📖 Day 16 Cookbook Discussion Prompt - GETTING STRAIGHT

Welcome to day 16 of our Cookbook for a Sacred Life virtual course!

Today our topic is Getting Straight.

As we proceed down the path of spiritual practice, the question often arises of how to navigate our “old” world with our new and changing awarenesses. How do we approach old friends, interests, and relationships as we begin to evolve and change?

Ram Dass:

Your understanding of what the universe is all about changes as you proceed further along the path towards enlightenment. As your vantage point or perspective changes, you begin to understand more and more of “how it is.” With this greater understanding comes greater compassion…an acceptance of “how it is”…an ability to see the divine plan in everything…even in your failings and the failings of others.

In the course of your journey it is most likely that your day-to-day companions or friends may change. Some may fall away as your interest in the Spirit pulls you from the worldly interests which brought or kept you together, but new friends who share your current interests will appear. Of course, some of your existing relationships will move easily into this new domain and the relationship will become deeper and calmer…coming to exist in the eternal present.

QUESTION: How would it change your life “to see the divine plan in everything…even in your failings and the failings of others?” What is in your life right now needs that most?

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Before I started a meditation practice and reading and listening to Ram Dass, I would do and say things that would make me feel horrible, not knowing what the cause was. But after discovering his teachings (along with others) I’ve found that the horrible feelings were caused by me not acting with my values in mind. The need for social standing or acceptance from others (as well as many other things including fear) has really caused pain for myself and others. It is after reading and listening to Ram Dass (and from this class) that I have been able to see this from a place of spaciousness and compassion. The witness that I am still trying to “see” my thoughts and intentions with, has been so helpful for me and those around me.
I feel like such a beginner at life, but the wisdom is there if I can remember to be open and truthful with myself. Living “here and now” sure helps too!
I’m very grateful for those who have shared their wisdom and for this class too.


I’ve recently been feeling more settled into how it all is. Surrendering to the Universe and having faith makes day to day life so much more pleasant and easy. I’ve gained awareness into my tendencies to control a situation for want of easing anxiety. I’ve also started being able to separate from my inner-critic, who I’ve realized is extremely hard on me and tends to shame if I “screw up” in a social situation. Today’s lesson is a lovely reminder to sit back and watch the divine plan unfold, the imperfection is all actually perfect! I’d like to practice carrying this with me into stressful situations.


The last couple years I have been trying to be anywhere except here and now! A lot of resentment and frustration was keeping me from hearing my dharma and acting appropriately. I would help others, but I would be angry as I’m doing it. And then that anger would transfer into the product of what I was “helping” to do, and I had been creating so much additional karma. Calming the mind and beginning to cultivate the spaciousness and compassion, as @Pete_D said, has been so essential to getting straight and navigating life with a new approach and these teachings; being more gentle and trying to live with more love.


This lesson spoke to me on a very deep level. When I first began taking care of my father who has dementia I was like what Ram Dass said in regards to “if it had been 3-4 years ago…” Well that is where I was with the relationship. In the 3+ years I have had him with me a great deal of “doing the work”/ forgiveness and now total compassion for a fellow being in my life. Ram Dass’ quote, “We’re all just walking each other home,” is now my mantra. The peace I have found is reflected in my dad.
We are at peace. My purpose in life is to walk others home. Let’s take a stroll.


There is an immense compassion in my heart. Instead of being identified with the better of dualities (good>bad, us>them, victim>perpetrator, etc…), we can see how one is dependent on the other and cannot exist without its contrast. There is no white without black like there is no yin without yang. Further, there is no yin yang symbol without our being in contrast to the concept. The dualities are a blessing really.

Right now, my life needs some divinity in the area of misunderstanding. It can be frustrating to not be understood or reflect on how my message could have come across better. My ability to effectively communicate ideas and points of view can at times leave more to be desired. I think of how Ram Dass talks about how people need to be ripe to his teachings, or the teachings may not be meaningful to them. Not comparing myself to Ram Dass :laughing:, but it’s interesting to reflect on the importance of timing when it comes to understanding.


My immense sufferings have led to life changing self realizations. Through these I have been able to appreciate the divine plan of it all. I’ve been able to objectively see where I am fighting against the natural flow of things, and also appreciate the duality of everything. I joke that I have lived many lives already because I have experienced a great deal of personal polarities - being unhomed and the home owner; the daughter and a step mother; the nerd and the athlete; the victim and the abuser; the citizen and the resident; the brave and the scared & countless others…I’ve worked hard to build compassion as the bridge of connection between the two poles.

