Q: You have been exploring consciousness for at least fifty years. And that search has taken you down several different paths including LSD and Bhakti yoga. How can we touch this universal love that you espouse that can unite us?
Ram Dass: Do you know sadhana [spiritual discipline or practice]? I feel sadhana comes from the real self. Sadhana goes from here [points to his head] which is the ego, to this [hand on his heart], which is the real self. And this is the soul. In the depth of the soul is the atman, the oversoul. And that oversoul is really love and compassion, peace, joy, and wisdom. [He says these words carefully, with reverence]. But that isn’t just knowledge; it’s much more. If you want to get to know a tree, the head would merely say, “That’s a tree.” If you go into the heart, you meldwith the tree. If you meld, and I meld, we’re melding into something, into oneness. And this is bhakti—giving from here to here, the head to the heart. This is loving awareness, that’s the soul. And you go down to the heart. You say, “I am loving aware ness.” In the middle of the chest: “I am loving awareness. I am loving awareness, I am loving awareness,” and you get moving down.
The soul is not ruled by time and space. The soul is infinite. It blends with the One in infinity. I’m talking to you, but that’s only one level, and you and I are one, so one is talking to self; it’s another level. These are planes of consciousness, and I think human beings exist on two planes of consciousness, the soul and the ego.
The soul is not part of the incarnation. It comes into the incarnation. And the soul is not afraid of death because it has done it so many times. And now the ego is individual, and the world at this moment is ruled by nations which are egos. And I find, for example, that the United Nations is very ineffective. But then what would we substitute? We could substitute wise beings from different religions or different states—philosopher kings, if you will.
If you want oneness in society, you have to teach people to go inside instead of going outside, because if they want peace, they need to find it within. I remember being at a peace rally. Everybody was yelling, [He shouts loudly, angrily.] “PEACE PEACE!” That isn’t peace! [Laughter.] Peace is inside, in me and in everybody else. If you want peace, you go down in.
When I was a psychologist, this [points to his head] was my preeminent instrument. This was what I thought I was. And when I went here [into the heart], I said, “I’m home.” Because it was so familiar and yet it was something I had not really experienced. None of my psychology got down to [the heart] before mushrooms and my guru. Those were the two major things