Sunday, July 3, 2022

What I'm Reading: Feel-Good Book Six

Sounds True, Inc. is a publishing company whose mission is to spread wisdom. When the catalog used to come in the mail, I'd pore over it, circling books that caught my eye, feeling uplifted just reading the titles! When I saw Polishing the Mirror; How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart by Ram Dass with Rameshwar Das, it was a Sounds True book I had to have.

This eye-catching book with its reflective cover is filled with Ram Dass's wonderful sense of humor and his sweet devotion to his guru Maharaj-ji. Ram Dass, born Richard Alpert, started out as a prominent Harvard psychologist and psychedelic pioneer and became an American spiritual teacher who wrote Be Here Now in 1971. I heard him speak long ago, and still remember his stories about India, some poignant and beautiful, others hilarious and heartwarming. He gave each of us mala beads with a strand of his guru's blanket on it, still precious to me.

On Daily Living:
"Use every situation you have with other people as a vehicle to work on yourself. See where you get stuck, where you push, where you grab, where you judge, where you do all the other stuff. Use your life experiences as your curriculum."

"When you live from your soul and your heart is open, you can awaken other souls. You go into a grocery store, [to work on the Hallmark aisle, for example] and it's like a temple. Everybody is a soul. Some think they are customers; some think they work there. You get to the checkout, and your eyes lock for an instant with the clerk's. 'Are you here? I'm here. Wow, a fellow soul!"' 

"I get on a bus, and by the time I get off, I feel like I have met intimate family members I've known all my life. We're all in love with one another."

"Don't take your melodrama so seriously. Let's remember who we really are -- that is, souls, not egos. The ego is who you think you are."

"Offering your work and all your actions to God takes daily life out of the realm of ego and into the higher Self."

"Christ said to be in the world but not of the world. You are simultaneously living your story line--keeping your ground, remembering your zip code --and having your awareness free and spacious, not caught in any thing, just delighting in the richness of this timeless moment."

On Attachments:

"Once you understand that there is a place in you that is not attached, you can extricate yourself from attachments."

"One way to get free of attachment is to cultivate the witness consciousness, to become a neutral observer of your own life. The witness place inside you is simple awareness, the part of you that is aware of everything -- just noticing, watching, not judging, just being present, being here now."

On Self-Awareness:

"Along with that self-awareness comes the subtle joy of just being here, alive, enjoying being present in this moment."

"I have pains throughout my body. I list them for my doctors. But I don't identify with them. I identify with being a witness of pain." (Ram Dass had a debilitating stroke in his sixties.)

"Much of my sense of contentment comes from my relationship with Maharaj-ji and the constant remembrance of his presence in my life. Being in relationship with him is like having an infinitely deep pool of love and wisdom that always mirrors my deepest being."

"When you are identified with your soul, you not only reflect God's light, but you also become a mirror for others to find their souls. The only goal a soul has is to satisfy God and become one with the Beloved."

Ram Dass tells the wonderful story of driving too slowly on a freeway and getting pulled over. He had been, "singing to Krishna, a radiant, blue incarnation of God" when he saw blue flashing lights behind him. He effused unconditional love to the state trooper, who it seemed didn't want the conversation to end. They discussed the infraction, the car (a 1938 Buick), and the box of mints on the passenger's seat until finally the officer said, "Be gone with you." Ram Dass writes, "As I got into the car and started to drive away, he was standing by his cruiser. I looked in the mirror and saw that he was waving at me. Tell me, was that a state trooper or was that Krishna?" 

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