I kept hoping to get esoteric teachings from Maharaj-ji, but when I asked, “How can I become enlightened?” he said things like, “Love everybody, serve everybody, and remember God,” or “Feed people.” When I asked, “How can I know God?” Maharaj-ji said, “The best form to worship God is in all forms. God is in everything.” These simple teachings, to love, serve, and remember, became the guideposts for my life.
Maharaj-ji read people’s thoughts, but beyond that, he knew their hearts. That blew my mind. In my own case, he opened my heart because I saw that he knew everything there was to know about me, even my darkest and most shameful faults, and he still loved me unconditionally. From that moment, all I wanted was to share that love.
Although he knew I would have liked to stay with him forever, in early spring of 1967, Maharaj-ji told me it was time for me to return to America. He said not to tell anyone about him. I didn’t feel ready, and I told him I didn’t feel pure enough. He had me turn around and around, and he looked me up and down intently. Looking into my eyes, he said, “I don’t see any impurities.”
Before I left India, I was told that Maharaj-ji had given his ashirvad, his blessing, for my book. I replied, “What’s an ashirvad? And what book?” I didn’t start out planning to write the book that became Be Here Now. Be Here Now is Maharaj-ji’s book.
As I sat in the Delhi airport, waiting to leave India, a group of American soldiers kept staring at me. I had long hair, a full beard, and was wearing a long white Indian robe that looked like a dress. One of the soldiers approached me and said, “What are you, some kind of yogurt?” When I got off the plane in Boston, my father, George, picked me up at the airport. He took one look at me and said, “Quick, get in the car before someone sees you.” I thought, “This is going to be an interesting trip.”
Forty years and one near-fatal stroke later, it is still quite a journey. Being here now is even more relevant for me. Being in the moment, at ease with whatever comes one’s way, becomes contentment. This practice allows me to be present to love and serve others and to express unconditional love in the world. When you are fully in the moment, this moment is all there is.
It feels like time slows down. When your mind is quiet, you enter into the flow of love, and you just flow from one moment to the next as naturally as breathing. Whatever arises, I embrace it with love in the moment. This is my practice of polishing the mirror to reflect Maharaj-ji’s love. In this moment there is just awareness and love. If someone asks me how to get into their heart, I give them this practice: I Am Loving Awareness.
– Ram Dass, excerpt from Polishing the Mirror: How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart