The Game Is To Be Where You Are

Ram Dass

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When I was born I donned a spacesuit for living on this plane, it was this body, my spacesuit, and it had a steering mechanism which is my pre-frontal lobe and all the brain that helps with coordinating and stuff. Just like those others who go to the moon and learn to use their spacesuit ... how to grab things and lift things so I learned how to do that. And then you get rewarded with little stars, kisses and all kinds of things when you learn how to use your spacesuit. You get so good at it that you can't differentiate yourself from your spacesuit.

You walk down the street and you’re somebody; you dress like somebody; your face looks like somebody. Everybody is reinforcing their structure of the universe over and over again and you meet [each other] like two huge things meeting. We enter into these conspiracies. You say, I’ll make believe you are who you think you are if you make believe I am who I think I am.

Your entire life is a curriculum. Everything you've got on your plate is where the stuff for your enlightenment is. It’s breathtaking when you see the beauty of this design. When you take off your mask, it’s easier for everyone else to do it.

In our culture we’ve been trained to make individual differences to stand out. You look at each person and think, ‘Brighter, dumber, older, younger, richer, poorer’ and we make all these dimensional distinctions, put them in categories and treat people that way. And we only see others as separate from ourselves. One of the dramatic characteristics of the spiritual experience is being with another person and suddenly seeing the ways in which they are like you -- not different from you.

How do we know who we are? We might be one breath away from enlightenment or death or who knows? The uncertainty is great. It keeps it wide open.

When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You are too this, or I’m too this.’ That judgment mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.

The game is to be where you are. Be it honestly and as consciously as you know how. Your entire life is a curriculum. Everything you've got on your plate is where the stuff for your enlightenment is. It’s breathtaking when you see the beauty of this design.

Ram Dass was originally a prominent Harvard psychologist, whose life change when he encountered a mystic in the Himalayas, Neem Karoli Baba. He was the author of many books, and recently passed away. Excerpts above from the movie "Becoming Nobody".

Seed questions for reflection: What do you make of the notion that the game is to be where you are? Can you share a personal experience of a time you were able to appreciate someone exactly the way they were? What helps you appreciate people like you would appreciate trees?

Add Your Reflection:

14 Previous Reflections:

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    On Oct 28, 2020 Katy wrote:
    OH! Thank You, Thank You, THANK YOU!!! Just brilliant!!! 🤗❤️🙏🏼

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    On Oct 27, 2020 Claudia wrote:
    What a powerful message.. making people like trees so we can rid ourselves of the judgment mind. I respect how the "judgement mind" is a thing, it gives us control over when we choose to use it or not use it.. gives us a choice. It is up to us to make the choice.

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    On Oct 27, 2020 Deven Pravin Shah wrote:
    The ripple touches me from this reflection. I can get so wrapped up in my pre-conceived notions and impressions from experience with a person. I forget we all are connected as part of one universal consciousness. Going out in nature naturally guides me to be in the moment, soaking in the ambiance around me. This reflection nudged me to be that way here, and now, in the middle of work and routine, I might have to go on. A couple of other thoughts came up to me while thinking about it. One, let the present moment be, as it is. Allow it, accept it without expectation of framing it to be something else from my past or future. Two, this moment, right now, is new. It is fresh. See it with a beginner’s mindset to embrace possibilities it can bring. Let the magic unfold without judging it. I learned about this from mindfulness related readings and teachings. I see synergies with those to be where I am. Smiles and gratitude for this insightful reflection and reading, Deven... [View Full Comment] The ripple touches me from this reflection.

    I can get so wrapped up in my pre-conceived notions and impressions from experience with a person. I forget we all are connected as part of one universal consciousness. Going out in nature naturally guides me to be in the moment, soaking in the ambiance around me. This reflection nudged me to be that way here, and now, in the middle of work and routine, I might have to go on.

    A couple of other thoughts came up to me while thinking about it.

    One, let the present moment be, as it is. Allow it, accept it without expectation of framing it to be something else from my past or future.

    Two, this moment, right now, is new. It is fresh. See it with a beginner’s mindset to embrace possibilities it can bring. Let the magic unfold without judging it.

    I learned about this from mindfulness related readings and teachings. I see synergies with those to be where I am.

    Smiles and gratitude for this insightful reflection and reading,

    Deven[Hide Full Comment]

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    On Oct 27, 2020 Usha Amin wrote:
    I resonate with the words - "we might bejust one breath away from enlightenment ordeath or who knows."
    Truly it's the mystery of being in the NOW as Ram Dassbeautifully mentions in this context " the game is where you are ".
    Realize it is the most difficult thing to do especially during this pandemic, as the mind gets pulled in different directions of the happenings around. That said, it is also the best time to practice being in the "NOW" and accepting " All that IS". The authenticity is to play the game being fully present to oneself.

