Lois: What do you think is the most important work for organizations like Omega to focus on now?
Ram Dass: Compassion! Compassion and making one’s work karma yoga; doing one’s work as a vehicle for getting to God. And that will be wonderful. I remember my own thing about Omega, which I like to say: There are two institutions in one. One institution is for the participants and one institution is for the staff, and they are coming to a school for their spiritual development. Wow!
Lois: Even those who are the most excited about their work can find their energy lagging and need inspiration. What do you recommend for reinvigorating one’s commitment to one's work and to compassionate service?
Ram Dass: Your perspective of the work is key. “Oh, I’m so overworked. I’m tired.” That’s one way. Or, “All I’m doing is going along and playing my part in the oneness of this universe—each tree and the ocean and all parts of the universe.” Humans play their own parts in the universe that our karma dictates. This perspective is that you are not your body. You are a soul. You are not your mind either. You are a soul. You are soul meets this incarnation. And meeting it includes your work and relationships. Through them you are meeting God. You’re meeting love. You’re meeting compassion. You’re meeting inside and outside. When you are acting, find that love and compassion inside and then everything you do radiates that love and compassion.
Lois: I've heard that Maharaji once told you that Lincoln was a great president because he knew that it was really God who was president. What do you think it takes to be an effective leader today, not just a leader of a country but any leader trying to institute change?
Ram Dass: See the people that you are leading as souls. Not egos. That means for that to work they see themselves as souls. In other words, they see themselves as a spiritual being who has taken birth in a human body. Most people identify with their roles. It’s not role but soul. That’s a bumper sticker!
Lois: So it’s soul-centered leadership.
Ram Dass: That’s right, because if you want to lead people, you don’t lead people in worldly things only. You’ve got to help people get their spiritual legs under them. So you reflect for them their soul. The soul is love, compassion, peace, joy, and wisdom. That’s in everybody. You’ve got to reflect those for them—from your soul to their soul, so they will see these things inside themselves.
The ego is who we think we are and the soul is who we really are. Most of us don’t realize that we are souls. We’re just selling ourselves short.
Lois: It goes back to the compassion that you mentioned.
Ram Dass: It certainly does. And love!
© 2015 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies