That was the first message I got from the first fortune cookie I opened when I returned from India. That seems like a fitting contract for these writings, and perhaps the full implications of that contract will become clear as we continue.
What I’d like to do is to present a model to you, and the specific model is my own life experience. That’s really all I have to offer to you – of my own experiences. I would like to clarify the reason for doing this. It is not my expectation, or my hope, that any of you necessarily would undergo the particular journey that I am pursuing. I am not proselytizing for Ashtanga yoga.
But we in the West are faced with a very interesting predicament through a variety of circumstances, some of which are built into the culture like changes in communication media and so on. Some of them are the result of the chemicals that have appeared and been widely used – psychedelics.
Some of them are personal experiences people have had which previously they kept hidden but now they begin to redefine or they’ve hidden them under labels that society provided them which made them seem like psychosis or insanity or something, and they now reconsider them. As a result of all these circumstances, many people in the West, including me, and I assume you and that must be what’s bringing you here; appreciate the possibility of states of consciousness other than our normal waking state of consciousness.
Or maybe you are here just because you look at the world in which you’re living and you say, ‘Well, we obviously can’t handle it with what we’ve got going, so I’ll at least look for something else,’ even though you may not have the faith in the possibility that there is something else, but you’re gonna look anyway.
So we’re presented with a possibility and it filters through to us from one source or another that there is a very ancient tradition of people who have realized other states of consciousness and have sent messages and made maps. But the problem that we have as Westerners is that we can’t understand the maps. The maps are there, the secrets are not secrets in the sense of, ‘I’m not gonna tell you’, they’re secrets in the sense that we cant hear.
Jung writes in a book by Wilhelm called the Secret of the Golden Flower, its a eulogy. He commends Wilhelm for having the courage as a Westerner to give up his predispositions of thought to be able to get into that position from which he could appreciate the Eastern writings from an inside point of view. In other words, give up his identity as a Westerner.
The term that you may be familiar with is what’s called surrender.
And so what we can do for one another as Westerners is collect the data that are available to each of us as we open ourselves to them. We are all on a journey.
We are just as Hermann Hesse talks about the fellow travelers on our journey to the East. ‘East’ not being literal necessarily but metaphorical.
And what we can do is we can help each other along.
We can be the satsang, the sangha, the spiritual community, the support for one another.
Giving each other the confidence to keep pursuing this possibility.
And we give each other our own lives to help and that’s what I would like to do.
I’d like to present as I say, ‘the model’, because maybe there’ll be some clues that will be of some use to you in your own sadhana, in your own spiritual journey.
But in doing this I am going to work on myself as I’m always doing; doing my mantra, japa, and therefore I’m really not speaking – because the place where I am and I hope you are is the same place where we are together witnessing one of us speaking and the rest of us listening.
But let’s not get trapped in our social roles. It’s a good exercise.
– Ram Dass, 1968
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