Practices of purification are done in order to “cool us out,” so we’re not creating so much heavy karma for ourselves. We are constantly preoccupied with the creations of our minds. Einstein said, “The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self.” What we strive to be liberated from is our habitual thought patterns and the pull of our senses. Lightening up in these areas gives us the space to refocus and deepen the benefits of centering the mind with meditation, mantra or the practices of Bhakti yoga. With the deepening of these practices, comes the higher wisdom.

This trip is fraught with paradoxes. You have to give it all up to have it all. Turn off your mind – there is a place in you that already knows – trust that. Jesus said, “Unless ye become as little children, ye cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Being is dying by loving. Something within me must die. It’s like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. The caterpillar will not be a flying caterpillar for it will have changed. We’re talking about how to become butterflies.

This is the pathless path – returning to where you were initially before you got lost. The deepest truth in you is where the journey leads – shedding, like taking off layers of an onion, until you come to your essence. The key to the spiritual journey is not acquiring something outside of yourself. Rather it is shedding the veils to come back to the deepest truth of your being.

All that you seek is already within you. It’s often focused in the center of the chest, which has been called the soul or in Hinduism, the Atman, in Buddhism, the pure Buddha-Mind. Christ said, “The kingdom of heaven is within you.” Quakers call it the “still small voice within.” This is the space of full awareness that is in harmony with the universe, and thus is wisdom itself. Inside each of us is the full spirit of God. When you want to approach God, go inward to meet God inside.

The offering up or cleaning up ego stuff is called purification. Purification is the act of letting go. This is done out of discriminative awareness. That is, you understand that you are an entity passing through a life in which the entire drama is an offering for your awakening. You see that the life experience is a vehicle for coming to God, or becoming conscious, for becoming liberated. And you understand ultimately that’s what you are doing here.

Excerpt from Ram Dass’ upcoming book “Polishing the Mirror” set for release in August, 2013.