People ask me now, “Are you happy these days?” and I say, “Yes, I am. I’m very happy,” and they say, “Oh, that’s good.” Somebody else says, “Are you sad these days?” and I say, “Yeah, I’m sad.” That was a very big one to find out, cause I grew up in a world where in order to be happy, you had to make believe you weren’t sad.
It was a great relief to understand that all the emotions are present in every moment, and somehow they’re present in their unmanifest or imminent form; and then within a moment is something that awakens grief or pain or joy, or preciousness, or humor… you’re just dancing through all the forms of life, and what I saw was that as long as I had aversions, I couldn’t be free, and until I could be free, I couldn’t see anybody else.
…Because when you look around, and you see somebody suffering, you feel it in your heart, and you would like to do something to relieve their suffering. You begin to see that not only is it what you do, but ‘who does it’ and ‘how you do it’ matters when you look at whether you exacerbate their suffering or end it.
I walk into a room with somebody with an incredible illness, and I can feel so badly for that person that I can never escape from that, and all they get from the mirror of my mind is an image of themselves as somebody to feel bad for.
I walk into a room with somebody with advanced AIDS symptoms. There’s social ostracism, economic hardship, loss of dreams, youth, everything, and the heart breaks, and the empathy goes out to this fellow human being, and as I sit there, I start in doing my inner practices, turning channels, until I am resting as a soul who has taken birth. I am somebody who is here to visit somebody who’s sick and to be with them, and I am a soul doing that, and I am seeing another soul who is busy having AIDS, and suddenly my consciousness is available to that person on both levels.
There was a woman I went to visit, a lovely Quaker lady, who was dying of Cancer, and she was very close to death. I had never met her before, and I came in, and she took the oxygen away from her mouth, and she said, “Sit down here. Ram Dass, I want you to help me die. I’m so bored.” So I thought about that. You know, that’s quite an opening gate. I thought about that and I said, “You know, I’d be bored too, if I were busy dying all the time. Couldn’t you die like ten minutes an hour?” See, the thing is when you’re dying, everybody is all, ‘Oh, you’re dying, let me help you, I’m here, let’s do it together.’
We held hands, and I said, “Do you hear the children outside?… Feel the counter under your fingertips… listen to the clock on the mantle… feel the breeze on our cheeks?” We just slowly, slowly just went into the moment. That was enough for both of us, and she said, “Thanks,” and I left, and she died.