Ram Dass Lecture at the Menninger Fondation – May 5, 1970


This paper (Part 1) is a transcription of a taped lecture given May 5, 1970 under the sponsorship of the Menninger Foundation, Topeka, Kansas. The text has been edited in such a way as to preserve its spoken content and flavor. Baba Ram Dass is the name given to Dr. Richard Alpert by a teacher of yoga in India. Dr. Alpert was formerly a proiessor of psychology at Harvard. Part II is scheduled to appear in a forthcoming issue-Editor



Baba Ram Dass: I thought I would begin this evening with a brief statement of the subject matter, and I thought rather than my saying it, I would say it through a few other eyes. First we’ll start with Dante in the Divine Comedy;

Dante: I have been in that heaven, the most illumined by light from him and seen things which to utter, he who returns hath neither skill nor knowledge, for as it nears the object of its yearning our intellect is overwhelmed so deeply it can never retrace the path that it followed. But whatsoever of the holy kingdom was in the power of memory to treasure, it will be my theme until the songis ended.

Walt Whitman: Swiftly arose and spread around me the place, the peace and joy and knowledge that passes all the art and argument of the earth, and I know that the hand of God is the elder hand of my own, and I know that the Spirit is the eldest brother of my own, and that all men ever born are also my brothers and the women my sisters and lovers, and that a kelson of creation is love.

Robert Browning: Truth lies within ourselves; it takes no rise from outward things, whate’er you may believe. There is an inmost center in us all, where truth abides in fullness and to know rather consists in opening out a way whence the imprisoned splendor may escape than in effecting entry for light supposed to be without.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: A man is the facade of a temple wherein all wisdom and all good abide. What we commonly call man, the eating, drinking, counting, planting man, does not as we know him represent himself, but misrepresents himself.

Last evening, here in Topeka, as one of the journeyers on a path, a very, very old path, the path of consciousness, I, in a sense, met with the Explorers Club to tell about the geography I had been mapping. The people who gather to hear somebody called Baba Ram Dass, formerly Richard Alpert, have somewhere, at some level, in some remote corner, some involvement in this journey. All that I can see that we can do with one another is share notes of our exploration. I can say, “Watch out, because around that bend the road falls off sharply to the left . . . stay far over on the right when you do that.”

The motivation for doing this is most interesting – it’s only to work on myself. It’s very easy to break attachments to worldly games when you’re sitting in a cave in the Himalayas. It’s quite a different take you do of sex, power, money, fame, and sensual gratification in the middle of New York City in the United States with television and loving people around and great cooks and advertising and total support for all of the attachments. But there is the story of a monk who got very holy up on the mountain until he had some thousands of followers. After many years he went down into a city and he was in the town and somebody jostled him. He turned around angrily and that anger was a mark of how little work he had really done on himself. For all the work he had done he still hadn’t clipped the seed of anger; be still got uptight when somebody pushed him around. So that what I see as my own sadhana (my work on my own consciousness – it could also be called my spiritual journey) is that it is very much cyclic. There are periods of going out and there are periods of turning back in, periods of going out and periods of going back in. Just as living here in the market place is forcing things into the forefront, so sitting in a room by myself for 30 or 40 days in a mountain is forcing other things to be confronted. Each hides from the other, each environment hides from the other sets of stimulus conditions.

For example, in the commune we’ve been designing up in the mountains of New Mexico, where I fan an ashram for awhile this winter, the design has four components to it which are roughly related to the solstices. For one period, a person would be in the hermitage on the top of the hill where he would be going deep-diving deep within. He would be totally alone in solitude in a hermitage. The food is left outside the door. In the one I ran this winter, the people would go in for up to 19 days. The first time they went in I let them take books and pictures and weaving and all of their things (their pet kind of cream cheese or whatever it was they needed). For the second round we changed the game a little and all they took in was their sleeping bag. They walked into a room, closed the door, and for the next 10 days, fire and wood and food were left outside and there was a jug of water. They were all protected, all taken care of. There were no phones to answer, no mail. We were protecting them and giving them that chance to get free of all the stimuli that keep capturing consciousness all the time so that one keeps saying, “If it weren’t for …. “ Well, we did that. We created that place.

