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".