What is the difference between knowing and being?

What is the difference between knowing and being? What is the difference between knowing and being?

When you walk down the street you see other beings who are doing things, who are thinking things, who are wearing things, who are older or younger, who have personal lives. You see all the individual differences, but you also see them as packaging which holds that being.

This is a 1931 body and it’s decaying at a certain rate. It’s inevitable. I mean, I may prolong it or slow it down, but it’s inevitable. The personality of this being has a lot of residual little neuroses hanging around in it. It’s also charming, it’s delightful, it’s warm, it’s intelligent, it’s a personality, and those are my vehicles for being here on Earth.

It’s like a space suit, when you see those guys on the moon, and they’re encased in these suits. Those suits allow them to be in that particular element, and so we are in an element which requires that we be sheathed in a body and a personality.

Notice what I’m doing. I’m suggesting that we are not an identity with our personalities or our bodies, we are something more than that, and the predicament we face in recognizing this part of ourselves is that it isn’t ‘see-able’ with our eyes, isn’t ‘tasteable’ with our tongues… isn’t recognizable by any of our external senses.

So do we take this whole part of ourselves and assume it isn’t real?

All those times when you are not caught in your personality, or not caught in your role, or not caught in identifying with your body, do you assume at those moments, whatever you’re experiencing, is illegitimate? Do you say, “Oh, I thought I was crazy. I was out of my mind,” whatever I was thinking is irrelevant?

You don’t know what to do with that information that doesn’t relate to you as an object because the nature of your being is such that you can just be it.

You can’t know it, but you can be it.

At this moment there’s a body sitting here, there’s a personality, there’s speaking happening, and behind it all, inside, I’m sitting here. How could I describe myself? I would say that “I am.” The minute that I ascribe any adjective to it, I immediately reduce it to less than what it is, because finally what it is, is “I am.”

In meditation we call it “awareness”. It’s subject, it’s not object, you can’t think about it, because the thinking mind objectifies, and most of us are busy being who we think we are, and in that process, we make ourselves into objects. We think about ourselves, and first we are alienated from other people, and then we finally get alienated from ourselves. The Christians call this awareness, this being, the ‘soul.’

Now, we all project certain identities by our bodies and by our personalities, you can see who a person is by looking at them. You can see who they think they are. You can see it in the lines on their faces and the smile and the quality. You can see when somebody is feeling ugly, when they feel they’re unlovable, when they’re frightened.

And you can also see when people feel connected to beauty and connected to something deeper than themselves.


-Ram Dass

Love What’s Real
Trusting Who We Are (audio)

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