A second part of the four-point cycle is that a person lives in a commune, an ashramite lives in the commune that is, he takes care of the gardens, the babies, the goats, cooks the food, chops the wood, does Karma Yoga. That is, Karma Yoga among what’s called satsang or sangha, that is, a community of other beings who consciously know they are working on their own consciousness. In Buddhism there is a traditional thing you do which is to take the three refuges. There is a chant, which means, first, “I take refuge in the Buddha,” I take refuge in the fact that a being can become enlightened, that is, a being can get free of any particular state of consciousness (attachment) . Second, “I take refuge in the Dharma,” I take refuge in the law, in the organization of the universe, the laws of the universe, you can also call it karma. And third, “I take refuge in the Sangha,” in the community of other people, of monks on the path, the community of other people who are seeking. Thus, when you define yourself as a seeker after sensual gratification then you surround yourself with other people who are seekers after sensual gratification. When you define yourself as an intellectual you often surround yourself with intellectuals. When you define yourself as a seeker after consciousness, you start to surround yourself with other seekers after consciousness, because in that phase being around such people really gives you a kind of environmental support.

It’s like…take the matter of consecrating life actions . . . what I mean by the word consecration is bringing into consciousness the nature of the act in a cosmic plan. For example, in the old days people would say grace. Grace was a thing you waited for before you ate the turkey. Norman Rockwell characterizes the kid reaching while everybody’s head’s bowed. It’s that time, “Let’s say grace.” “Grace.”

Now, when I bless food, the statement I say, when I say grace, is an old Sanskrit one. It means “This offering of this … this little ritual I’m performing, this is part of it all, part of Brahma, part of that which is eternally all. He who is making the offering means, that which is being offered is part of it all. The hunger to which you are feeding . . . the fire which you are feeding, that’s all part of it all. Whoever you are offering it to is part of it all, too. He who realizes that all of it is interrelated, all of it is one, becomes one with it

There is a very lovely short story by J. D. Salinger called Teddy, in which Teddy is a very … he’s like an old lama who’s taken a reincarnation in a kind of middle class western family by some quirk of cosmic design. He is about 10 years old and on a ship with his sister and his mother and father. He’s out on deck and he’s meeting this man who has begun to see that this little boy isn’t quite like a little boy, and he says to him, “When did you first realize that you . . . how it was?” And Teddy says, “Well, I was 6 years old. I was in the kitchen and I was watching my little sister in her highchair drink milk. I suddenly saw, that it was sort of like God pouring God into God, if you know what I mean.” Well, that’s exactly the same thing as that Sanskrit mantra. You’re pouring energy into energy for a matter of energy in honoring energy. So big deal, so nothing’s happened. Certainly knocks a hole in orality to start to see the universe that way. What are we doing? Nothing. How could you ever do anything, it’s all here? Are we all here? Sure. So in learning how to consecrate and so on it is helpful to have people around.

It is part of my karma to be visiting my father who is a 73 year old Republican from Boston, a conservative man, and a very successful man in the society. When we sit down to the table, he starts to eat and then he looks over and he sees that I’m doing this “thing” which I do quietly, I’m not coming on about it. I’m just sort of sitting quietly . . . and he’ll hold his spoon in mid-air and he’ll go, “pht.’ It’s almost an involuntary thing that comes out. It’s like, O.K., I’ll wait for the kid . . . it’s his meshuggeneh thing. Now that’s not satsang, that is, that is not the community of monks on the path. And that “pht,” whether that helps me or hinders me • • • is a function of where I’m at, really. In other words, if I am into what I’m doing strongly enough, all that that “pht” does is arouse a feeling of poignancy about our predicament, but it doesn’t in any way deter from the amount of the living, vibrant quality I can invest in the thing I’m doing.

I go to church now and then around the United States and we sing hymns that are mind-blowers. They are all hymns that get you “high.” They were written by people in ecstatic states and you read them … everybody’s singing them like they’re reading the shopping list. There’s no spirit, the spirit isn’t invested in any way in the singing and yet whoever wrote it invested the spirit. We say, “WeU, they were naive.” What we mean is that we are turned off. When Christ says, “Look, I am making all things new,” it’s the same as when you’re really living here and now and every moment is all fresh and that hymn . . . it’s like the first time you ever heard it and you really go out on it. Otherwise, what did you go to church for?

