about 35 and he had retired and taken his five million dollars or whatever he made, and was now becoming a Buddhist. He wanted to make a journey to the east to look for holy men and he invited me to go along. He had a Land Rover imported into Tehran and this was my way out. What else was I going to do at this point?
So I left to go to India, and I took a bottle of LSD with me, with the idea that I’d meet holy men along the way, and I’d give them LSD and they’d tell me what LSD is. Maybe I’d learn the missing clue.
We started out from Tehran, and for the next three months we had lovely guides and a most beautiful time and we scored great hashish in Afghanistan, and at the end of three months, I had seen the inside of the Land Rover, I had 1,300 slides, many tape recordings of Indian music; I had drunk much bottled water, eaten many canned goods: I was a Westerner traveling in India. That’s what was happening to me when I got to Nepal.
We had done it all. We had gone to see the Dalai Lama, and we had gone on horseback up to Amarnath Cave up in Kashmir; we had visited Benares, and finally we ended up in Kathmandu, Nepal. I started to get extremely, extremely depressed. I’m sure part of it was due to the hashish. But also, part of it was because I didn’t see what to do next.
I had done everything I thought I could do, and nothing new had happened. It was turning out to be just another trip. The despair got very heavy. We didn’t know enough and I couldn’t figure out how to socialize this thing about the new states of consciousness. And I didn’t know what to do next. It wasn’t like I didn’t have LSD. I had plenty of LSD, but why take it. I knew what it was going to do, what it was going to tell me. It was going to show me that garden again and then I was going to be cast out and that was it. And I never could quite stay. I was addicted to the experience at first, and then I even got tired of that. And the despair was extremely intense at that point.
We were sitting in a hippie restaurant, called the Blue Tibetan, and I was talking to some French hippies…
I had given LSD to a number of pundits around India and some reasonably pure men:
An old Buddhist Lama said,
It gave me a headache.
Somebody else said,
It’s good, but not as good as meditation.
Somebody else said,
Where can I get some more?
And I got the same range of responses I’d get in America. I didn’t get any great pearl of wisdom which would make me exclaim,
Oh, that’s what it is—I was waiting for something that was going to do that thing!
So I finally figured,
Well, it’s not going to happen. We were about to go on to Japan and I was pretty depressed because we were starting the return now, and what was I returning to? What should I do now?
I decided I was going to come back and become a chauffeur. I wanted to be a servant, and let somebody else program my consciousness. I could read holy books while I’d wait for whoever it was I was waiting for while they were at Bergdorf Goodman’s and I’d just change my whole style of life around. I could just get out of the whole drama of having to engineer my own ship for a while. This is a funny foreshadowing, as you’ll see.
The despair was extremely intense at that point. I was really quite sad.
I was in the Blue Tibetan with my friend and these other people, and in walked this very extraordinary guy, at least extraordinary with regard to his height. He was 6’7" (2 meters) and he had long blonde hair and a long blonde beard. He was a Westerner, an American, and was wearing holy clothes—a dhoti (a cloth Indian men wear instead of pants) and so on, and when he entered, he came directly over to our table and sat down.
Now, up until then, I had found this interesting thing that I don’t think I could have labeled until that moment. Once, when I had met Gesha Wangyal at Freehold, N.J., I knew I was meeting a being who
knew, but I couldn’t get to it because I wasn’t ready, somehow. We were very close—we loved each other extraordinarily, but I hadn’t been able to really absorb whatever I needed to absorb. Now here was this young fellow and again, I had the feeling I had met somebody who
I don’t know how to describe this to you, except that I was deep in my despair; I had gone through game, after game, after game, first being a professor at Harvard, then being a psychedelic spokesman, and still people were constantly looking into my eyes, like
Do you know? Just that subtle little look, and I was constantly looking into their eyes
Do you know? And there we were,
Do you…? And there was always that feeling that everybody was very close and we all knew we knew, but nobody quite knew. I don’t know how to describe it, other than that.
And I met this guy and there was no doubt in my mind. It was just like meeting a rock. It was just solid, all the way through. Everywhere I pressed, there he was!
We were staying in a hotel owned by the King or the Prince, or something, because we were going first class, so we spirited this fellow up to our suite in the Sewalti Hotel and for five days we had a continuing seminar. We had this extraordinarily beautiful Indian sculptor, Harish Johari, who was our guide and friend. Harish, this fellow, Bhagavan Das and David and I sat there and for five days high on peach melbas and hashish and mescaline, we had a seminar with Alexandra David Neel’s books and Sir John Woodroffe’s Serpent Power, and so on. At the end of five days, I was still absolutely staggered by this guy. He had started to teach me some mantras and working with beads. When it came time to leave, to go to Japan, I had the choice of going on to Japan on my first class route, or going off with this guy, back into India on a temple pilgrimage. He had no money and I had no money and it was going to change my style of life considerably. I thought,
Well, look, I came to India to find something and I still think this guy knows—I’m going to follow him.
But there was also the counter thought,
How absurd—who’s writing this bizarre script. Here I am—I’ve come half-way around the world and I’m going to follow, through India, a 23 year old guy from Laguna Beach, California.
I said to Harish and to David,
Do you think I’m making a mistake? And Harish said,
No, he is a very high guy. And so I started to follow him—literally follow him.
Now I’m suddenly barefoot. He has said,
You’re not going to wear shoes, are you? That sort of thing. And I’ve got a shoulder bag and my dhoti and blisters on my feet and dysentery, the likes of which you can’t imagine, and all he says is,
Well, fast for a few days.
He’s very compassionate, but no pity.
And we’re sleeping on the ground, or on these wooden tables that you get when you stop at monasteries, and my hip bones ache. I go through an extraordinary physical breakdown, become very childlike and he takes care of me. And we start to travel through temples—to Baneshwar and Konark and so on.
I see that he’s very powerful, so extraordinarily powerful—he’s got an ektara, a one-stringed instrument, and I’ve got a little Tibetan drum, and we go around to the villages and people rush out and they touch our feet because we’re holy men, which is embarrassing to me because I’m not a holy man—I’m obviously who I am—a sort of overage hippie, western explorer, and I feel very embarrassed when they do that and they give us food. And he plays and sings and the Hindu people love him and revere him. And he’s giving away all my money…
But I’m clinging tight to my passport and my return ticket to America, and a traveler’s check that I’ll need to get me to Delhi. Those things I’m going to hold on to. And my bottle of LSD, in case I should find something interesting.
And during these travels he’s starting to train me in a most interesting way. We’d be sitting somewhere and I’d say,
Did I ever tell you about the time that Tim and I…
And he’d say,
Don’t think about the past. Just be here now.
And I’d say,
How long do you think we’re going to be on this trip?
And he’d say,
Don’t think about the future. Just be here now.
You know, I really feel crumby, my hips are hurting…
Emotions are like waves. Watch them disappear in the distance on the vast calm ocean.
He had just sort of wiped out my whole game. That was it—that was my whole trip—emotions, and past experiences, and future plans. I was, after all, a great story teller.
So we were silent. There was nothing to say.
You eat this, or,
Now you sleep here. And all the rest of the time we sang holy songs. That was all there was to do.
Or he would teach me asanas—Hatha Yoga postures.
But there was no conversation. I didn’t know anything about his life. He didn’t know anything about my life. He wasn’t the least bit interested in all of the extraordinary dramas that I had collected… He was the first person I couldn’t seduce into being interested in all this. He just didn’t care.
And yet, I never felt so profound an intimacy with another being. It was as if he were inside of my heart. And what started to blow my mind was that everywhere we went, he was at home.
If we went to a Theravadan Buddhist monastery, he would be welcomed and suddenly he would be called Dharma Sara, a Southern Buddhist name, and some piece of clothing he wore, I suddenly saw was also worn by all the other monks and I realized that he was an initiate in that scene and they’d welcome him and he’d be in the inner temple and he knew all the chants and he was doing them.
We’d come across some Shavites, followers of Shiva, or some of the Swamis, and I suddenly realized that he was one of them. On his forehead would be the appropriate tilaka, or mark, and he would be doing their chanting.
We’d meet Kargyupa lamas from Tibet and they would all welcome him as a brother, and he knew all their stuff. He had been in India for five years, and he was so high that everybody just welcomed him, feeling ‘he’s obviously one of us.’
I couldn’t figure out what his scene was. All I personally felt was this tremendous pull toward Buddhism because Hinduism always seemed a little gauche—the paintings were a little too gross—the colors were bizarre and the whole thing was too melodramatic and too much emotion. I was pulling toward that clean, crystal-clear simplicity of the Southern Buddhists or the Zen Buddhists.
After about three months, I had a visa problem and we went to Delhi, and I was still quite unsure of my new role as a holy man and so when I got to Delhi, I took $4.00 out of my little traveler’s check and bought a pair of pants and a shirt and a tie and took my horn-rimmed glasses out of my shoulder bag and stuck them back on and I became again Dr. Alpert, to go to the visa office. Dr. Alpert, who had a grant from the Folk Art Museum of New Mexico for collecting musical instruments and I did my whole thing.
I kept my beads in my pocket. Because I didn’t feel valid in this other role. And then the minute I got my visa fixed, he had to have his annual visa worked over, and he had to go to a town near-by, which we went to, and we were welcomed at this big estate and given a holy man’s house, and food brought to us, and he said,
You sit here. I’m going to see about my visa.
He told me just what to do. I was just like a baby,
Do this. And I just gave up. He knew. Do you know? I’ll follow you.
He spoke Hindi fluently. My Hindi was very faltering. So he could handle it all.
We had spent a few weeks in a Chinese Buddhist monastery in Sarnath, which was extraordinarily powerful and beautiful, and something was happening to me but I couldn’t grasp the total nature of it at all.
There was a strange thing about him. At night he didn’t seem to sleep like I did. That is, any time I’d wake up at night, I’d look over and he would be sitting in the lotus position. And sometimes I’d make believe I was asleep and then open sort of a half-eye to see if he wasn’t cheating—maybe he was sleeping now—but he was always in the lotus posture.
Sometimes I’d see him lie down, but I would say that 80% of the time when I would be sleeping heavily, he would be sitting in some state or other, which he’d never describe to me. But he was not in personal contact—I mean, there was no wave or moving around, or nothing seemed to happen to him.
The night at that estate, I went out—I had to go to the bathroom and I went out under the stars and the following event happened…
The previous January 20th, at Boston in the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, my mother had died of a spleen illness—the bone marrow stopped producing blood and the spleen took over and grew very large and they removed it and then she died. It had been a long illness and I had been with her through the week prior to her death and through it we had become extremely close. We had transcended mother-child and personalities and we had come into true contact. I spent days in the hospital just meditating. And I felt no loss when she died. Instead there was a tremendous continuing contact with her. And in fact, when I had been in Nepal, I had had a vision of her one night when I was going to bed. I saw her up on the ceiling and I was wondering whether to go to India or go on to Japan and she had a look that was the look of
You damn fool you’re always getting into hot water, but go ahead, and I think that’s great. She looked peeved-pleased. It was like there were two beings in my mother. She was a middle class woman from Boston, who wanted me to be absolutely responsible in the most culturally acceptable fashion, and then there was this swinger underneath—this spiritual being underneath who said,
Go, baby. And I felt these two beings in that look which supported my going back into India.
This night I’m under the stars, and I hadn’t thought about her at all since that time. I’m under the stars, urinating, and I look up and the stars are very close because it’s very dark and I suddenly experience a presence of mother, and I’m thinking about her—not about how she died or anything about that. I just feel her presence. It’s very very powerful. And I feel great love for her and then I go back to bed.
