Transcript of:  Interview With Rama, 1985

You have an unusual name. Does it have any special meaning.? Did you pick the name or was it given to you by someone?

Rama: Rama is the name of an enlightened warrior who lived thousands of years ago in India. I really don't know whether I picked the name or it was given to me. One day I was meditating on a cliff overlooking the ocean in Southern California and I was absorbed in a state of high meditation. As I came out of the meditation and became aware of the sense world the world around me I knew that I had a new name. And the name, of course, was Rama.

How did you first become interested in meditation?

Rama: I have been meditating for many, many lifetimes. But in this lifetime, I first became consciously interested in meditation when I was about 16 or 17.

I was drawn to books on meditation and tried to practice it from the advice in books. I had some small success. Later, I studied with different teachers and they helped, but because I had studied and taught meditation in other lifetimes, meditation came easily to me. It was a natural state. In my very early childhood, when I was only 3 or 4 or 5, I would enter for many hours into meditative states in which the world would become light and energy and I would transcend the boundaries of the senses.
All my life I have been moving in and out of meditative states, but it wasn't until I was 16 or 17 that I was more consciously drawn to spiritual practice.

I first went into samadhi when I was 19. I was meditating in the mountains and had been meditating on a daily basis for several years. Suddenly there was no time or space or life or death or myself or the Universe. I was absorbed in light. I entered a timeless, dimensionless consciousness in which everything was one. There is really no way to describe it. That experience changed my life. I didn't fully enter into samadhi again for another year or so.

When I was growing up and started to practice meditation, it didn't dawn on me that the states of awareness I lived in were different than those of any beginning meditator. It was only after several years that this became evident. I would be absorbed for many long hours in states of heightened awareness and meditation. Repeated absorption in these states caused me to see life in new ways. My psychic senses developed and I became more conscious of God. After I had been meditating for a number of years, I began to go into samadhi, not just occasionally, but every day many times a day until I reached a point where I could no longer distinguish between ordinary and non ordinary reality. For me it is all the same. I am in a state of continuous absorption in the Self. It's really not so terrible.

Whom did you study with?

Rama: I studied with a number of different teachers. I spent many years in a monastic community with an Indian teacher, and I have met many different gurus in my travels. But most of the real studying I have done has been within the Self. I have gained knowledge through my own meditations. During my first 10 or 15 years of meditation, a great deal was revealed to me. I became aware of multiple dimensions and was able to enter into them. I began to see that I wasn't just a finite individual in a body, but rather I was as we all are a series of awarenesses that are interconnected in time and space yet are separate beyond time and space.

I can attribute my experiences to teachers, to friends, to people I have known and loved, to meditation, to visions of higher realities, to transactions with the Guardian beings on other planes of attention, and to remembrances from past lives, but as far as I am concerned it's all the Self, all the ultimate reality.

That Self teaches all of us in a very loving way. I am a most fortunate being in that I seem to be conscious, or certainly more conscious than most people, of eternity its tremendous beauty, its absolute reality. But I cannot attribute what I have learned to any individual or experience or thing that I have done. I can only attribute it to the Self that which has guided me, that which is my substance, that which I am.

The Self has really been my only teacher. The Self has spoken through the mouths of others. It has been in the poetry I have read, in the movies I have seen, and in the faces of the people I've loved, but it's all myself not my personal ego self, but that which I am and that which you are. The Self transcends all knowledge and time and space. That is the only thing to which I owe allegiance. There is nothing else.

You have an unusual reputation for a meditation teacher. In the article 'Is Rama the Guru for the Eighties?' that appeared in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, you are portrayed as a member of the spiritual jet set who teaches meditation to celebrities, wears designer clothing, drives a Porsche, eats in chic restaurants and has an elite staff of attractive and beautifully dressed women. Your ads are controversial and you're alleged to perform miracles in the desert. My question is who are you?

Rama: This may not seem like an adequate explanation, but let's just say that I am a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Aren't we all? I teach meditation to many different types of people, you mentioned celebrities. I also teach meditation to many people who are not famous, but are, in my eyes, very important. I am a citizen of the world and I enjoy that which is of the world.

I don't think of myself as a guru but as a teacher. If one means 'guru' in the original sense a 'dispeller of darkness' then that certainly is my purpose. But today in the west the word 'guru' has come to mean someone who leads a cult, someone who deprives others of their intellectual or spiritual freedom and rips them off financially.

I do enjoy wearing Japanese and Italian clothing. I also enjoy my blue jeans or tennis shorts and running shoes. I like driving a Porsche because it is an elegant machine and it is a very beautiful experience to drive it. It's magnificently made. I do have a staff of what some people would consider to be very attractive, chic women. They are not on the staff because they are attractive and chic but because they care about the welfare of others. They happen to be very powerful women who are concerned about the spiritual liberation of women, and that has created a tie between us.

Many people say that the type of advertising I do is controversial. I am not sure what that means. I feel that advertising is a creative medium and I enjoy it. I try to make each advertising campaign a little bit different; I write all of the copy myself. I try to catch the interest of people who might be looking for truth.

Truth occurs in unusual places. Sometimes it's in the frozen food section of the supermarket, sometimes it appears while you are waiting for your car to be fixed, sometimes you see it while in bed with someone you love, sometimes you find it while you're meditating on a lone mountain. It's everywhere. It's with the rich, the poor, the trendy and the chic.

I enjoy life, and I find that self realization goes perfectly with every aspect of life. Whether I am on the road and stopped at a Denny's for a cheese omelet, or having a five course French dinner at L'Orangerie, or fasting, it's all the same to me ... I don't see any difference; I just see the Self expressing itself in various ways.

As far as miracles are concerned, I'm not aware that I perform miracles. After many years and lifetimes of meditation, I am able to use the kundalini energy to alter other people's awareness and aid them in their search for light and certainty. I try to make the process of teaching and learning as enjoyable as possible. I was a university professor for many years, and before that I was a student in graduate school, college and high school. I definitely know the difference between a boring teacher and a good teacher - someone who excites you about the subject material - and I try to be a good teacher.

I know some teachers say that you shouldn't display the psychic powers and other powers referred to as the siddhas, but as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't really matter. There are no absolute rights or wrongs in spiritual practice. Everything is individual.

Each person is a universe, a unique reality, a God. Christ, Buddha and others used the siddhas to demonstrate to people that they had something to offer, to wake people up to the fact that there was more to life than nine to five. Once people saw the powers, they were more inclined to hear about how to attain inner peace and joy.

I don't think there is a right approach to teaching self discovery. Every situation is unique. I don't think of the siddhas as miracles. To take a breath is a miracle, to love someone is a miracle. The use of the kundalini is simply a scientific application of power to create structural changes.

Who am I? No one knows. I would never show anyone who I was or what I am. I have been around the universe too long for that. Let's just say that I am someone who has come into this world for a while, like we all have. And while I am here I would like to experience as many of the beauties of the world as possible and help others to do the same. I am a teacher.

What do you teach?

Rama: I teach many different things. Principally, I teach people to become aware, to become conscious.

Not just conscious of the physical world, of matter and energy, but also of the inner world, the worlds that lie beyond the senses. I try to teach people to continually search and question the meaning of everything they are taught and everything they believe in. My job is not so much to impart a philosophy but to train people in the methods of self discovery. I show people the techniques for gaining knowledge, and this inspires them in their search for truth, freedom and happiness. I also try to show people that truth exists as much in this world as it does in any other world. There is no time and space.

These are just ideas. There is no teaching and there is no learning; there is only one reality.

What would you like me to say? That I am a particular type of teacher, that I believe in a particular philosophy or a credo? I don't. I don't believe in anything, yet I believe emphatically in almost everything. It all depends on what seems appropriate at the time. I teach Zen, tantric mysticism, jnana yoga, bhakti yoga, Tibetan mysticism, occultism and psychic development. I also teach poetry and literature, film and many other different things.

But what I mostly try to transmit to people is a sense of wonder. We're only in this world for a little while. There are so many wonders, we'll never see them all. Rather than get all caught up in problems and anxieties, why not just step outside and view the absolute amazingness of existence? I try to teach that sensibility by living it and being it. Most of the teaching I do is through energy, not simply through the spoken word.

