Questions for Ram Dass

Questions for Ram Dass

Photo Credit: Magnus Selander

When you describe your first encounter with your guru, Neem Karoli Baba, the writing is so vivid, you seem to be reliving the experience. Does the encounter come to life anew each time you describe it?

Whenever I think of my guru, he is completely present, and of course when I share that first meeting with Maharaji, it was so powerful, so life-changing, there is no doubt that he connects with everyone who is present in the telling.

Are religions different from one another, or is there only one religion?

When we were with Maharaji, he would point his finger in the air and say in Hindi, “Sub ek!” which means “all one.” He would tell us over and over, “There is only one God—Christ, Hanuman, Krishna, Buddha—all one.” And so we are not part of any particular belief system—we do practices from all of them, or at least the mystical parts of them. Our belief system is “Love everyone, serve everyone, and remember God.”

Are religion and spirituality the same thing?

No, spirituality is about finding God within you and developing compassion and love and freedom from the mind. Religion is the way of worshipping together through institutional rites and traditions.

Is “here” the same place it was when you first told us to “be here now”?

Be Here Now has much the same resonance today as it did when I first started talking about living in the presence of awareness and love in the late ’60s. In fact, due to the tremendous stress of our contemporary lives—what with the economy, the wars—training ourselves to become more present in our lives is something that I share a lot these days with the new generation.

Is the ego our friend? our enemy? an illusion?

The ego is necessary for action on the physical plane. It is a beautiful servant but a terrible master.

For a review of his latest book, Polishing the Mirror: How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart, click here.

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