In this excerpt from his book Be Love Now: The Path of the Heart, spiritual teacher Ram Dass explains how to better love yourself and the world around you — how to become "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.
I 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.
All 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.
When 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.
Awareness 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.”
When 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 awareness.
first travelled to India in 1967 as Dr. Richard Alpert, an eminent Harvard psychologist. There he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba (affectionately known as Maharaj-ji), who gave Ram Dass his name, which means “servant of God.” Upon his return from India, Ram Dass became a pivotal cultural influence and has served as a guiding light for over forty years, carrying millions along on the journey. He is the co-founder of the Seva Foundation
and lives in Maui, Hawaii. www.Ramdass.org
Excerpted from Be Love Now: The Path of the Heart by Ram Dass with Rameshwar Das. Reprinted with Permission of HarperCollins. Copyright ©2010 by Love Serve Remember Foundation. All Rights Reserved.