Of course, Bhagwan Das is not the least interested in any of my life, so he’d be the last person I’d talk to about my thoughts or visions.
The next morning he says,
We’ve got to go to the mountains. I’ve got a visa problem. We’ve got to go see my Guru.
Now the term
Guru had meant for me, in the West, a sort of high grade teacher. There was a Life article about Allen Ginsberg—
Guru goes to Kansas and Allen was embarrassed and said,
I’m not really a Guru. And I didn’t know what a Guru really was…
Bhagwan Das also said we were going to borrow the Land Rover, which had been left with this sculptor, to go to the mountains. And I said, I didn’t want to borrow the Land Rover. I’d just gotten out of that horrible blue box and I didn’t want to get back into it, and I didn’t want the responsibility. David had left it with this Indian sculptor and he wouldn’t want to loan it to us anyway. I got very sulky. I didn’t want to go see a guru and suddenly I wanted to go bock to America in the worst way.
What am I doing? I’m following this kid and all he is… But he says,
We’ve got to do this, and so we go to the town where the sculptor lives and within half an hour the sculptor says,
You have to go see your Guru? Take the Land Rover!
Well, that’s interesting.
We’re in the Land Rover and he won’t let me drive. So I’m sitting there sulking. He won’t let me drive and we are in the Land Rover which I don’t want to have and I’m now really in a bad mood. I’ve stopped smoking hashish a few days before because I’m having all kinds of reactions to it, and so I’m just in a very, very uptight, negative paranoid state and all I want to do is go back to America and suddenly I’m following this young kid who wants to drive and all he wanted me for was to get the Land Rover and now the whole paranoid con world fills my head. I’m full of it.
We go about 80 or 100 miles and we come to a tiny temple by the side of the road in the foothills of the Himalayas. We’re stopping and I think we’re stopping because a truck’s coming by, but when we stop, people surround the car, which they generally do, but they welcome him and he jumps out. And I can tell something’s going to happen because as we go up into the hills, he’s starting to cry.
We’re singing songs and tears are streaming down his face, and I know something’s going on, but I don’t know what.
We stop at this temple and he asks where the guru is and they point up on a hill, and he goes running up this hill and they’re all following him, so delighted to see him. They all love him so much.
I get out of the car. Now I’m additionally bugged because everybody’s ignoring me. And I’m following him and he’s way ahead of me and I’m running after him barefoot up this rocky path and I’m stumbling…by now my feet are very tough but still his legs are very long and I’m running and people are ignoring me and I’m very bugged and I don’t want to see the guru anyway and what the hell—
We go around this hill so that we come to a field which does not face on the road. It’s facing into a valley and there’s a little man in his 60’s or 70’s sitting with a blanket around him. And around him are 8 or 9 Hindu people and it’s a beautiful tableau—clouds, beautiful green valley, lovely, lovely place—the foothills of the Himalayas.
And this fellow, Bhagwan Das, comes up, runs to this man and throws himself on the ground, full-face doing ‘dunda pranam,’ and he’s stretched out so his face is down on the ground, full-length and his hands are touching the feet of this man, who is sitting cross-legged. And he’s crying and the man is patting him on the head and I don’t know what’s happening.
I’m standing on the side and thinking
I’m not going to touch his feet. I don’t have to. I’m not required to do that. And every now and then this man looks up at me and he twinkles a little. But I’m so uptight that I couldn’t care less. Twinkle away, man!
Then he looks up at me—he speaks in Hindi, of which I understand maybe half, but there is a fellow who’s translating all the time, who hangs out with him, and the Guru says to Bhagwan Das,
You have a picture of me?
Bhagwan Das nods,
Give it to him, says the man, pointing at me.
That’s very nice, I think, giving me a picture of himself, and I smile and nod appreciatively. But I’m still not going to touch his feet!
Then he says,
You came in a big car? Of course that’s the one thing I’m really uptight about.
So he looks at me and he smiles and says,
You give it to me?
I started to say,
Wha… and Bhagwan Das looks up—he’s lying there —and he says,
Maharaji, (meaning ‘great king’), if you want it you can have it—it’s yours.
And I said,
No—now wait a minute—you can’t give away David’s car like that. That isn’t our car… and this old man is laughing. In fact, everyone is laughing… except me.
Then he says,
You made much money in America?
Ah, at last he’s feeding my ego. I think.
So I flick through all of my years as a professor and years as a smuggler and all my different dramas in my mind and I said,
How much you make?
Well, I said, at one time—and I sort of upped the figure a bit, you know, my ego—$25,000.
So they all converted that into rupees which was practically half the economic base of India, and everybody was terribly awed by this figure, which was complete bragging on my part. It was phony—I never made $25,000. And he laughed again. And he said,
You’ll buy a car like that for me?
And I remember what went through my mind. I had come out of a family of fund-raisers for the United Jewish, Appeal, Brandeis, and Einstein Medical School, and I had never seen hustling like this. He doesn’t even know my name and already he wants a $7,000 vehicle.
And I said,
Well, maybe… The whole thing was freaking me so much.
And he said,
Take them away and give them food. So we were taken and given food—magnificent food—we were together still, and sadhus brought us beautiful food and then we were told to rest. Some time later we were back with the Maharaji and he said to me,
Come here. Sit. So I sat down and he looked at me and he said,
You were out under the stars last night.
You were thinking about your mother.
Yes. (‘Wow’, I thought, ‘that’s pretty good. I never mentioned that to anybody’).
She died last year.
She got very big ill the stomach before she died.
… Pause …
He leaned back and closed his eyes and said,
Spleen. She died of spleen.
Well, what happened to me at that moment, I can’t really put into words. He looked at me in a certain way at that moment, and two things happened—it seemed simultaneous. They do not seem like cause and effect.
The first thing that happened was that my mind raced faster and faster to try to get leverage to get a hold on what he had just done. I went through every super CIA paranoia I’ve ever had:
Who is he?
Who does he represent?
Where’s the button he pushes where the file appears? and
Why have they brought me here?
None of it would jell.
It was just too impossible that this could have happened this way. The guy I was with didn’t know all that stuff, and I was a tourist in a car, and the whole thing was just too far out. My mind went faster and faster and faster.
Up until then I had two categories for
psychic experience. One was ‘they happened to somebody else and they haven’t happened to me, and they were terribly interesting and we certainly had to keep an open mind about it.’ That was my social science approach. The other one was, ‘well, man, I’m high on LSD. Who knows how it really is? After all, under the influence of a chemical, how do I know I’m not creating the whole thing?’ Because, in fact, I had taken certain chemicals where I experienced the creation of total realities. The greatest example I have of this came about through a drug called JB 318, which I took in a room at Millbrook. I was sitting on the 3rd floor and it seemed like nothing was happening at all. And into the room walked a girl from the community with a pitcher of lemonade and she said, would I like some lemonade, and I said that would be great, and she poured the lemonade, and she poured it and she kept pouring and the lemonade went over the side of the glass and fell to the floor and it went across the floor and up the wall and over the ceiling and down the wall and under my pants which got wet and it came back up into the glass—and when it touched the glass the glass disappeared and the lemonade disappeared and the wetness in my pants disappeared and the girl disappeared and I turned around to Ralph Metzner and I said,
Ralph, the most extraordinary thing happened to me, and Ralph disappeared!
I was afraid to do anything but just sit. Whatever this is, it’s not nothing. Just sit. Don’t move, just sit!
So I had had experiences where I had seen myself completely create whole environments under psychedelics, and therefore I wasn’t eager to interpret these things very quickly, because I, the observer, was, at those times, under the influence of the psychedelics.
But neither of these categories applied in this situation, and my mind went faster and faster and then I felt like what happens when a computer is fed an insoluble problem; the bell rings and the red light goes on and the machine stops. And my mind just gave up. It burned out its circuitry… its zeal to have an explanation. I needed something to get closure at the rational level and there wasn’t anything. There just wasn’t a place I could hide in my head about this.
And at the same moment, I felt this extremely violent pain in my chest and a tremendous wrenching feeling and I started to cry. And I cried and I cried and I cried. And I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t sad. It was not that kind of crying. The only thing I could say was it felt like I was home. Like the journey was over. Like I had finished.
Well, I cried and cried, and they finally sort of spooned me up and took me to a temple about 12 miles away to stay overnight. That night I was very confused. A great feeling of lightness and confusion.
At one point in the evening I was looking in my shoulder bag and came across the bottle of LSD.
Wow! I’ve finally met a guy who is going to Know! He will definitely know what LSD is. I’ll have to ask him. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll ask him. Then I forgot about it.
The next morning, at 8 o’clock, a messenger comes. Maharaji wants to see you immediately. We went in the Land Rover. The 12 miles to the other temple. When I’m approaching him, he yells out at me,
Have you got a question?
And I take one look at him, and it’s like looking at the sun. I suddenly feel all warm.
And he’s very impatient with all this nonsense, and he says,
Where’s the medicine?
I got a translation of this. He said medicine. I said,
Medicine? I never thought of LSD as medicine! And somebody said, he must mean the LSD.
LSD? He said,
Ah-cha—bring the LSD.
So I went to the car and got the little bottle of LSD and I came back.
Let me see?
So I poured it out in my hand.
That’s STP … That’s Librium and that’s … A little of everything. Sort of a little traveling kit.
Gives you siddhis?
I had never heard the word
siddhi before. So I asked for a translation and siddhi was translated as
power. From where I was at in relation to these concepts, I thought he was like a little old man, asking for power. Perhaps he was losing his vitality and wanted Vitamin B12. That was one thing I didn’t have and I felt terribly apologetic because I would have given him anything. If he wanted the Land Rover, he could have it. And I said,
Oh, no, I’m sorry. I really felt bad I didn’t have any and put it back in the bottle.
He looked at me and extended his hand. So I put into his hand what’s called a
White Lightning. This is an LSD pill and this one was from a special batch that had been made specially for me for traveling. And each pill was 305 micrograms, and very pure. Very good acid. Usually you start a man over 60, maybe with 50 to 75 micrograms, very gently, so you won’t upset him. 300 of pure acid is a very solid dose.
He looks at the pill and extends his hand further. So I put a second pill—that’s 610 micrograms—then a third pill—that’s 915 micrograms into his palm.
That is sizable for a first dose for anyone!
And he swallows them! I see them go down. There’s no doubt. And that little scientist in me says,
This is going to be very interesting!
All day long I’m there, and every now and then he twinkles at me and nothing—nothing happens! That was his answer to my question. Now you have the data I have.
I was taken back to the temple. It was interesting. At no time was I asked, do you want to stay? Do you want to study? Everything was understood. There were no contracts. There were no promises. There were no vows. There was nothing.
The next day Maharaji instructed them to take me out and buy me clothes. They gave me a room. Nobody ever asked me for a nickel. Nobody ever asked me to spread the word. Nobody ever did anything. There was no commitment whatsoever required. It was all done internally. And that day I met a man who was to become my teacher, Hari Dass Baba.
Hari Dass Baba is quite an incredible fellow, as I found out. I spent five months under his tutelage. He is 48 years old. He weighs 90 pounds. He is a jungle sadhu He went into the jungle when he was 8 years old. He is silent (mauna). He has been mauna for 15 years. He writes with a chalkboard. He only uses his voice to sing holy songs. He reads and writes six or eight different languages, including Chinese, English, French, Hindi. He taught me always in beautiful English.
