Ram Dass made his mark on the world by teaching the path of the heart and promoting service in the areas of social consciousness and care for the dying. When Ram Dass first went to India in 1967, he was still Dr. Richard Alpert, an eminent Harvard psychologist and psychedelic pioneer with Dr.Timothy Leary. In India, he met his guru, Neem Karoli Ba...ba, affectionately known as Maharajji, who gave Ram Dass his name, which means "servant of God." On his return from India Ram Dass became a pivotal influence in our culture with the publication of “Be Here Now”. In fact those words have become a catch phrase in people’s lives for the last 40 years. With the publication in 2011 of “Be Love Now” Ram Dass completed his trilogy that began with “Be Here Now” in 1970 and continued with “Still Here” in 2004. His newest book is “Polishing The Mirror: How to Live From Your Spiritual Heart.” Ram Dass now makes his home in Maui and teaches world wide through his website RamDass.org and continues the work of Neem Karoli Baba through the Love Serve Remember Foundation. More

What are the qualities of a true Guru?

sadhu-holy-man-with-dreads-picture-id167313838 What are the qualities of a true Guru?

All beings are involved in an evolutionary journey. In the course of history, and far into pre-recorded history, beings have been getting lost in the illusion, and awakening out of it.

Some beings have finished their work and have awakened out of illusion, the illusion that is involved in birth after birth, not only on the physical plane, but on every other plane as well. When these free beings finally emerge from the illusion through grace, through the help of other beings who have escaped, they are faced with a choice. That choice is whether to merge back into God, or to resist that merging and remain in form on one plane or another; either to take birth again on the physical plane or to make their substance condense on a lower astral plane in order to do ‘work’ for the relief of suffering of other beings.

Continue reading
1

How does embodying our own truth facilitate freedom for all?

thoughtful-man-drinking-coffee-by-the-window-picture-id856908578 How does embodying our own truth facilitate freedom for all?

The question is about the balance between inner work (work on yourself) and outer work. I’ll tell you, each person has got to intuitively trust themselves about where they are and what they can handle. If you look at a lot of social activism, you will find many people who are deeply entrapped in righteousness and anger.

And they will guilt trip you continually for not doing more. And if you say, “I’m going to go home and meditate,” they look at you like you’re killing little children. You’ve got to have incredible strength, and you feel like some kind of a viper for saying, “I’m going to take the afternoon off to go swimming.” I was in New York working with the homeless. And I’m so good. I am so good. Seva is good and I’m good. And we do good things. And it’s all wonderful.

Continue reading
0

What does it mean to ‘Be Here Now’?

indian-surfer-girl-meditating-in-lotus-pose-picture-id916562190 What does it mean to ‘Be Here Now’?

I kept hoping to get esoteric teachings from Maharaji, but when I asked, “How can I become enlightened?” he said things like, “Love everybody, serve everybody, and remember God,” or “Feed people.”

When I asked, “How can I know God?” Maharaji said, “The best form to worship God is in all forms. God is in everything.” These simple teachings, to love, serve, and remember, became the guideposts for my life.



Maharaji read people’s thoughts, but beyond that, he knew their hearts. That blew my mind. In my own case, he opened my heart because I saw that he knew everything there was to know about me, even my darkest and most shameful faults, and he still loved me unconditionally. From that moment, all I wanted was to share that love.

Continue reading
1

How can we support one another on our spiritual journey?

flying-birds-over-background-landscape-with-orange-sky-picture-id623784082 How can we support one another on our spiritual journey?

“The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflection and the water has no mind to receive their image.”

That was the first message I got from the first fortune cookie I opened when I returned from India. That seems like a fitting contract for these writings, and perhaps the full implications of that contract will become clear as we continue.

What I’d like to do is to present a model to you, and the specific model is my own life experience. That’s really all I have to offer to you – of my own experiences. I would like to clarify the reason for doing this.  It is not my expectation, or my hope, that any of you necessarily would undergo the particular journey that I am pursuing. I am not proselytizing for Ashtanga yoga.

