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updated 9/24/04

O.B.Ray- Excerpts from his thoughts and life


O. B. Ray came to the Ridge -- aka Wheeler's Ranch -- the summer of 1968 as a more or less permanent fixture. Zen sage, Sufi philosopher, father figure, lover, superlative good-karma marijuana farmer (he gave away all he grew), his large tent was always available to anyone needing a place to sleep. After surviving three bloody landings in the Pacific with the Marines during World War II, O. B. had been assigned to guard a desert island with two other soldiers. The other men went crazy, but O. B. loved it so much that he asked for an extension of duty. On that island he discovered the purpose of his life—to do nothing. That is what made him the happiest.

After the war, he drove a cab in San Francisco for 17 years before discovering Zen Buddhism and meeting Suzuki Roshi. He retired to Mt.Tamalpais to live the life of a hermit monk before arriving at the community. O. B.'s laugh was a wonderful thing. It could be heard from one end of the land to the other. He was a font of wisdom and mellowness at all times, a great sage and a much beloved tribal elder.

An excerpt from his writings:

"The basic nature of things is inhuman, impersonal, impartial, indifferent;
it is neither cold nor hot, neither soft nor hard, neither good nor bad;
it has no particular color, no particular form, no particular texture;
it has no emotions, no feelings, no thoughts. It is not made up of such
things as molecules, atoms or electrons. It appears as a brilliant light, vibrant, modulating.

(It seems to be pure energy). It is not seen as if there were a light and someone was looking at the light. The light is experienced immediately, without the object-viewer relationship. The seer becomes the light and all characteristics vanish or become meaningless. The basic nature of things never stays the same for two consecutive instants. It is in a constant state of flux, changing, vibrating, undulating, concentrating and then melting away; forever active, even at rest, reverberating, moving, waving. Yet this basic nature appears to take the form of an infinite variety of things. These forms appear to be hot or cold, soft or hard, good or bad, etc. It was never born nor was it created, and it will never come to an end.

"There is no ego. There is no soul. There is no self. There is nothing which I can call O. B. Ray.

Another quote of O. B.'s was published in both
Open Land Manifestos I and II

"There are certain basic, natural rhythms not ordinarily discernible. When a man leaves civilization and its sensations and becomes a hermit in the blessed solitude and silence of nature, his sense organs gradually regain their normal health and sensitivity. Then he becomes aware of these basic, natural rhythms."

In 1969, O. B. put together a collection of his favorite writings from the world religions which he had edited down into his own words. Included in the collection is this final chapter:

Personal Insights Collected from Past Notes by O.B.Ray

What you experience and the way that you experience it is all dependent entirely on your own karma. There is really no existence anywhere. We ourselves shape things in the forms that they appear to us. The best manner in which to react to present circumstances is utter acceptance of whatever is happening.

Every problem is self-made. The best way to solve a problem is to drop it totally from the mind. If the problem is worthy of solution, a solution will ripen in due time. You have been in existence for billions of years and you will continue to exist for billions more. You have plenty of time. No hurry.

Suddenness made is gradual. Relaxed naturalness is sudden. Death and rebirth are Just a relaxing and tensing. To tie any experience to the past is to lose the wonder of the moment.

It is as if I were God originally and then decided to bust myself up into pieces (creation) and then later on identified with one of the little pieces of myself and forgot that I was all and everything. Now I see my true identity: I am One. Each person is simply a limited version of God, a little God. Like a little drop of water. If we remove the limitations we put on that drop of water, it becomes an ocean. Removing the limits is simply a matter of relaxation.

To sit in meditation serves all mankind. If you do not contend, then there is no conflict. The only people who are enslaved are those who dream of freedom. Just relax, and everything harmonizes.

You cannot think your way out of the thought process. When you pass, let it go back into the formless again. Don't try to make anything rigidly lasting. Such a thing is an absurdity. There aren't really any boundaries anywhere except those we set up for ourselves.