The third part of the ashram cycle is where a member of the community goes into the city, society, and pursues what Buddha calls “right livelihood,” that is, he raises the bread for the commune. I once was with a group of ex-convicts who had started a commune up in the mountains outside of Los Angeles. There were about a hundred of them and they would break into groups of eight and lie out in the woods with their heads touching and all take LSD with their wives and children. They had quite a powerful community and they were wondering what to do . . . because after a certain point of working inside you begin to feel the pull of service, the pull of sharing or serving. It’s like a karmic predicament you’re in . . . you can only collect so much before you have to hand it over, spread it out, and then you can go back inside. And so, they asked me what to do and I said why didn’t they open a shop in Laguna Beach, which they did. It is now a fantastically successful shop where they make the crafts up in the hills and ship them in. That whole process is one of building these different parts of ourselves, and people rotate through these various scenes.

The fourth component is visiting other ways of achieving consciousness. For example, I’ve been working with the Benedictine monks at a monastery to start work on an ex• change program with ashrams in India, with growth centers, with the Hassids, and with the Sufis. Another example, this evening is the last formal lecture or discussion that I am going to be giving in the United States on this round, in this incarnation, I hope. (That’s only an attachment too, of course.) I’m about to leave and I’m going back into training now because I’m a beginner. I realize I’m really like the water boy on the team so I’m cashing in the chips and going back into the jungle. However, the first thing I’m going to do is go to South America to a Sufi training program. The Sufis are the mystic wing of the Moslem religion. You know them, perhaps, as the whirling dervishes. That’s only one aspect of them. Gurdjieff was trained in the Sufi tradition, primarily. After that … I’ll go back to India.

Now these are the kinds of things I’m talking about as the fourth stage. So, what I’m saying is that this evening is part of my work on myself because I realize that the only thing you have to offer to another human being, ever, is your own state of being. You can cop out only just so long, saying I’ve got all this fine coat-  Joseph’s coat of many colors – l know all this and I can do all this. But everything you do, whether you’re cooking food or doing therapy or being a student or being a lover, you are only doing your own being, you’re only manifesting how evolved a consciousness you are. That’s what you’re doing with another human being. That’s the only dance there is! When you’re protesting against somebody, the degree of consciousness with which you’re protesting determines how well they can hear what it is you’re really saying. And consciousness does not mean attachment to polarity, at any level. It means freedom from attachment. And once you see that the highest mother is the mother who is the most conscious mother, the highest student, the highest therapist, the highest lover, the highest anything is the most conscious one, you begin to see that the way you serve another human being is by freeing him from the particular attachments he’s stuck in that turn him off to life. You realize that the only thing you have to do for other human beings is to keep yourself really straight, and then do whatever it is you do.

I stop at a Shell station, and the man starts to wash my windshield and put in gas. I’ve got an old Buick usually, a 1938 limousine, and I live in it, and I’m driving around, and I’m sitting there with one leg under me, driving along at 45 miles an hour, full speed, and I’m doing my mantra. I’m doing my cognitive centering device. When I stop I’m in a very high state of consciousness just from doing that. I haven’t been going anywhere, the car’s doing it. It’s like a movie of driving down the road in an old Buick. It’s like cinema, a four-day movie of cinema. I’m just sitting . . .

