Ram Dass, Buddha, Maharaj-ji, and Yoda on non-duality

Inspired by a conversation with a friend recently about “trying to love everyone,” I dug into things a little more and found the following information from Ram Dass, Zen masters, the Maharaj-ji (Neem Karoli Baba), and Yoda.

Ram Dass — “Love everyone”

As I keep trying to figure out what Ram Dass means when he says, “love everyone,” I dug through his book, be love now and found these two quotes:

  • “I do love everything and everybody — not necessarily their personalities, but their essential being — because that is my essential being too. That’s soul perception.”
  • “I love you. No matter how rotten you are — think Donald Trump — I love you because you are a manifestation of God.”

Editor’s note: I added the Trump reference to that second quote to try to keep things real.


That second quote made me think that this form of love is a way to see the world in a way known as “non-dualistic.” Rather than see things as good/bad, love/hate, right/wrong — dualistic thinking — you see everyone and everything on an equal plane. In this case, loving all things equally.

Zen’s non-attachment

The concept of non-duality then made me think of the Zen concept of non-attachment. There are many famous Zen quotes about this, but here are two:

  • “The Great Way is not difficult for those who don’t make good and bad. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.”
  • “If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind.”

Ram Dass and Zen are saying a similar thing

So it seems that in their own ways, Ram Dass and Zen are essentially saying the same thing. Ram Dass puts everything on one plane by saying “love everything,” and Zen puts everything on one plane by saying “don’t make good or bad” — non-attachment.

In my case I had a problem with non-attachment after Zeus died. I thought, “I’m sad that Zeus is gone, and I think it would be wrong if I wasn’t sad.” (In fairness, I should add that I would later learn that the word “gone” is subject to interpretation.)

Ram Dass quoting a Zen master

As I dug deeper into this I found a web page where Ram Dass quotes a Zen master (the Third Patriarch):

“Do not remain in a dualistic state;
avoid such easy habits carefully.
If you attach even to a trace
of this and that, of right and wrong,
the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion.
Although all dualities arise from the One,
do not be attached even to ideas of this One.”

So although it’s relatively new to me to see the “non-dualistic” similarity between the two approaches, I think Ram Dass (and others) have probably known this for a long time.

The Buddha, the Maharaj-ji, and Yoda

Finally, it turns out that even Yoda knows what I’m talking about. Here are three more quotes to wrap this up for today:

  • Buddha: “Attachment is the source of all suffering.”
  • Neem Karoli Baba: “Attachment is the strongest block to realization.”
  • Yoda: “Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed that is. Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”