19 Sep 2012
September 19, 2012

The Medium of Politics


One of the systems we’re part of, of course, is the political system. We may wish we weren’t part of it often, but we are. And all of those people playing with the power of the medium of politics, and its effect on the media and its effect on collective human consciousness, and those people that are addicted to power are there because of us. It boils down to that. That we create a field in which they can play with power, and that power is more or less compassionate. And the political system is a system in which as long as you have a passport, you are a member of it whether you like it or not. You’re part of a government, and your not voting is voting. So there’s no way out. You can’t say, “I’m not going to have anything to do with politics.” You can say it, but you’ve got to watch where you’re saying it from. You may say, “I’m not going to get involved with politics because I am so busy with something else that I think is my dominant theme, and I’ll vote, but I’m not going to put my time into campaigning for candidates and things like that, or issues, because my energies are best used here.” That’s fine. If you’ve thought it through and felt that way and can look somebody in the eye and say, “This is the way it is.” If you’re saying, “I’m not having anything to do with politics because it’s too dirty and because I don’t approve of it,”. Forget it – you are abdicating your responsibility to society. It’s as simple as that.

We’re at an interesting moment within the shift of collective consciousness, specifically around the way in which we’re integrating the changes in power structures. Now business holds sway over government, over religion, in terms of social power. And business is like pirates on the high seas – the question is, do you control it from the outside, or does it control itself? Does the whole process have a meta-game that’s controlling itself, and can you stand back far enough to see how it’s playing out? How is the shift in collective consciousness going to evolve and what part do you play?

Part of the curriculum is looking at the systems that you are a part of and being able to say “That system needs work.” It’s important to be able to shift your game so that you’re not simply pushing the system away and saying “I don’t think about that stuff, because it’s too complicated. Let somebody else worry about it.” Because as long as you get really frustrated with Americanism, you may be standing in the way of everybody’s survival.


- Ram Dass, October, 1995

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  • alicia

    so for the first time in 20 years i feel like i must vote after reading this. thank you, Ram Dass, again.

    • http://www.yahoo.org Jane Davis

      Yes, me too. I wasn`t planning to vote. But now, after reading this, I will get to rthe poles and vote. That`s the good news.

  • James

    I was on youtube listening to Aldous Huxley speak on such matters in an interview in 1958 with Mike Wallace last night. This ended up leading me to a video of Ram Dass who I did not know about, which led to being up late at night then into a continuation of my exploration of what he has done today at work… I just would like to say thank you. Im glad you have been out there speaking the unspoken.


  • http://rocksntrees.wordpress.com Didi

    This is something I struggle with, and meditate upon. I believe politics is a natural consequence of human interaction. Yet, it is so easy for it to bring out the darker, power hungry side of our natures. So much so, that it often seems rare that it brings about the best in us. However, if we don’t have good people involved, we abdicate the vision of the future to those who are so caught up in the pleasures of the world, they can’t see beyond them … which allows the self-centered, greed-based components of our society to grow even more.

    Thank you for reinforcing my belief that we do need good, awakened people to be willing to take up the challenge of creating a better world, even if it means we have to deal in politics.

  • Robyn

    Ram Dass,
    Woke up this morning knowing its time to speak out. I almost could not wait to get to the computer this morning and start writing my letter to Congress. Your post today confirms it..!
    It is okay to be involved politically. If we are not, how can our opinion matter?
    Thank you for your inspiration and perfect timing!

  • Adrienne Gomez (Mrs. Little Joe.)

    The more people participate, the closer we come to actually having a democracy that works. But it is necessary not only to recognize that you are part of it, like it or not, but also to have hope: that the light shining does in fact light up the darkness. That goodness can prevail. And also; if the differences only amount to a little bit better or a little bit worse, that little difference is very important.
    (Hi, Ram Dass!)

  • Judith

    Goodness can prevail, within each one of us we make our choices. But, whatever happened to the art of political debate ? Sometimes we do need to retreat into silent introspection, and perhaps right action can follow. So that we appreciate how much there is that unifies us, rather than divides.
    Thankyou Ram Dass!

  • H Luce

    Don’t get stuck in the Republican/Democrat box – go outside that very limited spectrum and support people who are actually committed to compassionate action – and by all means, don’t hesitate to run for local offices and participate actively in local government. Too often there is a vacuum which is filled by people who are committed to capital, not people.

  • Jane Jones

    Metagame…we are all players…and each has an effect on the outcome of the game (illusion). We can make it what we intend it to be, depending on our resolve to make such change. And change always works best when many metagamers are participating actively as in Activisim.

  • Synthia Jones

    for me, I vote, and I keep up with issues related to politics. But I don’t discuss it with others, because I find those discussions boring.

  • Barry Phillips

    You said it before…we’ve reached an impasse and need to take it to a level of “states-person” as opposed to politician.

  • mysticbumwipe

    Great article with one gripe. I think this statement is wishful and false thinking (self-delusional): “…that [US political power is more or less compassionate.”

  • Dinah Bradford

    To live IN or OF the world. If I live in; I have right mind, right thought and right action and I affect the world with my choices. If I live of; my concerns are polarized and I become part of a process that is fueled by emotion and not all of that emotion is good. So my affects are not quite as pure as they were before.

  • Scott Little

    Do Indian sadhus vote in the Indian elections? I am curious about this because renunciation doesn’t traditionally include political overlap. Dada wrote that Maharajji told Prabhudatt Brahmachari, “A sadhu’s work is bhajan and kirtan, puja and prayer. He should not go in for politics.” Babaji was talking about activism, but I am curious about even the act of voting as a political act, and therefore not in the realm of a monk’s activity.

    In American society there is a lot of pressure to renounce renunciation in favor of household life and karma yoga. It’s as if, making the statement that you want your whole being to belong to God is unacceptably self-superior in other’s minds; that it is better to hide your renunciation beneath an American veneer that puts people more at ease. But is renunciation really cultural at its roots and not spiritual? I am trying to press through to as complete a renunciation as possible, remaining aware that aversion is also an obstacle to spiritual life.

  • Kevin

    This is actually the first time I disagree with Ram Dass. I do believe that everyone has a responsibility to be active politically, but I don’t think that responsibility need come in the form of voting. In fact, I think voting sends the wrong message. I don’t vote, but it’s not out of apathy. I don’t vote because of absolute indifference, weariness, and exhaustian from the lies, treachery, and deceit from those in power that has been going on for centuries and has reached fever pitch, and voting is tacit complicity with the political system. Clearly, voting hasn’t worked. It’s time to stop voting and stop pretending and start uniting to make our voices heard and bring about real, significant, lasting change.