In a recent article in Newsweek you were characterized as the spiritual teacher of ‘YUPPIES,' the elite young urbanites. Newsweek said that there was a waiting list of persons who wish to study with you. Do you mostly cater to the wealthy?

: I teach many different types of people to meditate.

It is true that the majority of the students I have are in their 20's, 30's and 40's and most of them are fairly successful in their careers. I also work with college students and retired persons. I think it would be extremely unfair to say that I cater to the wealthy. As a matter of fact, many of the persons who have studied with me for several years were not doing too well financially when I started to work with them.

Part of our program is related to material success; it's a way of tightening up your life so that you can move into higher planes of attention. You should try to do well in every aspect of your life, because each aspect of your life affects your total being.

As an individual learns and practices higher meditation techniques, a tremendous volume of energy and creativity flows through them. If they direct some of that energy towards their career, then naturally they will become successful. It really doesn't matter to me whether a person has a lot of money or a little bit of money. What matters is that they are curious about life, energy, truth, and themselves and that they haven't sold out to the establishment powers that tell us what to think, what to wear, how to behave, what to believe in and what goes beyond the line of rational and irrational thought.

I work with people who are excited about changing their lives. The people I work with experience radical shifts in their attention fields and this very often spills over into career success. It's kind of a fringe benefit, but it's not necessarily something that I suggest people seek. I don't think people should be primarily concerned with money or material success. They should be concerned with doing that which is right and being in harmony with the way of life. It is my experience that if a person practices self discovery with intent, they will be successful. Success is an outer sign that they are channeling energy correctly.

As far as a waiting list is concerned, it's not all that long. (Laughs.) I am somewhat picky about the people I work with. Money has nothing to do with whether I work with a person or not. When people apply to study with me I have no idea what their financial status is. I don't ask. What I am interested in is their psychic status how much they love light and whether they have a good sense of humor.

I am surprised that you appear to be so American. I thought all meditation teachers were dressed in robes and wore flowers around their necks.

Rama: I would have worn flowers if I had known that you wanted me to. (Laughs.) I don't know where I could have come up with the robe, though. Personally, I think flowers look better growing in a garden than around someone's neck, and, to be honest, I don't think I would be very comfortable in a robe. I grew up in America and it seems that for me to adopt an Eastern way of dressing would be kind of absurd. It would simply make me stand out, and I certainly don't want to do that. I think that some of the fashions we are seeing now in the West are very exciting. Men's fashion is finally taking off.

I am Western and I see no need or reason to change that. The Western lifestyle has many things to offer, as do the Eastern methods of self discovery. I think blending the two is very desirable. There are teachers who insist that their students dress as they do and act as they do. There may be some benefit to this but I certainly don't see it. I think that the most important thing is to be yourself, and if you can do that you've accomplished about all that you need to.

If you dig deeply, you will find that you are not a singular self but that there are many selves, many voices within you. The more conscious you are of those selves and the more you let them find expression through you, the more complete you will be. I feel most natural in Western clothing, although lately I have been leaning a little bit towards the Japanese styles.

Would you say that you are the leader of a cult?

Rama: No, I really don't believe that I am the leader of a cult. It's funny what has happened in United States. Every new movement or group of people who seek to explore awareness is considered a cult. It's quite strange because, actually, the United States was founded by a cult, or several cults, who felt that they were being restricted. The Puritans, whose practices were very stringent, left England and came to the United States because they wanted to set an example for the world. They felt that Protestantism had become much too lax, so they came to America and set up a hard line religious cult.

I would say that Jesus Christ and his followers were a cult, Buddha and his followers were a cult and Mohammed and his followers were a cult. Every religion starts out as a cult and if it becomes 'box office', it is accepted. As understood in common English, a cult is an organization in which someone is brainwashed. They are lured into the organization under false premises. They are perhaps invited to a weekend away someplace where they are kept up for long hours and deprived of sleep, at which time the mind is somewhat suggestible. A particular philosophy is pushed, and often they are given physical assurance by members of the group that they are loved and wanted.

The aim of a cult seems to be to induce you to accept a particular philosophy or belief. Usually, it involves renouncing your family, your job and your way of life. I have nothing to do with anything like that. I am a teacher. I hold class for my students every other week. We get together for several nights a month, nine months out of the year. A person must apply to study with me. We are only together for short periods of time. Once in a while we take a field trip to Hawaii or Disneyland. I really don't think we qualify as a cult. I teach courses in psychic development, meditation and self realization. I have set up Lakshmi, the organization through which I do my teaching, like a university. We operate on a trimester system.

I remember an article not long ago in a well known Los Angeles newspaper in which they referred to a small group of gentlemen who live up on a mountain and practice Zen as 'the Zen cult'. So journalists do what they do, and they are an exciting group of people. The cult phenomenon is definitely journalistically 'in'. But if we were to apply for a financial aid grant as a cult I'm afraid we would be turned down for lack of proper qualifications: I don't engage in brainwashing, I don't dictate forms of lifestyle, I don't perform mass marriages or even singular marriages. I don't tell people what to believe, I don't dictate particular styles of dress. I do teach classes in self discovery.

I understand that over two thirds of your students are women. Why is this?

Rama: I don't think that's too hard to understand. It's because I am very interested in the enlightenment of women. Very few teachers of advanced self discovery work with women, and if they do it's usually in a very second handed way. They treat women as second class citizens. I am very interested in the enlightenment of women and a large part of the program at Lakshmi addresses the particular needs of women. Therefore, it's natural that a majority of my students are women.

Women have been denied access to advanced methods of self discovery throughout the ages. Many Eastern spiritual groups feel that women are not capable of enlightenment. They advise women to have sons and pray to be men in their next incarnations.

This is nonsense. I have a very active and exciting program for women who are interested in becoming all they are capable of being. I work as hard as I can in that regard. I feel nothing is of greater importance. Also, I observe that more evolved souls are now reincarnating as women. Women find it easier to meditate and easier to develop the psychic abilities. I don't work with men who are antagonistic to the liberation of women. I do work with quite a number of men who are supportive of the enlightenment of women. Such men are rare. People always say, 'A good man is hard to find.' You've never heard that about women, have you?

What is your position on women's liberation and abortion?

Rama: My position on women's liberation is that each individual woman can make a tremendous difference.

I think that each woman has to feel that she represents all women, and that the way she conducts her life and whether or not she takes an active interest in her own liberation will affect all other women.

It's unfortunate that we see a great many women settling. They think that simply because they have gotten the right to vote, own property and have gained some simple freedoms, that the battle for women's suffrage is over. The male establishment power structure has not really changed its attitude towards women. They did not give these rights to women out of kindness. These rights were fought for by many highly evolved women who cared about the lives of their daughters and granddaughters. Women have been sexual slaves for most of recorded history. I think that more women should take an active interest in feminism.

In order to really change things, you have to first change yourself. The place to start is at home, inside your own awareness. I think that it is the responsibility of each woman to become all she is capable of being. And I believe the easiest way to do that is through meditation and self discovery, which make you both powerful and knowledgeable. The more powerful and knowledgeable you are, the more you can effect change in this world.

As far as abortion is concerned, I believe it should be the legal right of any woman who wants to have an abortion to have one. From the spiritual point of view, I don't see a problem with abortion in that the soul doesn't usually take incarnation until the last month before birth, sometimes not even until the moment of birth. Spiritually, I see nothing wrong with abortion. It's a matter that everyone has to determine in their own heart. But for someone to regulate the biological functions of a woman and tell her what she can and cannot do with her own body is absurd.

I know that many of your students are computer scientists and that you are a great proponent of computers. Why is this?

Rama: A number of my students are in the computer field.

I highly recommend the field to people who are interested in meditation and have not settled on a particular career or don't like the one they have. A person who meditates will find it very easy to work with computers because in meditation you develop the mind and its analytical functions to a high degree. The logical and extralogical exercises you do in meditation are very similar to advanced systems analysis and programming. Also, a number of people who are interested in computers in this lifetime programmed computers in Atlantis. The computer field is a wonderfully exciting place to work; it is a high tech industry that offers great material benefits, good hours, and nice working conditions. Even from an unspiritual point of view, it makes a heck of a lot of sense.

What are your feelings about sex? Do you suggest, as many gurus do, that people should avoid having sex?

Rama: I have a lot of different feelings about sex, and sometimes I feel nothing at all.

