In this episode of Here and Now, Ram Dass explores our obsession with personality, the possibilities of a compassionate society, and how we can all become tools of balance.
Obsessed with Personality
Raghu Markus introduces this Ram Dass dharma talk from 1993. Ram Dass begins the lecture by talking about how America is a country that seems to be obsessed with personality, which leads to pervasive feelings of victimization. He reflects on the growing awareness that straight materialism is not an identity with happiness.
“We got so busy being individual, ‘what do I need, what do I want,’ that we threw over a lot of the web, the framework – the extended family, the community – we threw it over in our zeal to be individual. And we ended up having to deal with a tremendous amount of pathology arising out of alienation.” – Ram Dass
A Compassionate Society (17:38)
Ram Dass steps into the realm of 1990s government and politics, exploring how the newly elected Clinton administration needs involvement from spiritually-minded individuals, and how he senses the possibility that society can be compassionate. He looks back at the last time he felt this breath of change, the 1960s, and the cultural polarization that wound up occurring.
“I remember, we used to have charts on the wall, Tim Leary and I, as to how soon everybody would get enlightened. I mean, 10 years was like the maximum…” – Ram Dass
Tools of Balance (37:21)
Ram Dass explores how things were different in the 1990s versus the 1960s, and how a more compassionate society will allow us to regain a sense of common good. He touches on honoring diversity, how change gives rise to fear, and embracing the paradox of life. Ram Dass ends with a powerful message about how we can all become instruments of balance in this world.
“If you get too focused on individual differences, you lose it. Because behind all the different faces is the One. If you only see the One and don’t see all the different faces, you lose it. If you only see the unity and don’t see the uniqueness, you miss the mark. What a challenge for us, to keep the balance, and to see our lives as instruments for bringing that balance back into the social fabric.” – Ram Dass