The following is excerpted
from Be Love Now: The Path of the Heart, recently released by HarperOne.
A human life is a
series of experiences. When we have little awareness of our predicament,
experiences feed our attachments and condition our desire for more experiences.
Our perspective changes when we begin to sense, even momentarily, the unity of
all things and our identity with the Self.
start to see each experience as a teaching to be brought into awareness and
loved until we are free from being captivated by the experience. As we begin to
awaken, experiences lead to reflection and contemplation. Then as we become
more aware, experiences become a fire of purification, a burning ground of the
ego, grist for the mill of developing consciousness, food enabling the emerging
soul to break free of its bonds.
is the nature of the mind stuff that keeps us in our egos? Ego attachments may
be habits of thought, the residue of experiences, desires we’ve developed and
reinforced or that have been implanted, even unconscious urges and tendencies.
Attachments conspire to create this stuck-together bundle of changing thought
forms and feelings we label a self, our ego. This sanguine idea of self is just
that, an idea, a description of how we’re doing at the moment, self-inflated or
disappointed, a conglomeration of thoughts, feelings, and concepts that changes
all the time. One morning I wake up thinking about enlightenment. The next
morning I wake up thinking about world politics and environmental disasters.
The next day I’m anxious about getting this book done. These temporal experiences that form our ego
are like flickering images of a passing show. Each one seems real at free, one
consciousness, the time, but they keep changing.
of the first steps in getting free of the attachment to this ego idea is to
develop a witness. We have thousands and thousands of me’s, but there is one me
that is separate and watches all the other me’s. It’s on a different level of
consciousness. It’s not just another role; it’s part of the heart-mind.
witness is your leverage in the game. The witness me isn’t trying to change any
of the other me’s. It’s not an evaluator or a judge; it’s not the superego. It
doesn’t care about anything. It just observes. “Hmmm, there she or he is doing
that again.” That witness place inside you is your centering device, your
witness is part of your soul. It’s witnessing your incarnation, this lifetime,
from the heart-mind. It’s the beginning of discrimination between your soul and
your ego, your real Self and your self in the incarnation. Once you begin to
live in this witness place, you begin to shift your identification from the
roles and thought forms. As you witness yourself, the process becomes more like
watching a movie than being the central character in one.
you begin to dwell in Self-awareness, the old identifications with ego roles
begin to just fall away. You shift your identification from the external roles
and attachments to internal awareness. It’s a being thing, not a doing thing.
don’t do anything. I once asked Dada Mukerjee, one of Maharaj-ji’s oldest and
closest devotees, how to give up attachments. He said, “Well, you can give
things up, or you can wait until they give you up.” Dada was a lifelong smoker,
and though smoking was definitely not allowed in an ashram environment,
Maharaj-ji very lovingly allowed him time and space to drop out of sight for an
occasional cigarette. After Maharaj-ji left the body, Dada just stopped
ego is based on fear, but the soul is based on love. Maharaj-ji is teaching us
about soul. He’s acknowledging our souls. As you witness your ego stuff, one
way to release it is to constantly offer it into the fire of love in your
heart. I am loving awareness.
mantra I have used to get into witness awareness and see the ego from the God
perspective is: I am a point of sacrificial fire held within the fiery will of
God. I received this mantra from Hilda Charlton, a teacher in New York who was
a chela, or disciple, of Nityananda, whom you will meet later. She held a
weekly class at St. John the Divine in Manhattan that helped countless people
keep their spiritual heads above water. In her youth Hilda was a modern dancer.
She traveled to India in the 1940s and danced in maharajas’ courts to support
herself. She was a strong teacher, and this is a fierce mantra to work with.
Nityananda, her guru, was a great Shaivite siddha, a realized being who
followed Shiva, the destroyer. He was also full of boundless love and compassion.
you continue with your sadhana, as meditation deepens, you identify less and
less with the ego and begin to touch and enter more deeply into the space of
love. You begin to experience love toward more and more people and find love in
the experiences that come into your field of awareness.
Maharaj-ji said, “Ram Dass, love everybody,” I said, “I can’t.” That was my ego
talking. He said, “Love everybody.” He wasn’t listening to my ego. In that
moment I saw my dying ego and who I was becoming. I looked between him and me
and had a vision of a coffin, and my old self was in the coffin. I had to give
up. He just wasn’t going to honor my ego any longer.
you keep giving up the habits that hold you back from loving, the ego’s fear of
letting go dissolves in the love. From the ego’s vantage point you surrender
into love. From the soul’s vantage point you are coming home, the boundaries of
separation are fading, and the two are becoming one. As you begin to enter into
Oneness and to become love, instead of perceiving from your ego, you’re
perceiving from your soul. You are shifting your identification from ego to
soul. You don’t kill your ego; you kill your identification with your ego. As
you dissolve into love, your ego fades. You’re not thinking about loving;
you’re just being love, radiating like the sun. That last step requires Grace.