Sex is a highly personal matter, yet it seems to get more impersonal all the time. How do I feel about sex? I suppose it matters with whom. (Laughs.) Sex is like any other transaction, except that it is not like any other transaction. I don't know. What should I say about sex? Hasn't enough been said about it already?

I think that it really doesn't make that much of a difference in terms of enlightenment whether you have sex or not. I certainly don't suggest to students that they avoid sex as part of the study, nor do I suggest that they engage in it wildly.

I think that the most important thing is love, and if you love then that's enough. How you express yourself physically is not of that much importance. What matters is the quality of your love and your caring.

If you are interested in developing some of the higher range occult powers, then I would suggest you not engage in sex too frequently. If you really want to channel all of your energy towards higher mysticism, you should realize that sex does drain a certain amount of your occult energy. But that really has nothing to do with enlightenment.

The most important thing is sensitivity. Many people have sex and don't feel anything, and that seems kind of sad to me. The answer is not necessarily the avoidance of sex, but learning to be sensitive and to love and to care.

There are some people who seem to think that having sex with everyone is a wonderful way to share their love, and perhaps it is. But too much sex, like too much of anything, can create problems particularly for women. When women have sex, they tend to open up their hearts and their psychic bodies completely to the men they have sex with. Many men have deep rooted problems regarding the status of women, and during sex these problems come out. They consciously or unconsciously project anger and hate towards women they have sex with. This energy enters a woman's subtle physical body and damages it, making it difficult for her to meditate. So it is most critical for a woman, or for a man who is very sensitive and opens up his heart, to be very selective about the people they have sex with.

Sometimes a guru will tell his followers not to have sex, then later we find out that he has been having a great deal of sex. This seems to me to be rather hypocritical. Sex is a highly personal matter, and I think you should follow your own heart and your own feelings.

Why do you base your work in Los Angeles? Aren't you worried about California dropping into the ocean or earthquakes or other natural disasters? I would have thought that you would have picked a more rural atmosphere away from the traffic, smog and crime.

Rama: I love Los Angeles. I think it's the greatest city in the world.

I love Los Angeles for many different reasons. The actual land that the city is built on is a power spot. In other eras, a very mystically oriented civilization which engaged in advanced psychic and spiritual practices existed here. There's a power stored in the earth here.

I love the diversity of Los Angeles. It's such a wonderfully weird place to be. I'm not antagonistic to cities. I think that self discovery can be practiced anywhere, under any conditions. God exists everywhere. I see inwardly that there are more evolved souls in Los Angeles than in any other major city in the world so naturally I am attracted to Los Angeles. I also love the climate. I don't spend all my time here, however. I travel extensively through out the southwestern United States and the world.

I feel that there's a certain danger in always being in a lovely rural setting. You can lose touch. It's certainly easy to meditate on top of a mountain, but one should be also able to meditate in the heart of the city. If you want to really do something for humanity, if you want to help people, if you care, go to the cities. There aren't too many people to help on the mountaintops. The city is where the pain is the greatest. And the cities are a hell of a lot of fun if you like art, movies and plays. The cultural achievements of humanity are there.

I also think it's a good idea to spend some time in the purity of nature because there's a special refinement there. Some people find it very easy to feel God in nature. I don't think you need to deny yourself either experience. I split my time between both. But I feel very good about Los Angeles. It's an exciting city, and it's where I am based right now.

In reference to the prognosis of doom, I don't really feel that California is going to sink into the ocean. Geologically, California has been here for a long time, and I think it's rather presumptuous to think that in our little lifetime it's going to separate itself from the mainstream of the continent. We do know that a major earthquake has been predicted for the L.A. area in the next 50 to 100 years, but I think that if you're psychic enough you'll know that it's coming and be out of town that day. Such are the perils of paradise.

Smog is not particularly pleasant, I agree, but it's been my experience that you don't have all that many smoggy days in L.A. Most of the time the air is fairly good. I'm more concerned with the consciousness I'm experiencing than the air I'm breathing, and if I can be of some help to people here it's much more important than breathing some smog.

Part of L.A. life is learning how to deal with traffic. It requires patience, a good sense of timing, and sometimes not giving in to the traffic but reshaping your life. So instead of getting on the freeway for several hours, it might be smarter to go out and get a bite to eat or go someplace to meditate and wait for the traffic to calm down. We only have heavy traffic in the city for a couple hours a day and I think you can structure your life so you don't have to be on the road at those moments.

To become eternal is what matters, and as far as I'm concerned, you can become eternal in the country or in the city, wherever you happen to be. It's up to you to feel what's right. I've chosen Los Angeles because I love the city. It's adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, the deserts with their power spots, and the mountains. There's a little bit of everything here in Southern California, and I think it's a great place to practice tantric mysticism.

I've heard that your advertising offends the sensibilities of other spiritual groups. In one ad I believe you listed a resume of your qualifications, including a list of places you have lived and taught meditation in your past lives, such as Tibet, Japan and India, and this list even included the dates of those incarnations. How do you know you were a teacher in other lives?

Rama: How do you know where you were before you came to do this interview? Your memory tells you. How do you know you're even here right now? Perhaps you're not. (Laughs.) Perhaps you're far, far away and this is just a dream. Life is a series of dreams, a series of interlocking awarenesses. I don't necessarily believe in linear time. Everything happens all at once forever. All incarnations are lived at once, and yet there does seem to be a linear sense of time when you're in the vortex of time and space when your consciousness is fixated in a body.

How do I know I've been a teacher in other lives? I remember. When you merge your consciousness with the supraconscious, when you practice psychic development, it's not very difficult to remember. Past lives are not ultimately important. They are when you're in them, but I think what matters is now.
I like advertising, as I mentioned in response to one of your earlier questions. I think that advertising is a very creative medium and I try to use the medium as effectively as I can to entertain and enlighten. One day I was running on the beach with a friend, and we were talking about what would make an interesting advertising campaign. We wanted to break through the stereotypes that meditation and spiritual groups have created. A great many gurus came to the West in the 1960's and created a certain image of what meditation is, what teachers are like and how it all works. But what they taught as meditation is not what I experience as meditation. Their methods of teaching are not mine. They became involved with changing people's lifestyles and teaching them Sanskrit and making them bow down to the guru as an authority figure. Most of their followers seemed to suffer spiritual burnout, they didn't become enlightened and often appeared worse for the study.

Let's say that what you do is genuine and you teach people things that will improve the quality of their lives. But a number of teachers have come before you and some of them have not been honest. Perhaps they have taken advantage of people in different ways. You have to break through that stereotype. If you use the word 'meditation' in your advertising, people are naturally going to associate it with what they've experienced - or didn't experience - from these other persons. It's really unfortunate that so many people became disenchanted with meditation. It's only because they never really experienced it, its depth, its intensity and its remarkable beauty. Rather, they were given formula mantras to chant and were inculcated into cults of personality and guru worship.

Real self discovery has nothing to do with any of that. It's exciting and it creates quantum leaps in your awareness. Eventually it leads, through much silliness and seriousness and beauty and hard work, to enlightenment. The whole journey is a circle. You end up back where you started, except that when you get back there, you're different. I seek ways to bring about or transmit the essence of this experience, and I use radio and newspaper ads and posters in order to intrigue people with the possibilities of their own immortality.

So we were jogging on the beach and I said to my friend, 'Suppose I use a resume, as if I were looking for a job, as an ad. I could list some of the things I've done in this lifetime where I went to school, where I got my Ph.D., books I've written, things like that. But suppose I list my other lives too. Suppose I list when I was the head of a monastery in Tibet, when I was a jnana yoga master in India or when I was a Zen teacher in Japan. Wouldn't that be fun? Of course the theme for that particular campaign was the resume. It said: 'Purpose: looking for students from my past lives or individuals I've not encountered so far who are interested in learning the art of meditation and psychic development.' It was a very successful campaign, so successful that it was even copied.

I like advertising. I know it rocks the boat, but what boat is there to rock? Life is a strange thing some days. The so called spiritual groups that object to the type of creative advertising I do have only been in existence for a few years. Before Alan Watts and a few pioneers like him began the counterculture spiritual movement in the late fifties and early sixties, only a few individuals had heard of meditation. Now all kinds of small and large groups have sprung up, and they've created a kind of spiritual establishment. Even though they've only been around for ten or fifteen years, it seems that they've constructed some kind of moral code of do's and don't's. I find it rather ironic that there's supposed to be an established way to advertise or not advertise if you're trying to bring people closer to an awareness of God and immortality. It's funny that these individuals are setting themselves up as paragons and judges. I think if I'm irritating people a little by the methods or style of my advertising, I must be doing something right. Self discovery is a creative process, and I try to bring that creativity into everything I do, all hopefully with a touch of humor, much of it directed towards myself.

