Working within polarities wrought with righteousness, disagreement & ignorance, can we share in the spontaneous, boundless joy of the present moment by offering one another love-for-love’s-sake?
How can we offer healing to a world so seemingly caught up in polarities of righteousness? How can we construct a bridge to freedom when everyone and everything around us is beckoning us to build up walls of separation? Even saying something like, “That other side just doesn’t understand we are all one!” is creating a separation. With nuance this subtle, how can we find a common ground to meet each other in the present moment, rather than stay stuck behind our walls (screens) of polarity? Let’s explore this question from the inside out, using real life experiences from Be Here Now Network teachers, like Ram Dass and Jack Kornfield, and satsang friends like KK Sah, to exemplify the dissolution of feelings of separation through imbibing the present-moment-reality of offering love-for-love’s-sake.
“Compassion is bringing our deepest truth into our actions because that is ultimately what we have to give this world and one another.” – Ram Dass
Love is Self-Communicative
Walking to his parent’s house one snow-covered Boston night in 1961, after his first psilocybin experience with Tim Leary and Allen Ginsberg, Ram Dass decided, in his newly reclaimed intuitive heart-awareness, that he would shovel snow from their drive. His parents, in their rational rigidity, exclaimed from an upper window, “Come to bed, nobody shovels snow at three in the morning!” Responding with a playful, humorous dance around his shovel, Ram Dass looked up to see them laughing now as well, enveloped in his contagious, spontaneous warmth.
“Love springs spontaneously from within, but although love can never be forced from or upon another, it can be awakened through love itself. Essentially, love is self-communicative: Those who do not have it catch it from those who have it, for one cannot absorb love without making a response. Regardless of the barnacles which may cover the surface, the response is stamped by the nature of love. – Meher Baba
Even amidst evident disagreement from his parents, Ram Dass was able to smooth out any semblance of controversy or friction by offering levity, humor, and love from the core of his being. With nothing to push back against, his parents were lured into the boundless love of the present moment, dropping the subject and heading back to bed with warm smiles and open hearts.
Explore the path of generosity with Ram Dass and see the web of interconnection that manifests through selfless service to others, on Ep. 335 of Mindrolling
The Love of an Indian Family
That compassionate spark Ram Dass shared with his parents is the same love-for-love’s sake that he imbued in those who encountered him or his teachings over the years. This is partially due to who Ram Dass was, but also sprang forth from what his beautiful cast of supporting friends, teachers and gurus instilled and helped cultivate within him. One of these friends, teachers, and gurubhai (fellow devotee) was KK Sah, who Ram Dass considered his closest Indian brother.
When Ram Dass arrived to his guru Maharajji’s feet for the first time, completely blown out by the mind-stopping mystical insight, lilas (divine plays), and radiant energy flowing from this being; it was KK Sah who welcomed him into his home and family, helping him get his grounding and wherewithal. Ram Dass wouldn’t be the only devotee to receive this special, unconditional care from him; however, as KK Sah was true living embodiment of sharing love for only love’s sake.
“Enter into an Indian family and then you can understand love. Love does not wait for logic and is the easiest path of all.
The first test of love is that it knows no bargaining—true love cannot exist in an arrangement by two parties. Love is always the giver not the taker.
Love can conquer everything. It is the best medicine. It can take you to God because love is God.
It is all powerful. It knows no fear. It is the highest ideal
Love is higher than work, than yoga, than knowledge, although the highest forms of love and wisdom are in reality one.
Duty is seldom sweet. It becomes sweet only through love which shines only in freedom.
Every motion is a circle. Therefore do not hate anyone because that hatred which comes out of you must in the long run come back to you. When you send love it will naturally come back to you, completing the circle.
Love attracts human beings to each other, animals to animals and all of creation in an endless embrace.
Love manifests from the lowest atom to the highest being – it is omnipotent and all pervading.
Love is the one motive power that pervades the entire universe – unattached – yet shining in everything and without which the whole universe would fall to pieces in a moment.” – “Love” by KK Sah
Learn more about the unconditional love of Indian families through the lens of KK’s and Ram Dass’ friend, Krishna Das, on Ep. 14 of Pilgrim Heart
The Unconditional Care of KK Sah
Much like Ram Dass’ intrinsic yearning to share is what brought so many people home through his offerings and his being; KK also played a vital role in opening the stream of flow for Westerners to finally start visiting Maharajji for darshan at his ashrams in India. At the time that Ram Dass was first brought to Maharajji by Bhagavan Das, they were two of the only Western devotees, to the point that Maharajji directed Ram Dass not to tell anyone about him. Upon arriving home to lecture tours across the United States; though, all Ram Dass could do was share stories of Maharajji. Even against his own Guru’s orders, Ram Dass couldn’t help himself but to share love-for-love’s-sake.