But we in the West are faced with a very interesting predicament through a variety of circumstances, some of which are built into the culture like changes in communication media and so on. Some of them are the result of the chemicals that have appeared and been widely used – psychedelics.

Continue reading
0

How can we uplevel our life by reframing desire?

temple-on-the-water-in-india-picture-id489477538 How can we uplevel our life by reframing desire?

In the course of my own journey, I have seen a clear sequence relating to my desires. This sequence has run for over 30 years…

If nothing else, I’ve learned patience and to stop counting how soon I’d get enlightened. I used to expect it would be any day. Then I thought it would be any lifetime. Now I no longer know whether I’m enlightened or not, and I don’t care because the process goes on inevitably and irrevocably. But the sequence is clear.

At first when I tasted of the possibility that the universe was not as I thought it was, that I was not who I thought I was, I craved to enter into the realms of consciousness where there was a broader terrain. And I was drawn very powerfully to paths that had a renunciation base. These paths were based on the understanding that the pulls of the world were so strong that it was necessary to extricate oneself from these pulls by pushing away. The seduction of the gratification of desires was so powerful that one couldn’t do one’s work in the presence of these desires.

Continue reading
2

Ram Dass on the Power of Silence

profile-portrait-of-young-attractive-yogi-woman-picture-id840155556 Ram Dass on the Power of Silence

Just play with the silence for a moment.

Instead of using it as expectancy, waiting for something to happen, flip it just slightly and just be in it. Are you really here or are you just waiting for the next thing? It’s interesting to see where we are in relation to times; whether we’re always just between what just happened and what happened next, or whether we can just be here now.

So, let’s just find our way here to be together. If you’re feeling agitated, just notice the agitation. If you’re warm, be warm. If you’re cold, be cold. If you’re overly full, be overly full. Be it, whatever it is, but put it all in the context of a quiet space, because there’s a secret in that, and it’s worth playing with it.

That there’s a place that we can be inside of ourselves, inside of the universe, in which and from which we can appreciate the delight in life. Where we can still have equanimity, and quality of presence, and the quietness of peace.


It’s something I’ve been cultivating for 45 years now. Just imagine a mandala or a flower and think about the center of the flower and then all the petals that come out from the center and think of the center of the flower as absolutely still, and think of all of the petals as moving, and energy, and change, but the center is still.

Continue reading
1

Using the Personality as a Vehicle for Beauty and Growth

four-season-tree-photo-manipulation-magical-nature-picture-id531535355 Using the Personality as a Vehicle for Beauty and Growth

Question: I have noticed that, as I’ve progressed on this pathway, I’ve picked up a lot of rules and regulations. And in picking up the rules and regulations of should and shouldn’t, my personality has taken the brunt of it. And this personality, for me, has become like a whipping post, my inner tyrant. And so what I wanted to ask you was, how can this personality, being that this is an aspect of self, be a vehicle for beauty, something to be endeared and worked with, rather than the experience of constant obstacle?

Ram Dass: As you begin to acknowledge a plane of consciousness in which the personality is real, you begin to develop a perspective which allows you the space to appreciate the beauty of the personality and to delight in it. At this point the personality becomes just like a flower or a tree. I mean, it’s something so preciously beautiful because it’s a form of nature. It’s a form that is coming out of all kinds of socialization processes; it’s coming out of experiences, it’s a quality of the way in which emotion and intellect and body and all these things come together.

It’s the dance of the interrelationship of forms with each other, all the relationship stuff that is involved with personality. It all turns extremely beautiful when you have a perspective about it.

Continue reading
0

The challenge of aging in an anti-aging culture…

mature-woman-on-beach-looking-into-horizon-picture-id486858785 The challenge of aging in an anti-aging culture…

When I went to India five years ago, somebody came up to me and said, “Ram Dass, you’re looking so much older!” Now try that on in this culture. You’d think, “Oh my God, I didn’t get enough sun. I’d better do something – lift, tuck, push, smile more, look healthier, get radiant, take vitamins, get exercise.” I mean, you’re mind just runs the gamut of these things when somebody would say a horrible thing like that, but then I heard the tone with which he was saying it, and he was saying it with respect.