Many people I have talked to attest to the fact that you perform miracles. You are said to be able to fill the night sky with lights, walk on air, heal people and more. Is this true?

Rama: I don't claim to do anything. Let us say that when you move into higher stratas of awareness, when you go into samadhi, which is a very high state of meditation, there are certain ripples of energy in the universe around you. If you watch someone enter into samadhi, and if you're at all sensitive, you'll see glowing auras of light around that person. I don't consider this to be a miracle, it's simply a natural phenomenon.

When you drop a pebble into a still pond, ripples will spread out. I don't find that to be a miracle, it's a natural law of physics. When you see paintings of some of the saints, or of Christ, they all have lights around their heads. What the painters are trying to convey is the psychic light, which is around everyone. We all have auras. But it's much easier to see the aura of someone who is in a state of samadhi or other profound state of awareness.

In terms of other phenomena, to be truly candid, I'm not sure what I do because most of the time when I move into very advanced states of awareness, I'm having too much fun to care. I become so absorbed in samadhi that I break consciousness with the world of time and space. People observe different things and they all have their ideas and opinions about what I can and cannot do, but I can honestly say that I am not capable of anything. It's only the Self that does everything, and the Self reveals itself in and through us all in different ways.

I don't think that these occurrences that people witness are important. What really matters is truth and love and being excited about your life. While I am able to use the kundalini in a variety of different ways which hopefully benefit and entertain people, I think the best thing I can do is avoid your question for reasons of my own. (Extended laughter.)

Why is humor so much a part of your teaching?

Rama: Because I think life is funny and I find that humor is a natural expression of higher awareness. I don't think the misfortunes of others are funny. I don't think it's good to laugh at the painful experiences of others, but there's a joy to living, and the study of self discovery is the study of life. Life is difficult and painful sometimes, but humor helps us create a healthy mental balance within ourselves. Humor, as Norman Cousins has shown, can even be used to help cure diseases.

I find that it's great to make people laugh. It's very rewarding. A lot of the material that I have to present is very deep and humor makes it a little easier. 'A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.'

I see funny things wherever I go. I think funny thoughts. Sometimes I'll misread signs on the street in very funny ways. I have a very funny second attention it sees a lot of joy and fun in life. So, why do I use humor? Because that's what happens. I don't think I use humor, I think humor uses me.

I notice that you usually play electronic music during periods of meditation at your workshops. I would have thought that you would either meditate in silence or listen to traditional Indian sitar music. What are the names of some of the musical groups that you meditate to, and don't some people find the predominant beat in a lot of this music disturbing?

Rama: Normally, when a person meditates alone, I suggest that they meditate in silence.

But during a group meditation when hundreds of persons are present, I like to play music because it creates a synthesis of all the energies in the room.

Usually I play music by Tangerine Dream, Jarre, or Vangelis. I find that electronic music - music without words or voices is easy to meditate to. Some of the new synthesizers that create this music are capable of creating sounds that have never been heard before. A new music is evolving and some of the more avante-garde musicians are learning to use sound to alter awareness.

I play pieces of music during meditation that touch different stratas of consciousness. I use both the cadence and colors of the music as a backdrop for the psychic and spiritual energy that I direct towards the audience. Often I match or amplify the rhythm of the music with corresponding changes in energy and awareness.

Most people seem to enjoy the music that I select and I constantly receive requests for the names of the pieces and of the artists who perform them.

I understand that you teach both self realization and psychic development. What is the difference?

Rama: Self discovery has many different branches. Perhaps you could think of it as a university. A university is composed of many different colleges - a college of agriculture, a college of engineering, a college of liberal arts and sciences, a college of nursing and so on. So, self discovery has many different branches, and two of those branches are self realization and psychic development. Self realization is essentially the graduate school of self discovery. That's where a person learns to become saint like and merge with nirvana.

Psychic development, on the other hand, is something that involves entering into the psychic spectrum of consciousness. You develop the intuitive powers such as clairvoyance or clairaudience. These abilities are developed through specific forms of meditation. So psychic development is more of a functional practice which enables you to be more effective in the world.

Spiritual people are often persecuted because of their beliefs. Christians were fed to the lions. Jews were slaughtered in concentration camps. Various forms of persecution still exist today throughout the world. If a spiritually oriented person can learn to use their natural inner resources to avoid danger or help others avoid danger, or just to experience more of the beauty of the cosmos, it is a very positive thing.

How involved do you get in your students' lives?

Rama: I don't get involved in my students' lives at all. I lecture to my students and meditate with them and teach them techniques and answer their questions. I meet with them every other week for several nights in a row. I'm not a counselor and I'm not a psychiatrist, although I have counselors and psychiatrists who study with me. I'm a spiritual teacher. What I do is teach people how to inquire into the nature of the Self, how to inquire into the nature of God and reality, and how to have a good time with the world around and within themselves.

Many times people write me letters asking what they should do in a given situation. I simply don't respond because a person grows stronger by making their own decisions. I do teach methods for making decisions, ways to analyze structured events more clearly, how to see things from different points of view, how to weigh and evaluate and how to meditate and get an answer from within. But I don't tell people how to live their lives because that won't help them.

The caterpillar has to break out of the cocoon by itself in order to become a butterfly. If you open the cocoon, the butterfly will die in a short time. In the struggle to free itself from its cocoon it becomes strong enough to survive. In self discovery a certain amount of self inquiry is necessary. You can't just give someone answers. That won't help them - you'll interfere with their growth and development. What I do is show someone advanced psychic methods for making decisions and give them some feedback on how they're doing. And, of course, I use the kundalini to help my students enter into different states of attention. But I don't get involved in other people's lives. No thank you. (Laughs.)

Do you teach a special method of meditation?

Rama: Actually, I teach dozens of different methods of meditation. Meditation means the cessation of thought. What you're trying to do is stop all thought within the mind so that you can explore higher levels of mind. Thoughts are like clouds that come across the sky and block the sun. It can be sunny and beautiful above the clouds, but it may seem grey and dismal beneath them. So I teach people how to still their thoughts and become more conscious of eternity and this world, and how to overcome jealousy and anger and hate and greed and things that cloud their awareness.

I teach a variety of different meditation methods because I don't feel there is any single best method. I don't have a favorite. If it works, it's valid.

What is your academic background?

Rama: I attended the University of Connecticut. As an undergraduate, I majored in English and minored in Philosophy. I was admitted to Phi Beta Kappa in my senior year and graduated with high honors. I received my Master's Degree and my Doctoral Degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. I have a Ph.D. in English Literature and Poetry. I received a number of scholarships and fellowships during my academic career. I have also taught courses in English at Long Island University, at the State University of New York, and at City College of New York, and I've taught credit courses in meditation at the New School for Social Research in New York City.

I've lectured at many universities Harvard, Heidelberg, University of Zurich, University of California, University of Arkansas to name a few, on different subjects relating to meditation and psychic awareness.

Who are the three persons who have most influenced you?

Rama: The first person who greatly influenced me was an English professor I had when I was a freshperson, Dr. Yakira Frank. She excited me about poetry, particularly metaphysical poetry, and encouraged me to go into the teaching profession.

Another great influence upon my life was a professor I had when I was a graduate student. Dr. Gerald Nelson opened me up to the world of Henry David Thoreau, the transcendentalists and contemporary literature. He was a very funny, very dear gentleman.

I would say the third greatest influence was another professor I had as an undergraduate at the University of Connecticut, a Chaucerian, Dr. Charles Owen. He opened me, through Chaucer and Shakespeare, to new views of the overall unity of life, to being able to accept, as Chaucer did, that there is beauty in all levels of life and that a higher power works through us all. Those three individuals had the greatest effect on my life, but there have been many others. Every person I've known has had an effect on me, as have people whom I've not met in the physical in this life, but whom I've met inwardly, teachers from other eras - Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Ramakrishna and Lao Tse.

