Every day we are being called upon to help one another - in our workplace, in our homes, in our social encounters...and we do what we can...
Yet often our natural inclination to help is complicated by questions: "Do I have what it takes to help?" "Do I have enough energy and time?" "How can I deal with suffering?" And "What really helps someone, anyway?"
Compassionate Action, also known as Seva, or Service, arises from the courage, wisdom, and clarity to answer a call to help and empower one another. It's a lifelong practice that ultimately begins with recognizing our interconnectivity and our shared needs for happiness, comfort, and safety.
For over five decades, Ram Dass came together with organizations, social and political activists, spiritual communities, healthcare workers, and those who simply wish to be of service. He lectured, wrote books, and collaborated with thought leaders to uncover how we can help those in need, and recognize that each individual's needs are met in vastly different ways.
In The Yoga of Service: Approaching Inner and Outer Social Action with a Compassionate Heart, you'll learn how the peaks and valleys of serving others can yield to some of the most joyous, challenging, and ultimately meaningful moments of our lives.
Although these teachings originated in a different decade, they remain as timely as ever as we consider our culture's context in this moment and our deep yearning to rediscover our shared values while honoring our magnificent diversity. To work to relieve suffering and polarity where we can while humbling ourselves enough to simply listen to others' needs.
Service is a call to deep inner work, an invitation to reach out to others with curiosity and compassion, and to deepen an understanding of our true nature. It's the courage to trust an open heart's vulnerability and power while honoring our own boundaries and well-being. Finding that balance is a lifelong journey, and we look forward to exploring the most powerful ways we can show up for each other and ourselves.
Watch a 1-minute preview of the course below...
What you'll discover during this course...
- Ways to serve that nourishes both the helper and the one being helped.
- How to hold the paradox of respecting and honoring diversity while simultaneously remembering our interconnectedness.
- How to cultivate joy through service, not in spite of it.
- How to deal with personal burnout that often accompanies unmet needs or expectations when we serve others.
- Tools for cultivating self-forgiveness and spaciousness around our own reactivity to a situation.
- Methods to use the Witness to cultivate generosity of the heart, even in uncomfortable moments.
- How to work on ourselves so that our actions don’t come from a place of righteousness and creating further polarization
- Ways to engage with suffering while remaining open to the expression of our natural compassion.
- How to balance our logical brains with our intuitive hearts to bring about the most positive outcome in an act of service.
- The importance of honoring the unique journey of another with empathy and curiosity, rather than judgment and blame.
- A deeper knowledge of Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga philosophy, including mindfulness techniques to cultivate a quiet mind and an open heart so that we can better show up for others.
What's included in this course...
- Over 4 hours of audio and video teachings from Ram Dass, including a weekly article on the topic.
- Re-Plays of two Q&A Virtual Zoom calls with Mirabai Bush and Raj Aggarwal.
- Downloadable transcripts of the audio and video teachings in case you'd rather read than listen.
- Access to an easy-to-use course dashboard.
Weekly Course Syllabus
Oct 5, 2020
Week 1 Teachings
Why Do We Serve?
Audio Clip - "Where Do We Stand in the Universe?"
Ram Dass invites us to open ourselves up to the possibility of going beyond our rational, conditioned minds and into our heart-centers so that we can recognize the uniqueness of where we stand in the universe.
Video Clip: "Connecting to our Hearts through Small Acts"
Ram Dass shares the importance of taking action, even when that action seems small or inconsequential. How can we align ourselves with the best qualities of humanity, even amidst fear and anxiety, so that we can better serve?
Video Clip: "Bridging our Inner Truth with the Outer World"
How can we work on ourselves so that our actions don’t come from a place or righteousness and creating further polarization?
Audio Clip: "The Importance of Serving and Listening without Expectations"
How can we avoid the burnout that often accompanies unmet needs or expectations when we serve others? Why is it important to recognize the role we are playing in the situation so that we can move beyond it in order to act from a place of truth, rather than ego? There is an important difference between responding to a situation, and reacting to it.
Audio Clip: "Finding Unity Through Honoring Diversity"
How can we hold the paradox of respecting and honoring diversity while simultaneously remembering our interconnectedness? How can we re-learn how to be in community with each other and the earth, while honoring traditional heart wisdom in a society that promotes separateness and individualism?
