Ram Dass – Here and Now – Ep. 216 – From Psychedelics to Service

Ram Dass explores how his psychedelic awakening and quest to always stay high started him on a path to take the curriculum of being human and use service as a means to get free.

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A Psychedelic Awakening

After sharing his realization that people don’t expect him to be further along the path than they are, Ram Dass gives a brief rundown of his life and times. He talks about the key moment in his life, when Timothy Leary gave him psychedelics for the first time, and how that spurred an interest in why we come down and how he could stay high all the time. Ram Dass tells a classic story about crocheting and covers different planes of perspective using a TV channel analogy.

“That’s the major issue of awakening, that you take what was absolutely real and you flip it so you see it’s relatively real. And that there are other places you can go that are just as real.” – Ram Dass

Madison Margolin and Natalie Lyla Ginsberg discuss how spirituality can act as a container for psychedelic experiences in Set and Setting Ep. 26
Take the Curriculum (15:00)

Ram Dass talks about how his guru told him to feed and serve people in order to know God, but he wasn’t quite ready to hear the message at first. He describes meeting beings who showed him he had a fallacious model and encouraged him to take the curriculum of being human. It eventually dawned on Ram Dass that his incarnation wasn’t an error. He explores how karma plays into the game and shares why working with dying people is so interesting.

“Because when you stand back far enough, you look and you see the law in everything. You see the way karma works. You see the perfection of the unfolding of everything. You see that not a blade of grass is bent that it doesn’t affect everything in the universe; you can feel that interrelationship of all things.” – Ram Dass

Joseph Goldstein takes a deep dive into the law of karma in Insight Hour Ep. 144

A Path to Service (27:00)

Ram Dass shares thoughts and stories about embracing our humanity and getting out into the marketplace. The work is about getting free from those things that still grab us. He talks about how most of us are more comfortable working with our attractions, rather than our aversions, but facing the hard stuff is where things really get juicy. For Ram Dass, this meant doing service with people who are in prison and people who are dying.

“You have to work with your attractions as well as your aversions. Many of you are good at working with attractions; you get a little weak on the aversions…Don’t rush, it’s all right. There’s lots of time, and we’re human and it’s not an error.” – Ram Dass

Raghu Markus and Duncan Trussell talk about going from selfish to service in Mindrolling Ep. 453
Photo via Mohan Baum