I understand you are an avid moviegoer. What value do you see in film?

Rama: Life is a series of dreams and movies are dreams.

The film is to this century what the novel was to the 19th century. The only difference is that we experience it in another way. I don't think that film will ever displace the novel, I think it's added a new dimension to it. Films are a wonderful place to learn. Drama is probably the oldest of the communicative arts. Now instead of actors having to travel all over the country and do thousands of performances, they can do it well once on celluloid and many people can enjoy it.

I think film is far better than television in the sense that commercials create unnecessary syntactical breaks in the drama. There's a lot to be learned from film, from cinematography, from camera angles, from the situations that are presented. You go through an emotional catharsis when you see a film. You see yourself on that screen. It is a cleansing process.

What are your three favorite films?

Rama: The Deer Hunter, Dr. Zhivago, and Being There.

How do you feel about violence? Is it right to defend yourself if attacked?

Rama: If you are attacked, I believe that you have the basic human right, as California state law indicates, to defend yourself. If you don't defend yourself, if you turn the other cheek, then the individual who attacked you will only be encouraged to go out and attack again. I think you have to stand up for the rights of all people and defend yourself. I sympathize with those individuals who feel that passive resistance is a more effective measure, but it's a matter of personal choice. Some of my students practice and teach martial arts, which is a very exciting way to discipline your consciousness and get a good workout. The best thing to do is avoid violent confrontations, which can be done in most instances if you develop your psychic abilities.

You seem to use a Zen methodless method in your teaching. Can you explain this at all?

Rama: No.

Some of your critics say that you should accept everyone who applies to study with you because a real teacher never turns anyone away. How do you respond to that?

Rama: I don't know who or what a real teacher is. I just do what I feel is right. I don't try to be anyone's image of a teacher. Certain people are not suitable for the intensive program I offer. While it doesn't demand much in terms of a person's time, it does create substantial change in the way they see life.

Some people wish to study with me to gain personal power so that they can use it in ways that I don't approve of. They want to manipulate and dominate others. I won't work with people like that. I also will not work with men or women who are hostile to the enlightenment of women.

I look at each case individually and if I feel that I can significantly contribute in any way to a person's advancement, I will work with them. I am selective, but a person should not assume that they will not be selected.

In a religion, anyone can join and a catechism is offered. You visit the church or temple, listen to some nice words, sing some hymns and you may have an inspirational experience. Then you leave. But that's not what I do. I work with every one of my students inwardly. I network with them psychically and there's an energy transfer between us that goes on 24 hours a day.

I'm concerned with the advancement of the people I do work with. I don't feel that I'm an answer. I don't feet that I should be able to fulfill everybody's needs. Actually, I try to create problems for people that will help them advance.

Why is it that in spite of your flashy advertising, you seem to avoid publicity and rarely accept interviews?

Rama: I don't think that my advertising is particularly flashy compared to ads for Ford, Chevrolet, makeup or deodorant. My advertising is relatively tame.

I don't seek publicity. I reach people through advertising. It's been my experience that appearances on television or radio talk shows do not necessarily reach the people I can be of help to, people who are interested in having fun with meditation. So, up until this point, I have fairly successfully avoided publicity. I feel that the way I can most effectively transmit something is in person, or perhaps through a video or audio tape or book.

What are you trying to accomplish through your teachings?

Rama: Nothing. I'm not trying to accomplish anything. I just exist as I go along. I find out what I've done after it's already occurred. My consciousness is no longer confined to a body. I exist in a limitless awareness that changes all the time and yet is always the same. I used to have a purpose. I wanted to save the world. Then I realized that God does everything perfectly. The world doesn't really need saving; it's exactly the way God wants it to be at the moment. So I try to weed the garden that life puts in front of me, and if the garden gets bigger or smaller it's that much more or less challenging. I don't really believe in cause and effect. I'm an experience of eternity, a flash of light in the void.

Why is it so hard for people to see you? Are you a recluse?

Rama: Yes, I am a recluse. I like to spend most of my time alone because I'm not alone. I love people dearly, but if there's no one around I'm perfectly happy. I spend a lot of time with people, so I offset that with periods of solitude. I enjoy hiking alone in the mountains and deserts.

As a teacher, I work with the awarenesses of hundreds of people, and it's really not necessary for me to be with them physically in order to help them. I can transmit energy and light from any place on the planet to people I work with. I don't need to have physical contact with them.

I like silence. It's much more eloquent than any of us. I can talk, certainly, but often I feel no need to use words. I think I can communicate effectively in other ways, and sometimes it's easiest to be with people when you're away from them. As far as people trying to see me, I'm a very private person. I enjoy solitude - whether I'm alone or in a crowd.

How do you feel about diet? Does it affect a person's awareness very much?

Rama: What you eat makes a great deal of difference. Everything you eat has a consciousness or awareness which, to a certain extent, modifies, extends or limits your own awareness. I follow a modified vegetarian diet which includes fish and dairy products. I don't eat any meat or birds. I find that this diet is very exciting and healthy and I recommend it to people who meditate. But diet is highly individual. You have to see what your body wants and what is healthy for it.

I'm not antagonistic to the use of sugar. There are those who feel that if you eat a candy bar you'll die, or that it will ruin your consciousness. I think that if your consciousness is that hypersensitive, you've got a problem. Diet is a matter of personal preference, but if you're interested in the advanced states of meditation, eating mammals should be avoided. They have a more evolved consciousness and can affect your attention field greatly.

Women often seem to find you attractive. Does this make it difficult to work with them as students?

Rama: I don't think it's really a physical attraction. Maybe I'm being naive, but I think that women are fascinated by what I have to say about the enlightenment of women and the fact that that's my main interest in life. Women find that the Lakshmi program is helpful to them, and they're amazed to discover the ways in which they're subtly and grossly manipulated by men. It's very exciting for a woman to come into her own power, to understand the unseen forces that are affecting her and to be able to change everything around.

Women seem to feel comfortable around me because I don't put them into a typical male female role relationship. I can sit around with women and be one of the women or sit around with men and be one of the men. My consciousness is formless and adapts to every situation. I also think that women are attracted to me because of the kundalini energy that comes through me.

What do you do in a typical day?

Rama: I don't have a typical day. Sometimes I get up in the morning, sometimes I get up in the afternoon, sometimes I get up at night. Sometimes I don't go to sleep. I travel a great deal. I like to shop. I don't always buy things when I shop, but I think it's fun to go out and look at the worlds of colors. I love to roam through supermarkets. I am a great lover of household products. I particularly like the packaging of cereal boxes. I'm an observer of life. I like to watch people, and I like to watch cactus, I like to talk to mountains and communicate with my friends in the other spheres and dimensions. Every day is different and wonderful. I experience life and try to accept it as it comes along. But I don't have a routine. I show up to teach class, but that's it. Other than that, my life is totally fluid.

Are you enlightened?

Rama: It depends what you mean by enlightened. If your definition is classical yes - I experience Nirvakalpa samadhi and merge with nirvana. I no longer have a finite self. But I think this definition can be very misleading. I don't believe that there's any such thing as enlightenment. That's like saying, 'Have you got a Ph.D. And you can say, 'Yes, I have a Ph.D.' But as you may know, getting a Ph.D. simply opens you up to the world of what you don't know. So being enlightened just means that you're aware of the endless immortality of light and God. There is no longer a formatted self and you're constantly spinning through different fields of attention. You are luminosity and at the same time, you are finite awareness in a body. Enlightenment means many different things, but in my estimation, it is nothing special. It just means that you're a part of everything and conscious of it. That's all. You've cleared the mind of thought. I don't see it as an award or as a great accomplishment. It's simply the natural realization of that which is and that which is not and that which is beyond both.

I wouldn't say it's something I've achieved because it just came. The spiritual experiences that were thrust upon me by the universe were not something I merited - I know of many people who worked harder than I did. These experiences simply came back from other lifetimes in which I had experienced enlightenment before. So I would say yes, sure, why not? Enlightenment, why not?

Can you transmit the experience of enlightenment to others?

Rama: Of course. I'm a technician. I work with people on varying levels. I prepare them for the experience of enlightenment and I can transmit that experience. I think of myself as a kind of auto mechanic. If your car needs to be worked on, the auto mechanic works on it and gets it running for you. What I do is work on people's subtle physical and causal bodies. I work with their karmic and samskaric patterns. It's a multileveled operation. I can't actually create enlightenment for someone, but I can help them prepare and pave the way. I can point them in a certain direction.