All is one whole. Complete, Perfect. Nothing outside. Nothing inside. Nothingness. It is called 'Nothingness' only because it has no distinctions, or barriers, or limitations, or dividing lines, or attributes, or characteristics of any kind which could distinguish it, or any part of it, as any kind of something.

There are truly no distinctions anywhere. When you flow with the flow, there is no real motion. I know for certain that we are all together just One. And the most perfect expression of this Unity is unattached Love for all and everything, without distinction.

I am that "I am" which is in every being, and which every being feels as its centermost, stablest, and most sure foundation of its own being, at once its source, its course, and its purpose: I am that "I am"!

Remember that you are yourself are the ultimate and final judge of all your actions. God peers at me through the eyes of every being I meet. Relaxation is natural; tension is unnatural. Whatever is natural and eternal, needing no effort of expending of any energy to bring it about. Tension is unnatural and lasts only so long as energy and "will" rermain to sustain the tension. When there is nothing left to sustain the tension, it relaxes naturally and inevitably into its natural and eternal state.

Relaxation implies no effort and no need to do. Relaxation is just being one's real Self. I am happy to be just like I am. Each one of us is the one and only pure Self. Whatever I experience that is non-sensual-and-non-dual, you experience also, and in exactly the same way.

The beggar-monk is ideally supported by all the people. Don't depend too heavily on any one person for your support. If you do, you do your benefactor a disservice, even though he warmly welcomes you at every sight. Give your benefactor a break; let others also have the opportunity of supporting you and earning merit thereby. Spread your support around. Let all the people support you and share in the all-around-benefits.

The Goal of Life: Perfect dissolution of self and blending of self with all and everything as One. I am neither a poor miserable being nor an ecstatic Buddha; I am the Self of all and everything. Sinking into the Center of my being is like sinking into the center of the earth, with the surface of the earth as my skin. I am the Self, but I am nothing and the Self is all.

The center of each and every being is the same as the center of my being. All is one whole thing. All beings are in reality One-being. Love means acceptance of what is, without prior judgment. Dwelling on the future is a sign of youth. Dwelling on the past is a sign of old age. Dwelling on the present moment is a sign of timeless eternity.

That which I truly am is not subject to conditionings of any kind. I am changeless, eternal; I am peace and tranquility. Since no self can be found anywhere, there is no self. Self-denial is the same as self-assertion. True freedom exists for you only when you place absolutely no restrictions on your fellow man.

When you drop off into infinity, you can't retain any guidelines so as to shape that infinity. You just have to melt and merge into that infinity and lose yourself in it, so that you are not anything but the whole thing. I am everywhere; I am nowhere. In reality, there are no beings; there is only Being.

I have always been, and I will always be. The body comes and goes. God is my true nature. But God is not necessarily good, unless we split things up into good and bad. If we leave things whole, God is just himself. Everywhere I look, all I ever see is myself. Total relaxation is all, absolutely all, that is necessary for you to do, in order to Be.

"Advice to the Lovelorn"

How to be a True Monk, Free and Independent

of any religious organization.

Quit your job. Abandon your responsibilities. Drop, or dissolve, all ties. Sell, or give away, all your belongings. With the money you have, buy practical, suitable clothing, sleeping bag, and pack equipment for the outdoor wanderer's life. Give away all the money you have left. Hit the road!

Thereafter, beg, or ask, for any necessity of life that you need, such as food, clothing, or shelter. Keep your needs simple. Ask only for the necessities of life. Never borrow. Never work again at any job of any kind. Never work again even for your own necessities of life. Never work again for, or towards, any worldly attainment or goal.

Thereafter, lead the life of inner contemplation and meditation. In other words, lead the holy life. Seek reliable teachers.

Learn meditation first and foremost. Other forms of yoga can also be helpful. Learn from teachers, but do not commit yourself to any religious movement for very long.

Put no head above your own! Spend all, or most, of your time in religious, or spiritual, practices and exercises, mainly meditation.