But my biggest focus right now is to “love people as trees” - Ram Dass. People pleasantly surprise me all the time. I have to laugh at myself because duh people will let you down when you put them in YOUR boxes of who they are/have always been! I am especially reimagining the dysfunctional relationship with my mother. Giving her space in my mind and heart to be more than just the role of mother. Not being so identified with being the daughter, and how she was supposed to act towards me as my mother. She is a person with her own ish to work through and I recognize now is the time for me to let go of all that stuff. It’s time to meet her where she is at and appreciate her as her own being. Namaste :heartpulse:


Definitely! I want to offer some totally unsolicited advice to cut yourself some slack. If your ideas aren’t fully developed or perfectly strung together that’s ok. Maybe they are and are falling on deaf ears. Either way, if you are sharing out of love and compassion, that’s the best you can do. How it is received or used on the other end isn’t your deal. I think you are spot on - when they are ready, they’ll hear it right on time. Thanks for sharing!


If I were truly able to “see the divine plan in everything” it would change… well… everything!

It is something that I desire to do. And I suppose if I am not seeing the divine plan in everything in any given moment, that must be part of the divine plan too. :wink:

I think the part of my life that needs this most right now is my career. It has been very… non-linear. And I see myself judging myself for not “having it all figured out” yet.

I also wanted to say that I loved what Ram Dass said in this lesson about honoring the incarnation. I think there’s this divine dance that we do as human beings where we can be aware of our identity as a soul while also honoring and tending to our roles as mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, friends, citizens, etc.

All of this can be very holy too, the messy human/relational stuff of life. :sparkling_heart:


I think, life changes forever after you see the divine plan in everything.

I’ve stepped out the ‘victim’ and into the ‘witness’. It’s almost like that scene from the Matrix when Morpheus offers Neo the blue or red pill. Morpheus being the Universe and Neo being ‘you’ me. I’ve taken the red pill and I’m taking it over and over, for the rest of my life. It was like Ram Dass said, you’re just been taken and opened up. Sacred. There’s meaning to everything and everything is meant to help you. For example, I’ve been hearing I need to slow down (driving) for a while now. For the most part, I do but yesterday I was just so quote un quote, busy. Well, universe showed me when I left work and a beautiful cop by the name of Hall pulled me over for speeding. Even the number she clocked me at for Speeding had resonance. Everything about the situation was like the universe was sitting there in support of me learning this divine message. I couldn’t even relate to old self and get upset. I was just in aw welcome for the lessons that were being said. It was truly, beautiful.

There is so much freaking love in ‘getting straight’ :green_heart::blue_heart::sparkles:.

Thanks for reading and sharing everyone :pray:.


Interesting question. When younger, I often pushed my practice on others. As I got older my approach and practice, arguably, matured and became more subtle. Less disruptive and conceited. Growth may be a more useful value of measurement.

The mechanisms for facilitating/supporting change seem interdependent, but different, from those that nurture growth. I only wish I had realized this when I was younger.

Initiating Change:
My observation is that outward and internal measures/manifestations of change (and maturity) are different. Paradigmatic changes in views and maturity are subtler, but also often preceding outward changes in lifestyle. But this also depends on the person. I’ve also done the reverse.

I tried the role as ‘professional helper’. Spiritually, change was more significant when I left that role, realizing how toxic it was for me. A paradoxical choice by external standards, spiritual growth after leaving the helper role.

Zen Approach to Change
Right now, I think I need to take a more zen approach to career. Less expectations. Less doing. More being. A conceptually paradoxical shift that will likely require a herculean effort, in a context that often demands accomplishing ‘more’ with ‘less.’ I’ve always struggled with managing this tension. Society can be cruel, even while manifesting symbols and views that it is trying to be compassionate and helpful.

Foundations for Growth
For me, spiritual and secular growth has been interdependent. Reminisicent of university discussions of Maslow’s Hierarchy and Herzberg’s Hygiene Factors. As society becomes wiser, this will hopefully support more opportunities for spiritual growth.


