"If you want to see how you are doing on your spiritual path, go spend a week with your parents."
"Ego and soul are a balance, as are power and love."
"Taking birth in a family, entering with the innocence of infancy into an existential situation of parents and siblings, is a marvelous recipe for karmic stew, for cooking a soul. All the subtle permutations of relationship and personality, prosperity and poverty, ease and difficulty, joy and sorrow, success and failure, are karmic stew ingredients."
"For the whole first part of my life, I never saw myself as a soul. I thought of myself as a body, an intellect, an emotional being, with my roles as son, brother, student, psychologist, pilot, cello player, lover, psychedelic adventurer, on and on…. My Richard Alpert persona—with my material trappings, my desire to both achieve and rebel—was the optimum experiential setting for all my karma to play out."
"Psilocybin turned my world completely upside down. For the first time in my life, I saw myself from outside myself. Who I thought I was—a son, a professor, a psychologist—was not who I actually was.... As I see it, the real change that came from psychedelics was opening people to their inner nature, to their soul."
"The religion you are born with frequently becomes more important as you see the universality of truth. Once you learn to go beyond the negative experiences you had as a child, you return to your roots with new eyes."
"See God in everyone."
"Surrender is a tough one to accept for Westerners. Our reality is based on a conceptual thought of how we think it is. If we give up that thought, give up our power and free will, we may succumb to someone else’s control and lose ourselves forever. That’s the fear. It turns out that giving up conceptual thought is not so scary after all—in fact it’s a relief. So-called objective reality is only relatively real compared to the deeper reality of the Self."
"Hold onto nothing."
"The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. If our attachment is to the thinking mind, it dies with the brain and the body. I am interested in what is beyond the thinking mind, leaving behind the thoughts of the ego, allowing the essence of our deeper being to shine forth. The soul is infinite, eternal, beyond space and time."
"Love everyone, serve everyone, and remember God."
"It was the summer of 1967, and the Six Day War between Israel and its neighbors had just taken place—not the most auspicious time for two Jewish guys to drive through the Middle East. But I was buoyant. I was ready. 'Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band' had just been released. From across America, some 150,000 young people were about to descend on San Francisco for the Summer of Love. This would be the summer of love for me too—just in an entirely different way."
"There are billions of tiny acts that create suffering in the world—acts of ignorance, greed, violence. But in the same way, each act of caring—all the billion tiny ways that we offer compassion, wisdom, and joy to one another—serves as a preservative and healing agent."
"Contentment is not a feeling of accomplishment from doing something. Contentment is a practice."
"Everything we do to work on ourselves—going on retreat, meditating, opening our hearts, quieting our minds—transforms our being. Whatever we have to offer, as a physiotherapist, or a bus driver, or a parent, is all part of that work. It’s not the forms of the game—those are the vehicles."
"Once, when I was in Jerusalem, I passed two Hasidic Jews coming across a square. They were wearing the usual black hats and black coats, and I heard one of them say, 'That’s Ram Dass! That’s who got me into this.' They had taken drugs and read Be Here Now. In Burma, I met two Westerners who were studying to be Buddhist monks. 'You’re the one who got us into this,' they told me."
"Old age and childhood offer a kind of spacious time other seasons do not, because they are not filled with busyness and rushing around. This quiet openness allows the soul to enter, just like quieting the mind in meditation."
"Every dying person with whom I shared time helped me probably more than I helped them. Dying is a collaborative dance, an opportunity to do the work within, whether you are the one facing death or the one at the bedside."
"Have you ever noticed how many angry people there are at peace rallies? Social action arouses righteousness. Righteousness ultimately starves your heart. If you want to be free more than you want to be right, you let go of righteousness. For social action to be done with love, the spiritual work comes first. If you oppose something or someone in anger, all you proliferate in the world is more anger."
"Our minds go, our bodies go. Our souls remain."
"The evolution of the soul is about decreasing separateness, shedding attachments that distract us from Oneness."
"The karmic sandpaper of existence, time and experience, grinds down separations, grinds down resistance to love, until we see through personalities to what is beneath, to the soul."
"The poet Rainer Maria Rilke describes a quality he calls 'in-seeing,' which is changing one’s point of view to inside another being…. That’s when your awareness merges into Awareness, then you are 'inside’ everything, as well as outside, because there’s only one of it in the universe. This is the mystical root of awareness."
"The soul’s game is not about getting a new job, friends, lifestyle, making more money or getting a new car, finding a new partner or a new therapist. This life is about finding a way to be in the world that connects you to your soul."
"Aging gives you a new curriculum. It gives you some creative space, because to the culture, you’re becoming irrelevant—and as soon as you become irrelevant, you’re free. You’re free to be eccentric, to express yourself in ways you wouldn’t before. Aging gives you a chance to rethink your identity."
"I’ve never been into being a guru. As a teacher, I always use my life experiences as a lesson plan—often as an example of what not to do. We’re on a journey together, and I’m as honest as I can be about my trip."
"The spiritual journey is less from birth to death than from separation to Oneness."
"Maharaj-ji said no man can die a moment before his time or live for a moment past it.... Souls are not afraid of dying, because souls have many, many incarnations. Each time we die, we find our home. Much of my life has been about trying to make contact with this home in my heart. I’ve seen it up close at times, through psychedelics, through meditation, through being with Maharaj-ji, but it has always been temporary. Now I will soon be home. A new beginning awaits around the corner."
"When you lose your fear of death, you gain a love of life."
"Scientists go to the brain to get to the mind. But neuroscience has never been able to adequately define consciousness. It’s like the guy who loses his keys and is looking for them under a streetlight. Someone comes along and asks him where he lost them, and he says, 'back in the alley.' The passer-by asks, 'So why are you looking here?' and he says, 'The light's better here.'"
"Enlightened beings say that when we take birth, a veil of unknowing covers our soul, lest the knowledge of our previous incarnations distract us from our work in this life. The veil is part of māya, the illusion of separateness that accompanies incarnation, and comes with having a body and an individual consciousness. Each of us has to go through the lila, the dance, of forgetting and remembering."
"Almost everyone in the West who reports a near-death experience tells of a loving, light-filled return to the Source, the home of the soul. They report an experience of wholeness outside time and space…. I imagine that death is like finally coming home, home to an old friend who has always known me and loved me completely."
"Love holds the universe together. Love is the emotion of connection and merging. Viewed from the soul, this world is a manifestation of love. Love is the glue, the transfer of energy between form and formless, matter and spirit."