I’ve got a really good seat, and I see it all. I stop at the Shell station and I look at the man and of course he is somebody Central Casting sent over-right?- to give me gas and wash my windshield. He is playing like he’s a Shell service man. He and I are both from Central Casting. I’ve been billed this round, in his consciousness, as a kind of strange far-out• looking guy in a weird old car and he is billed as a Shell salesman in my karmic unfolding. We meet, right there. At the moment he’s washing my windshield and I look at him and … it’s saying, “How’s the show going, man?” He says, “Groovy.” But you don’t say it quite that way, you just … be there. Nothing to do, you don’t come on to anybody, you don’t have to change anybody. Just look at them. And so, he finishes and he starts talking about old cars, and then about how during this meat strike he carried turkeys in a car just like this back in 1929, or ’39, rather, into New York City and sold them down the market. After we’ve been going at this for a while and I’m just signing my credit card slip he says, “Would you like to see my car?” “O.K.” I get out and go see his car. It’s a Mercedes and we look at that and talk about Mercedes. He says, “Say, I’d really like to have you meet my wife.” “O.K.” So we go upstairs-his wife lives upstairs-and we sit down with his wife. She says, “Would you like to stay for lunch?” “Sure.” So I stay for lunch and pretty soon his son comes home from college and we’re all settling in, and we’ve all got our feet up and we’re all home. I realize this is my home. Where am I? Am I going to say, “Well, I gotta go home?” How did I define what that concept is all about? Here I am and here we are. We’re here again, we’re all here. Behind the Shell man and behind the weirdo, here we are. I begin to see that every moment of my life is that same place. So, tomorrow when I get in a car and go from Topeka to Albuquerque, the question is how much of my consciousnessis spent going to Albuquerque, how much consciousness is spent leaving Topeka, and how much consciousness is right here and now, wherever here and now happens to be on the highway. To the extent that I keep the mantra going all the time … this device … I will stay right here all the time. I can never get more than a little flicker away and I’m pulled right back to the here and now. So from the Shell man I begin to see that the environment is as high as 1 am. If I come to the station thinking I’m just a guy getting gas, that’s all I am a guy getting gas. The Shell man goes through his platitudes and I go through mine and I drive away. And that’s what my whole life becomes. My whole life becomes this exquisite dance of being in one role after another where we do our on-stage routine, we do our Lady Macbeth scene again or Twelfth Night or Blithe Spirit or whatever it is we’re doing.

It’s easy to know this when you’re sitting up in a cave. It’s quite easy to sit and meditate and realize how all this is, to see how you get stuck in roles and how the life process, the spiritual contact, turns off the minute you think you’re somebody doing something. As long as I think I am speaking to you and I’m doing something to you-forget it!-I’m just keeping you out there as “them.” The question is, are you them or are you us? If I think of you using any model in my head that keeps you being them, I end up turning off myself. My consciousness, my concepts of the universe have turned me off because I know that the higher consciousness state is a state of unity. It is, “Here we are.” I have experienced that. I know that. That’s valid. It’s absolutely obvious, now, that every time I perform an act which increases the dis• tance, that kind of subject-object distance, I am taking my• self one little jot further away from that unitive state which I now know, is. Only an idiot is going to bring himself down …

Audience: What’s this mantra thing you do while you’re driving? I don’t know what that means.

Ram Dass: Right. A mantra is a phrase, or it could be a sound or a phrase. It is a phrase that you repeat over and over and over again. Take for example the phrase, the Tibetan one (you can use English ones, but . I’ll show you why you use Sanskrit or Tibetan ones) Om Mani Padme Hum. This phrase is perhaps one of the most widely used mantras in the world today. In fact in Nepal you’ll see rocks 20 feet long and 10 feet high with Om Mani Padme Hum written in tiny letters over the whole rock, so you can just read it like a letter. And there are prayer wheels at the temples where written in them ten million times is the phrase Om Mani Padme Hum ..and you see lamas going around stupas saying Om Mani Padme Hum. Now, when you first start to say a mantra, the first involvement is in hearing it outside, through your ears, saying it aloud and hearing it and thinking about its meaning. That’s the first game you play with mantra. So, if I give you that mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, you think about it and you think, “Well, what does it mean?” Now, there are many meanings-there’s a whole book writ• ten about its meaning by Govinda, One of the ways of understanding its meaning is that Om means, like Brahma, that which is behind it all, the unmanifest. Mani means jewel or crystal. Padme means lotus, and Hum means heart. So, on one level what it means is the entire universe is just like a pure jewel or crystal right in the heart or center of the lotus flower, which is me, and it is manifest, it comes forth in light, in manifest light, in my own heart. That’s one way of interpreting it. You start to say Om Mani Padme Hum and you’re thinking, “God in unmanifest form is like a jewel in the middle of a lotus, manifest in my heart.” You go through that and feel it in your heart-that’s one trip. O.K., that’s the first. That’s the lowest level of operation of mantra. It’s putting one set of thoughts into your head in place of another set of thoughts. Instead of thinking, “Gee, it’s .hot out. Shall I have a milk shake at the next stop? Gee, the engine sounds a little strange. Wonder how … those new Chevy’s don’t look very good at all. Boy, I’ve been on this trip!” Instead of that, all of that stuff, which is terribly pro• found and important, but isn’t really that relevant, you go into the mantra. Once the mantra has been going on that way for a while, it starts to change in its nature. You stop thinking about what it means; you just get sort of addicted or hooked on the Tibetan sound of it. And then it starts to move into your head, and then from your head sort of down into your chest, until pretty soon it’s going around like a little wheel, going around inside your chest, just Om Man! Padme Hum. Right? Now, at that point it has stopped meaning anything to you. Any time you want to bring it back into consciousness, you can rerun its meaning, which will do that thing for you again. But you can . . . keep it down in the place where it’s just running off. Now, it’s got another quality to it. That is, when a mantra is done sufficientlyit gets into a certain kind of vibration or harmony with the universe in a certain way which is its own thing. The conscious beings who evolve certain languages such as Sanskrit specifically evolve the sounds of these languages to be connected with various states of consciousness-unlike the English language-so that a Sanskrit mantra, if you do it over and over again, will take you to a certain state of consciousness. Am I spreading this description out too much for you?

