This is a classic talk from 1986 that captures one of Ram Dass’s core teachings around identity and the different planes of consciousness.
In this talk, Ram Dass offers a method for envisioning the different planes of consciousness as TV channels, guidance on understanding ineffable spiritual experiences. He shares a personal account of how these experiences allow us to see our differences while also seeing our oneness.
Transcending The Small Sense of Self
How can we hear what else lies beyond our personality, body, and social roles? Ram Dass explores how spiritual practice allows us to move towards transcendent realms. Looking at how these experiences have the potential to become spiritual traps as easily as they can free us.
“What do I mean by spirit? Religions are methods for coming into the spirit. What I am referring to as spirit is that which infuses all forms, but which also transcends all forms.” – Ram Dass
Changing the Channels of Consciousness (21:50)
Ram Dass shares his classic analogy for picturing the different planes of consciousness available as TV channels that we can switch back and forward to. He offers a perspective of understanding how our ego-based identity and thinking mind are separate from what Ram Dass and many others identify as the soul.
“When this plane is real, who are we sitting here? That is channel one. Who are we as seekers and students trying to get our acts together? That is channel two. Who are we as eternal seekers after truth? That is channel three.
The soul is what looks, not what is looked upon. All the rest – channels one, two, and three – all that is looked upon, all that you can think about, all that you can sense – that is object. In other words, soul is the first level that you are getting into the breakdown of the dualism between subject and object.” – Ram Dass
Seeing Beyond the Skins We Wear (43:10)
Through experiencing other planes of reality we are offered different perspectives for seeing our day to day reality. Ram Dass shares an impactful experience that allowed him to see beyond physical form for the first time and to see others for their most essential selves.
“I was looking at (my friend) and I went through plane, after plane, after plane and suddenly there he was, another being just like me. He was just wearing a different color skin than I was.” – Ram Dass