Ram Dass on Ecological Consciousness
Question: I am the father of a three year old. It appears that, given the current trends, the planet will become uninhabitable before he can live out a normal life span. There will be a lot of suffering if human life on the planet comes to an end. I understand that it is all supposed to be perfect, but how do you view this situation from a cosmic perspective and what should we be doing at this time?
Ram Dass: I think that more than ever we are beginning to awaken to the fact that we are part of an eco-system and that we are entities in that with some responsibility for the nest we live in and the maintenance of the nest. In the same way that we clean up our house, we also have to clean up our environment. That consciousness seems to be slow in happening because the motivation to keep it from happening — because there are economic costs in that awakening — that in the reorganization — not in the long run, but in the short run — there is an economic realignment of power. And the people that have the power have a lot of inertia. I mean the stockholders of a company like Polaroid are not about ready to do dramatic shifts unless they are forced to do it because it changes the amount of dividends that come. And all of us aren’t quite willing to change our lives that much in the little ways. I mean we don’t have to make those big guys the bad guys, because we’re all part of that web too. But there is an increasing consciousness now about rain forests, about air, about water, and so on. It is hard to access what the outcome will be. You can’t conclude. You can’t extrapolate from what is now to what will be, because the unknown factor is the creative awareness and what happens when that is mobilized.
I point out how creative awareness at a certain moment created the bomb. Mixed blessing. But it created the bomb. How creative awareness at a certain moment, we live through the fact that when most of us were growing up we got vaccinated. Because prior to that there were these incredible small pox epidemics that ravaged the Earth. And we still saw it in third-world countries. And we saw in our life time, in the past ten years, the eradication of the last case of small pox in the world by vaccination. And that there is now no more small pox in the world. When people ask me is Armageddon coming? Or is it going to be the Aquarian Age? In other words is this the end of the Kali Yuga? Or are we just entering the Sat Yuga? I say that I am not privy to that knowledge. But when I stand back and think about it, I realize that if we are all going to die, then all my training in how to die leads me to understand that what I must do now is to quiet my mind so I can hear most clearly, open my heart deeply so that quality of compassion and feeding is at its optimum. And be fully in this present moment. That’s the best preparation I can do for the moment of death. And I would train my child to do the same thing. If it’s going to be the Aquarian Age, and I am going to help the new age come into existence, the best way I can help the new age come into existence is to quiet my mind so I can hear more clearly how to help. Open my heart to express my compassion as deeply as I can. And be fully in the present moment so I can hear it all clearly.
So when I look at it, what difference did it make how it all comes out? I’ve still got to do the same thing. And the quieter I am, the more I hear the nature of the dharma of my incarnation, and I hear that it means that I am a voting member of a social system. It means that I am a member of a family. It means that I am a member of an eco-system. It means that I am a member of a spiritual community. Each one of those has in it certain actions that are appropriate to that which are dharmic actions. So that now I take my little book when I go to a grocery store, because it tells which companies produce which products and how they are in terms of their environmental consciousness. And I know which gas stations I go to. And I know that I don’t eat grapes that have been sprayed with pesticide. And grapes that aren’t sprayed with pesticide are okay. I mean I’m beginning to be aware. I’m learning. I’m gross at first and then I get more subtle. I am learning how to discriminate. And we’ve had — Dan and I have had dialogues, because Dan produces grapes and we’ve had dialogues about these issues. And it’s not good guys and bad guys. We’re all hearing how to make it work in a compassionate and humanly good way. And Jai, who has become in the past year and a half a full time worker for bringing consciousness about the implications of WIPP, of the nuclear waste dump in New Mexico into the community consciousness. He went from singing to God all day long to all day long now, every day, he is full time bringing consciousness about nuclear disaster potential in this country. So that people will understand what the cost of all this game is. And he and I share our monies so that our salaries are paying for him to do that at this point. That’s part of our game. That’s our consciousness manifesting. And each person, one person is doing it about nuclear issues. Another person is doing it about labor exploitation. Another person is doing it about the air. Another person is doing it about Central America. And it’s all a web.
I mean if the polarity between the haves and the have-nots gets too extreme, you can expect a lot of stuff to hit the fan. Because disempowered people just don’t sit around and watch everybody just keep ripping off the cream off the top of the bottle. Sooner or later, the game changes. And we are seeing such fluidity in politics and culture at this moment. Something you’ve never seen before in Russia, in Poland, in Hungary. Who would have predicted what has happened in Russia, Poland and Hungary in the past few years? When Gorbachev said we will leave Poland and Hungary to work it out for themselves. Would you have predicted that when you remember those tanks rolling in? I mean, you are seeing in your own lifetime the shifts of human collective consciousness. Now it’s not all good and it’s not all bad. And it’s very scary. And the economics of Russia could go under and they could have another heavy thing in China. When Deng dies is the other thing going to come up? But you can feel the human spirit is alive and well. A lot is going on at this moment. So don’t write the script too fast. Just raise your child with ecological consciousness.