Interview with Ram Dass

with the Lotus Guide

I was a child of the 60s, and so Ram Dass had a profound influence on my life; I still have my original Be Here Now book with the $3.33 price on it. I’ll be honest, though. I’ve tried many paths and studied many systems to develop spiritual consciousness but my participation was modest at best. So as you might imagine, my success was equal to my participation. But about 12 years ago something happened; I fell in love. It’s true that being in love is very similar to being in a 24/7 workshop, an intense workshop at times, but there has also been a side effect. Surrendering, which wasn’t easy, to love has prepared me in many ways to surrender to something even greater. This was my first step outside of “Me” to embrace and surrender to something other than myself. As it turns out, this was also the first step toward the realization that the “I” who I thought I was was not the “I” who I am to become. This is a huge but necessary step for the ego and it’s full of deception.

I know, this almost sounds like double-talk, and that’s why I wanted to hear what Ram Dass would answer to a few questions that I wrestle with in those deep and profound moments of surrender. Whether or not you believe in God or an eternal life in the hereafter, one thing most of us can agree on is that in the “here and now,” life is much better when we give and receive love.


Rahasya Poe, Lotus Guide


Lotus Guide: Of all the interviews you have had through the years, is there one question that no one ever asked but you wish they had?

Ram Dass: That question would most definitely be: “What did it feel like inside when you were in front of your guru, Maharaji?” If someone had asked, I would have responded, “It felt like ecstatic one-pointedness.”


LG: If everyone on the planet were listening and you had 30 seconds to talk, what would you say if you knew it would really make a difference?

RD: Love everyone including yourself, which would make you joyful and make the planet a happy place to live. You can accomplish this by identifying with your spiritual heart and practice unconditional love for everything including yourself.


LG: I wrote a book recently on the power that beliefs have on us as individuals and as a society. I’m always amazed at how much power a thought can have over us even when we know that we are only pretending we know. So at this point in your life, are you guided more by your beliefs or by your life experiences and what you learned from them?

RD: Beliefs are head trips. By that I mean ego based while faith comes from your spiritual heart. So my life is guided by my faith as well as my life experiences. I have learned surrender and contentment.


LG: It does seem that there is an important balance between “faith” and actual life experience. It seems that we need faith to take that step out into unknown territory but it ultimately needs to lead to an experience. Here is something that I think a lot of us wrestle with, or at least our egos do. When you ask yourself, “Who am I?” who is it that’s doing the asking or does this go beyond the scope of this interview?

RD: I think I can answer that with one simple statement. It is your spiritual self. And when my spiritual self asks me that question, my response is “loving awareness.”


LG: Thank you, Ram Dass, for everything you have given so many of us through the years. Life truly is a journey.


By Ram Dass

In the West surrender implies giving up power. But surrendering to a guru or the Beloved doesn’t mean giving power to another human being—it’s letting go of the stuff that keeps you separate. Each time you surrender, it leads you further in, deeper into yourself. You surrender to that place in yourself that takes you beyond form.

Renouncing the attachments and desires that are holding you back can be really difficult when you are trying to do it in an achievement-oriented, driven sort of way. On the other hand, giving things up is incredibly easy in the presence of love. They just dissolve. Those of you who have had a really powerful love relationship will recognize what it is like to care more about your beloved than yourself. Your favorite food is on the table, and your main concern is that your lover should have enough of it. You are fulfilled when your lover eats.

That’s what you experience when you have a child. People say, “Aren’t you self-effacing, aren’t you sacrificing for your child?” But it isn’t sacrifice—it’s joy. Austerities done with a dry heart are heavy, but when they’re done with love you’re saying, “Let me give this up for my beloved. It will bring us closer!” When you really want to get close to your beloved, you can’t give things up fast enough. Love lubricates the whole process. You just get more joyful.

Falling in love is a desire to merge with, to be completely immersed in love for, and be loved by the beloved. You want to know your beloved more and more intimately. That yearning has motivated human beings to give up everything, to renounce all forms of gratification, even life itself. Throughout history, people have undergone the greatest sacrifices to consummate their love. To love God or the guru is to let go of everything that separates you from the Beloved. This is the essence of devotional surrender and renunciation.

When they’re misunderstood, the external acts that characterize surrender and renunciation can be motivated by a desire to imitate, by guilt, feelings of unworthiness, self-righteousness, a desire for security in structure, or masochism. But anyone who truly loves knows that to give up one’s own happiness for the beloved is none of those things. It is the purest, most opening and flowing total ecstasy.

True, sometimes you have to prime the pump before your heart is open enough to love that deeply. You begin a process of purification based on how you think it could be. It’s like diving into deep water—first you have to walk to the end of the diving board. You undergo purifications to get into a position to fall in love with God. You become disciplined not out of guilt, shame, or moral responsibility, but out of an incredible yearning to be pure enough to be with God. The actual moment of diving in is the inevitable culmination of your training and preparation.


Excerpted from Be Love Now: The Path of the Heart by Ram Dass with Rameshwar Das. Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins. Copyright ©2010 by Love Serve Remember Foundation. All rights reserved.