Most people aren't aware of how complex they are, so I try to help them see their own complexity and the utter simplicity of truth. I can generate and transmit certain experiences, but only when a person has reached the point of sensitivity to apprehend that experience. If you put 500 watts through a 50 watt bulb, it will blow out. Similarly, you can't transmit the experience of samadhi to someone who is not prepared for it. You can only give them 50 watts.

I have heard you use the term 'tantric mysticism' in some of your talks. Can you define it in a few words?

Rama: Tantric mysticism is the analysis of systems of self discovery. Essentially, it's a study of the methods of spiritual discovery. In tantric mysticism, you can use any of the forms of self discovery - Zen methods, devotional methods, Tibetan methods. At the same time, tantric mysticism has a particular form, no rules, and quite a bit of spiritual etiquette.

How do you feel about the gurus that we see in America today?

Rama I certainly don't feel that they represent the full range of spiritual teachers. Most of the gurus we see are individuals who have very strong personalities and very defined ways of seeing life and self discovery, which seems to me to be somewhat antithetical to the process of self discovery. It seems to me that self discovery is a study of the heart and of love, and it shouldn't be confined to any particular system. What's important is light, love, the apprehension of truth, nobility of the soul and selfless giving.

I would not pass judgment on any particular teacher because the Self works through all of us, and the Self may work through a teacher whom someone might consider reprehensible. Someone else might see truth in that teacher. Religion is a personal experience; that's what makes it wonderful. As long as someone doesn't abrogate the rights of another, then who are you or I to say?

What is the structure of your organization? How does it work?

Rama: I believe that the government that governs best governs least. I have a loosely structured organization. It's simply a teaching organization through which I hold classes. It's essentially a volunteer organization, meaning that a few dozen people put in a few hours every couple of weeks to help make it work. It's pretty simple. I don't really have a power structure or hierarchy and I don't want one. I would much rather be off hiking in the mountains, meditating or seeing a movie. I've found through experience that the bigger the organization, the more time it takes to run it and I just don't have the time. I'm too busy watching butterflies, talking to people about self discovery and catching waves whether a wave of light or a wave of water - to limit myself to copies in triplicate. I do a certain amount of office work, naturally. I have to make the organization run. We have to pay the bills. But I don't feel that my journey in this life is to devote myself to constructing a huge spiritual organization. I admire those who do, but I'd much rather be meditating.

Do you believe in astrology?

Rama Yes, absolutely, though not necessarily the astrological reports in the daily newspaper. If your chart is cast properly and interpreted properly, it can tell you a great deal about your karmas from other lives and your present possibilities. I don't think you should be limited or bound by it; it's just a rough blueprint of where you've been. Where you're going is really up to you, but sometimes it can be very helpful.

I understand that you spend time discussing clothing with your students. What are your attitudes in this respect?

Rama: I feel that clothing has a great deal to do with the attitudes and energy that others direct towards you. I favor the chic, and tend to avoid the trendy. I think that it's good to be chic when possible because it is more inaccessible. Clothing is art. It's an expression of how you feel. I think that it's not so much a question of a certain style or designer, but of finding the type of clothing that works well for you.

It's particularly important for women to create a personal style that suggests that they are powerful and capable. Many women's fashions have arisen from a consciousness of suppression and repression. They were designed from a man's point of view, basically for ornamentation or work around the house. Now women are totally changing their lifestyles and a new type of clothing is needed that expresses who and what they are. The same is true of men. Men have been confined to certain types of clothing - specific types of suits and ties - that are very limiting to their spirits.

The division between male and female has been accentuated by clothing. Today there are more androgynous styles and a wonderful variety of designs. But it's not just a question of picking a certain type of clothing. What you wear is a statement about how you feel, and whether you're wearing hiking jeans to the desert or you're wearing a gown to a dinner party, what you wear is important because people characterize you by it.

Changing the way you dress can make it easier to make deeper changes in the structure of your personality. If you want to create a different character, you can do so just by altering your style of dress and cosmetics. I think clothing is fun. It's an exciting way to express yourself and deal with the world, and it makes more of a difference than people realize.

What do you feel is the best way to maintain the physical body? Some meditation teachers stress ignoring the body and just concentrating on the spirit. How do you feel?

Rama: I feel that the state of the body is very important. Without a strong body, it's very hard to deal with the intensity of the kundalini energy that arises as you enter into more advanced stages of the enlightenment process. You should pick a form of physical exercise that you enjoy. I like to run and swim, but whether it's tennis, hiking, skiing, bicycling, or just going for a walk, exercise is important and just plain fun.

Exercise gives you self confidence and clarity of mind. It makes you feel better and improves the quality of your meditation. But I don't feel the form of exercise is important. It's up to the individual.

Do you feel responsible for the welfare of the people who study with you?

Rama: Yes and no. The people I work with are intelligent and aware and have done well in life so far.

I don't feel the necessity of holding their hand while they cross the street. But I do feel responsible as a teacher to only provide correct information that will enable a person to improve the quality of their life. I will speak out if I think someone is doing something that is harmful to others, or something that in any way abrogates the freedom and rights of others. I feel, in other words, responsible to be a good teacher, and if I've done that, I've done my job. But other than that I don't feel responsible, because who am I to be responsible? God is responsible for everyone and everything.

What advice would you give someone who is looking for truth?

Rama: Keep looking. Never settle for anything else.

How can a person determine who is a teacher to be sought after and who is a teacher to be avoided?

Rama: Common sense is the necessary ingredient. It's the same when trying to determine whether to take flying lessons from a particular teacher. You certainly wouldn't go up in an airplane with someone whom you didn't first thoroughly check out. Naturally, it's harder to determine the qualifications of a spiritual teacher since, for spiritual teachers, there isn't a degree granting body. You just have to use your own sensitivity. You can't necessarily rely on the experiences others have had. Someone can go to a teacher who may work well for them but will not work for you.

How can you tell a good teacher from a bad teacher? I think you have to go and see them, listen to what they have to say and try very hard not to be swayed by your desire for a teacher. You just have to see if you feel comfortable with them. You must discount the feelings of other people around you. It's really a lesson in perception. Most importantly, you have to meditate with them. And you can't really tell whether a teacher is effective or not when you're with them. You should watch your consciousness later that day or the next day. Has your awareness altered significantly? That's what you're looking for not just someone to give you a good time, but someone who will teach you something. Remember, the things that a spiritual teacher has to teach are not like the things you learn from anyone else. They don't teach you information, they teach you about awareness how to stretch it, how to change it. Sometimes the study is pleasant, sometimes it's not particularly pleasant, but it leads to knowledge. And if that's what you're after, if that's your intent, then you'll certainly be drawn to the right teacher.

Every profession has its difficulties and rewards. From your point of view, what are the difficulties and rewards of your profession?

Rama: As a teacher, you walk a razor's edge, and the best way to do it is by not thinking about it too much and being your natural self. If you have actually reached heightened states of attention, then the infinite will work through you and help you get through the so called difficult experiences.

You have to realize that you're not going to win any popularity contests if you're teaching people about truth. If you accept that fact and accept that you will just do what you can do and that's all, if you accept that everything is in the hands of the Self, as it always was, and that none of this is even really happening, it's just a dream in the eye of God, then it tends to work out. The rewards are obvious. You have the rare opportunity of helping someone learn to smile and become more aware of their own infiniteness.

Do you plan to open up other meditation centers?

Rama: I don't have any plans. Each trimester I make up a schedule of student meetings and public meditations. Other than that, I don't really make plans. I might open up ten meditation centers next year or open up none. If I were in a betting mood, I would say I probably won't start any new centers because I really don't feel the need. As a matter of fact, I had three meditation centers that were quite large and successful and I recently closed two of them because I only wanted one center. It seemed simpler.

I have heard that within the last year and a half, you let go of more than half of your students. Why? Will you ever take them back?

Rama: Not long ago, I had about 800 students and now I have approximately 400. I let go about half of them because I felt that was the proper thing to do. Each case is unique.

