The greatest and the most subtle teaching Ram Dass writes, is what helps us move from ‘the thinking mind to the spiritual heart, from discursive thought to simple awareness, from the multiplicity of experience to the ground of being, from the ego to the soul’.
He combines his spiritual work with what he learnt in his training to become a psychotherapist.
‘Psychology shows me the layers of emotions and motives, self-imaging, and relationships. I look intuitively at how the mind has fastened on the person’s situation, where they are clinging. Of course, I know the limits of psychology. Psychedelics first showed me that. My yoga training also shows me planes of consciousness… I use my bag of therapist tricks to help people work with their mind stuff. I look at the attachment, the place where they are holding on or wanting to be a certain way. That can be like Vipassana [body/mind concentration or mindfulness to see what insight can be gained] or going back to Freudian fixations. I see where a person is in their inner journey.
I go into my soul to mirror their soul, to help them free up their attachments and come into the heart … I look behind the eyes, behind the thoughts flickering between us. I tune into Maharaj-ji and say what comes into my mind. As both of us become aware of the karma of the situation or how they are holding onto a particular point of view, a moment of letting go can happen.’
Ram Dass uses the phrase ‘in-seeing’ from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke – when your awareness merges into Awareness. Ram Dass: ‘Then you are inside everything as well as outside, because it’s all One. That’s why it’s called the Universe. This is the mystical root.’
His teaching centres on being in the present moment – where there is nothing else.
‘If I am fully in the moment, my own death or someone else’s is just another moment. The spiritual journey is less about our timeline from birth to death than from separation to oneness. Rather than a small being soon to be extinguished, I am simply a spark of infinite awareness.’
Ram Dass sees Maharaj-ji as his internal guide and his external guru – one foot in this relative reality, the other in the formless One. A being who intersects ‘our time-bound, linear reality at a kind of metaphysical perpendicular. His eternal present is another dimension coinciding with our past, present and future. Ram Dass imagines that each of us will commune with our guides after death
‘in intimate delight… no real separation. We are together in the ground of being, the unthought “I” in the spiritual heart, the loving awareness of the soul. In that place between death and birth, we are no-bodies, but souls intuiting directly … we simply are … barely any difference between lover and beloved … pure presence’
Those of us who have Christ as our inner guide might see that as being in Christ consciousness – hid with Christ in God. Maharaj-ji spoke also of Christ: ‘Christ died for the truth … He never died, he never died. He lives in the hearts of everyone as the Atman’ – God within me.