“If you think you are free, you can’t escape…”


You realize as you start to come into awareness that you are experiencing other things as if you are them, rather than in a dualistic way, as if you are separate from them. Prior to experiencing that plane of existence, when you’re still seeing it as separate, you experience things like sympathy, kindness, pity, caring, however these are all dualistic concepts, and the term compassion is something else all together.

The term compassion manifests when you come to the plane where you see everything is all part of one thing. You start to ask, “Well whose suffering is it anyway? Whose helping is it anyway?” And the whole idea that, “I’ll help you,” is seen as nonsense. It’s like the left hand is caught, and the right hand pulls it out and the left hand turns to the right and says, “Thank you!” It doesn’t work that way, because they’re both part of the same body. Who are you thanking? You’re thanking yourself, so that on that plane, you realize it’s not ‘her’ suffering, or ‘his’ suffering, or ‘their’ suffering. It’s one level, you go up, and it’s ‘OUR’ suffering.

Then as it gets depersonalized, it’s just ‘the’ suffering, and out of the identity with the suffering comes the compassion.

Awareness arises in relationship to the suffering; it’s part and parcel of the whole package. There’s nothing personal in this at all, and in that sense, you have become compassion instead of “doing compassionate acts,” instead of being somebody that “does compassionate acts.”

There is no longer being compassionate, you are compassion.

It’s a very tricky place we’re talking about. I mean, what I’m experiencing in my life as I slip in and out of these planes in helter-skelter fashion, I will admit, is taking my awareness into a place where stuff is happening around me all the time. I’m not doing anything. I hear the Tao statement, “One does nothing, and yet nothing is left undone.” One does nothing, and nothing is left undone.

What I want to say to you is to remember that the game is about becoming free of suffering, and if you’re going to free another from suffering, and this is what has haunted me, and spurred me, is that you yourself cannot be caught in it, or you end up getting them caught like you’re caught.

Like if you’re trying to help somebody see through the way in which the cultural mythology has had us in a conspiracy of agreement to define reality a certain way, you’ve got to be free of that in order to be able to know you’re in it.

Gurdjieff, the Russian philosopher said, “If you’re going to escape from prison, the first thing you must appreciate is that you are in one.”

If you think you are free, you can’t escape – do you hear that predicament? It’s a bizarre one.


-Ram Dass

Mindfulness and Money
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