In his book ‘Be here now’ Richard Alpert/ Baba Ram Dass describes how he was taken back to the temple and just stayed – no one asked whether he wanted to stay or study – there were no contracts, no promises and no vows. ‘There was nothing’. No one asked for money – there was no commitment required as he writes ‘it was all done internally.’
While there he received teaching in Raja yoga doing breathing exercises, different yoga practices, meditation, and study above all about non-violence through simple metaphors and phrases. One of the things that affected Ram Dass the most was the ability of the guru to know him inside out and he gives a number of examples. One involved Ram Dass travelling back to Delhi to sort out his visa and while there having a rather special deluxe vegetarian meal. He writes:
I had been on this very fierce austere diet and I had lost 60lbs. I was feeling great – very light and very beautiful – but there was enough orality still left in me to want to have a feast… and the last thing they served was vegetarian ice-cream with 2 English biscuits stuck into it. And those biscuits … the sweet thing has always been a big part of my life, but I knew somehow, maybe I shouldn’t be eating those. They’re so far out from my diet. It’s not vegetables – it’s not rice. And so I was almost secretly eating the cookies in this dark corner … and the next day took the bus back up to the mountain… Two days later we heard Maharaji was back… I hadn’t seen him in about a month and a half … I got a bag of oranges to bring to him and I came and took one look at him, and the oranges went flying and I started to cry and I fell down and they were patting me. Maharaji was eating oranges as fast as he could, manifesting through eating food the process of taking on the karma of someone else … he ate eight oranges right before my eyes … I was crying and he pulls me by the hair, and I look up and he says to me, ‘How did you like the biscuits?’
As the instances multiplied so Ram Dass realized that the guru knew all his thoughts but as he looked at Maharaji all he saw in response was love.
‘Now the impact of these experiences was very profound. As they say in the Sikh religion – Once you realize that God knows everything, you’re free. I had been through many years of psychoanalysis and still I had managed to keep private places in my head …certain attitudes or feelings that were still very private. And suddenly I realized that he knew everything that was going on in my head, all the time, and that he still loved me. Because who we are is behind all that.’
This was the message that Baba Ram Dass brought back, and one interesting insight he notes is that the guru just gave him things that would help rather than accentuating all the bad things that might be going on in his head; in other words ‘sins’ are not particularly relevant it is who the person is in themselves that really matters.