In Tibet, for example, they use what are called tonkas. If you go to a doctor in Tibet, instead of giving you a prescription like, “Pick these herbs by a damp rock” or “Go to your local pharmacy and get .. ,” whichever level of the game it’s being played at … instead of doing that, he often may give you a tonka, a mandala, to take home and put up on your wall and meditate upon. Now this is really far out, you see, because here’s your doctor, you go to him because you’ve got headaches, or because you’re depressed, or because you’ve got fear, or because you’ve got bleeding or something, and he gives you a piece of paper to stick up on your wall and meditate on. Now you’d say, “Well, that’s pretty primitive.” But wait a moment, just assume, for example, that they’re not all nuts, see, and they’re not all naive. And you go and sort of sit down in front of this paper and figure out what it’s about. After a while you learn that the way these are designed is such that you put your focal attention on the entire mandala, which is a circle within a square and the square has gates, four gates. And then pretty soon your attention-you just let yourself be with that thing, let all other thoughts go and just stay with it-pretty soon, your attention is drawn in through the gates and in and into the inner circle and into the innermost circle where there is a specific design or being or something and when you come in and in and in, you then experience the inner circle as something like a long tube. It takes on a depth, and as you stay with that inner circle you get drawn, literally drawn, your awareness gets drawn through that tube, and you get drawn from that tube into, literally, another frequency of vibration. It is as though that model in the center of that little circle changes your consciousness because you have brought your consciousness down to just that circle. It’s like, if you go into the Fillmore Auditorium and there are huge rock and roll bands and 25 slide pro• jectors and an overloading of the stimulus field, that will take your consciousness into another place. Now, you can struggle against it, and say, “Oh, I’m getting a headache and I’ve got to get out of here. I mean, they’re not feeding me linear information.” Or you can say, “Well, here goes,” and just sort of surrender into this and then there is a new level of consciousness where you are experiencing all these things . . . in a Gestalt form, rather than in linear separate components. You’ve given up one type of analytic thought because it’s not adaptive at that moment. Well, a mandala, very much like what’s called faith healing, is based on the idea that “mind manifests in matter” and that if you change the nature of the vibrations or the nature of the level of consciousness, you’ll find certain levels of consciousness where certain illnesses don’t exist. What a faith healer does is use his own vibrational rate to bring you to another vibrational rate. That’s the way that process works. These tonkas work the same way. Well, a mantra works the same way. That is, it’ll take you to its place. Now there are mantras that are very strong power mantras. There are mantras for every particular thing you could want, but the only kinds of mantras that are primarily used in the West, and the ones that I work with, are all what are called general mantras. Wherever you are, they’ll take you further on. It’s sort of an infinite progression. It’s not com• mitted to any level other than the final level, which is no level. Om Mani Padme Hum is one of them. After you’ve been doing it for awhile it starts to affect your consciousness. It’s just like when you do pranayama, breath control. After you’ve been doing the basic breathing exercises for just a few months, your breath gets very gentle and even, and instead of the gross breath environment most of us live in, if you watch a yogi’s breath it’s always just very faint, a very delicate breath. That breath is the environment in which your consciousness is living all the time. It’s a very intimate environment that most of us don’t notice at all because we’re just so used to whatever our breath is. We think that’s the way it is. But when we start to create that calm breath, it starts to bring us into another space. Now in addition to that, it serves as what would be called a centering device. That is, it’s a place to make figure so that everything else becomes ground. And here is your predicament: you are stuck most of the time, just as I am, in the “illusion.” That is, you are attached to something in time and space. You are identifying with your body, your feelings, with your thoughts, with your feet, you know. And the idea of a mantra is that it just sits there, and all that stuff goes by. It’s like a bridge on which you stand, looking down into the water in which you see your own life going by. It’s a training device to break you out of your attachments. When I’m driving and doing mantra I’m not attached to my driving. I’m doing mantra, and driving is just happening. So, in other words, the mantra is a technique for bringing me into a place in myself which would be called the eternal present; that is, a place where nothing is literally happening at all. It’s a device for calming my mind.