“I came back from India with a precious jewel that I could not do anything but share.” – Ram Dass
As he went around on his lecture series, indeed sharing this precious jewel of Maharajji–of unconditional love–many young seekers felt a pull to bask in the same presence that was the source of Ram Dass’ radiance. Although he couldn’t stop himself from sharing about Maharajji, he did partially adhere to his directions, and refused to give word on Maharajji’s whereabouts in India. This is where the bhav (devotion) of KK Sah comes in.
When a group of Ram Dass’ students, including (who would become) Krishna Das and Rameshwar Das, were traveling India in search of Maharajji, they sent letters to Ram Dass to give to KK, asking for darshan (divine meeting) of Maharajji. At first, when KK read them to Maharajji, the response was negative, so KK–who had been blessed with the boon to always remain a child–pouted to Maharajji that these were Ram Dass’ students, and Maharajji had instructed him to serve Ram Dass. After some back-and-forth, Maharajji finally exclaimed, “Tell them what you want.” Through this one moment of KK’s innate yearning to share love-for-love’s-sake, an entire bridge was built for the Western satsang to partake in this boundless presence of Bhakti. This would become a two-way bridge, eventually carrying these devotional Bhakti Yoga practices back to the West.
“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – The Buddha
One of the holy books brought back across this ‘Bhakti bridge’ was the Ramayana. Take a deep dive into KK Sah’s commentary, on Ep. 191 of Mindrolling
Jack Kornfield & Big-Heart Ram Dass
Whether you were initially turned on through his lectures, retreats, or catalogue of books; it is safe to say that Ram Dass has continued to stoke the fire of love, devotion, compassion, and service in hearts spanning manifold generations – his sharing of this love-for-love’s-sake marking the reason we are here together as a satsang, journeying together as fellow seekers.
Through his time traveling, teaching, writing, and sharing, Ram Dass became the catalyst of inspiration for many of the more prominent meditation and mindfulness teachers in the contemporary world, including none other than Be Here Now Network‘s Jack Kornfield. Ram Dass’ inspiration and guidance proved to be one of the North Stars in Jack’s career and life mission of teaching Dharma from the perspectives of Buddhism, mindfulness, and loving awareness.
“Love is the strongest medicine. It is more powerful than electricity.” – Neem Karoli Baba
In 1997, after hearing Ram Dass had his stroke, Jack describes feeling devastated while waiting in the hospital lobby, and truly unsure of what to do. Ram Dass was blocked off in the ICU with only a 10% chance of survival, so no one could do anything personally for this individual who had done so much for them. Wracking their brains trying to figure out what to do for Ram Dass, a big-heart idea miraculously arose.
The magic of generosity sprung forth, and they realized that even though they couldn’t do anything for Ram Dass, they could do something really special for the entire hospital staff taking care of him. They called Ben and Jerry’s, and other businesses who were part of Ram Dass’ Social Venture Network, and explained to them the situation.
“The next thing you know, trucks started pulling up to the hospital filled with baskets of lotions, soap, and unguents for every person on the staff there in honor of their care, and then Ben and Jerry’s trucks pulled up and they disgorged enormous amounts of ice cream to everyone who would take it.
It was a karmic moment to see the generosity and the big-heartedness of Ram Dass–that his truth, who he was–was being enacted by all those who loved him. It’s like Thich Nhat Hanh saying to his community, ‘You are me. Whether I’m here or not, it doesn’t matter. You are me and I am you.'” – Jack Kornfield
In this story, the big-hearted generosity and compassionate truth of Ram Dass didn’t just come back around to him singly; rather, it’s light was multiplied into a vast rainbow to uplift the entire hospital staff the minute it shined through the crystal of his friend’s hearts – hearts he had helped cultivate through this same love-for-love’s-sake.
Abide in loving awareness with Jack Kornfield, as he shares a Dharma talk elucidating the nature of our true identity as love itself, on Ep. 118 of Heart Wisdom
Hopefully, these examples can provide a guiding light for each of us, as we venture to mend our deep polarities, build bridges rather than walls, and find ways to offer the spontaneous, boundless, expansive joy of sharing love-for-love’s-sake. Through this journey, may we heal ourselves and the world.
“True love gathers power and spreads itself until it transforms everyone it touches. Humanity will attain a new mode of life through the unhampered interplay of pure love, as it spreads from heart to heart.” – Meher Baba
– Written by Ganesh Das Braymiller on behalf of the Love Serve Remember Foundation
Images via Love Serve Remember Foundation, Jack Kornfield and @digitalshape onTwenty20