The Spiritual Teachings of Ram Dass

One-Liners by Ram DassEveryone has heard the one about the successful man or woman who has everything, drops out of the rat race, goes to India, meets a guru, and finds God.

That all started with Ram Dass.

Having first gained notoriety as a counter-culture icon, Ram Dass has evolved into an internationally renowned spiritual teacher and author of many books, including the best-selling classic Be Here Now.

His spiritual philosophy is difficult to neatly define, but draws heavily upon Hinduism, with strong references to Buddhism and Christianity. Having spent time with and learned from both Indian gurus and Benedictine monks, Ram Dass might best be thought of as a bridge connecting eastern and western thought, identifying common principles or universal truths in each of these great religious traditions. For the Christian, his teachings can bring a better understanding of how to lead a more Christ-centered life. Specifically, how to better follow the two great Commandments given by Jesus:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind
.... [and] Love your neighbor as yourself.

— Matthew 22:37-38

The essence of Ram Dass's spiritual philosophy is best summed up in his "Three Plane Awareness" model. The three planes are the ego, the soul, and God.

We've gotten lost in our Ego and have forgotten
 that our Soul's motive is to merge with the Beloved.

—Ram Dass

Most people define themselves in terms of their egos - I am a father, a mother, a teenager, rich, poor, liberal, conservative, young, old...the list goes on forever. Our culture reinforces this level of awareness - "you are what you wear," "you are what you eat," "what kind of car do you drive?" et cetera. Most of us also generally define others in terms of their egos - they are nice, mean, attractive, ugly, smart, stupid, funny, or unpleasant. The ego is competitive; it assesses itself by comparison to other egos. We will tear down another's ego if it threatens our own or doesn't "measure up" to our standards--"Sure, she is beautiful, but she is really scatterbrained. I am smarter than she is." "He might be successful but I bet he doesn't have any real friends."

Following Christ's teachings is very difficult when our awareness and identity is completely tied up with our ego.

There is a larger frame to the painting
than the one that bounds our life events.

—Ram Dass

We are much more than our egos, thanks be to God. We are also souls. If we identify with our souls, then we begin to see things as God sees them. In the Gospels, Jesus taught us time and time again that God sees us as souls. Souls are eternal, egos and all things that are important to egos are not. If we see others as souls instead of only their egos, then following Christ's great teaching to love others as you love yourself becomes much easier. Compassion flows more readily when we realize that the person who injured our ego is also a soul just like us. Our egos fight. Our souls are untouched. Even if we are worlds apart in terms of our egos, we share the same divine spark of the Creator in our souls. We are all children of God and beloved by Him. Just as God loves us He commands us to love others as well.

God is the source of all that is. He is the Creator and we are created in His image. The material world of the ego is finite, as are the bodies where our egos are housed. God is infinite and eternal; our souls are similarly eternal for they carry the divine spark. God is spirit, the soul is spirit as well. Our souls yearn to merge with God, to be one with Him. Christ said that He and the Father are one and that we should approach the Holy through Him. We can become one with God through Christ. Ram Dass would say to think of Christ as our guru.

Pure Awareness is who I was when I was Nobody.
—Ram Dass

As we increasingly identify with our souls instead of our egos, we will be better able to live a Christ-centered life. Christ, who as spirit lives in our hearts, brings us into union with God through His presence. The key is to be aware of His presence. We cannot attain this wonderful state of awareness by doing anything. We attain it by doing nothing. We attain it by being still, by letting go of our egos, by surrendering our life to God so that we might live more fully. When we finally let go, freed of the prison of the ego, aware that we are souls, we are connected to God. When our ego is silent, our soul is free to rest in the Holy Lord, the giver of life, now and forever.

—Nick Lewis

Ram Dass audio tapes are available for purchase through the Ram Dass Library. To contact the library, call (415)499-8587 or visit the Ram Dass Library Web site.

One Liners by Ram Dass
The quotations above appear in One-Liners ©2002 by Ram Dass, published by Bell Tower, New York. Help support Purchase a copy of One-Liners by following this  link to