Ram Dass, born Richard Alpert, was a sage, revered author, and father credited for popularizing Eastern spirituality in the West.
A Harvard psychology professor turned spiritual devotee, Dass traveled to India in 1967, where he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba and his spiritual journey took flight.
Authoring countless influential books such as “Be Here Now” and “Journey of Awakening“, his teachings are a profound reminder that the path to true peace and contentment is paved with the cultivation of mindfulness, compassion, and unconditional love.
While Ram Dass’ physical presence left us in 2019, his spiritual presence and impact continue to resonate through the lives of those who have been touched by his profound teachings.
His timeless wisdom and compassionate words, preserved in books and recorded talks, continue to guide and inspire individuals and help them find meaning and purpose in their lives.
In this article, we’ll be looking at some of his most profound and inspirational quotes, including:
- Ram Dass quotes on life and self
- Ram Dass quotes on death and suffering
- Ram Dass quotes on love and relationships
Ram Dass on Life and Self
Who are we? What are we here for? What is a good life? Throughout human history, these questions about our identity, purpose, and the meaning of a fulfilling life have been central to our collective curiosity.
From ancient times to the present day, spiritual leaders have devoted themselves to exploring and offering insights into these profound existential questions. Ram Dass is no exception, with many of his best quotes centering on such issues of life and self.
To Dass, life is all about finding a deep sense of inner peace, joy, and contentment, which he reminds us comes not from material possessions or external achievements, but from understanding one’s true nature and purpose in life.
In much of his writing, Dass conceptualizes the idea of a separate self as an illusion, with the true self a part of the universe as a whole, transcending individual identity.
The following quotes encourage us to let go of our attachment to ego and embrace our interconnectedness with all things, to experience a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
Ram Dass Quotes on Life and Self:
“The game is not about becoming somebody, it’s about becoming nobody. Becoming no thing”
“Everything changes once we identify with being the witness to the story, instead of the actor in it.”
“The spiritual journey is not a path of comfort; it’s a path of transformation.”
“The most exquisite paradox… as soon as you give it all up, you can have it all. As long as you want power, you can’t have it. The minute you don’t want power, you’ll have more than you ever dreamed possible.”
“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.”
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
“If you think you’re free, there’s no escape possible.”
“We are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we’re so deeply interconnected with one another.“
“As long as you have certain desires about how it ought to be you can’t see how it is.”
“Your entire life is a curriculum. Everything you’ve got on your plate is where the stuff for your enlightenment is. It’s breathtaking when you see the beauty of this design.”
“You walk down the street and you’re somebody; you dress like somebody; your face looks like somebody. Everybody is reinforcing their structure of the universe over and over again and you meet [each other] like two huge things meeting . . .
“. . .We enter into these conspiracies. You say, I’ll make believe you are who you think you are if you make believe I am who I think I am.”
Ram Dass on Death and Suffering
Ram Dass devoted much of his teachings to reminding us that suffering and death are natural aspects of the human experience.
This theme became especially prevalent towards the end of his life, where his writing was inspired and informed by his personal experiences of aging, having a stroke, and losing loved ones.
The quotes we’ve selected below offer a much-needed reassurance that while so much of life’s experiences can be difficult, with the right perspective, they can also be transformative and lead us to greater understanding and acceptance.
For Dass, death is not the end but rather a transition to another form of existence. In this vein, he encourages us to respond to the inevitability of death not with fear or avoidance, but with a whole-hearted embrace of the impermanence of life, not taking things so seriously and focusing on living fully in the present moment.
Ram Dass Quotes on Death and Suffering
“Suffering is part of our training program for becoming wise.”
“I work to extricate myself from the root causes of suffering. If you are motivated out of fear and you’re caught in suffering, the way you act toward others conveys that fear apart from what you want to convey. You’re transmitting your fear and your suffering.”
“A feeling of aversion or attachment toward something is your clue that there’s work to be done.”
“The stroke has given me another way to serve people. It lets me feel more deeply the pain of others; to help them know by example that ultimately, whatever happens, no harm can come. ‘Death is perfectly safe,’ I like to say.”
“You can be still and still moving. Content even in your discontent.”
“In our Western culture, although death has come out of the closet, it is still not openly experienced or discussed. Allowing dying to be so intensely present enriches both the preciousness of each moment and our detachment from it.“
“In meditation, we can watch the itch instead of scratching it.”
“Suffering is the sandpaper of our incarnation. It does its work of shaping us.”
“Death doesn’t need to be treated as an enemy to delight in life…I encourage to make peace with death. To see it as a culminating adventure of this adventure of life. It is not an error, it is not a failure. It is taking off a tight shoe that you’ve worn well.”
“Healing does not mean going back to the way things were before, but rather allowing what is now to move us closer to God.”
“Prolong not the past, invite not the future. Do not alter your innate wakefulness and fear, not appearances. There is nothing more than this”
Ram Dass quotes on love and Relationships
Amongst other experiences, Ram Dass’ understanding of love and relationships was deeply influenced by his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, who through action and words taught him about the power of unconditional love and interconnectedness.
Dass’ experience with psychedelics also contributed heavily to his teachings on love and relationships. His use led him to believe that in the right conditions, these substances can help us see past our individual egos, and to connect with all beings on a deeper level.
The following quotes capture a core tenet of Ram Dass’ teachings – the importance of love in our lives. Experiencing and embodying authentic, egoless love is the ultimate goal of spiritual practice, according to Dass – the most important aspect of human existence.
Relationships with other beings are the perfect opportunity for this – to connect with the divine and cultivate love.
Rather than being rooted in attachment or possession, relationships should be vehicles for spiritual growth – a chance to develop unconditional love and let go of our ego by embracing the other person as they are.
Ram Dass Quotes on Love and Relationships
“I would like my life to be a statement of love and compassion – and where it isn’t, that’s where my work lies”
“The spiritual journey is one of continuous learning and purification, and love is the strongest tool for that journey.”
“A moment comes when “other” is no longer other.”
“In most of our human relationships, we spend much of our time reassuring one another that our costumes of identity are on straight.”
“If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.”
“When your center is firm, when your faith is strong and unwavering, then it will not matter what company you keep.”
“In the end, we are all just walking each other home.”
“When I look at relationships, my own and others, I see a wide range of reasons for people to be together and ways in which they are together. I see ways in which a relationship—which means something that exists between two or more people – for the most part reinforces people’s separateness as individual entities.“
“Treat everyone you meet like God in drag.”
“I can do nothing for you but work on myself...you can do nothing for me but work on yourself!”
“Only that in you which is me can hear what I’m saying.”
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