I come into a person's life for a period of time. It could be a year, it could be twenty years, who knows? Each case is different. When I see that I've done all I can for a person and that they need other experiences, then we part company. We never totally part company inwardly. I use the term 'student,' but these are my friends. They are the most fascinating people I've met. But for technical reasons in the spiritual teaching process, it's necessary at times to be with people physically and other times not be with them. I don't believe that I will be working with most, if any of them, again in this lifetime because I think that I taught each person what I could and now what they need to do is go out and apply those principles in their daily lives. Each case is individual.

Do you feel, as some psychics and gurus do, that the world will end soon?

Rama: I think it's already ended. (Extended laughter.) I think that the world ended a long time ago and no one realizes it. We're in a dream somewhere in a vortex of energy that just hasn't realized its nonexistence yet. Seriously, I think that the world is always ending and always beginning at every moment. As far as the physical structure of this world is concerned, I would say it'll be here for a while. Many civilizations have come and gone upon this earth, yet the earth remains, and I think the earth will remain, but naturally there will be an end to this civilization as there was an end to Atlantis and other civilizations in previous times.

This is the fourth age, the Kali Yuga, and it's a time of great darkness. At the end of this age, there's supposed to be a cosmic dissolution and then life begins anew. It's a wonderful cycle of rebirth.

The so called end of the world is the beginning of a new world. I don't think, however, that I'd want to take out stock in a long term growth company right now.

Do you feel that people use you and other teachers as a crutch and that this is an unhealthy dependency?

Rama: Some people do, some people don't.

What is the most important problem for our world to solve?

Rama: The most important problem for our world to solve is the inequality of men and women. When women come into their full power, a balance will occur which has not been seen for so long that no one remembers it. The greatest pain is suffered by women. And as long as men keep women out of balance and hold them back, they hold themselves back. That's their karma. I think the greatest need in this world is the liberation of women and when that occurs, all will be liberated. There will be a new world. If that does not occur, then I think you will see the dissolution of the world we live in.

I understand that you occasionally give private interviews to members of the cultural and financial 'elite' of America and Europe. Who are some of the persons who have sought you out and what have you told them? Why won't you give interviews to anyone?

Rama: I do spend time with some movie stars and corporate heads. I also spend time with students and housewives and people of all descriptions.

I think that powerful people tend to seek out spiritual teachers, as do all types of people. I don't give many private interviews. Occasionally I do, because I think I can significantly help a person, but it's very unusual. I would certainly not mention any names because I believe in confidentiality. The name of anyone I work with is confidential. Self discovery is a very private matter. There's certainly nothing to hide, but people like privacy, as do I.

I have been sought out by a number of people who would have felt uncomfortable coming to a large public meditation, simply because they draw a lot of attention wherever they go. They don't want people to come up and ask for autographs; they'd just like to sit down and meditate. So there have been times when I've made special arrangements to meet people in music, film, business or politics, and I'll continue to do so if the people are sincere. If they're not sincere, then naturally I'll turn them down. But if what they want is to gain power and use it for a higher good, I'll help them. Then they merit some special consideration.

Powerful people affect many others and if I can in some way contribute to their awareness, then when they perform - when they're in a movie, when they're on stage in a rock and roll band, when they're playing a violin in a concert, when they're making a political decision - if they see more, they'll make a better decision, they'll give a better performance, they'll put out better energy to millions and millions of people. I don't deal with millions of people. My wish is to deal with a very small number of people. But if I can have an effect on influential women and men, if they seek me out because they are interested in self knowledge and the fun of meditating, then I'm glad to help. That's why I'm here. I'm only here for a while, so I'd like to do what I can.

What is the occult? Would you recommend that people learn more about it?

Rama: There are various ways to talk about reality. In the realm of meditation, we talk about reality as being either the unmanifest, which is the world of spirit devoid of form, or as being maya, or illusion, which is the world of form. This is similar to the concept of yin and yang. The unmanifest is the infinite spirit that pervades all of existence, and the manifest is what we term 'the world' - the physical worlds, the subtle physical or astral worlds, the causal worlds anything that has dimension or exists in any strata of time, energy or space. There are, however, other systems that divide the cosmos in different ways. One of the pathways I teach that leads to enlightenment and heightened awareness is the path of mysticism. In mysticism we speak of four different levels of attention. The first attention is the attention of this world. It is very similar to the idea of the manifest in spiritual and yogic terminology. Then there's the second attention, which has to do with other planes of consciousness or awareness. Then there are two higher attentions, which are literally impossible to discuss in words.

The term 'occultism' can be used synonymously with the word 'mysticism.' Occultism is the study of energy and power and awareness. There are two types of occultism. Lower occultism studies the use of energy and power for what I would call darker purposes. Voodoo and darker witchcraft are part of the world of lower occultism. In lower occultism, an individual makes contact with beings that exist in other planes of reality. The problem is that when a person gets in touch with these beings, they open an invisible doorway to other worlds that can be difficult to close. Very often, people who become involved in lower occultism become possessed by entities that use them for their own purposes.

Higher occultism, or the study of mysticism, is quite different. It doesn't have a purpose as such, in the sense that one is aiming at something beyond definition the full experience of the cosmos. Mysticism is the study of power. Interestingly, women tend to do better with the path of mysticism because they can move greater amounts of the kundalini energy through their subtle physical bodies than men can. And women represent power - pure, unadulterated power. The study of mysticism is very well suited to them.

Mysticism involves stopping thought and moving into alternate planes of attention. You learn to disrupt your routines of thought, the way you see life, the way you act and, of course, how to increase your personal power. Mysticism is a school of consciousness in which you have direct and powerful experiences in other planes and other levels of attention. It changes your view of who you are, what you are and what this life is for, and it leads to freedom of spirit.

Mysticism is a very worthwhile undertaking, but it's not for everyone. It's for a few people who want the direct experience of reality and are willing to pay the price. The price is leading a very balanced life; extremists don't do well on the path of mysticism. In order to experience the vastness of eternity, your closets must be clean and uncluttered. Your house, your checkbook, your career and your relationships must be in perfect order. Everything is dependent upon the little things in your life the way you dress, the way you talk. In mysticism, the teacher helps you rearrange your bands of perception the actual structure of your being by exposing you to the clear light of reality again and again. These same processes also occur in higher yoga and advanced meditation, and in the Tibetan rebirth process, but the methods in each study vary.

Mysticism is particularly well suited for women and some men who are interested in the total, continual transformation of their awareness and who are capable of and willing to live in multiple planes of reality. Mysticism is the path of the warrior.

How long do you meditate each day?

Rama: After many years of meditating and going in and out of samadhi my consciousness is always in a meditative state.

In your opinion, what is the meaning of life?

Rama: Life is its own meaning. The meaning of life changes as you change. It depends what world you're in. If I'm in Los Angeles, the meaning of life might be seeing my friends, it might be going to a restaurant, it might be meditating at the beach. If I'm in Colorado, the meaning of life might be skiing or communicating with the beings that live on the top of the Continental Divide. If I'm in Europe, there will be another meaning. The meaning of life changes as you change dimensional planes. The way human beings perceive the world is only one simple method of seeing. There are many ways to see life. Life has many meanings, and self realization is the understanding of all this.

If you forced me into a corner and said, 'That's all well and good, but give me a two sentence definition of the meaning of life,' I would say that the meaning of life is to be aware of awareness, to be happy and to realize that you are not alone. You are one with God and eternity.

What can a person who studies with you expect to experience? Will studying with you help a person in their daily life?

Rama: A person who studies with me shouldn't expect to experience anything except continual transition in their awareness. The methods of meditation I teach are very powerful. After my students become psychically attuned, they not only learn from me but from each other, and from other dimensions. There are forces of light that work in concordance with all of us if we open ourselves to them, and they can accelerate a person's spiritual growth tremendously.

Will studying with me help a person in their daily life? People say that it does. That's part of my intention. Most people who study with me start to make more money. (Laughs.) That isn't really my intention, but when a person's personal power increases, that seems to be a natural result.

The letters I receive from individuals who study with me indicate that their lives, the quality of their love, their relationships, the clarity of their awareness have improved dramatically. They seem to be more motivated and excited. It seems that their dull daily routines are no longer dull and are no longer routines. I don't attribute this to myself but to the methods that I teach which, when practiced, generate outstanding results.

I understand that you communicate telepathically with your students and friends. How do you do this?