Mantra gets so far out, that after I did it for two days and two nights solid in Nepal once, I stopped to go to sleep and of course it continued going. But instead of it continuing going just in my voice it continued going … what it sounded like was a cross between the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the 0 Heavenly Day Chorus. It’s that huge a thing except it was made up of all old voices and they stretched back in time and space in infinite direction . . . you know, distance. All I heard was Om Mani Padme Hum and the

wind was Om Mani Padme Hum and the air conditioner was Om Mani …. the whole thing. I had tuned in on that place where that was all I could hear. But it was no longer my ‘Voice. I went rushing to a yogi and I said, “What’s happening? I’m going crazy.” He said, “You’ve tuned in on the Om, that’s that place. You’ve tuned in on that place. There it is. That’s where they’re all hanging out.”

It’s interesting … my teacher is so far out, he’s so delicate, he’s a very beautiful Brahman. He said to me, “Don’t eat any food that isn’t cooked with love or with mantra • • • because it will poison you. The vibrations of a person cooking food enter into the food when it is cooked over fire!’ Fire transmutes, converts … brings that energy Well, now 1 can go into a restaurant along the road and eat something that is cooked by an angry chef and I won’t experience it because I am so gross yet. My teacher would get violently ill, even you will go through all your changes about this … but even if the food were brought to him by a loving person and he didn’t know anything about who cooked it, he would still get ill, because those vibrations are as real, as you get nauseous from the color green or blue or purple or whatever your thing is. Now at another level he could take that energy and transmute it, because that’s the whole issue of transmuting energy which I’ll only talk about if you ask me. O.K. That’s my introductory remarks. They can go on for the next ten hours, I think you should know. When I first came back from India, I had so much energy-of course, I had been sitting silently in a temple for six months, you know. All that talk I hadn’t used, I’ve been using ever since.

There is a most heterogeneous group here . . . whoever we are that’s who we are. Any question you can ask is useful because any answer we give, we all need to hear, at some level or other. So we are only asking questions of ourselves whatever level we’re at. Don’t feel that any question is too naive, too technical or too anything, just feel free.

Audience: Well, it’s interesting. I haven’t read anything written by you. I only know you as Leary’s associate. By the way, I should probably give a brief introduction of how I got into Ram Dass. I’m a follower of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and recently we were meditating in a group meditation and somebody had listened to a tape you had made. He made the statement that your guru said that LSD came to well, God came to the United States in the form of LSD and as far as I know drugs have very little to do or almost nothing to do with consciousness, even though, you know, I mean, of course, to get on the Leary kick he’ll give you the seven levels of consciousness and how on the highest level, it’s … which I don’t agree with at all. And my own guru, the Maharishi, which I feel . . .

