- Being Love
~ Ram Dass
The most important aspect of love is not in giving or
the receiving: it’s in the being. When I need love from others, or need to
give love to others, I’m caught in an unstable situation. Being in
love, rather than giving or taking love, is the only thing that provides
stability. Being in love means seeing the Beloved all around me.
I’m not interested in being a “lover.” I’m interested in only being love.
In our culture we think of love as a relational thing: “ I love you” and “you
are my lover.” But while the ego is built around relationship, the soul is
not. It wants only to be love. It’s a true joy, for example, to turn
someone whom you didn’t initially like into the Beloved. One way I practice
doing so is by placing a photograph of a politician with whom I intensely
disagree on my puja table- my altar. Each morning when I wake up, I
say good morning to the Buddha, to my guru, and to the other holy beings
there. But I find that it’s with a different spirit that I say, “Hello Mr.
Politician.” I know it sounds like a funny thing to do, but it reminds me of
how far I have to go to see the Beloved in everybody. Mother Teresa has
described this as “seeing Christ in all his distressing disguises.” When I
realized that Mother Teresa was actually involved in an intimate love affair
with each and every one of the poor and the lepers she was picking up from the
gutters in India, I thought to myself, “ That’s the way to play the game of
love.” And that is what I have been training myself for the last past quarter
century: to see and be with the Beloved everywhere.
One of the interesting aspects of seeing the Beloved
in this way is that it doesn’t require the other person to see him- or herself
as the Beloved. All that’s necessary is that I focus on my own consciousness
properly. It’s interesting to notice, though, how warmly people respond to
being seen as the Beloved, even if they don’t know what’s happening. (Of
course, it all assumes that all your feelings are genuine and that you aren’t
compelled to act on them or to lay any sort of trip on the other person. The
idea is simply to live and breathe among the Beloved.
The way I work at seeing others (like the politician),
as the beloved is to remind myself, “ This is another soul, just like me, who
has taken a complicated incarnation, just as I have. I don’t want to be in
this incarnation any more than he wants to be in mine. But since I want to
rest in my soul and not in my ego, I would like to give everybody the
opportunity to do the same.”
If I can see the soul that happens to have incarnated
into a person that I don’t care for, then my consciousness becomes an
environment in which he or she is free to come up from air if he or she wants
to. That person can do so because I’m nit trying to keep him or her locked
into being the person that he or she has become. It’s liberating to resist
another person politically, yet still see him or her as another soul. That’s
what Krishna meant when he said, “I’m not going to fight, because they are all
my cousins on the side.” We may disagree with one another in our current
incarnation, but we are all souls.
A story I have told many times reinforces this point.
Some years ago I put out I put out a set of records called Love, Serve,
Remember. The records- which had music, readings from the Gospel of John,
and all kinds of neat things- came in an album with a beautiful booklet with
text and pictures. It was a wonderful package, and we sold we sold it by mail
order for about $4.50.
I showed the album to my father. Dad was a wealthy
Boston Lawyer- a conservative Republican, a capitalist, and, at the time, the
President of a railroad. HE looked over the album and said, “Great job here!
But, gee, you know- four and a half dollars? You could probably sell this for
ten dollars- fifteen dollars, even!”
“Would fewer people buy in if it were more expensive?,” he asked.
“No,” I relied. “Probably the same number would buy it”
“Well I don’t understand you,” he pressed on. “You would sell it for ten,
and your selling it for four- fifty? What’s wrong, are you against capitalism
I tried to figure out how to explain to him how our approaches are
differed. I said, “Dad didn’t you just try a law case for Uncle Henry?”
“ Yeah,” he replied, “ and it was a damned tough case. I spent a lot of
time in the law library.”
I asked, “Did you win the case?” And he answered, “Yeah”, I won it.
Now, my father was a very successful attorney, and he charged fees that
were commensurate with his reputation. So I continued. “Well, I bet you
charged him a hand and a led for that one.”
Dad was indignant at the suggestion. “What, are you out of your mind?
That’s uncle Henry- I couldn’t charge him.”
“ Well, that’s my problem,” I said. “If you find anyone who isn’t Uncle
Henry, I’ll rip them off.”
The point I was trying to make is that when you see the Beloved all around
you, everyone is family and everywhere is love. When I allow myself to really
see the beauty of another being, to see the inherent beauty of soul
manifesting itself, I feel the quality of love in that beings presence. It
doesn’t matter what we’re doing. We could be talking about our cats because we
happen to be picking out cat food in the supermarket, or we simply could be
passing each other on the sidewalk. When we a being love, we extend outward an
environment that allows to act in different, more loving and peaceful ways
than they are used in behaving. Not only does it allow them to be more loving,
it encourages them to be so.
In 1969 I was giving a series of lectures in New York City. Every night,
taking the bus up Third Avenue, I got the same extraordinary bus driver. Every
night it was rush hour in one of the busiest cities in the world, but we had a
warm word and a caring presence for each person who got on the bus. He drove
us as if he were sculling a boat down a river, flowing through the traffic
rather than resisting it. Everyone who got on the bus was less likely to kick
the dog that evening or to be otherwise hostile and unloving, because of the
loving space that driver had created. Yet all he was doing was driving the
bus. He wasn’t a therapist or a great spiritual teacher. He was simply being
Remember, we are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to
or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we are so deeply
interconnected with one another. Working on our own consciousness is the most
important thing that we are doing at any moment, and being love is a supreme
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