Like, “Wow, you’ve made it! Like, you’re an elder and somebody that can be listened to. You’re somebody that can be respected.”

Now, if you think aging is bad, try dying. There’s this culture’s obsession with issues of death, with capital punishment, with abortion, with inner city violence, with guns, with war, and I think there is a kind of moral crisis.

When I came back from India, I came back armed, if you will, with the fact that there were many more people who held different views of the process of dying. Now I have to for a moment go back to what had happened to me in 1961. I had gone from being a Western social scientist over the edge into another way of understanding reality, experientially, not intellectually, and without getting into all the politics of this issue and all the moral aspects of the issue, this was the result of me taking psilocybin mushrooms.

Continue reading
0

Memento Mori – An Excerpt from “Walking Each Other Home”

silhouette-a-man-sitting-relaxing-under-full-moon-at-night-picture-id62513019_20181004-132246_1 Memento Mori – An Excerpt from “Walking Each Other Home”

Ram Dass has talked about how our culture supports the fear and denial of death in many ways, from our glorification of youth in the media to embalming practices that make the dead person appear to be still alive. We are discouraged from looking at the bare bones, as it were, of mortality. My mother told us not to talk about “unpleasant things.”

Dying most often takes place in hospitals or nursing homes, removed from the natural life of the family. Hardly anyone is simply honest about it, including many doctors, who often consider death a failure in their job of ensuring health and survival even though they know we will all someday be broken and unfixable. At a retreat for medical professionals in 1989, Ram Dass spoke about this:




Continue reading
2

Jack Kornfield and Ram Dass on Learning to Trust and Love

monk-and-tow-boy-student-at-golden-buddha-statue-makhabucha-day-way-picture-id917774308 Jack Kornfield and Ram Dass on Learning to Trust and Love

Jack Kornfield: I’ve found myself attracted to spiritual practice from very early, going off to be a monk, because I needed it desperately for one reason or another, for my own pain and suffering. Some connection with the life of renunciation and detachment. I loved it. Then when I came back from the first period of five years in Asia, of practice and study, once I became involved back in the world, in graduate school and relationships and so forth, I discovered that I could love a lot of people in my meditation, but it was a whole lot harder to love the person I was living with.

Or if I was in a somewhat protected environment of the monastery, where our relationships were governed formally by the vows and so forth, that helped me, and there was a great sense of emptiness. It was very, very still. So I found, just for my own life, I found myself working my way down the chakras. Some people kind of try to work themselves up, but for me it was from my mind first, then down.

Continue reading
2

“Ram Dass, you have only three things to do in this lifetime…”

spring-daisy-flowers-picture-id915614956 “Ram Dass, you have only three things to do in this lifetime…”

I think that every institution has a difficult time staying as the edge of truth for a very long time, because of the pressure of survival. There has got to be enough structure for the game to work, and the structures often find this kind of mentality too high risk for its stability.

It’s too chaotic, and the question of how an institution is able to leave some degree of that free creativity is the secret of whether or not it has a long life, or it just turns into a nice big institution.

What I’ve noticed in most of the institutions I’ve been part of is that for the first few years it’s very exciting, and everybody feels challenged and at that living edge. Then everybody figures out how to socialize the game, how to appear to be changing and not actually changing, and everybody, because they have children and families now, have to get insurance policies… They’ve got to make the thing stable, and that sort of tempers their way of playing with that chaotic edge, and recognizing what is interesting.

You can make that edge your object of study, and it can draw you in altogether in a new way.

Continue reading
1

The Birth of Be Here Now – An Origin Story

vintagebuddha The Birth of Be Here Now – An Origin Story

There are a lot of things that my guru Maharajji said to me in the small amount of time I was with him.

I had been with him from November, 1967 to March, 1968. “With him” means I was in a temple to which he was connected. I’d estimate I saw him a total of four hours in that time span. Out of that time came “Be Here Now,” because he was involved in it very clearly.

