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  • Writer's pictureErin Johnson

Beyond the Polarities: A Reflection on Ram Dass's "I am"

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

Have you ever felt like no matter what you do, it’s not enough? So often we live our lives constantly striving for something more - to be better, smarter, more successful or more attractive. We’re so focused on this that we tend to get caught up in a cycle of comparison and judgement of ourselves and others. Ram Dass’s words offer an alternative approach - to go beyond the polarities and simply “be.” Let’s explore what that might look like.

To go beyond the polarities is to move away from the binary thinking of either/or and instead allow ourselves to exist in the space between. It is giving ourselves permission to sit with our emotions without judgement or expectation; allowing them to rise and fall as they come and go; being present with whatever comes up without fighting against it or pushing it away. It is also recognizing that there are shades of grey in life – sometimes things are neither good nor bad, but rather somewhere in between.

By sitting with this concept of “I am”, we can begin to cultivate self-acceptance without any agenda attached. We can learn to accept ourselves for who we are today – flaws and all – while still having room for growth and change if desired. This kind of self-acceptance allows us to release the need for external validation because it comes from within instead. As we give ourselves permission to just be, we become free from the expectations of others – free from needing approval or recognition in order to feel valued or lovable.

Ultimately, when we practice letting go of judgement, comparison and expectation and focus on simply being in this moment, we enable ourselves to rest into a deeper sense of peace and contentment than before. And when we accept ourselves fully as we are right now, only then can real transformation begin from a place of love - love for our imperfect selves - rather than fear or shame.

"The art is to go behind the polarities. So the act is to go not to the world of: ‘I am good’ to counteract ‘I am bad,’ Or ‘I am lovable’ as opposed to ‘I am unlovable.’ But go behind it to ‘I am.’ I am. I am. And ‘I am’ includes the fact that I do crappy things, and I do beautiful things. And I am.” ~Ram Dass

In his wise words, Ram Dass reminds us that when trying to counteract our feelings of inadequacy with affirmations about being “good enough”, it can actually perpetuate a cycle of self-criticism by keeping us stuck in duality thinking - either I am good enough or I am not good enough. The alternative is “I am”- embracing all facets of who you are right now; both your shortcomings as well as your strengths - with acceptance rather than judgment or expectation so that you can create lasting transformation from a place of love rather than fear or shame. This is how true self-love begins!

Know that you are not alone, and the community here at Loving Awareness Mama will always be a safe place for you to show up exactly as you are. You are LOVED simply because you exist.

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