by Ram Dass: You have been given a great luxury in this society…
You don’t have a fixed identity that you’re locked into, because of caste or because of economics or because of anything. You’re free to ask the question, “What do I want to do?” At first, what people do is they say, “Oh, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna…” and then after a while, you realize that perhaps what the game is about is listening and tuning into who you are on a deeper level, and what this birth is about, and your work of life.
Most people in most societies in the history of the world have never had that option to ask, “What do I want to do?” They’ve gone through their life with the feeling of, “If only I didn’t have this, I could be free.” Then you are free, and now it has to come from a different place in you…how to find the way in your life and you go through the period of, “What do I want? What do I desire?” and then you begin to see the kind of hollowness of it. It doesn’t quite resonate deeply enough in your being.
A lot of very wealthy people in this society, that’s where they live; desperately wanting to have something that will justify their existence.
I remember in college my roommate was an orphan who had been raised by his uncle. He was in quite poor circumstance, and I came from a family that was doing quite well. I remember he had a girlfriend he was planning to marry and become a doctor. His path was all clear and there was economic need that pushed him. I remember having moments where I felt jealous, because I was free to choose, but I didn’t know what to choose.
The next level of it all is the recognition and understanding that your participation in the world is always a function of your own level of consciousness, and compassion, and heart. You understand that until you are totally a free being, you better work on yourself. You understand that the curriculum for your life has a central piece of working on yourself out of compassion for all beings.
From that point of view, what you do isn’t important, because whatever you do, you will use. The way we are talking about it all becomes your karma right? So then that kind of releases you from the, “I’ve got to do the thing right.”
I mean, we’ve gone in our society for example, from a time when you picked a career that you’re in for life, to people changing roles maybe three or four times in the course of their life. Employers, whole situations, life circumstances, it all changes around and it’s getting much more flexible. That is very exciting, because people can once again have stages and grow into things and grow out of them.
The way I’ve experienced it is that I can’t have a rule book about what I should do. It’s more scary than that. I have to listen in from moment to moment to hear what feels harmonious with the way of things. The way of things includes opportunities, skills, situations, the nature of suffering in the world, everything. I mean my joy, my capacity to do all of this… I might start doing something and then after a while see that I’m doing it from a place that’s very caught, and I’ve got to do something else for a while. I think you really have the opportunity to keep listening and tuning, realizing you have certain skills still to learn.
So I guess what I’m saying is you stay very flexible and you see that when you’re really listening, it isn’t a question of easy or hard, or immediate or long term. It’s how a person is released from the cultural trap of seeing things in a certain way.