Ram Dass’ teachings have inspired generations on topics ranging from spirituality and social action to aging and death. Read some selections from his books below.
Acting with compassion…
"Acting with compassion is not doing good because we think we ought to. It is being drawn to action by heart-felt passion. It is giving ourselves into what we are doing, being present in the moment—no matter how difficult, sad or even boring it feels, no matter how much it demands. It is acting from our deepest understanding of what life is, listening intently for the skillful means in each situation, and not compromising the truth. It is working with others in a selfless way, in a spirit of mutual respect."
—from Compassion in Action (1995)
Death is our greatest challenge…
"Death is our greatest challenge as well as our greatest spiritual opportunity. By cultivating mindfulness, we can prepare ourselves for this final passage by allowing nature, rather than Ego, to guide us."
—from Still Here (2001)
Being conscious is cutting through your own melodrama…
“Being conscious is cutting through your own melodrama and being right here. Exist in no mind, be empty, here now, and trust that as a situation arises, out of you will come what is necessary to deal with that situation including the use of your intellect when appropriate. Your intellect need not be constantly held on to keep reassuring you that you know where you’re at, out of fear of loss of control. Ultimately, when you stop identifying so much with your physical body and with your psychological entity, that anxiety starts to disintegrate. And your start to define yourself as in flow with the universe; and whatever comes along—death, life joy, sadness—is grist for the mill of awakening, Not this versus that but whatever.”
—from Grist for the Mill (1977)
The curriculum of service provides us with information…
"The curriculum of service provides us with information about our strengths as well, and we discover how these contribute to genuinely help-full service. Each time we drop our masks and meet heart-to-heart, reassuring one another simply by the quality of our presence, we experience a profound bond which we intuitively understand is nourishing everyone. Each time we quiet our mind, our listening becomes sharp and clear, deep and perceptive; we realize that we know more than we thought we knew, and can reach out and hear, as if from inside, the heart of someone's pain. Each time we are able to remain open to suffering, despite our fear and defensiveness, we sense a love in us which becomes increasingly unconditional."
—from How Can I Help? (1985)
The spiritual journey is individual…
“The spiritual journey is individual, highly personal. It can’t be organized or regulated. It isn’t true that everyone should follow one path. Listen to your own truth.”
—from One-Liners: A Mini-Manual for a Spiritual Life (2002)