Chapter 2: Seeing Life As It Is
In every life we repeat almost the same mistakes we have repeated in our past lives. If we could only recall what we did in our past lives, we might not fall into the same ditches again. And if we could only remember what we did throughout our previous lives, we could no longer remain the same as we are now. It is impossible we could remain the same, because time and time again we have amassed wealth and every time death has made all that wealth meaningless. If we could recall this, we might not carry, any longer, the same craze for money within us as we did before. We have fallen in love a thousand times, and time and time again it has ultimately proven to be meaningless. If we could recall this, our craze for falling in love with others and for having others fall in love with us would disappear. Thousands upon thousands of times we have been ambitious, egoistic; we have attained success, high position, and in the end all of it has turned out to be useless, all of it has turned to dust. If we could recall this, perhaps our ambition would lose its steam, and then we would not remain the same people we are now.
Since we do not remember our past lives, we keep moving in almost the same circle. Man does not realize that he has gone through the same circle many times before, and that he is going through it once again in the same hope he carried with him so often before. Then death ruins all hopes, and once again the cycle begins. Man moves in circles like an ox on a waterwheel.
One can save oneself from this harm, but it requires great awareness and continuous experimentation. One cannot start waiting for death all at once, because one cannot become suddenly aware during such a big operation, under such a great trauma. We will have to experiment slowly. We will have to experiment slowly with small miseries to see how we can be aware while going through them.
For example, you have a headache. At one and the same time you become aware and begin to feel that you have a headache, not that the head is in pain. So one will have to experiment on the little headache and learn to feel that, “The pain is in the head and I am aware of it.”
When Swami Ram was in America, people had great difficulty following him in the beginning. When the president of America paid him a visit, he was puzzled too. He asked, “What language is this?” - because Ram used to speak in the third person. He would not say, “I am hungry,” he would say, “Ram is hungry.” He would not say, “I have a headache,” he would say, “Ram has a severe headache.”
In the beginning people had great difficulty following him. For example, he once said, “Last night Ram was freezing.” When asked who he was referring to, he replied that he was referring to Ram. When he was asked, “Which Ram?” he said, pointing to himself, “This Ram - the poor guy was freezing cold last night. We kept laughing and asked, ‘How’s the cold Ram?’”
He would say, “Ram was walking on the street and some people began swearing at him. We had a belly laugh and said, ‘How do you like the swearing, Ram? If you seek honor, you are bound to meet with insult.’” When people asked, “Who are you talking about, which Ram?” he would point to himself.