There was a moment in 1968 when Hari Dass, who was the teacher that Maharajji had given me, came to my room, and he was silent. He wrote on his slate, “Babaji has just given his ashirvad for your book.” I said, “What does ashirvad mean?” and he said, “Blessing.” What book was he talking about? I had no idea, so when I left India and came home, and started to live like a yogi in New Hampshire, I didn’t know what to do with my time.

I thought, “He gave me his blessings for a book, I guess I’m supposed to write a book.”

Continue reading
3

How can you bring a contemplative quality into academics and the environment?

looking How can you bring a contemplative quality into academics and the environment?

It requires inner work for you to cultivate a perspective within yourself that sees your intellect as a servant, not as your identity.

To the extent you are capable of doing that, you can then play the game of academia, do the work that only can be done in that analytic fashion without being trapped in it, and have your interaction with other people through the game.

It’s like Monopoly in which you’re the top hat and I’m the thimble, but behind it you’re here, I’m here, and you’ve gotta be there. The predicament in academia is many people identify with their thoughts so much that they think they are an academic, instead of being a being who’s doing academics.

Continue reading
1

Dealing With Suffering and Seeing it as Grace

gracesuffering Ram Dass on Suffering as Grace

Question: What are some of the ways that I can deal with suffering and then start taking it to a place of Grace?

Ram Dass: For most people, when you say that suffering is Grace it seems off the wall to them. And we’ve got to deal now with our own suffering and other people’s suffering. That is certainly a distinction that is very real, because even if we understand the way in which suffering is Grace – and the way in which it can be a vehicle for our awakening, it’s quite different to look at somebody else’s suffering and say it’s Grace. And Grace is something that an individual can see about their own suffering and then use it to their advantage. It is not something that can be a rationalization for allowing another human being to suffer. And you have to listen to the level at which another person is suffering. And when somebody is hungry you give them food. As my guru said, God comes to the hungry person in the form of food. You give them food and then when they’ve had their belly filled then they may be interested in questions about God. Even though you know from, say, Buddhist training, or whatever spiritual training you have had, that the root cause of suffering is ignorance about the nature of dharma. To give somebody a dharma lecture when they are hungry is just inappropriate methodology in terms of ending suffering.

Continue reading
4

How can we reconcile our spirituality and our religion?

womaninchurch How can we reconcile our spirituality and our religion?

There was a great moment when I asked Trungpa Rinpoche for some meditation instruction.

He was sitting there with this saki bottle and he said, “What you should be doing now is this form of yoga called Ati yoga.” And he says, “You just will expand out, let’s do it.” So we sat there looking at each other and started to meditate.

Then after about 20 seconds he says, “Ram Dass?” I said, “Yes?” He said, “Are you trying?” I said, “Yes I’m trying!” He said, “No Ram Dass, don’t try, just do it.” I realized that in my zeal towards enlightenment, I’d turned it into another Jewish middle-class achievement task.

Continue reading
1

Ram Dass Reminisces about his Neuroses

Make love not war Ram Dass Reminisces about his Neuroses

Now, what happened in the late ’60s was that there was a bifurcation of people into political-social activists and spiritual seekers. In those days, they were the two different groups.

Both of them had had an experience of what was possible, and one group said, “For all of it to happen, you’ve got to change the way things are,” and the other group said, “I’ve gotta change me first, and in order to do that, I have to push everything else away.” That’s what’s known as the renunciate path, which says the world of desire, the world of politics, the world of drama is so thick and seductive that what I must do is draw my awareness back from that. I must renounce the forms in order to cultivate a space where I can hear the deeper truths, and quiet flutes of deeper truths amidst the screaming trumpets of my desire system.

Continue reading
0

What happens when we make assumptions about spiritual methods?

the-woman-knits-earrings-in-the-shape-of-a-flower-picture-id605777410 What happens when we make assumptions about spiritual methods?

Good evening, my name is Ram Dass, which means, “Servant of God.” However, I also use it as an acronym for “Rent-A-Mouth,” because sitting up here implies something that I don’t really cop to.