This guru—Maharaji—has only his blanket. You see, he’s in a place called Sahaj Samadhi and he’s not identified with this world as most of us identify with it. If you didn’t watch him, he’d just disappear altogether into the jungle or leave his body, but his devotees are always protecting him and watching him so they can keep him around. They’ve got an entourage around him and people come and bring gifts to the holy man because that’s part of the way in which you gain holy merit in India. And money piles up, and so they build temples, or they build schools. He will walk to a place and there will be a saint who has lived in that place or cave and he’ll say,
There will be a temple here, and then they build a temple. And they do all this around Maharaji. He does nothing.
Hari Dass Baba—this little 90 pound fellow—architecturally designed all of the temples and schools, supervised all the buildings and grounds, had many followers of his own, slept two hours a night. His food intake for the last 15 years had been 2 glasses of milk a day. That’s it. His feces are like two small marbles each day. His arms are about this big around, tiny, but when the workmen can’t lift a particularly heavy rock, they call for ‘Chota Maharaji’—the little great king. As in a comic strip, he goes over and lifts the rock, just with one-pointedness of mind. He had met Maharaji in the jungle 15 years before, and he had become a disciple of Maharaji.
As an example of Maharaji’s style, I was once going through my address book and I came to Lama Govinda’s name (he wrote Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism and Way of the White Cloud) and I thought,
Gee, I ought to go visit him. I’m here in the Himalayas and it wouldn’t be a long trip and I could go and pay my respects. I must do that some time before I leave.
And the next day there is a message from Maharaji saying,
You are to go immediately to see Lama Govinda.
Another time, I had to go to Delhi to work on my visa and I took a bus. This was the first time after four months that they let me out alone. They were so protective of me. I know know what they were afraid would happen to me, but they were always sending somebody with me … They weren’t giving me elopement privileges, as they say in mental hospitals.
But they allowed me to go alone to Delhi and I took a 12 hour bus trip. I went to Delhi and I was so high. I went through Connaught Place, which is the western hustle part of New Delhi. It’s mostly BOAC and American Express and restaurants that serve ice cream sodas. The whole scene, which is right in the middle of India, has nothing to do with India particularly and all the Indians who hustle westerners walk around in this block. And I went through that barefoot, silent with my chalkboard—I was silent all the time. At American Express, writing my words it was so high that not at one moment was there even a qualm or a doubt. I got so high that I went into some stores to buy things—right in Connaught Place, which is designed to hustle westerners … And everybody knew I was a westerner, and yet they insisted on giving me the stuff free!
You are a sadhu—it’s a blessing to me that you’ll take my goods. That’s how powerful the thing was that I was into at that time.
So after all day long of doing my dramas with the Health Department and so on, it came time for lunch. I had been on this very fierce austere diet and I had lost 60 lbs. I was feeling great—very light and very beautiful—but there was enough orality still left in me to want to have a feast. I’ll have a vegetarian feast, I thought. So I went to a fancy vegetarian restaurant and I got a table over in a corner and ordered their special deluxe vegetarian dinner, from nuts to nuts, and I had the whole thing and the last thing they served was vegetarian ice cream with 2 English biscuits stuck into it. And those biscuits … the sweet thing has always been a big part of my life, but I knew somehow, maybe I shouldn’t be eating those. They’re so far out from my diet. It’s not vegetables—it’s not rice. And so I was almost secretly eating the cookies in this dark corner. I was feeling very guilty about eating these cookies. But nobody was watching me. And then I went to a Buddhist monastery for the night and the next day took the bus back up to the mountain.
Two days later, we heard Maharaji was back—he had been up in the mountains in another little village. He travels around a lot, moves from place to place. I hadn’t seen him in about a month and a half—I didn’t see much of him at all. We all went rushing to see Maharaji and I got a bag of oranges to bring to him and I came and took one look at him, and the oranges went flying and I started to cry and I fell down and they were patting me. Maharaji was eating oranges as fast as he could, manifesting through eating food the process of taking on the karma of someone else.
Women bring him food all day long. He just opens his mouth and they feed him and he’s taking on karma that way. And he ate eight oranges right before my eyes. I had never seen anything like that. And the principal of the school was feeding me oranges and I was crying and the whole thing was very maudlin, and he pulls me by the hair, and I look up and he says to me,
How did you like the biscuits?
I’d be at my temple. And I’d think about arranging for a beautiful lama in America to get some money, or something like that. Then I’d go to bed and pull the covers over my head and perhaps have a very worldly thought; I would think about what I’d do with all my powers when I got them; perhaps a sexual thought. Then when next I saw Maharaji he would tell me something like,
You want to give money to a lama in America. And I’d feel like I was such a beautiful guy. Then suddenly I’d be horrified with the realization that if he knew that thought, then he must know that one, too… ohhhhh… and that one, too! Then I’d look at the ground. And when I’d finally steal a glance at him, he’d be looking at me with such total love.
Now the impact of these experiences was very profound. As they say in the Sikh religion—Once you realize God knows everything, you’re free. I had been through many years of psychoanalysis and still I had managed to keep private places in my head—I wouldn’t say they were big, labeled categories, but they were certain attitudes or feelings that were still very private. And suddenly I realized that he knew everything that was going on in my head, all the time, and that he still loved me. Because who we are is behind all that.
I said to Hari Dass Baba,
Why is it that Maharaji never tells me the bad things I think? and he says,
It does not help your sadhana—your spiritual work. He knows it all, but he just does the things that help you.
The sculptor had said he loved Maharaji so much, we should keep the Land Rover up there. The Land Rover was just sitting around and so Maharaji got the Land Rover after all, for that time. And then one day, I was told we were going on an outing up in the Himalayas for the day. This was very exciting, because I never left my room in the temple. Now in the temple, or around Maharaji, there were eight or nine people. Bhagwan Das and I were the only westerners. In fact, at no time that I was there did I see any other westerners. This is clearly not a western scene, and in fact, I was specifically told when returning to the United States that I was not to mention Maharaji’s name or where he was, or anything.
The few people that have slipped by this net and figured out from clues in my speech and their knowledge of India where he was and have gone to see him, were thrown out immediately… very summarily dismissed, which is very strange. All I can do is pass that information on to you. I think the message is that you don’t need to go to anywhere else to find what you are seeking.
So there were eight or nine people and whenever there was a scene, I walked last, I was the lowest man on the totem pole. They all loved me and honored me and I was the novice, like in a karate or judo class, where you stand at the back until you learn more. I was always in the back and they were always teaching me.
So we went in the Land Rover. Maharaji was up in the front—Bhagwan Das was driving. Bhagwan Das turned out to be very high in this scene. He was very very highly thought of and honored. He had started playing the sitar; he was a fantastic musician and the Hindu people loved him. He would do bhajan holy music so high they would go out on it. So Bhagwan Das was driving and I was way in the back of the Land Rover camper with the women and some luggage.
And we went up into the hills and came to a place where we stopped and were given apples, in an orchard, and we looked at a beautiful view. We stayed about 10 minutes, and then Maharaji says,
We’ve got to go on.
We got in the car, went further up the hill and came to a forestry camp. Some of his devotees are people in the forestry department so they make this available to him.
So we got to this place and there was a building waiting and a caretaker—
Oh, Maharaji, you’ve graced us with your presence. He went inside with the man that is there to take care of him or be with him all the time and we all sat on the lawn.
After a little while, a message came out,
Maharaji wants to see you. And I got up and went in, and sat down in front of him. He looked at me and said,
You make many people laugh in America?
Yes, I like to do that.
Good… You like to feed children?
He asked a few more questions like that, which seemed to be nice questions, but then he smiled and he reached forward and he tapped me right on the forehead, just three times. That’s all.
Then the other fellow came along and lifted me and walked me out the door. I was completely confused. I didn’t know what had happened to me—why he had done it—what it was about.
When I walked out, the people out in the yard said that I looked as if I were in a very high state. They said tears were streaming down my face. But all I felt inside was confusion. I have never felt any further understanding of it since then. I don’t know what it was all about. It was not an idle movement, because the minute that was over, we all got back in the car and went home.
I pass that on to you. You know now what I know about that. Just an interesting thing. I don’t know what it means, yet.
Hari Dass Baba was my teacher. I was taught by this man with a chalkboard in the most terse way possible. I would get up early, take my bath in the river or out of a pail with a lota (a bowl). I would go in and do my breathing exercises, my pranayam and my hatha yoga, meditate, study, and around 11:30 in the morning, this man would arrive and with chalkboard he would write something down:
If a pickpocket meets a saint, he sees only his pockets.
Then he’d get up and leave. Or he’d write,
If you wear shoe leather, the whole earth is covered with leather.
These were his ways of teaching me about how motivation affects perception. His teaching seemed to be no teaching because he always taught from within… that is, his lessons aroused in me just affirmation… as if I knew it all already.
When starting to teach me about what it meant to be ‘ahimsa’ or non-violent, and the effect on the environment around you of the vibrations—when he started to teach me about energy and vibrations, his opening statement was
Snakes Know Heart.
Yogis in jungle need not fear. Because if you’re pure enough, cool it, don’t worry. But you’ve got to be very pure.
So his teaching was of this nature. And it was not until a number of months later that I got hold of Vivekananda’s book Raja Yoga and I realized that he had been teaching me Raja Yoga, very systematically an exquisite scientific system that had been originally enunciated somewhere between 500 BC and 500 AD by Patanjali, in a set of sutras, or phrases, and it’s called Ashtanga Yoga, or 8-limbed yoga and also known as Raja or Kingly yoga. And this beautiful yogi was teaching me this wisdom with simple metaphor and brief phrase.
Now, though I am a beginner on the path, I have returned to the West for a time to work out karma or unfulfilled commitment. Part of this commitment is to share what I have learned with those of you who are on a similar journey. One can share a message through telling ‘our-story’ as I have just done, or through teaching methods of yoga, or singing, or making love. Each of us finds his unique vehicle for sharing with others his bit of wisdom.
For me, this story is but a vehicle for sharing with you the true message… the living faith in what is possible.
From Bindu to Ojas
The Core Book
To Maharaj-ji, of whose ashirbad (blessing) this is a manifestation. ॐ
From Bindu to Ojas.
The Heart Cave
Except ye be converted & become as little children ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Unless you start again. Become that trusting, open, surrendered being. The energy can’t come in. That is the kingdom of heaven.
The energy. It is the same thing. Cosmic consciousness.
Consciousness equals energy = love = awareness = light = wisdom = beauty = truth = purity.
It’s all the same trip. It’s all the same. Any trip you want to take leads to the same place.
Purify enough. Become immerse beauty. Become it.
The potter becomes his pot. Embrace the 10,000 beautiful visions. Become 1 with the universe.
All the energy passes thru you. You are all the energy.
And it all resides in your heart. If you can go within to your spiritual heart, your hridayam, you will then know that: you are he.
And it is from this place in our heart cave, where we are now, we watch the entire drama that is our lives. We watch the illusion with unbearable compassion.
There is writing happening. Maybe that’s hard for you to understand. I am here but
I am not here. I am writing but
I am not writing. Inside of me in the heart cave is a mantra going on that reminds me who I really am. Over and over again in this inner place.
And even as I write, where this mantra is going on I’m just watching with great awe and wonder.
The awesome drama of nature unfold before my very eye. Before that eye I I which sees all and knows all.
And on and on inside goes: Aum Mani Padme Hum, always bringing me right to my heart where I dwell eternally.
When you have quieted your mind enough and transcended your ego enough, you can hear how it really is.
So: When you are with a candle flame, you are the candle flame. And when you are with another being’s mind, you are the other being’s mind. When there is a task to do, you are the task.
The mindless quality of total involvement that comes only when the ego is quiet and there is no attachment.
It is only when you reside quietly in your own hridayam that you become he of total light, unbearable compassion, and infinite power.