Ram Dass: Excuse me, one second. I think we have to define this evening as an evening of questions and answers, so instead of making a long presentation I think you’d better limit yourself to a specific question. O.K.? I think I’m going to have to do that. Right?

Audience: What did you imply by that statement, because I think this was included in that interview in Playboy also-that God came to the United States in the form of LSD?

Ram Dass: I didn’t imply anything. I reported the information I had picked up in India, which is the information that I have available from people whose consciousnesses I totally trust. Alright? And the quote I gave was a quote from my teacher, with whom I lived for six months, who was, as far as I could see, one of the purest and highest beings I have met. When I asked him what LSD was he went away and several weeks later he came back and he wrote, and the quote is almost exact, “LSD is like a Christ coming to America in the America is a most materialistic country and they wanted their Avatar in the form of a material. The young people wanted their Avatar in the form of a material. And so they got LSD. If they had not tasted of such things, how will they know-how they will know?” was his actual wording. Now, this plus the fact that my guru took 900 micrograms of LSD and nothing happened to him, and I watched this process happen, were the two bits of new information I had collected about LSD which I reported back to the intellectual community. I have no … I am not at this moment using LSD nor am I not using LSD. Right? I am doing a type of yoga which is . . . does not require at this moment the use of LSD. I honor LSD … that LSD has for me, anyway, made a major change in my perceptual field, and I feel that under suitable conditions it is a major breakthrough of technology, allowing man to change his levels of consciousness. I share Tim’s vision in almost every way. I think I’m not as attached to certain kinds of polarities in terms of establishment and good and evil and dropping out and so on as Timothy is, but I think he is a great visionary and my feelings about LSD are: I honor it. I also think that it is very quickly becoming an anachronism. I think it is totally falling out of date because I think that the types of consciousness that it opened allowed the Maharishi to do the work he did in the United States and allowed the Beatles to do the work they’ve done and allowed all of that process to happen. I think that only took about five years and it seems to me that the values in the culture shifted dramatically enough, as a result of the psychedelic movement, to bring in a . . . another set of cognitive . . . consciousness possibilities into the Zeitgeist, enough so that they would become researchable, they would become studyable, and explorable; and yoga, which was a dirty word seven years ago, can now become a highly respected and thoughtful science, as it should be, as it is. It is an entirely different matter for people who have known of an experience of another state of consciousness to work on themselves than for people who have not. If I observe the Gurdjieff students, a lot of students, those that come into a group in order to get some kind of group affiliation and are just good, pure people, can meditate and do the work for long times and very little happens. However, as my teacher said, “If a person knows of such things, then…. ” And that’s mainly what all of the Indian literature says-that once you know, once you have tasted of this possibility, then your work becomes tremendously directed toward this . . . then your meditations work at a much, much faster rate. So that, in terms of the statistics with the Maharishi Mahesh group, of the numbers of drop• outs from the program, it is clear that a large percentage of people originally were not able to maintain that degree of involvement because they didn’t have a frame of reference which made them able to use the mantra in the spirit in which it was invested. There is no doubt that the Maharishi teaches a classical method that works beautifully. It is just what he says it is. It does just what he says it does. And when the investment is made in the spirit and received in the spirit, it has done remarkable things to thousands of people. If you come into it as an experiment to see if it will work, or come into it for a lot of other reasons, there is a very, very high probability you will drop out unless you’re really ready, unless you’re ready let’s put it that way.

So now the Playboy interview is very interesting because that was done four years ago, before I went to India, and in fact none of those people ever met. See, that was a phony panel. It was put together by the editors of Playboy to make a colorful article and we were all asked a series of questions and I had answered those questions four years ago before I had ever done any yoga. Then when they sent it to me now, they said, “You’ve already sold us this article. We have the right to use it. We’re going to use it. Are there any changes you want to make? You have only a day to make them and they should be minimal.” So all I did was … I added the new information that I had which was: (a) what my guru did, (b) what my teacher did, and (c) the fact that I am not now using LSD. Those all went into the article. And those clues were the clues that I had to contribute to my fellow man at this moment. That’s my explanation. 

End of Part I

Part II

Ram Dass Lecture at the Menninger Foundation, 1970