Oct 12, 2020
Week 2 Teachings
Finding Deeper Purpose Through Service
Video Clip - "The Possibility of finding Joy through Service"
We can encourage freedom for ourselves and others by holding suffering and joy together. There is a way to find joy through service, and not in spite of it.
Audio Clip: "Honoring our Unique Dharma Through Social Action"
How can service be used as a vehicle for our unique expression in the world (our Dharma)? Once we tune into our internal harmony through quieting our mind and opening our heart, we come to God through engaging with the human condition, not in spite of it.
Audio Clip: "How do we know when to help, and when to step back?"
How do we know if we’re helping someone’s suffering or perpetuating it, perhaps even despite our best intentions? If we’re looking through a certain lens, suffering can be seen as fierce grace, as a tool for awakening.
From another angle, it’s very easy to get trapped in our own projections and motives of what we think someone else needs, rather than listening deeply to what will truly alleviate suffering in the situation. Freedom only comes through embracing the world as it is, not as we wish for it to be.
Audio Clip: "Working to Approach Suffering with Fearless Compassion"
Ram Dass explains that everyone has impurities, and it’s very important to recognize that as you serve others so that you are not making the situation more painful with your own attachments and neuroses. We can work towards becoming more pure instruments of service by attending to the parts of ourselves that are stuck in polarity and righteousness.
Audio Clip: "The Importance of Cultivating the Witness on the Path of Karma Yoga"
The Witness is the layer of our being that simply observes our thought patterns, intentions, emotions and actions without getting caught in them. When we lack the awareness to recognize our Witness consciousness, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of acting and serving from a place of constriction and fear - which is not optimal for anyone in the situation.
Oct 19, 2020
Week 3 Teachings
Serving with a Compassionate Heart
Audio Clip - "The Potential of the Human Heart"
We are on the edge of a transformative process that’s manifesting itself in our daily lives...
Video Clip: "Serving as a Vehicle for Freedom"
Why is it important to serve with intention? Sometimes the heart of Seva (service) flourishes in the quality of heart connection between people, regardless of the outcome of the actions.
Video Clip: "Becoming a Loving Presence for our Social Activism"
“It’s not only important that you feed someone, it’s how you feed them.”
Everyone finds freedom in different ways, and it’s not our job to judge their methods. The key is to balance and simplify your own energy so that you are not acting for peace, but rather as an instrument of peace.
Audio Clip: "The Importance of Cultivating Our Compassionate Hearts"
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” - Gandhi
Service may begin as a form of altruism or service to one’s ego, but eventually, as you begin to awaken you can more clearly see the part you are meant to play on earth. Then you are not doing service, because it just happens as you come into union with God.
Audio Clip: "Opening our Hearts without Burning Ourselves Out"
It’s important to balance the mind and heart in acts of service, and to honor your intuitive boundaries so that you don’t end up feeling guilty for not serving enough, or burned out from giving away too much at the wrong time. If we fail to properly care for our bodies and minds, our capacity to show up for others will inevitably suffer.
Oct 26, 2020
The Philosophy of Service
Video Clip - "Becoming an Instrument of Service"
The more you release your identification with being a ‘somebody,’ the easier it will become to find joy and fulfillment in service, coming into union with all that exists.
Audio Clip: "What is Karma Yoga?"
Karma Yoga involves the nuanced and intuitive process of each individual tuning into their truth through actions that are appropriate to their own nature and circumstances.
What action is appropriate to your opportunities? What is appropriate to your skills and talents? What is appropriate to your history? What is appropriate to your responsibilities?
The answer will be different for each unique individual.
Audio Clip: "Contemplating Service & Practice through the Lens of Bhakti Yoga"
The Bhakti component of service is one of practicing seeing the beloved everywhere and allowing your heart to open. We practice this by learning to appreciate all the unique ways that God manifests in each individual, and not wishing to change them or fix them. Ram Dass shares some practical tools to help cultivate a more spacious, open heart.
Audio Clip: "Coming to God Through Compassionate Action"
In the West, we often turn our spiritual journeys into achievements or accomplishments. But true service (Seva) cannot be quantified - it is a slow burn that shows up most clearly through simplicity, stillness, a quiet mind, and an open heart.