Rama: There's really no way to explain how you communicate telepathically. It's just like talking, only it's much quicker and more complete. One of the first things that I teach a person to do is how to develop their second attention - how to learn to see into other dimensional planes and to develop methods of communication that are much more ethical and comprehensive. I wouldn't know how to describe it, but it is certainly not difficult to teach someone how to do. The point, of course, is that you can call home from hundreds of miles away without having to pay the phone company.

What are your favorite books?

Rama: I am a lover of literature so I have many favorite books. Shakespeare and Chaucer, of course. Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov is a favorite. Walden by Henry David Thoreau. The Way of Life by Lao Tse. The I Ching, The Crest Jewel of Discrimination by Shankara, The Wasteland and Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot. The poetry of Theodore Roethke is a favorite, particularly his later poetry. I think the greatest American playwright is Eugene O'Neill, closely followed by Arthur Miller and Tenessee Williams. In terms of popular fiction, I like the spy novels of Le Carre. Joseph Heller has written some very funny books. The Little Prince by Saint Exupery is a delightful book. There are so many wonderful books.

I have heard that women enter into higher states of awareness when they have their menstrual periods. Why?

Rama: It is true that women enter into a very occult state of consciousness during their menstrual period. At that time, a great deal of kundalini is generated through a woman's subtle physical body. Most women misunderstand this time. It is a time when they are capable of reaching very high levels of consciousness very easily. But there is so much energy that unless a woman's consciousness is psychically attuned, it can be very uncomfortable and cause great emotional upheavals. When a woman learns to channel this energy, it can be the best time of the month.

I know that many spiritual teachers refuse to work with gay people, and you seem to be one of the exceptions. Why?

Rama: I don't know why a number of gurus do that. Ostensibly, I do know why - they feel that there is something wrong or sick about being gay. They feel that gay people are very confused and that there is only one sexual preference that is spiritually correct, straight sex. They don't even recommend straight sex; they usually recommend celibacy. I don't feel that way at all. I think it really doesn't matter what your sexual preference is; what matters is the quality of your love. Whether you love a man or a woman is irrelevant as far as I am concerned. It's why you love and what your love does for you and that individual that matters.

I have a number of gay students, and I don't particularly notice that they are gay. I don't look at a person that way. What I look at in a person is whether they are interested in doing more to improve the lives of others, and whether they care about being funny and having fun with meditation and consciousness instead of sitting around feeling sorry for themselves. I am not particularly moral nor am I particularly immoral. I don't look at life in those terms. As far as I am concerned, the gay issue is not an issue at all.

Who are your favorite film stars?

Rama: That's very difficult because I have so many. Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Sean Connery and Robert Redford, Mel Gibson - at least in the Road Warrior films - and Harrison Ford are among my favorite actors. Meryl Streep, Jane Fonda, Sally Field, Deborah Winger, Jessica Lange, and of course, Shirley MacLaine, are among the women. There are so many to pick from that any list that I give you will be inadequate. There are so many talented people in film today. There seem to be poor scripts, but the actors and actresses are very talented.

I read somewhere that you have said that this would be your last incarnation. Is this true? How do you know.?

Rama: This may be my last incarnation in this particular world. Before I came in, I was told that this was a vacation world. The brochures were quite attractive and I was somewhat surprised when I got here. I evidently had read an outdated brochure.

Actually, to be quite honest, these things are beyond our control. We are all emblems of the Self, and the Self sends us where it will. I work for a very ancient company that helps people on their way to enlightenment, and you just sort of go where the company sends you. So as far as I know this is my last incarnation on earth. I have had many and I have enjoyed them all, but there are other worlds to go to and see and experience. Or maybe it would be nice not to incarnate at all and just be absorbed. It's really all the same. How do I know? Because I know. Because I can see.

Aren't there a lot of crackpots and weirdos in the psychic development field?

Rama: There certainly are. I think most of their intentions are pure, but they get in over their heads.

What is God?

Rama: God is the person who is interviewing me. God is the interview, God is the one who is giving the interview. God is the recording device that takes it down and the typewriter that types it up and the people who read it and the people who don't read it and all of the things in this world and in every other world and the things that are beyond all the worlds and Nirvana. God is everything. What is there that isn't God?

Do you have a soul mate?

Rama: I have a number of soul mates, but perhaps you and I might define a ‘soul mate' differently. For most people, a soul mate has some kind of sexual connotation. But in the classical spiritual definition, a soul mate is someone that you have reincarnated with many times. You find each other in many lifetimes. I have a number of soul mates in that there are a number of people with whom I have had multiple incarnations. I have only met a couple of them thus far in this lifetime and it is my feeling that I will be meeting more of them very soon. A soul mate is not necessarily someone with whom you set up housekeeping. Your soul and their soul have a multi incarnation attraction.

Why aren't you married?

Rama: No one has asked me lately. (Laughter.) I'm not married because it is not really suitable for me. When I was quite young, I was married for about a year and a half to a very beautiful woman. We learned a lot from each other, and one of the things I learned was that I am not the sort of person who should be married. I can't focus that directly on one person and lead a personal life. I am drawn to helping many people, and if I focused all my attention on one individual I simply would not have the time to work with my students or to be drawn into other dimensional planes. Marriage is a circuit that I no longer seem to have. But I think marriage is a fine institution if it works for you, and if you like institutions.

How do you feel about children?

Rama: It depends on the child.

How do you feel about the use of drugs for the expansion of consciousness?

Rama: I do not recommend the use of drugs to people who wish to expand consciousness. It is true that LSD and other psychedelic drugs expand awareness and cause you to experience other fields of attention. There are, however, certain problems associated with them. The most obvious, of course, is that the drugs are illegal and if you're caught using them, you can be arrested. Certain drugs provide brief excursions into altered states of consciousness. The problem is that the perceptions and understandings that come from these experiences don't tend to last.

The use of certain drugs can cause damage to the subtle physical body, the body of energy that surrounds the physical body and through which consciousness flows. If a person has used drugs, then clearly it was on their trip tik of existence and they may have gained some valuable insights from them. But I think that meditation, psychic development, and the other forms of self discovery lead to much deeper states of awareness than drugs do, without the inherent problems that accompany drugs.

You talk about a great change in the psychic energy currents that will affect the whole world starting in 1985. What are these changes?

Rama: Nineteen eighty five is a year of tremendous transition for our earth. We are entering into a 30 year cycle of change which will end around 2015. It is a time of great disruption in the psychic energy fields, and anyone who is psychically attuned should already be feeling it.

Many people are finding that it is very difficult to make basic decisions, there seems to be more space between their thoughts, and it is harder to motivate themselves. We are entering into a period of spiritual eclipse. This time has been foretold for thousands of years by many different prophets. It is a time when we will see great chaos and disorder in the world. It is the time of Kali and Shiva. I don't think it is necessarily a bad time. But I think it's a time when persons who seek light and self knowledge should join together with others of like mind. It's very important. It is a dark time, and it is much easier to spend the dark time with other people who love light.

From my point of view, it is an exciting time. A doctor is necessary in times of great illness; a teacher is necessary in times of great darkness. When light begins to evaporate in front of people's eyes, they suddenly realize how important it is.

Why is it that many teachers die so young? Is it because they take on the karma of others?

Rama: Yes. When you are an enlightened teacher and you work with people, you enter into their energy fields and transmute them.

There is a certain amount of residual pick up that occurs in this process that is deleterious to your physical body. That's why it is necessary for teachers to spend a great deal of time alone. They must recycle themselves so they can be more effective and live longer to do more for people. Ramakrishna and many others died at an early age simply because their love was so great that they overdid it. It's an occupational hazard. However, some teachers balance their energy through periods of solitude and avoid the teacher burnout syndrome.

What should a person do who really wants to find God?

Rama: They should begin by looking in the mirror and seeing God.

The question is not finding God - God is everywhere and in everything - but of being aware of the infinite aspects of God. To do that it is necessary to practice self discovery, to meditate every day, to have fun with your life, to look beyond the physical dimensional planes and come in contact with life. You should try to meet different teachers or people of high energy who may influence you in a positive way. You may not need a teacher or you may be drawn to one - everything is individual. But the main thing you need to do is meditate and learn to stop your thoughts and enter into the ocean of infinite awareness. You will be directed from there. Christ said, 'Seek and ye shall find.' Learn the ways to seek which will expedite your journey and make it more fun.

... Interview Concluded


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