in: Intentional Living

10 Inspiring Quotes by Ram Dass

Contemporary and controversial, spiritual and educated, original hippie and modern guru: Gerry Ellen interprets 10 of the most inspiring quotes by Ram Dass.


As an American contemporary spiritual teacher, Ram Dass is now happy and somewhat healthy in his 80s, the author of the bestselling novel Be Here Now (amongst many others), and one of the most prolific teachers to hit the scene since the 1960’s. He was born as Richard Alpert, cavorting personally and professionally with the likes of Timothy Leary and Wavy Gravy (two of the most ultimate throwback hippies who ever graced this fine earth), proclaiming his bisexuality (a term he never labeled as such) in the 1990s, which he felt furthered his own beliefs on awareness, rather than focusing on the labels themselves—he abhorred labels.

Yet, it was his profound work with Timothy Leary that produced some of his finest words and spiritual enlightenment to date. A well-educated man, although he was asked to leave Harvard in 1963 due to his research and scientific testing of hallucinogenic substances alongside Leary, still both men continued on their own paths in search of the true meaning of life and purpose. Before he changed his name, Richard Alpert mentions to not have “one whiff of God until I took psychedelics.” Whether he needed the altered states to write better, speak better, or live better, we revere the man and his teachings for many reasons, hopefully sans judgment.

In 1967 he traveled to India and met a man who would ultimately become his own guru, Neem Karoli Baba (“Maharaji-ji”) who also gave Richard Alpert the name “Ram Dass,” meaning “servant of God.”

Now, at the ripe age of 83, Ram Dass—who is currently confined to a wheel chair after suffering a stroke in 1997—continues to utter words that can have long-lasting effects for many years. He believes in the grace of God and accepts his death as he feels it is approaching, knowing full well that it is one of the greatest aspects of life. He’s ready to “face the music.” With his attitude about life, love and relationships, I can honestly admit that sometimes we have to go through some rebellious and challenging and other-worldly moments before we come to our own satisfaction of life and what that appears to be.

Although he no longer travels, Ram Dass maintains his offerings through live webcasts and several yearly retreats in Hawaii, where he now lives.

Here are my 10 favorite quotes of Ram Dass, along with my interpretation of how it echoes in my own heart and mind:

“It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.”

This has been a cultivating process for me over the years, yet embracing every obstacle and learning from each one has taught me to be a better human overall.

“Unconditional love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being. It is not so much an active emotion as a state of being. It’s not ‘I love you’ for this or that reason, not ‘I love you if you love me.’ It is love for no reason, love without an object.”

For better or for worse, accepting love in all forms and through many people and places, keeps the fire going in our hearts.

“I hang out with my guru in my heart. And I love everything in the universe. That’s all I do all day.”

A total in-the-moment feeling and a simple testament to being true to yourself.

“We come into relationships often very much identified with our needs. I need this, I need security, I need refuge, I need friendship. And all of relationships are symbiotic in that sense. We come together because we fulfill each others’ needs at some level or other.”

I think a needy relationship is a recipe for disaster. It feels better to come into a union with another for the sole purpose of uplifting, loving, laughing and continuing on with a greater mission of helping others.

“Your problem is you’re too busy holding onto your unworthiness.”

Self-love through self-care will nurture our hearts and allow us to spread more of that into the world. It takes years of forgiveness and compassion for ourselves and our hearts before we can accept what we see in the mirror.

“Each of us finds his unique vehicle for sharing with others his bit of wisdom.”

Remaining true to who we are through our own words and actions can ripple out into the world at all times of our lives.

“The Universe is an example of love. Like a tree. Like the ocean. Like my body. Like my wheelchair. I see the love.”

Love is everywhere. We don’t need to always travel to find it. Love resides in each one of us, every single day.

“The thinking mind is what is busy. You have to stay in your heart. You have to be in your heart. Be in your heart. The rest is up to your head where you are doing, doing, doing.”

Too much busyness and rushing around distracts from the calm presence of nature and our surroundings. Analysis paralysis is ultimately the antithesis of peace.

“Inspiration is God making contact with itself.”

Wherever we are there is a greater presence guiding our every move.

“When I look at relationships, my own and others, I see a wide range of reasons for people to be together and ways in which they are together. I see ways in which a relationship, which means something that exists between two or more people, for the most part reinforces people’s separateness as individual entities.”

We all strive for being in relationships and friendships that offer everything under the sun to better ourselves as human beings. No two people are exactly alike, and it is with this understanding that we can have healthier relationships with family, friends and lovers.

Ram Dass also founded the Seva Foundation in 1978, a very reputable international health organization, as well as the Hunaman Foundation, a non-profit educational and service organization focused on the spiritual well-being of society through education, media and community service programs.

Well that about does it for now. A great man professing and doing many great things.

About the Author:

Gerry Ellen

Gerry Ellen is an author, creative storyteller, and wellness advocate. She enjoys sharing her experiences of life, love, and all things meaningful and healthy through words and images. She is a regular contributor to MeetMindful, Be You Media Group, Tattooed Buddha, and Rebelle Society. As a former featured columnist on elephant journal and Light Workers World, she considers her love of nature and the outdoors, heart-centered connections, friends and family, and traveling to explore and expand as the epicenter of her world. She is extremely driven with her service work through 8 Paws Wellness with her dog, Scout. Gerry Ellen has authored and published two books, Ripple Effects (March 2012) and A Big Piece of Driftwood (April 2014), which are both available on Amazon.com

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