If you get far enough in, you can see… karma. You can see patterns unfolding (of which this life is only a part; part of a mosaic).
But: In order to do that you have to have left the gravitational field of time and space (as a matrix). You can’t think in… time and space.
You can’t be in… your thoughts any more!
Because: your thoughts are still in time and space, and you can’t get out of time through them. You’ve got to be outside that. You’ve got to be in the place where you see your own
Birth - Childhood - Adolescence - Maturity - Age - Death - Conception
And: Not only that one, but that one, and… that one, and that, too…
I am without form, without limit, beyond space, beyond time. I am in everything. Everything is me. I am the bliss of the universe.
Everything am I.
But you’re still only seeing hints. You’ve got a way to go yet.
Gätẽ / Gätẽ / Pärägätẽ
Gone / Gone / Gone Beyond
Gone Beyond Beyond
Hail the Goer!
Beyond even conceiving of a place beyond which you can go beyond.
Who’s adventurous enough to want to go on that journey? Do you realize when you go on that journey, in order to get to the destination, you can never get to the destination? In the process you must die. Must die.
Pretty fierce journey. Pretty fierce requirement. We want volunteers.
Now: we’ll make the journey as comfortable as possible. But: you have to realize that (after you pass through the Van Allen belt) you’re going to get out to another belt of radiation which is going to crisp you completely, and you will die. But there will be an essence left that will get through.
Now: who would like to volunteer? Ready?
Well: couldn’t we make a specially insulated suit? No. Sorry. Can’t do it.
But: If you propel hard enough, there will be going through. There will be something that will get through to the other side. We can’t really define what you’ll be… but you’ll be beyond that. Why would anyone go on a trip like that? Adventure?
Well: the one thing about an adventure is: the adventurer wants to stay around and adventure. And: if he’s going to be crisped in the process, there’s going to be no adventurer left to have had the adventure.
But you see: there’s something that pulls a person toward this journey. Way, away back, deep inside, is a memory. There is something inside each of us that comes from behind that veil.
Behind the place of our own birth. It’s as if you have tasted something somewhere in your past that’s been so high, so much light, so much energy that nothing you can experience through any of your senses or your thoughts can e enough!
Somewhere inside, everybody knows that there is a place which is totally fulfilling. Not a desperate flick of fulfillment. It is a state of fulfillment.
You may experience despair that you’ll ever know that. Good! Because through the despair and through that surrender comes surrender. You get closer to it.
And what keeps you from that place that gives you that total feeling and experience and knowing of fulfillment is all of this posturing, all of your thoughts, all your way of organizing your world, all of your plans, all of your games, your exploring.
Some of us do go on this journey. We didn’t stand up and say we volunteer. (It didn’t work that way at all. It’s not like you had a choice of volunteering or not volunteering.) That isn’t the way it works.
It’s as if you’re propelled into it.
Like the moth into the flame. But yet nobody’s pushing you. Nobody’s standing around saying: Get in! Take every third man! He goes! It doesn’t work that way either.
It’s a little more like the image of a caterpillar—enclosing itself in a cocoon in order to go through the metamorphosis to emerge as a butterfly. The caterpillar doesn’t say:
Well now. I’m going to climb into this cocoon and come out a butterfly.
It’s just an inevitable process. It’s inevitable. It’s just happening. It’s got to happen that way.
We’re talking about a metamorphosis. We’re talking about going from a caterpillar to butterfly. We’re talking about how to become a butterfly.
I mean: the caterpillar isn’t walking around saying: Man, I’ll soon be a butterfly. Because: as long as he’s busy being a caterpillar, he can’t be a butterfly. It’s only when caterpillarness is done that one starts to be a butterfly. And that, again, is part of this paradox. You cannot rip away caterpillarness.
The whole trip occurs in an unfolding process under which you have no control.
Well: what am I doing here if I have no control?
That’s a hard one! Can’t I say this is nonsense? You mean I didn’t have any choice? Your lecture changed my whole life! Can’t I say this is important?
You think that’s choice? No. Not at all. It’s an unfolding process.
If you could stand back far enough and watch the whole process, you would see you are a totally determined being. The very moment you will wake up is totally determined. How long you sleep is totally determined. What you will hear of what I say is totally determined. There are no accidents in this business at all. Accidents are just from where you’re looking. To the ego, it looks like it’s miracles and accidents.
No miracles. No accidents. It’s just your vantage point that you’re sort of… stuck in.
This whole trip I’m talking about is fraught with paradox; the most exquisite paradox.
As soon as you give it all up you can have it all. How about that one? As long as you want power you can’t have it. The minute you don’t want power you’ll have more than you ever dreamed possible.
What a weird thing! As long as you have an ego you’re on a limited trip.
You’re on a trivial trip that’s going to last? Maybe what? 60—say 70—maybe 80 years. And full with fear of its end, trying to make its own eternity.
I am not speaking, if
I am not what
I was, how did
I get into this? Who am
For only when
I know who
I am will
I know what is possible.
Understanding the possibility.
There are 3 ways in which one knows what we are talking about tonight.
One way in which you know about it is through direct experience.
Through some way or another, through being alone in the desert, through falling in love, through bearing a child, through nearly dying, through turning on, through yoga, through taking any one of your senses and pushing it beyond itself.
Going through it you have touched a place inside yourself that has an intuitive validity. It’s intuitively valid. Inside, you know it’s right.
I’ve been with (literally now) well over 100 people who have had such an experience which was powerful and valid, but it was so discontinuous with their normal consciousness that they screamed for help.
The help that was available to them was a group of minds which said,
That’s all right. You’ve just gone crazy That is, the experience you’ve just had is the experience of psychosis.
William James said:
Our normal waking consciousness is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.
We may go through life without suspecting their existence, but apply the requisite stimulus and at a touch they are there in all their completeness: definite types of mentality which probably somewhere have their field of application and adaptation.
No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded. How to regard them is the question, for they are so discontinuous with ordinary consciousness. They may determine attitudes, though they cannot furnish formulas, and open a region though they fail to give a map.
At any rate (concludes James), they forbid our premature closing of accounts with reality.
In spite of what he said, we’ve closed our accounts with reality (most of us).
That experience you had is psychotic.
I’ll give you thorazine.
It’s not valid.
What do you mean, you’re God?
The understanding of the possibility may have come to you directly through the experience itself, or it may have come to you through inference, through your intellect. You may have reasoned and reasoned until you saw the peculiar position that rational man is in and you realized that there must be something else, although you have not experienced it. You just infer the presence of
It doesn’t quite make sense. Nothing
turns you on. You haven’t experienced it directly but you figured there must be something else; something there.
And you say:
Well, they can’t all be nuts. They must be talking about something. So you sort of infer the presence of this other thing, but you don’t know it in your guts.
Now that’s a tough one, to be in that position.
Then the third way is: you trust the fact that there are realized beings. And they said it, and therefore you know it to be true. It’s not inference any more. It’s not an intellectual process. You just accept what they have said.
See: We’ve gotten so super-sophisticated in our evaluative mechanisms that you question everything you hear. How do you know you’re not being hustled? I mean: What was Jesus up to? What’s the game, man? What’s he into? And you especially feel paranoid if yo are one of the keepers of the tables in the temple. If you are committed to an existing system with great attachment, with great attachment.
Some way or other, most of you in this room (most of you, not all of you), most of you have sensed the possibility but you can’t quite…!
What are you giving up? A hollow little trip that’s good for another 40 years at best. You’re giving it up for eternal union with pure energy and pure light. Because surrender means you no longer die.
It’s as simple as that. That’s what it means. Because: You that lives and dies is you-ego. And fear of death only comes through the brittleness of the ego.
Total Surrender. Total Surrender. There’s no more you, no more life and death.
Yeah, I’m going to die. Wow! Dig that! I’m going to live. Wow! Dig that! Garbage. Wow! New blossoms on the tree. Wow!
Patterns of energy. All patterns of energy. You’re part of it all. That’s the place.
So: my father says to me:
When are you going back to India? And I say,
I’m going back when the guru says I am to come back, in two years. So my father says,
Do you do everything he says? Don’t you have a mind of your own? We’re giving you this exquisite position in this company and we want you to know you’ll have a great deal of independent decision-making power…
What do you want to do today, Marty?
I don’t care.
What do you want to do?
I remember a few days staying in London. We had fled from Copenhagen where we had a very unfortunate scene at a psychological convention. We were in London and Tim and Bill Burroughs and I were walking down the street high on something or other and we were spending days going from park to tea room to park to tea room; and every now and then we’d hit a corner and somebody would say:
Well, should we cross the street? And we’d stand there and nobody would seem to care. Because we were all fulfilled at that moment, right there on the street corner in London. We were all just very, very high. Here.
You don’t have to have that urge, that desire, that unfulfilled thing. Just let it be.
Just be. Be. Be. Be more, more, more. What’s holding you back? Your thoughts, huh? You’ve got to give them up. Just ego planning.
What are you doing? Planning for the future? Well it’s all right now. But later…? Forget it, baby. That’s later.
Now is now. Are you going to be here or not? It’s as simple as that.
But I’m so young! I have so many things to do yet!
Well! That’ll sure keep you from being here and now.
Life is passing me by!
But, if I live just in the here and now, won’t there be chaos? What happens if the telephone rings?
Well: the here and now is the fact that the telephone is ringing! Pick it up!
Well: what if somebody wants to make an appointment to see me 3 weeks from now?
Right! Write it down. That’s here and now.
Well, what happens 3 weeks from now?
3 weeks from now there’s that appointment. Then: that is here and now.
When your child comes down the stairs, this is the first moment all over again. This is Buddha meeting Buddha: over toast and coffee, over milk and porridge, over mu tea and brown rice.
We never had breakfast before! This is it!! This is all there is. Right now!
If it’s not good enough, man, it’s not good enough.
Now: about five years ago I’m living in this community in California, with a very beautiful high being, Steve Durkee, a visionary artist: a very beautiful guy, his wife and child, and I’d have a day off. It would be Saturday and we’d go to the store, the dog, the babies, we’d all get into the Volkswagen microbus. There’d be Jane, the gal I was living with, and her baby and me and Steve and Barbara, and the whole scene, going shopping.
We’d get to the door and Dakota (Coby), Steve’s daughter, would start to cry. Well now. We gotta get to the store. I have Saturday mornings free and Saturdays we shop. All right, Coby. Cool it!
Coby doesn’t cool it. She cries.
Well, maybe we’ll go to the store with Coby crying. No, Coby doesn’t like that. She cries louder.
Or maybe Barbara had better stay home with Coby.
Let’s go! Come on! Are we going or aren’t we?
What’s wrong, Coby? She’s just being a kid.
Steve says: what’s the use going to the store? It’s like what price efficiency? What happened to the vibrations? What happened to the human beings in that shuffle?
So we’d do this absurd thing. We’d all stop and gather. We’d all sit down and join hands around this little kid. We’d cool ourselves out. Coby would stop crying.
Then we’d go to the store.
And Steve taught me that: if you get so efficient… if you’ve got to turn off all the vibrations of the scene… because you’re so busy about the future or the past, or time has caught you… it costs too much!!
And you finally understand.
The message you communicate with an other human being has nothing to do with what you say. it has nothing to do with the look on the musculature of your face. It’s much deeper than that.
It’s the vibrations that emanate from you!
If your vibrations are paranoid, that’s what’s being received.
And when you’re around pets (birds or cats particularly), or very young children, or very flipped out psychotics, they will know you immediately.
You can come and say
Hello dear, how are you? and the dog will growl…
You can’t come on because they’re listening to the vibrations that hand is reaching out and sending.