When I was in my early teens, I did not see the divine plan. Challenges that came up were the world working against me, and I struggled through until they passed. Then when I was about 15, I found yoga and it had a domino effect on my life, there “began” my spiritual practice (although I believe whether we know it or not, we are always on our spiritual journey). A few years into this, I started seeing the divine plan and how challenges happen FOR us, not to us. Over time my faith in the plan has strengthened, and now (much of the time, not always) I can see even in the moment that okay, this is happening and it’s difficult but I can learn xyz from this, and I know this is just how things are meant to happen. I can use this as grist for the mill, as Ram Dass says. This changed my life in that it made me stop stressing and clinging to how I wanted a situation to look. No challenge is here to hurt me, only here to help, even if it’s hard to know how initially. Overall this frame of mind has given me so much peace.
part 2 of the prompt… Lately I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed, lots of things are happening in life and they’re all very exciting but it’s feeling like too much at once. Reflecting on it now, I can allow this overwhelm to be there and try to keep in mind that as always, I will get through this period too, and do my best each day. If I reflect a month from now, I know i’ll have learned and experienced so much, it’s inevitable, so I just have to remember to trust the process and have fun with all this learning and newness I’m experiencing :slight_smile:


I completely relate, Leila. It’s such a life changing shift in perspective! :hearts:

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:heart: :pray: Thank you

I love it.

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Right there with ya for sure

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“So much freaking love in getting straight” so freaking awesome!!!

My first thought was…"is there really a “divine plan” for any of us? That would suggest some sort of pre-destined existence to me. However, to see a cosmic tango, an interaction that we choreograph with our grasping or releases, our expansion and withholding, and when we’re dancing in tune with the universe, everything unfolds and moves together in synchronistic sambas…that is something I can get behind. to understand the rhythm and to trust my involvement in it…that is magical…I get high on the feeling, the rightness of it as it happens, I appreciate the dance and the involvement and connection with the Universe and all the participants. Life is smooth, moments are joyful and rich, and there is a knowing, an ease that oozes over me…
It doesn’t happen all the time, but as I learn to stay present, it happens more often. As I listen to this music, when something unexpected comes along, it’s easier to take a breath and trust the process, without being thrown off-kilter or go into a tizzy cause it’s not what I was doing a moment ago.
So in this same vein, I am learning/remembering that we’re all just where we are, so that really there are no “failings” in myself or others, we’re all just where we are, doing the best we can. I’m practicing releasing that old behavior of judgement against myself or other people.

That desire to proselytize, to turn him on, to show him, to bring him to the light…is a reflection of your lack of wisdom. For only some people can hear. Only some can awaken in this lifetime. It’s a little like seeing a friend drowning and being unable to catch his hand. You want so badly to DO something. But in truth you can only BE…be as straight and as open and as HERE as you can be…and if your friend can hear, he will hear. And if he cannot hear, he will turn away from you. No blame.

This quote from todays lesson really struck a chord with me, lots of it did, judging by the length of my reply :grinningBut part of my “getting straight” on this path has been learning how to be with my husband, as I explore and expand, and he has his own ways of expanding. For many years, I thought that he needed to travel in the same way as I do, see things the same, and express them in the same way as me. I have come to accept that he has his own way that is no less genuine for him than my way is for me. I have come to have faith that as long as I continue to live in my truth and to allow him the same space I want for myself, it’s all good. He may not hear me really loudly sometimes, but I know hears me.

Thanks for hanging with me through all this. Namaste.


Since my dad was incapacitated from cancer in Nov 2015 and died soon thereafter in Feb 2016, I have been living alongside my mother, helping her attend to various complicated practical matters and offering dutiful familial support, however unhealthy our attachment styles may be at times. It’s been over 7 years that I have put most of my life on hold in order to help.

Today’s Dharma talk by Ram Dass highlights (among other interesting facets) that one’s own learnings and challenges are imbedded in your real life, your manifestation in this life context. As he explained attending to his father’s moving needs, Ram Dass appeared to notice that by attending to—rather than pushing away—his duty/role/relationship to his father, he was able “to be within the forms of it.” And, “the honoring of the incarnation is a continually changing process” with ever more to learn.

Life might be filled with challenges, but it doesn’t run out on us; so why should I be running out on, escaping, or fearing Life’s Way of things for me? How can I be more of a pragmatic help for my mother, and also, discover new openings in my own life?

SEEING my incarnate situations as a “Divine” plan seems very beneficial for me to investigate in my practice, as a way of integrating a deeper and more specific understanding of the Truth in my life circumstances!



Beautiful and wise
Much Metta to you and your family

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