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When I start thinking, “I’m Ram Dass, and I’ve worked on myself, and I’m supposed to be equanimous, loving, present, clear, compassionate, accepting,” oftentimes I get tired, I get angry and petulant, and I close down. For a long time I’d get into those states and I would feel really embarrassed, because that isn’t who Ram Dass is supposed to be. So I would appear like I was warm, charming, equanimous, compassionate, and there was deviousness and deception involved. Then I realized that’s bad business, because that cuts us off from one another… and I had to risk my truth. I had to risk being human with other people, and realize that what we offer each other is our truth, and our truth includes all of our stuff.
The first thing I had to do was accept my own truth. I had to allow myself to be a human being.
Now, what I found was that as I started to allow myself to be more human, just allowed what I am, things changed much faster in me. I mean, things fell away more quickly. It was as if I was locked into a model which was based on that negativity, that dislike of myself; and once I just allowed myself to be human, with all the foibles, things started to flow, and I could feel change occurring in myself.
Then, I started to experience my own beauty and it frightened me, because it was so dissonant and discrepant from the model that I had cultivated of myself over the years. Dissonance between the idea that I had to do good in order to be beautiful and that idea that I just am… and that what is, is in its own way beautiful.
You look at decay, and it is beautiful. Laura Huxley, who is a very dear friend, in her kitchen has these jars over the sink, and she takes old beet greens and orange peels and things, and sticks them in water on these long, beautiful pharmaceutical jars. Then they slowly start to mold and decay, and there are these beautiful decaying formation of mold. It’s really garbage… it’s garbage as art. We look at it and it’s absolutely beautiful. There’s absolute beauty in that.
I’ve begun to expand my awareness to be able to look at the universe as it is, and see what is called the horrible beauty of it. I mean, there’s horror and beauty in all of it, because there is also decay and death in all of it. I mean, we’re all decaying – I look at my hand and it’s decaying. It’s beautiful and horrible at the same time; and I just live with that. And also with it, I see and live with the beauty of it.
So we’re talking about appreciating what is. Not loving yourself, as opposed to not liking yourself, but allowing yourself. As you allow, it changes. I think that gets behind the polarities. I think that’s what’s important.
– Ram Dass