Live mostly in uninhabited areas. Enter inhabited areas only for your necessities of life, or to seek instructions from teachers, or to pass through to get to another uninhabited area.

Live as a renunciate. Renounce, or give up, the world and all that the world has to offer. Have nothing, want nothing. This does not mean that you avoid or reject; it just means that you cease to crave or to long for anything.

Accepting and enjoying whatever comes your way is all right as long as it does not divert you from the holy life.   Keep your belongings down to the bare essentials, never more than you can carry comfortably with you in your pack. Live the life of the religious recluse. Live as a hermit most of the time. Solitude is the natural abode of the true monk.   Keep active. Do lots of walking, hiking, and climbing up and down hills and mountains.

Drink pure spring water fresh from the ground. In uninhabited areas, the air is clean and pure and fresh, and the only sounds are natural and soothing.

Eat simple but adequate food. Learn the joy of simple food and cease to crave for exotic dishes. When you ask for food, eat whatever is given you. Count no food as unfit. Therefore, do not limit your diet. Eat whatever your host is eating, if he is willing to share it with you. If it is edible and people are eating it in your presence, there is no reason for you to abstain if you are hungry and the food is offered to you to eat, especially if you have already asked for food to eat. The true monk is a mendicant, or beggar. As such, he cannot regulate his diet, but must eat whatever food is available to him when he is hungry.

All fear of death is only a remembrance of the horrors of birth. Death is a release from the restrictions of the body. Death is easy. Being reborn is the hard part. All our nightmares stem from the trauma of both. Not the pains our mothers felt, but the terrible pressures and pains we felt ourselves. The very worst thing that can happen is to be born.   There is no separate self existing anywhere. We are all the same One. All are One and the One is all.

The whole aim of the Buddhist way of life is to make sure that we are not again subjected to birth, or to becoming. The only way to make sure that we do not become is to cease all craving and clinging to this life right here and now. The only way to stop all suffering is to stop all becoming. The way to stop all becoming is to stop all ego aspirations here and now. That is, stop all craving and clinging. Death is easy. Being reborn in a new form in a new world is not easy. If we do not live this life in the right way, we will be reborn again.

The Noble Eightfold Path, as taught by the Buddha, is the way to live this life in such a way as not to be reborn again, in any form, in any world. Pure freedom of the spirit is my total urge, always.

Being self-reliant, or "together," is not greed, just as self-preservation is not paranoia.

Greed is ridiculous. There is no "me" to get anything for.
It is only a game that we play. But we play it as best we can, because the game is more fun that way.

If you identify with the body and the world perceived through the body-sense, then you face certain death; but if you identify with that which remains after the body and the sense-world have dissolved into nothingness, you

Don't expect anything of the present moment. Just let it be what it is. Most of all, don't expect the present moment to be anything at all like any past moment. The present moment is!
And it is not comparable to any other moment.

The objective point of view cannot be maintained continually. The subjective point of view is really the only one there is.

Death and rebirth are synonymous-synchronous. Rebirth occurs during the dying process

Religion which has no practical everyday use is only a philosophical pastime, worth no more than a daydream.

From the I Ching

Unlimited possibilities are not suited to man; if they existed, his life would only dissolve in the boundless.

To strengthen what is right in a fool is a holy task. The ultimate frame of reference for all that changes is the non-changing. The secret of all natural and human law is movement that meets with devotion.

Of all the forces that end and begin things, there is none more glorious than keeping still.


O Rama, it is indeed nobler to wander begging about the streets among the outcasts, an earthen bowl in hand, than to live a life steeped in ignorance. Yoga Vasishta Sara

Concerning karma: The arrow that is shot at an object with the idea that it is a tiger does not, when the object is perceived to be a cow, check itself; it goes on and pierces the object with all its force. Shankara

Salvor Hardin in Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.

The Tao is to be found in the silence remaining after the departure of your memory and expectations. Gridley Wright