We are applying our paradigm. We’re applying a perspective to processes of aging that come from cultivating a place in yourself that is the Witness. Or you could say Soul-perception. We’ve talked a lot about all that. And so we’re standing back to see the forest of our lives, or if you want to play with the word “incarnations”. Or the dance of that particular form. The same way that you stand back from a dream and reflect about it. And we’re reflecting, as you recall, from the place of Soul – still recognizing that this is here, Awareness, but we’re not playing with that just yet.
And so as we as unique entities, awarenesses, souls, look out at or around at our incarnation, we see that our whole identity as players on this field is intimately wrapped up with our relationships – that who you think you are and how you think this is, and thus how this is playing out because of how you think it is, is very dependent on how you’ve learned that from a whole set of social contexts. In fact, when you stand back and look at the forest you see that your identity is intimately wrapped up with all the systems of which you are part. And if you put all the systems together and pile one on top of another you begin to get a sense of what you mean when you say “me”. Me as a political person, me as an economic person, me as a sexual person, me as an ethnic person, me as a religious person, me as a community person, me as a family person, me as a species person, me as a member of a biotic community person, on and on and on and on. And you just pile those up and you begin to see that you’re different “me’s” at different times, but when you put them all together the gestalt is what you call “me”.
And so the paradigmatic part of our little game here, in other words the strategy for conscious aging, is the ability to look at these systems and to first of all see how you’re caught in them. Then to see how you can be in harmony through your participation in them. That is, how do you play life? How do you dance life? And that comes, clearly, as you are able to look at the kind of web of attitudes and habits and predilections you have regarded in any area. And as long as those are acting upon you unconsciously, you are caught completely in this system – you’re caught in this system. And one part of getting free into the soul or the Witness is the ability to stand back a little bit, because you’re now identified with being the Witness rather than being the player so much, and thus you can see the play more clearly.
– Ram Dass, Marin Study Group, October 15, 1995