And you realize that every moment you are a full statement of your being. And you’re sending out vibrations that are affecting everything around you, which in turn is affecting everything that comes back. And when you meet somebody who is caught in the world of we and them and you are him to that person, and you get caught in his mind net, you are both just intensifying one another’s paranoia.
Hippies create police. Police create hippies.
If you’re in polarity you’re creating polar opposites. You can only protest effectively when you love the person whose ideas you are protesting against as much as you love yourself.
Love has to spring spontaneously from within: and it is in no way amenable to any form of inner or outer force. Love and coercion can never go together; but though love cannot be forced on anyone, it can be awakened in him through love itself. Love is essentially self-communicative. Those who do not have it catch it from those who have it. True love is unconquerable and irresistible; and it goes on gathering power and spreading itself, until eventually it transforms everyone whom it touches.
And the fact of the matter is: as you go out on the astral plane you see more and more, and the final thing you see in the world of form before you go into the formless and into total unity:
You see the world of Yin and Yang.
And the world of yin and yang is another astral plane, and it’s one of the highest planes in the world of form. But it’s still duality. It’s still polarization.
There is god / There is man.
There is good / There is evil.
Yes / No
Pleasure / Pain
Loss / Gain
The world most everybody is living in most of the time.
The only way out of that is to take the poles of every set of opposites and see the way in which they are one.
And: if you can get into that place where you see the interrelatedness of everything, and: you see the oneness in it all, then: no longer are you attached to your polarized position.
The whole thing about generation gaps is a hype.
The spirit is the spirit.
When you can center and see your whole life as a story in which chapters are
Then: the moment-to-moment ego involvement
am I getting enough at this moment? ceases to be a dominant theme. And: you start to live in the Tao (the Way).
Jesus said: I am the Way. It’s the same Way! The Way is the Way is the Way.
The Way is the harmony of the universe. When one comes into the spirit, when one sees how it is, one understands that behind the individual differences
Every label you can think of becomes background instead of figure. What stands out is:
Here we are. Here and now. That’s all there is. And if it isn’t beautiful, man, there’s nothing.
So you say:
Well, I can’t have it beautiful now. But, later! When we get the food home it will be beautiful.
Later never exists.
What’s happened to life insurance, to tenure, to planning, saving, responsibilities? Nothing’s happened to any of it!
Either you do it like it’s a big weight on you, or you do it as part of the dance. When yo understand
the thought is the thought of the thoughtless. Your singing and dancing is no other than the voice of the Dharma. Hakuin
Singing, and dancing, and, insurance, and $aving$ a¢¢ount$, and job, and responsibility. Shiva’s dance of life. Do you do it from uunnnkkk… or do you do it from aaaahhhhh!! Do you surf through it all? Or do you carry it around like a load?
If only you could throw it off! If only I didn’t have these kids around my neck…
You can’t get away for the day because: it’s in your head! That you’re trying to get away from… and the only way to get away is to change your head! Simple as that!
You want to change your environment? Change your head!! It’s all the ecstatic moment! If you know how to dig it… if not… it’s a travesty… that’s all. Profane…
The first thing in my teacher’s book, the first thing he ever wrote on his slate (because he was silent) was:
Desire is a trap. Desire-lessness is moksha (liberation). Desire is the creator. Desire is the destroyer. Desire is the universe.
And: that applies to the physical plane, the astral plane, the causal plane.
Heaven, hell, demons (The demons on 43rd Street as well as the demons on the astral plane!) are all the creations of desire! All the manifestations of the divine mother are creations of desire!
That’s why Naga, (the naked ascetic) worked on getting Ramakrishna to go beyond his love for Kali.
Give up even the desire to be experiencing the bliss of being it all, of being with the divine mother.
The Buddhists say: (I’m talking about the non-dualistic Buddhists) cut out all this middle stuff! They say: don’t get hung up on all these different desire trips. Just go beyond it all.
Buddha’s 4 Noble Truths are very straightforward and very simple.
The first one concerns the fact that life always has in it the element of unfulfillment: call it suffering.
Birth, old age, sickness, not getting what you want, getting what you don’t want, even getting what you want in this physical world is going to be suffering because:
You’re going to lose it! It’s always in time! Anything that is in time is going to pass away. Lay not up your treasures where moth and rust doth corrupt. That’s the trap of time. As long as you want anything in time it’s going to pass because time passes.
The Second Noble Truth is: the cause of suffering is desire (or craving). If you don’t try to hold you don’t suffer over the loss. If you don’t worship life you don’t fear death. But if you try to hold on to life it’s very sad. You can honor life, but if you try to hold on to life… it’s very sad.
Did you ever see a really beautiful woman, like a top model, who is just getting to that point where her looks are changing into what could be an internal beauty if she hadn’t been so busy with her external beauty? She is caught in the beauty of time, which withers. How poignant!
And yet, we’ve all touched people who were so beautiful as beings that we never notice whether they are physically beautiful. It’s like an eternal beauty lives within them.
Well, if you attach yourself, if you crave temporal things, beauty, possessions, achievement, anything. How poignant!
Example: some body looks at you seductively… an ice cream cone goes by… will it ever be the big ice cream cone in the sky? Will it ever be an eternal ice cream cone? Or… is it always going to melt?
You gotta keep eating it, yet it melts and melts. That’s the problem. You gotta keep eating it cuz it will melt.
And then it’s gone. And you know that taste in your mouth when you finish and… you want a glass of water? Right? Then you have a glass of water and there’s that bloaty feeling? Then, you’re ready for the next one… to get rid of that one… let’s take a walk… and you take a walk… it’s cold out. Let’s have some hot chocolate. Yes, let’s have some, and on, and on, and on, and it’s called life.
You see: the opposite of craving is saying baby, this is the way it is. Yeah. OK. Here and now. This is it. I accept the here and now fully. As. It. Is. Right at this moment!!!
Lame, halt, blind, dying. We’re all dying.
At this moment your body is disintegrating before your very eyes. If you’ve taken LSD you may be seeing it do this. But you know it’s happening anyway. It’s all a downhill trip all the way.
Boy, what a funny place to get attached! To something that’s got to go like that. So Buddha says: the cause of suffering is attachment or desire.
They all say the same thing!
Third Noble Truth
Give up attachment. Give up desire.
You end the births. You end the deaths. You end the suffering. You end the whole thing that keeps you stuck!
If I’m not attached to this particular time-space locus then I can free my awareness from my body and I can become one with it all. I can merge with the divine mother.
Fourth Noble Truth is: the Eightfold Path (for getting rid of desire) with says: get your life straight. Do your work. Do everything you’ve got to do. Watch your speech. Watch your thought. Watch your calmness. Get your calm center going. Live your life in such a way as to get yourself straight, to get free of attachment that just keeps sucking you in all the time.
Get free of desire. Get free of desire. It’s a little like a roller coaster. This is just the way it works. If you read St. John of the Cross’
Dark Night of the Soul you know how it is.
You’ve really been working on yourself and you’re very pure, and something very high happens to you: you feel liberated.
And then: your ego walks around and pats you on the shoulder:
Pretty good! Look how holy you’re becoming.
And you fall… again…
That’s one of the traps. In fact, the higher you get the harder you fall each time. It’s those fierce lions guarding the inner gates.
All this stuff happens when you are extricating yourself from this web of desire, which is your ego, which is your cognitive framework of the universe (it’s all the same thing), and this extraction (believe me) doesn’t happen without an internal struggle. This is called tapas.
Tapasia: straightening by fire.
If a man gives way to all his desires, or panders to them, there will be no inner struggle in him, no ‘friction’, no fire. But if, for the sake of attaining a definite aim, he struggles with the desires that hinder him—he will then create a fire which will gradually transform his inner world into a single whole.
—Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, p. 48.
Had ye but faith, you could move mountains, said Jesus.
And that is literally true. The Bible is not a metaphor. It’s not a story made up to teach us how to be moral beings. It’s a straight message of how it is when man lives in the spirit, and the spirit is right inside. The way to get into the spirit is not a lot of hocus-pocus. It’s a very simple methodical, mechanical set of steps. But they’re only available to him who can hear. Let those who have ears hear. Teach not him who does not want to know. The whole game is based on faith.
What you may not understand is: the whole game you have been playing is also based on faith. You have had faith in the rational mind. We are living in a society which is a temple dedicated to the rational man. Even though the first commandment says:
I am the Lord, thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Even though that has been said, and even though we repeat it, we still worship the rational mind and its products. We worship our own sense data. It’s only when we see the assumptions that we’ve already been functioning on that we can start to extricate ourselves. We have got to have heard the first message before any of the keys open anything. You don’t even know there are doors until you have heard the first message.
Georges I. Gurdjieff, a Westerner who went on this higher trip, or at least on a large part of the trip, said:
You don’t seem to understand you are in prison. If you are to get out of prison, the first thing you must realize is: you are in prison. If you think you’re free you can’t escape.
What calming the mind is all about, what meditation is for, is to cool you out so you re-member, so you see how it all is.
Try sitting around when you’re full of self-pity. You sit down in front of your puja table and you take a picture of Meher Baba, and he’s smiling at you like he’s the other Marx brother, and he’s saying: Let me help you.
Oh, I wish you would, Meher Baba. It’s so hard. (Wow! Dig that self-pity. Isn’t that exquisite. Full bloom! What an extraordinary color. It must be a new brand of self-pity, a particularly fragrant variety. I just really want to smell that one. To sit and smell it for ever so long. Such a good one.)
I mean: I wish I could have time to groove with you but I’ve got to get on with life. I have important things to do today.
All right Baba! I’ll sit with you for one minute. Okay? Here we are. You’ve got one minute. Do your thing. Forty seconds left!
You’ve got to be quiet inside to do that kind of photography. It’s very easy to
inanimate objects—like other people.
But: turn the lens right in on the very stuff you’re hiding in. Shoot the camera this way! Very powerful stuff! So all I can do all the time is to cool myself out… that’s all I’m doing—I do nothing but
If somebody says: what do you do, man? I say: I do sadhana.
Sure, but don’t you lecture?
Sure, lecturing happens but I’m doing my sadhana. This trip is helping me get free of my ego. Because: if I get free of my ego, we all get free of our ego. Because: that’s the way the trip works. Because: we’re all the same being and that’s the problem—we can only move as fast as we all can move…
You can hear this message only as purely as I am pure. That’s the way it boils down—I can resonate with you in the highest place I am.
So: I can do nothing for you but work on myself… you can do nothing for me but work on yourself!
Oh! I’m going to do good things for my child. Balony! That’s all ego. Just work on yourself. And: everytime you work on yourself, you get calmer, you hear more, you sense more, you are more. You’re more present. What are you offering a child? Not a set of social roles passing in the night… You’re offering a child here-and-now-ness.
The treasure of consciousness. The treasure of awareness. If you don’t help other beings cut through the illusion because you’re through the illusion, what else??? What else is there?
What are you doing? Doing more of the dance within the dance????
Are we always going to meet on the stage? Don’t we ever take off the costumes?
That’s what I felt as a child. We are always on the stage in our costumes… (I’m a good child, that’s what I am) I know to play good child. I’ve been in that role for years. I know how to do it. Don’t talk back. Go to bed early. Don’t get your knees dirty. Eat all the food on your plate. I’m a master at that game. Is anybody Home????? Hello, I’m home. Is anybody home? Sure, I’ll have some food.
If I give you the external things I’m a good parent.
