Ram Dass

Using a Spiritual Practice to Stay Grounded

Most of us are enmeshed in the world, and we get lost very easily in the stuff of life. A daily practice is very useful to keep reminding you, to keep pulling you back and waking you up again, giving you a chance to see how you got lost the day before, and to keep putting what’s happening to you in the world back into a spiritual perspective.

For instance, I read a little passage in the morning when I wake up. I have books next to my bed, and I’ll just pick one up and start the day reading a passage from a holy book, or a little quote from a saint, and it will just start me remembering, reminding me what the game is all about.

You can tune to the spirit through a variety of practices. Look to each method to keep opening you in its own unique way. At the beginning, when you’re trying different methods, be generous with yourself. There will be a method that will fit your unique karma. If you come to a practice with a pure heart and a yearning to be free, it will reflect back the purity of your aspiration.

Spiritual practice isn’t a way to achieve anything or to get somewhere else. You’re already here. You do spiritual practices because you do spiritual practices—not to get to some other state, but to get in touch with who you already are, to clear the dust from the mirror, to come more fully into the present moment.

Whether you will be free and enlightened now or in ten thousand births from now is not the point. What else is there to do? You can’t stop doing them anyway. Once you awaken to the possibility of the universe within, it’s like a gravitational force.

Don’t get trapped in your expectations. Spiritual practices can themselves become obstacles if you become too attached to them. Use these methods as consciously as you can, knowing that, if they are truly working, eventually they will self-destruct.

RAM DASS, author of the groundbreaking classic Be Here Now, and his latest, Polishing the Mirror: How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart, is one of America’s most beloved spiritual teachers. Born Richard Alpert, he began teaching at Harvard University in 1958, where his explorations of human consciousness led him to conduct intensive research with LSD and other psychedelic elements in collaboration with Timothy Leary, Aldous Huxley, Allen Ginsberg, and others. Because of the controversial nature of this research, he was eventually dismissed from Harvard in 1963.

Ram Dass’ psychedelic work continued and became a prelude to the mystical country of the spirit and the source of consciousness itself. Mind expansion via chemical substances became a catalyst for spiritual seeking. In 1967, a fateful trip to India led him to his guru, Neem Karoli Baba. Under his guru’s guidance, he studied yoga and meditation and received the name Ram Dass, or “servant of God.” He has since pursued a variety of spiritual practices and has become world-renowned for his dedication to loving service.

Ram Dass is founder of the Hanuman Foundation, which developed the Prison-Ashram Project, designed to help inmates grow spiritually during incarceration, and the Living Dying Project, which provides support for conscious dying. He is also co-founder of the Seva Foundation, an international organization dedicated to relieving suffering in the world. Ram Dass also founded the Love Serve Remember Foundation, which is currently working to digitize and create an online searchable library of 45 years of Ram Dass teachings for future generations.