It’s hard not to get into a model of who I am and who you are because of the way we’re sitting. And as far as I can see, you know what I know. It’s what Aldous Huxley calls the “perennial philosophy”. I know you know it because when I say the deepest thing I figured out, you’re out there going like, “yes, yes.” But we need to gather in these kind of ritualistic processes to say it to ourselves again. It’s like Satsang, or Sangha – to come and experiment in truth.

See, I don’t even have any idea who to be tonight because I’ve spent so many years becoming nobody that now I could be whatever somebody is appropriate, and since the lights are set up I can’t see you, so I’m basically talking to myself. That’s interesting. It changes the whole nature of the lecture, by the way, because the lights are up, I can see some people sitting there like someone else brought them and they’re having to be here.

Continue reading
2

How can we Heal our Heart when it Closes?

silhouette-of-man-on-bench-picture-id512131741 How can we Heal our Heart when it Closes?

When I talk about opening the heart, what exactly do we do?

Well, one thing you do, is you acknowledge that you feel ‘closed.’ That’s the first thing. You don’t make believe you’re open hearted, which most people do much of the time. They’re making believe they are open-hearted, while they’re aloof a little more than they’re feeling themselves to be. They always end up feeling a little hypocritical.

First thing is to acknowledge what you’re feeling: “My heart is closed.”


I’ll tell you there are numerous practices for this, and you have to find one that’s comfortable for you. For example, I work a lot with my breath, and I breathe in and out of my heart, and when I’m breathing out in my heart, I allowed whatever love I can muster for anything to be offered to people, to beings around me, and when I’m breathing in, I’m taking the existence of the universe into myself, and I keep feeling this breath going back and forth, and the breathing out is, “May all beings be free of suffering, may all beings be peaceful, may all beings be happy,” and I say:

“Hard-hearted though I am, and closed hearted though I am, I am going to use my energies to the extent that my mind and my heart can do it for the benefit of others. I’m gonna wish them well.”

Continue reading
3

How can we stay grounded within a conscious relationship?

holdinghands How can we stay grounded within a conscious relationship?

We can see that a lot of our spiritual practices are moving us from ego to soul. We’re clawing our way up and out of the darkness.

It’s a darkness which turns out to be not dark at all, but it seems shadowy from where we’ve been. So we claw up, and then when we’re at soul, and we’re established in soul-ness, we start to have that beautiful dialogue that Rumi and Kabir speak about, we’re intimate with the Beloved, with the guest:

“Where are you, old friend? Where have you been? Where can I find you? I hunger to be with you.”

It’s no longer a practice now. It’s like making love, a celebration of the many with the one. You’re constantly “Ahh, ahhhhhh.” I can only invite you to read that poetry to feel that the separation of you from all of it is not a mistake. It’s not a failure. It’s part of the dance of form and formlessness, so that you are “the One” and you are also “the many”.

Continue reading
3

The Answer to Dying

walking-on-beach-in-india-picture-id152540263 The Answer to Dying

The answer to dying is to be present in the moment. And the way in which you die is by being conscious at the moment of dying and saying, ‘Right! Look at this! Far out! Look at this energy!’

Be fully conscious now. People say to me ‘Is this the Aquarian Age do you think? Do you think the Apocalypse is about to occur? Are we in the dark as part of the Kali Yuga? What do you think?’ And I say ‘I have no idea!’ ‘Are the dark forces going to win? Is somebody going to push the button? Have you noticed that as you go around the world the tremendous resurgence of the living spirit?’ All I say is that as I get higher I notice highness every where I look, but that’s just my projective system I don’t know what’s going on out there. But the further point it that I don’t care, that’s my predicament. I’m not waiting for the Messiah, I don’t care whether there’s an avatar or if there isn’t an avatar.

Continue reading
1

30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

Join Soulspring for conscious insights...

...on all things life, wellness, love, transformation and spirituality...

 PLUS! Get your FREE Guide: 12 Mindfulness Practices to a Peaceful Mind