You and I can always starve together if we’re backstage in the here and now. If we’re not in the here and now, no matter how much food we put in our bellies it’s never going to be enough. And that’s the feeling of Western man. It’s not enough. He’s got it all going in as fast as he can shovel it. He’s got every sensual gratification he can possibly desire and it’s not enough because there’s no here-and-now-ness about it.
Here and now is the doorway to all that energy. Because if you’re truthfully here and now there’s no more you. That’s the way it works.
Did you ever go to the movies and get so caught up in the movie that you forgot who you were and then the lights came on and you wondered… where am I? What’s going on? Oh, it’s a movie.
What you’ve got to do is create in yourself an absolutely calm center where it’s always right here and now. It is just light, it is just is-ness. Getting into the tub, eating, going to the toilet, up the stairs, getting into bed, talking, running down the street. Just the is-ness.
When you meet a being who is centered you always know it. You always feel a kind of calm emanation. It always touches you in that place where you feel calm.
But: you can’t hustle it. You can’t make-believe you’re calm when you’re not. It never works. Everybody knows. You know. It’s horrible.
You must center. Find that place inside yourself. And: whatever your dance is, you’re doing it from that place. Always right in here, right in your hridayam.
The Subtle Mother
And every time you step back one step from your own melodrama, the cosmic humor gets higher and higher. The absurdity of it all. The extreme beauty of it all!
The Divine Mother, which is nature! Which is you. Which is all of this. Which is the whole physical plane!
And she becomes so exquisite. And she’s pulling you, and that’s really something.
All you can do is honor her and love her. Because if you say
Wow, lady. I know who you are. You’re the keeper of this reform school. That’s attachment.
Can’t have her. Can’t reject her. Can’t live with her. Can’t put her away.
Just honor and honor her. Divine Mother. You’ve got to worship her.
She is the veil, and at some point she is Sita. Sita stands aside in the jungle path so Ram’s brother can see Ram. Ram is god. Sita is Ram’s wife. And Ladsaman is Ram’s brother. And they’re going along a jungle path and it is God who is Ram. Sita behind him. And then… the brother Laksaman. And Laksaman can’t see his brother who is God because of this woman Sita who walks between them. Every now and then she just moves, just a little to one side, so Laksaman can see God.
Divine Mother Kali
She is my mother. She is my Moon. She is my father. SHe is my child. She is my brother. She is the grass. She is my lover. She is the dew. She is my sun. Look at how much she can teach.
Her tongue dripping blood, a circle of skulls around her neck, a dagger in one hand, giving birth in the other. The whole process of nature. How exquisitely subtle.
Remember Siddhartha. His journey, and the amount of time he spent in the garden of pleasure with a woman who had much to teach? She always had a new thing to teach—she will always have a new thing to teach—always.
Can anyone imagine that a woman as full and seductive as that is not going to teach something? Is not going to continue to teach something?
If you think that something’s happening, like: you’re working… you’re achieving… you’re doing something worthwhile… there is much to do. All of that is just the pendant in the ear of the Divine Mother, or it’s a little spot of color on her cheek, or it’s a little bell on her toe…
And when you meet a lover like that, sure, you’ll want to hang around and experience it. As long as we’re greedy for experience we’re going to be around for quite a while. We’re not going to elect to go on the crisp trip… because that’s the end of the experiencer.
Her other face is the one you’re trying to see. If she is the entire illusion, she is also that which is beyond illusion.
And so, finally, when you have gone beyond her, and become free of her, and you go to beyond the beyond, and you finally cross the great ocean of existence, Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Swaha.
And you stand on the other side, and you’re completely free. Who’s there? The Divine Mother welcoming you.
That’s the bodhisattva part of it: you have gone and you have gotten the liberation, and then you are right here chopping wood and carrying water.
Making it Sacred
This (chopping wood and carrying water) is karma yoga… the yoga of daily life. The way to do it is: do what you do, but dedicate the fruits of the work to me. That’s the more esoteric way of saying it.
Another way of saying it is: do it without attachment. Another way of saying it is: total renunciation!
Now that doesn’t mean you go up to a mountain and live in a cave. It means that you renounce attachment even to your own desires. It means you do what you do because that’s what the harmony of the universe requires.
If I am a potter I make pots. But who is making the pots? I am not under the illusion that I am making the pots. Pots are. The potter is. I am a hollow bamboo.
I am a doctor… a student… a drop-out… all the same game. Don’t let that offend you, but… the external world is all the same… it’s all the external world!
People often say to me: I would really like to do sadhana but… I’m a teacher now. If I could only finish being a teacher, I could do sadhana.
Baloney! You’re either doing sadhana or you’re not. Sadhana is a full time thing that you do because there is nothing else to do. You do it whether you’re teaching, or sitting in a monastery… whether you’re lying in bed, going to the toilet, making love, eating, everything is part of waking up.
Praise God for the light in being. Praise God for the love. Being, cooking, building, laughing, loving, walking, singing, cooking, breathing. All is love. Empty. Empty. All is empty. One. One. All is one. Light. Light. All is light.
Praise God for the light in our being. Praise God for the love. Being, dancing, praying, building, smiling, dying, awakening, growing, eating, singing, sleeping, growing, seeing, singing, moving, dying, smiling, crying, shitting, dancing, awakening, walking, teaching, laughing, learning, growing, living…
Everything is done without attachment. Another way of saying it is: it’s all done as consecrated action… it’s all dedicated… it’s all sacred.
In the old days, like many of you (I suppose), I was a good oral-type person. You open the refrigerator and you can’t stuff your mouth fast enough! Everything turns you on. The stimulus arouses the response. Here’s a real sour pickle.
Ummmmmm—I’ll have a little of that! And there’s some ice cream, and there’s some cole slaw, and that’ll be good with the ice cream! To go with something! Oh boy! It’s too much! Uummmmmmmmmmm! Have a taste of flower.
You can go on the oral trip about everything. I come right out of that tradition. I want you to know where I started from—from what depths. What depths. When I was an adolescent, I was so fat that all my clothes had to be specially made. We would go into a store and my mother would say
he wants to see the double ‘Z’ with balloon sets…
It took me at least $10,000.00 of my analysis to get rid of that one, I’ll tell you! So you can understand that I speak of the oral trip with a certain amount of empathy.
And now suddenly comes this new ruling sent down from above. All your acts will be consecrated. All your acts will be consecrated.
Wow, that’s great. But what about food? Ah… now in the West we have a thing. You see, the Norman Rockwell cover… Thanksgiving Day! There’s the turkey and everybody has his eyes closed saying grace, and the kid’s hand is already on the turkey… okay! Let’s say grace and eat quick!
So in India I was taught this thing to say to consecrate the food and it was very funny. I’d been taught it but I still had this old orality business. So I would say it but I could not think it. And… I could not stop long enough to experience it. At last I had to confront myself and see where I wasn’t.
You’ve got to go at the rate you can go. You wake up at the rate you wake up. You’re finished with your desires at the rate you finish with your desires. The disequilibrium comes into harmony at the rate in comes into harmony. You can’t rip the skin of the snake. The snake must moult the skin. That’s the rate it happens.
You meet another person, and there are qualities in that personality which offend you and there are qualities which attract you—some qualities seduce you—some qualities repel you—some qualities sexually excite you—some qualities revolt you—some qualities interest you—some qualities fascinate you—some qualities bore you. It’s only when you can see through all that veil… through all your own desires… beyond Sita walking in the path that you can see beyond all that to where the other being is.
You will do that when you’ve gone inside to see where you are—beyond the things in you which attract you and seduce you and excite you and repel you—the journey across the great ocean of existence is a journey inward, ever in, deeper and deeper. And the deeper you get in, the more you meet truth.
It’s hard to speak in words about the guru… to speak of the difference between an upa guru and a sat guru.
It’s interesting that when I tell the story of my journey in India and tell of the guru, I always speak of his miracles, although, from my point of view they are not the essence of the matter at all.
But: they are that which is speakable of… It’s a little like that Persian story where Nasruddin is looking for his housekey under the streetlamp and others come to help him and finally they ask him
Where did you lose it? And he answers,
In my house, but it’s dark in there and since it’s light out here this is the best place to look.
I find myself talking about things that are talkable about. What can I say?
Can I say (with any meaning) that when I’m with the guru, there’s nobody home? Or: that I love him so thoroughly that I would do anything he would ever ask of me, and the highest thing I could think of is being at his feet, and at the same moment I don’t care if I never see him again in this life? Can I say that? Can I say there is absolutely nothing special about him? He’s just a little old man with a blanket? Can I say he’s right here now? Which one are you ready to hear?
When I was around Maharaj-ji there was always a constant stream of devotees who have much reverence (vishwas) but not too much faith (shraddha) and they were always asking Maharaj-ji for miracles, or to get them a job, or they wanted to use his divinatory powers and tell them about the future.
And then, when he would ask me what it was I wanted, I couldn’t think of anything. I just felt he was inside of me. How do you ask your inner self for something? You are already it. What is it that you could give to yourself? Give yourself presents? It’s all wrong.
At first I didn’t trust it, so I’d have to come into his presence and the minute I’d get there I’d feel… yeah… and I’d look at him and my eyes would get all swimming with tears, and I’d just laugh and I’d feel silly. I would really be silly. Silly (it’s hard to get me speechless).
My teacher Hari Dass Baba is essence. He is pure. He is just like a crustal. He is beautiful. He is exquisitely articulated. He taught me everything I was ready to learn. The guru taught me nothing in form.
He never explained anything. He’d laugh at me and twirl my hair and hand me an orange and say things like:
You make many people laugh in America? And I’d say
Yes and he’d say
That’s good. That doesn’t teach you much. That’s just hanging out. The teacher, on the other hand, was all spit and polish. All business. He is a pure Brahmin, and he has work to do, and he is going to teach me, and it was all no nonsense. He would be making me a rope to go around my waist with seven strands, and he would be explaining each strand… and I honor him and love him. And I wish to serve him. One of them is in the world for me. And one of them is not. The relationship to the guru has nothing to do with worldliness with the worldly.
By guru I don’t mean a specific guru in my head. There is a universal guru. A level of consciousness, a frequency of vibration, a connection to another plane…
He was right here, laughing and being here all the time.
I spent all last winter and the year before at the temple just making love to Mahara-ji in every way, being opened wider, and was just so awed by the pure love of a being that there was no place for my paranoia. Yet, everywhere I turned, there it was. And no place for it because I only saw the man in the flesh probably eight times. It’s amazing and all, but two times for not more than half an hour or maybe an hour. And most of that was superfluous. I needed to see him in the flesh only because my faith was not pure enough. What awes me is the people who have been sharing this journey with me these past few years who have, because of their purity, made direct contact with the guru in themselves through the purity of their love.
Because you have seen me you have believed. Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.
The Way Bhakti Works
You just love, until you and the beloved become one.
I’ve reflected on the difference between a teacher and the guru. The guru is the way into this perfect center, to going into samadhi. The closer you come to making contact with the guru, the closer you come to the Tao, to the Way, to the inner place, the Atman. It’s as if the guru is an airplane hovering over a landing field and there’s just too much ground traffic for the plane to land. Cars all over the runway. Looking for a guru he just circles and circles, doing a holding pattern, waiting for you to clear your runway so he can land. He’s sitting up there (in here) all the time.
Maharaj-ji is not further away from you at this moment than the thought you’re thinking now and: if you were capable of completely stopping this thought or: transcending it or: being centered from the inside behind it, he and you would then be one.
You dig that my special relationship to him (if indeed, he is living in sat chit ananda) cannot conceivably be special. There’s no meaning to that. Specialness can only be in each person’s karma. It’s not an interpersonal relationship—with a being that is not interpersonal. People say: you’ve got something going with the guru. That’s absurd. I just have what I have going with my own karma. Each person is as close to the guru at every moment as he is close to the guru at that moment. And people say: maybe the guru would intervene and take on my karma. But from a guru’s point of view he just understands how it all is in eternal time and space.