I Am Loving Awareness
I have a practice in
which I say to myself, I am loving awareness. To begin, I focus my attention in
the middle of my chest, on the heart-mind. I may take a few deep breaths into
my diaphragm to help me identify with it. I breathe in love and breathe out
love. I watch all of the thoughts that create the stuff of my mind, and I love
everything, love everything I can be aware of. I just love, just love, just
love you. No matter how rotten you are, I love you because you are part of the
manifestation of God. In that heart-mind I’m not Richard Alpert, I’m not Ram
Dass-those are both roles. I look at those roles from that deeper “I.” In the
heart-mind I’m not identified with my roles. They’re like costumes or uniforms
hanging in a closet. “I am a reader,” “I am a father,” “I am a yogi,” “I am a
man,” “I am a driver”-those are all roles.
I am is loving awareness. I am loving awareness. It means that wherever I look,
anything that touches my awareness will be loved by me. That loving awareness
is the most fundamental “I.” Loving awareness witnesses the incarnation from a
plane of consciousness different from the plane that we live on as egos, though
it completely contains and interpenetrates everyday experience.
I wake up in the morning, I’m aware of the air, the fan on my ceiling, I’ve got
to love them. I am loving awareness. But if I’m an ego, I’m judging everything
as it relates to my own survival. The air might give me a cold that will turn
into pneumonia. I’m always afraid of something in the world that I have to
defend myself against. If I’m identified with my ego, the ego is frightened
silly, because the ego knows that it’s going to end at death. But if I merge
with love, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Love neutralizes fear.
and love, loving awareness, is the soul. This practice of I am loving awareness
turns you inward toward the soul. If you dive deep enough into your soul, you
will come to God. In Greek it’s called agape, God love. Martin Luther King,
Jr., said about this agape, this higher love: “It’s an overflowing love which
is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless and creative . . . the love of
God operating in the human heart.”
the love Maharaj-ji spreads around, the unconditional love. He loves you just
because, just because. Spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless. He’s not going to
love you because you’re an achiever or a devotee or a yogi, or because you’re
on the path. He loves you just because. Can you accept it? Can you accept
you can accept that kind of love, you can give that love. You can give love to
all you perceive, all the time. I am loving awareness. You can be aware of your
eyes seeing, your ears hearing, your skin feeling, and your mind producing
thoughts, thought after thought after thought. Thoughts are terribly seductive,
but you don’t have to identify with them. You identify not with the thoughts,
but with the awareness of the thoughts. To bring loving awareness to everything
you turn your awareness to is to be love. This moment is love. I am loving
you put out love, then you immerse yourself in the sea of love. You don’t put
out love in order to get back love. It’s not a transaction. You just become a
beacon of love for those around you. That’s what Maharaj-ji is. Then from the
moment you wake until the moment you go to sleep, and maybe in dreams too,
you’re in a loving environment.
using I am loving awareness to become aware of your thought forms and to
practice not identifying with them. Then you can identify with your soul, not
your fears and anxieties. Once you identify with your spiritual being, you
can’t help but be love.
simple. I start with the fact that I’m aware, and then I love everything. But
that’s all in the mind, that’s a thought, and loving awareness is not a
thought. Or if it’s a thought, it’s pointing to a place that’s not a thought.
It’s pointing at a state of being the way the concept of emptiness is pointing
at emptiness, which is really fullness.
love. That’s what souls do. Egos don’t, but souls do. Become a soul, look
around, and you’ll be amazed-all the beings around you are souls. Be one, see
many people have this heart connection, then we will know that we are all one,
we human beings all over the planet. We will be one. One love.
don’t leave out the animals, and trees, and clouds, and galaxies-it’s all one.
It’s one energy. It comes through in individual ways, but it’s one energy. You
can call it energy, or you can call it love. I like to look at a tree and see
that it’s love. Don’t you?
Ram Dass, Chant Master Krishna Das and respected meditation teacher, Sharon
Salzberg in a live Internet workshop, “Open Your Heart in Paradise
Retreat,” December 17th
-19th, broadcast to your living room from Maui, Hawaii. A percentage
of the proceeds benefit the Love Serve Remember Foundation.
article was written by Ram Dass with Rameshwar Das.
with Permission of HarperCollins.
Copyright ©2010 by Love Serve Remember Foundation. All Rights