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    On Oct 27, 2020 Louise wrote:
    I really really enjoyed reading the article and your comments very thought-provoking and I really do aspire to acceptance of where a person ( and self) Is at
    My mind however turns to the question how do we appreciate someone where they are at if that place is hurtful or dangerous to somebody else ?
    Yes we don't have to accept their behaviour and can state that however how in our hearts can we accept the person that has caused so much damage ?
    Your thoughts and reflections are welcome

    1 reply: David | Post Your Reply
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    On Oct 27, 2020 Marc wrote:
    Ram dass always makes me smile. Make people like trees. So simple life can be : )

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    On Oct 27, 2020 heide toner wrote:
    what causes me even more sadness is the behemoth corporations that have convinced all of us that the" prescribed being" that they dictate to us is the real way to live. So now we are all sheep or chickens following or flocking to protect ourselves hoping that we're not chosen to be the next meal for these predators there is no better way to control the nation then Create the illusion of separateness and then when the sickness comes swoop in and medicate us for every normal human reaction to this mass manipulation of our "space suits and perceptions " They don't have to "kill the trees".. we are doing it for them in the misguided belief That it will save us individually from the masses Who aren't even the enemyanyway😥

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    On Oct 26, 2020 rahul wrote:
    The metaphor of the body as the space suit we don for this human experience is soothing one, especially if you follow the data around how we are undermining the capacity the planet to support human society as we've known it. Learning to see our fellow humans like trees-- basically all the same with more in common than not-- is the first small step for man even as its a giant leap for humanity. The next small step is to see all of life as having more in common with us than the rest of the vast universe, which appears mostly inert and lifeless from our present definition of life. Until we can see nature as ourselves and ourselves in nature, the natural world is condemned to be both a source of raw material for our egoic machinations and the dumping ground for the waste of our collective shadow. Anyone without the vigor to seriously get right with Nature and bow their head in reverance had best be prepared to make themselves at ease with losing the privilege to don a human space suit ... [View Full Comment] The metaphor of the body as the space suit we don for this human experience is soothing one, especially if you follow the data around how we are undermining the capacity the planet to support human society as we've known it. Learning to see our fellow humans like trees-- basically all the same with more in common than not-- is the first small step for man even as its a giant leap for humanity. The next small step is to see all of life as having more in common with us than the rest of the vast universe, which appears mostly inert and lifeless from our present definition of life. Until we can see nature as ourselves and ourselves in nature, the natural world is condemned to be both a source of raw material for our egoic machinations and the dumping ground for the waste of our collective shadow. Anyone without the vigor to seriously get right with Nature and bow their head in reverance had best be prepared to make themselves at ease with losing the privilege to don a human space suit for themselves and their descendants. May we learn the lesson of living a human existence with humility and reverence for that which animates our life![Hide Full Comment]

    2 replies: Gayatri, Galia | Post Your Reply
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    On Oct 23, 2020 David Doane wrote:
    It makes total sense to me to be where you are, which is an important issue, not a game as Ram Dass calls it. The alternative, to be where you are not, makes no sense to me. I've never known anyone totally, including myself, and I believe we never know anyone totally, but I have had times of appreciating the person I see and know. What helps me appreciate people like I would appreciate trees is awareness that we are all part of one whole, the other is me, and when seeing the other I am seeing me, knowing that we are different but not separate and separation is only an appearance, and that I and the other are just alike. I live all that awareness only sometimes and to a small or large degree. It helps me to remind myself to be compassionate, not judgmental. It helps me to remind myself that I am not better or worse than the other. It helps me that I experience a joy when I appreciate the other as he or she is.

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    On Oct 23, 2020 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    Reading Ram Dass'spassage The Game Is To Be Where You Are reminds me a beautiful poemCome As You Are written by Rabindranath Tagore. When we love someone, we don't love the outer form of the beloved. We love the inner being of the person which is just like us. Ram Dass uses the metaphorof taking the mask off to see the beauty of the original face without any makeups. I love the Zen Koan: Find your original face before you were born. The Indian poet Mira sings: Remove the veil and you will meet your beloved. This is the way I relate to the notion thatthe game is to be where we are. I have had several experiences of being loved as I am. My mother did not have any conditions for loving me as I was. She planted and nurtured the seeds of unconditional love as I was growing up. She was a role model for me. I was blessed to have her in my life. I learned from her how to love and relate to people in my life as they are. As years passed I have been able to cultivate spiritual maturity i... [View Full Comment] Reading Ram Dass'spassage The Game Is To Be Where You Are reminds me a beautiful poemCome As You Are written by Rabindranath Tagore. When we love someone, we don't love the outer form of the beloved. We love the inner being of the person which is just like us. Ram Dass uses the metaphorof taking the mask off to see the beauty of the original face without any makeups. I love the Zen Koan: Find your original face before you were born. The Indian poet Mira sings: Remove the veil and you will meet your beloved. This is the way I relate to the notion thatthe game is to be where we are.
    I have had several experiences of being loved as I am. My mother did not have any conditions for loving me as I was. She planted and nurtured the seeds of unconditional love as I was growing up. She was a role model for me. I was blessed to have her in my life. I learned from her how to love and relate to people in my life as they are. As years passed I have been able to cultivate spiritual maturity in me. To me life is a spiritualjourney or as Ram Dasssays it
    is a spiritual game.
    Trees look different when we look at them with outward eyes. When we look at the same trees with clear inward eyes we see the treeness, the oneness, the essence, among all trees. I follow three steps for cultivating spiritual maturity:
    listening to the people who are on the path of spiritual maturity, reflecting on theirteachings, and applying them in my daily living. This is called sadhana, spiritual discipline.
    Namste!
    Jagdish P Dave'













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    1 reply: Neelam.mandhani | Post Your Reply

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