He has no attachment either to life, or death. And: if he takes on your karma, it is your karma that he should take on your karma. Simple as that.
You see: you are the guru. That’s what’s so far out—you are your own guru. I am my own grandpa. And that’s what you finally know when you are hanging out with one of these guys. You
hang you with yourself.
Because there’s nobody at home there at all. To the extent that there’s hanging out (in the interpersonal sense), all you can be seeing are your own desires.
He is a perfect mirror, since there’s nobody there.
The Chicken Sees
When I met my guru who knew everything in my head, I realized that he knew everything in my head whether
I liked it or not. He knew it.
And there would be times after a particularly beautiful darshan with him when he’d say to me:
Oh! You gave much money to a lama, and I’d say yes and he’d say:
You’re very good. You’re coming along with your sadhana, and I felt so good, and then I’d go back to the temple and think
Boy! I’m going to be a great yogi. I’ll have great powers. What am I going to do with them? …And I’d start to have these horrible thoughts, and all my impurities would rise to the surface and they would really be… and then I’d go to bed and have all kinds of sexual fantasies, and I’d think
Look, you’re being a yogi and you see the absurdity of that situation you’re in… But I’d still have the thought. And then, in the course of it, I’d have a thought (I’d be going through my shoulder bag and come across a note I’d written to myself:
Remember to visit Lama Govinda) and I’d think,
I must visit Lama Govinda while I’m in India.
And the next morning at 8 o’clock there is the messenger with instructions:
The guru said you’re to go visit Lama Govinda.
Now! There isn’t a message saying:
Cut out those sexual thoughts, but he must obviously know them. Do you think he just picked up on the Lama Govinda Thing?
Can I assume the probabilities are he only tunes in every time I have a positive thought?
And then I come before him and now I’m freaked because I know he knows it all: and I walk in, and he looks at me with total love.
And I think:
How can he do it? This guy must be nuts! He’s loving this corrupt… Why isn’t he…? You see the predicament I was in? And then! What I understood was: he was loving that in me which was behind my personality and behind my body. Not:
I really love Ram Dass. It wasn’t interpersonal love. It wasn’t possessive love. it wasn’t needful love. It was the fact that he is love.
Where he saw me, he looked at me and he saw that place in me which is love. And here we are in love.
That’s the world he lives in, and once I appreciated that and could see that he could look at this corrupt, impure, ugly being and he could love it that much. Nobody had ever done that before.
Everybody had said
I’ll love you if… and he just said
Where you really are and where I really am, we are love, and when I was around him i was in love.
Now: once I had tasted of that universe where we are all us… this place: that’s the sea of love. Boy! I’m going to live in it! I’m going to be it! I’m going to submerge myself in it! You gotta protect yourself… from what? Love?
Once you know there’s no place to hide anyway, then you wonder who are you hiding from?
There’s a Sikh story about a holy man who gave two men each a chicken and said,
Go kill them where no one can see. One guy went behind the fence and killed the chicken. The other guy walked around for two days and came back with the chicken. The holy man said:
You didn’t kill the chicken? The guy said,
Well, everywhere I go, the chicken sees.
The guru is on an endless wave, just hanging out in that place. He’s hanging. Where does he reside? He resides in this really interesting place. He resides right in that place where the Divine Mother merges into herself. He’s right between the two sides of the coin. He’s right at that place. He goes into one-with-it-all into the void and he comes back into form in order to love it all and then, through his love, he goes back into it again.
It’s like making love to some body and you pick up your face from your lover in order to come down to experience. Aren’t we having a ball? And then you go back into one-ness.
Such a zen being does that with every breath. Between each breath—1. And then the breath of—2. He is eternally in that place. HE’s in what is known as sahaj samadhi.
He’s right at the edge. He stays at that edge and that’s why he stays in his body… If he just stayed in the void, the body (after 21 days) just falls away. There’s no ego left to hold it together. That’s the rule of the game if you’re wondering what happens. Some beings do that. They go into samadhi, and they’ve finished with their bodies and they just leave them.
And then there are others (there are some very far out stories in India). There are others who leave a thin, very, very thin thread of ego. There’s one being who, for twenty years, was locked up in a cave: and every year his devotees opened the cave. Once a year they’d go in to have his darshan. There was no food. Nothing. And he looked like a corpse except that his hair kept growing and his nails kept growing… for twenty years… he was not hanging out with much. He was just leaving a subtle thread to keep in contact.
Those of little faith need long fingernails and long hair to believe it’s happening.
Lest ye see miracles ye will not believe, said our buddy.
Tall Saul and the Astrals
Everything he said was straight. You understand? All that stuff in the Bible is really straight. Look what happened to Saul of Tarsus (for God’s sake). There he was, riding along on the desert on his horse, or camel, or something, and a voice said to him,
Why are you persecuting me? (He was out in the hot sun and, you know…) He flipped out. He went flying off his horse and fell on the ground.
What do you want of me?
Start my church!
Go to the next town and you’ll be instructed. That’s what he heard. And he went the whole trip, and that’s an astral trip. A very groovy astral trip.
And that’s what the Bible is: an astral story. A very groovy astral story… at one level.
I can feel the horror in somebody. He’s saying… he’s saying…
It’s a good astral story, but illusions are illusions.
It’s here. In the sound of the tamboura in sound…
In the Beginning was the Word
It’s a combination of things that make you ready to see the guru. There are many people who come to see Maharaj-ji and they just see a little old man with a blanket.
Can you imagine the horror? This happened to two people who had heard me and figured out where the guru must be through logical deduction, and went to India and went rushing to his feet, and found a little old man in a blanket who threw them out.
Imagine what that must feel like! Because you can see the difference in their minds and what it was they had a model of—the model was what they searched for. It was their own thought process which kept them from seeing.
Two things are required: One is: vairagya, the falling away of worldliness, the return of innocence.
That means you’re starting to have enough of all that. You see that everything you’re going to experience through your senses and everything you’re going to know through your thinking mind is not going to be enough. And worldly things begin to appear like dross instead of gold…
Just not totally. It begins to happen, it’s falling away. My teacher said: the veil falls away like the skin of a snake. The ego thins like clouds until only a transparent layer remains.
The other thing that’s required is pure seeking. The purity of the faith. There is as much faith in you, here in us at this moment, as anywhere in India.
Where there is faith there is the presence of the guru. He is it all. He is all your impurities, he is all your corruption. There he is, smiling at you through them, saying
and this too! He sees, he understands. Total compassion. Total compassion means you are the universe.
You are all form. You are the breath. You are the river. You are the void. You are the desire to be enlightened. You are enlightened.
That’s who he is. That’s who, what, a guru is. So any concept you can have of any relation to a guru obviously is a hype. How can you relate to something which is already you and everything you’ve ever related to, or could relate to… How are you going to talk about it? I met him. Who? What? I’m going to look for the guru. How absurd! You are it. It’s really just another cop-out to be searching for the guru.
He’s your fingernail. Just bite your fingernail and you’re eating him alive.
When you know how to listen, everybody is the guru. Speaking to you, it’s right here… always.
Here & Now
I keep doing this because I don’t think people thoroughly grok the fact that here is where it all is. After you finish the whole thing and you’ve vibrated your spine for years, and done your pranayam, and meditated for years and years, and sat in a cave, and ants have eaten your arms and legs, you are.
You’re right here again… and what blows your mind is you were here all the time, and it’s such a cosmic joke. It’s so funny. You’re struggling so to get here
At this moment, if you set the alarm to get up at 3:47 this morning and the alarm rings, and you get up and turn it off and say:
What time is it? you’d say,
Now. Here! Now where am I? Here!
Then go back to sleep. Get up at 9:00 tomorrow. Where am I??
Here! What time is it? Now! Try 4:32 three weeks from next Thursday. By God, it is—there’s no getting away from it—that’s the way it is. That’s the eternal present.
You finally figure out that it’s only the clock that’s going around… it’s doing its thing, but you—you’re sitting here right now, always.
Nobody is going anywhere. Nobody is coming from anywhere. We’re all here. We’re all here in eternal time and space.
We’re always going to be here. We’re just doing lila rasa. The divine dance we’re dancing, and dancing, and dancing. Dance after dance, in one body, in another body, and we’re all here. We’re all staying right here.
Nothing To Do
There is nowhere to go and there is nothing to do.
And we’re going to keep coming to know one another more and more free of being identified with any veil. We’re going to see more and more of other beings less identified with their veils.
As you find the light in you, you begin to see the light in everyone else. As you find God in yourself there is God everywhere. Such a simple obvious sequence of stuff to do. Somebody says
Oh, I try meditating and I can’t. And I just… I’m afraid I’m not ready and I’ve got to go… Great. Sure, man. Go, go ahead. Of course. What else is there to do? Going back into the world, it’s called. It’s a good step. Am I going backward or forward? I can’t do either of them. I can’t go backward and I can’t go forward, and I can’t stand still. All of it is irrelevant.
We’re all just caught in the delusion. All of us caught in the illusion. Being aware of it as illusion, and yet so much in it!
If you have ever watched a beautiful Zen monk, a very old monk who is really there, or here, really here, whichever… you watch him… he’s cooking food, he’s lifting stones, he’s moving. You watch him walk and it’s like nobody’s walking…
The legs are going and the whole thing is happening, but nothing is happening, no matter what is happening!
And that’s what blows your ind when we get out of the kinds of heads we’ve got going that don’t allow us to really understand how this can be.
Return to the Roots
You live out your karma. The best I can tell you about karma is: if you are pure spirit, you are not matter! …you are that eternal spirit…
Well: If each of us is that very old being… and not this young body, or this body that is going through this life… why don’t we remember?
Why don’t we remember it all? Why can’t we read the entire akashic record??
Because of our attachments to the physical plane of reality… Because of the power of our identification with our own body-senses and thoughts.
If you could go into a meditation room, close up your ears, sit down, center, go in, in, in, in, further in, oh much further in, oh you’ve just begun, keep going back in.
Don’t linger to smell the pretty sunflower. Don’t linger to hold on to the ecstasy of bliss. Keep going in behind the senses, behind your thoughts. And if you can go back in far enough, you will see everything you’ve identified with
him. You will see… your own personality, your own body, your own life drama… it’s very awesome.
The point is we have gone out, and out, and out, and we have sought, and sought, and found much, but it hasn’t been enough! And now, by merely turning the process inward, you go in, and in, and in, until you come to the place where Guru Rimpoche sits.
And what is this place? Hindus call it the Atman. And what is the Atman?
The Bhagavadam, one of the holy books of India, says:
The Atman or Divine Self is separate from the body. It is one without a second. Pure, self-luminous, without attributes, free, all-pervading. it is the eternal witness. Blessed is he who knows this Atman. For, though an embodied being, he shall be free from the changes and qualities pertaining to the body. He alone is ever united with me.
This is the place of pure being. That inner place where you dwell. You just be. There is nothing to be done in that place. From that place then, it all happens, it manifests in perfect harmony with the universe. Because you are the laws of the universe. You are the laws of the universe!
This is what man’s journey into consciousness is all about… This is Om (home). It’s going Om. This is the place! Becoming one with God returning. It’s the return to the roots that the Tao talks about. It is the stillness, the calmness, the fulfillment.
When you make love and experience the ecstasy of unity… that’s the place! When you experience a great achievement, and you feel a moment of exhilaration… that’s the place! When you see a moment of poetry in a flower, or in words, or in art, the way it’s supposed to be… this is the place! Right here!
It’s Buddha consciousness. It’s Christ consciousness. Jesus says:
I and my Father are one. When Buddha says:
You give up attachment and you finish with the illusion. This is the place!
Still, you do your thing. Live your life in the world. The water goes on down the stream, you chop the wood and carry the water, you do your thing, your mind does its thing, your senses their thing, but you are not attached. Because you sat in front of the candle flame until there was just you and the candle flame, and then finally you extricated yourself from the attachment to your own thoughts, to the tyranny of the
Even to the thoughts of I and candle flame. Not so that you would never think again. I mean, few people who know me don’t appreciate the fact that I think, and I have keen discrimination, and I have not lost my mind, and I am a sophisticated aware being. And yet, behind every word and behind it all, is a mantra going inside my head in which I am sitting calmly, watching this whole drama unfold.
My thinking mind is a perfect servant and a lousy master. I am watching he-who-speaks. I am watching they-who-listen. I am watching thinking. Thoughts are clouds. The entire process from this place inside is always calm.
A place in which the flame never flickers. And as I learn to live in this eternally calm place it gets deeper and deeper, and calmer and calmer, and wiser and wiser, and lighter and lighter, and I am more love, and I become more and more like the sun.
Just the process of calming, centering, centering, calming, extricating myself from the drama.
So long as one feels that he is the doer, he cannot escape from the wheel of births and deaths.
This doesn’t mean that I’m lying in bed doing nothing. That’s drama as much as this book is drama.
Drama is drama, is drama, is drama. Desire is drama. Breathing is drama. Thought is drama. Emotions are drama. All form is drama. It’s all part of the drama.
I have no scruple of change, nor fear of death. i was never born, nor had I parents…
What does that mean? What it means is: when you clear away all the underbrush, when you go back and back, not for the fun of it or for the powers involved, but to go back to be who you really are, who you are turns out to be spirit. Turns out not to be matter at all.
No matter. Never mind. No mind. Never matter.
Either way, it works.
Mind creates matter. The causal plane is the world of ideas that creates the universe. Right at the top of the causal plane is what we call the Godhead. It’s the first place into the universe of form. It’s the first world of form. It’s the place where the mind that is God manifested into the universe. His thought manifested into all the lower levels of the causal plane. All the astral planes, and the physical plane. And when you go back, back, back, you go to that place where you become one with the Godhead. You are God. You are the idea that lies behind the universe. You are literally it. You’re not making believe. You’re it. You are it.
And the funny thing is you’re still not finished. And as far as the Buddhist is concerned, you haven’t even begun the trip. You’re still hung up on form.
Because he says,
Baby, it’s all illusion, no matter how groovy it gets. The physical plane is obviously an illusion. All a dream. You go to bed at night and dream.
You notice about your dreams they’re very real. And yet they don’t have any substance on the physical plane. That’s the astral plane. You’re dreaming on the astral plane.
At the point of pure ideas, sometimes very high physicists or poets touch pure idea. Sometimes music, art, a vase, a hieroglyph or something gets so essence-y, you feel you are touching God.
By being in connection with that piece of art, because it’s pure idea. It’s the idea of vase-ness. It’s causal plane. The mind at the causal plane created that vase. That place of pure idea.
It’s the place where Yin and Yang manifest. It’s the place where duality exists, the first place into form from the immanent duality in the unmanifest. From the formless you come into that place where there is energy becoming form.
In order to become a fully realized being, you must delight in the exquisiteness at every single level. You must take joy in your maleness or femaleness at the same moment that you realize that you are both male and female. It’s that far out!
But then you go through the final door, and you go from form into the formless. Into the void. Into the beyond the beyond. When you have crossed the ocean of Samskara, the ocean of illusion, the ocean of attachment, call it what you will. It’s the same ocean when you have crossed through all form. You enter the state of formlessness. It is eternally quiet. It is eternally quiet. It never was.
Push far enough into the void. Hold fast enough to quietness. And of the ten thousand things non but can be worked on by you. I have beheld them wither they go back. See all things howsoever they flourish. Return to the roots from which they grew. This return to the roots is called quietness. Quietness is called submission to fate. What has submitted to fate becomes part of the always so. To know the always so is to be illumined. Not to know it means to go blindly to disaster.
So says Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching.
To go you’ve got to go the whole trip, all the way to the back. Before you get to the place where you see that, behind all this, there is all this in its Om, in its unmanifest form. Always, eternally. You perceive that nothing is really happening at all. Nothing ever happens. Nothing is going to happen. There nothing you’ve got to do. There’s no doer to do it anyway.
And then: you’re in the void. Then the Buddha nature sees there are many beings whose veils are very thin, and you can come back and teach them through your being: that’s the Bodhisattva role. Because you finally understand that: though it is all illusion… it never was and never will be… at every level at which you exist you’re part of everybody else. Because: it’s all one being.
Really! That’s the Bodhisattva problem. So: what happens is: you go all the way out, and then you come back to here.
He who clings to the void and neglects compassion does not reach the highest stage. But he who practices only compassion does not gain release from the toils of existence. He, however, who is strong in the practice of both remains neither in Samsara nor in Nirvana. He neither remains in the void nor in the world.
The final place that the game leads to is: where you live consciously in all of it, which is in nothing. You are eternal. You have finished perishing. There is no fear of death because there is no death. It’s just a transformation, an illusion.
And yet, seeing all that, you still chop wood and carry water. You still do your thing. You flow in harmony with the universe.
You are beyond morality, and yet your actions are totally moral. Because that’s the harmony of the universe. You see that to do anything with attachment… with desire… with anger… greed… lust… fear… is only creating more karma, which is keeping you in the game… on the wheel of birth and death.
Once you see through that… desires can’t help but fall away.
But at first when you see—you want to run down the streets shouting—spreading the good news—run down the aisles of churches yelling: Listen to those words you’re singing!! It’s really here! They’re all true! You’re singing about it all
just like the book says!
Don’t be psychotic: watch it. Watch it.
That psychosis business is an interesting business. If you go through the doorway too fast and you’re not ready for it, you’re bound hand and foot and thrown into outer darkness.
You may land anywhere and lots of people end up in mental hospitals. The reason they do is: they went through the door with their ego on and: Wow! I’ve been invited to the wedding feast. I mean, dig me! Sam Jones! They don’t understand that you’ve got to die to be born.
That only when you have been born again do you enter the kingdom of heaven. So, they’ve gone in on the first round, and what happens is they go on a huge ego trip. And it’s called: the messianic complex. It’s called: paranoia, delusions of grandeur.
Sam Jones in heaven! Sam Jones standing on the right side of the Lord. There’s the Lord, and there’s Gabriel, and there’s Sam Jones.
I have a relative who is in a mental hospital. He thinks he is Christ. Well, that’s groovy. I am Christ also. But he doesn’t think I am Christ. He thinks he is Christ. Because it happened to him and he took his ego with him. So he says:
I’m special. And when I say to him:
Sure, man, you’re Christ and I’m Christ, too. He says:
You don’t understand. And when he’s out he steals cars and things like that, because he needs them, because he’s Christ and that’s all right. So they lock him up. He says:
I don’t know… Me… I’m a responsible member of society. I go to church. Me, they put in a mental hospital. You’re free. You’ve got a beard. You wear a dress. You.
Sure. Because as far as I’m concerned, we are all God. That’s the difference. If you really think another guy is God, he doesn’t lock you up.
Funny about that.
You’ve got to be really pure. You can’t just make believe you’re pure.
Anything less than total purity, back into outer darkness. That’s what you learn after a couple of hundred psychedelic trips. I might as well go straight because I’m beginning to feel like a yo-yo. I keep going up and coming down, up, down, down, up, down.
But when the king came in to behold the guests he saw there was a man who had not on a wedding garment. And he said unto him,
Friend, how camest thou thither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants,
Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for many are called but few are chosen.
As long as there is an up-down in your head: outer darkness. As long as you’re in the world of Yin Yang: outer darkness.
It takes a lot of purification. Purification of what? Purification of thought. Purification of body. Freedom from attachment.
And after a long time of going up and down without understanding why I was going up and down, or how to stop it, slowly… slowly… it dawned on me. Now why did I keep trying?
The answer is very simple and almost all of you know the answer already. The answer is: once the seed has been planted, once you have been born again, you don’t have any choice!
The Next Message
…is where you are when you hear the next message. Whenever you’re ready you’ll hear the next message. The interesting thing is there’s always a next message, and it’s always available to you. Now! That’s a hard one! The handwriting is always on the wall saying:
Magic Theatre. For madmen only. Price of admission: your mind.
Always there. Question is: can you see it?
Funny thing about all the secrets of the East or the secrets of mysticism… they’re not secret!
Don’t tell him. They’re telling you. They’re yelling it. They’re saying:
Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.
That’s a secret?
Think of how many times you’ve heard that and you say:
Yeah, that’s really interesting. That’s great. That’s the minister talking. He’s doing this thing. He’s got a living to earn. He’s a good guy.
The secret is a secret to you because of where your head is at. Your receiving mechanism isn’t tuned for that particular frequency.
In my case I kept reading the books but I didn’t understand them. They were yelling the secrets but I couldn’t hear them because I was looking at them from the wrong! Place! That was my problem, and I couldn’t get my head into the right place. I still wanted to know I knew. See? I was still Western rational man. So I went and I looked, and looked, and looked, and as long as I looked like a rational man looking, I didn’t find anything. I just found my own shadow all the time. That’s all you ever find: yourself. You only read to yourself. You only talk to yourself. You only ever know yourself. That’s all there is! Strangely enough!
I saw that my whole game didn’t work. It gave me all the rewards that seemed to be offered but it didn’t work. There was a place in me that knew it wasn’t working. I knew there was something else, but I couldn’t get to it. At that point I gave up. And then I was ready for the next message.
When I went through the doorway I thought: Wow! It isn’t like I thought at all. I mean: if I am going to spend my life manipulating this puny ego through a set of power games and sensual gratifications, what’s the payoff? The ind is that it’s going to end anyway because it’s all in time.
And suddenly I dig who I am at that moment when I’m stoned! High! I am out of time! I am out of space! But Boy! Does it feel valid! Does it feel real! It feels like the first real thing that’s ever happened to me! Everything else had a certain hustle-like quality to it. Except my suffering.
Am I he? I was really into my suffering. You can really get into your suffering. Self-pity… that’s real! Everything else may go, but boy! You’ve got to suffer! It’s the same for all of us. We’re just coming out of the dark night of the protestant ethic: Suffer, Baby!
That’s the only way you’ll be good. It feels so good to hurt so bad!
We’ve all been on that trip. Suffering is great. It’s like straightening-by-fire. It’s purifying, it’s very good. A funny thing… want another paradox?
This trip requires total suffering. But: It’s got to be suffering that is no suffering.
You’ve got to go the whole suffering trip, but: you can’t be the guy who is suffering.
Do you think that when Christ is lying there and they’re nailing the nails in he’s saying,
Oh man, does that hurt!? He’s probably looking at the guy who’s nailing him with absolute compassion. He digs the way the cat’s doing it. What he’s stuck in. How much dust covers his eyes. Why he’s got to be doing it. That’s the way it is. He said the night before:
Well, tomorrow is the big trip. Yeah—right—these are the nails. Wow! Look at that!
Am I he who is being pained?
No! That’s the thing. Once you know that, then: pleasure & pain, loss & gain, fame & shame are all the same.
They’re all just happening.
You’re Standing On A Bridge Watching Yourself Go By
Wow! Look at that!