Guru’s Unconditional Love

Akshey Jawa
12 min readFeb 14, 2023

In this Valentine’s day special post, let us talk about God’s and Guru’s unconditional love for his devotees.
We will also discuss the story of Dr. Richard Alpert, a Harvard Professor, and Psychiatrist, who got transformed into a Yogi when he visited India in 1967. He is popularly known as Ram Dass, the name given to him by his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba. Millions of copies have been sold of his books, especially, “Be Here Now”.

Swami Krishnanandaji of YSS once called him a “Saint”.

Dr. Richard Alpert, Ram Dass, at the feet of Neem Karoli Baba

The following passages on the Guru’s unconditional love are taken from the 1st chapter of “Be Love Now”, a book authored by Ram Dass:

IMAGINE FEELING MORE LOVE from someone than you have ever known. You’re being loved even more than your mother loved you when you were an infant, more than you were ever loved by your father, your child, or your most intimate lover — anyone. This lover doesn’t need anything from you, isn’t looking for personal gratification, and only wants your complete fulfillment.

You are loved just for being who you are, just for existing. You don’t have to do anything to earn it. Your shortcomings, your lack of self-esteem, physical perfection, or social and economic success — none of that matters. No one can take this love away from you, and it will always be here.

Imagine that being in this love is like relaxing endlessly into a warm bath that surrounds and supports your every movement, so that every thought and feeling is permeated by it. You feel as though you are dissolving into love.

This love is actually part of you; it is always flowing through you. It’s like the subatomic texture of the universe, the dark matter that connects everything. When you tune in to that flow, you will feel it in your own heart — not your physical heart or your emotional heart, but your spiritual heart, the place you point to in your chest when you say, “I am.”

This is your deeper heart, your intuitive heart. It is the place where the higher mind, pure awareness, the subtler emotions, and your soul identity all come together and you connect to the universe, where presence and love are.

Unconditional love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being. It is not so much an active emotion as a state of being. It’s not “I love you” for this or that reason, not “I love you if you love me.” It’s love for no reason, love without an object. It’s just sitting in love, a love that incorporates the chair and the room and permeates everything around. The thinking mind is extinguished in love.

If I go into the place in myself that is love and you go into the place in yourself that is love, we are together in love. Then you and I are truly in love, the state of being love. That’s the entrance to Oneness. That’s the space I entered when I met my guru.

Years ago in India I was sitting in the courtyard of the little temple in the Himalayan foothills. Thirty or forty of us were there around my guru, Maharaj-ji. This old man wrapped in a plaid blanket was sitting on a plank bed, and for a brief uncommon interval everyone had fallen silent. It was a meditative quiet, like an open field on a windless day or a deep clear lake without a ripple. I felt waves of love radiating toward me, washing over me like a gentle surf on a tropical shore, immersing me, rocking me, caressing my soul, infinitely accepting and open. I was nearly overcome, on the verge of tears, so grateful and so full of joy it was hard to believe it was happening. I opened my eyes and looked around, and I could feel that everyone else around me was experiencing the same thing. I looked over at my guru. He was just sitting there, looking around, not doing anything. It was just his being, shining like the sun equally on everyone. It wasn’t directed at anyone in particular. For him it was nothing special, just his own nature. This love is like sunshine, a natural force, a completion of what is, a bliss that permeates every particle of existence. In Sanskrit it’s called sat-cit-ananda, “truth-consciousness-bliss,” the bliss of consciousness of existence. That vibrational field of ananda love permeates everything; everything in that vibration is in love. It’s a different state of being beyond the mind. We were transported by Maharaj-ji’s love from one vibrational level to another, from the ego to the soul level. When Maharaj-ji brought me to my soul through that love, my mind just stopped working. Perhaps that’s why unconditional love is so hard to describe, and why the best descriptions come from mystic poets. Most of our descriptions are from the point of view of conditional love, from an interpersonal standpoint that just dissolves in that unconditioned place.

Parvati Markus was another devotee of Neem Karoli Baba

Dr. Richard Alpert — Before he met his Guru & how they met

Let us go a little back a little and know the story of Dr. Richard Alpert and how he got changed to Ram Dass.

Before visiting India, he used to do research on the therapeutic and mystical side of Psychedelics drugs, especially LSD. He used to experience a lot of blissful experiences while experimenting with these drugs for research and personal interest. He used to wonder why the bliss always comes down. Why could he not stay in the high state all the time? Because of the blissful experiences, he felt that there is more to human consciousness than what is known to western psychology. He was looking for answers.

Eventually, he stumbled upon a popular Tibetan Spiritual book that gave him a glimpse of eastern spirituality. He understood that he could find many answers by visiting India. He came to India and roamed everywhere but did not find any genuine saint who could answer his queries. As he was still searching, he found Bhagavan Das. Bhagavan Das was actually a westerner, who stayed in India after becoming a monk. Richard got impressed by Bhagavan Das’s wisdom and roamed & learned from Bhagavan Das for some time. Finally, one day Bhagavan Das decided to meet his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba. Richard came along.

Dr. Richard Alpert changed into Baba Ram Dass after meeting the Guru

The video below is the story of Richard’s first meeting with his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba. The Guru showered him with so much love that the prideful Harvard Professor’s heart crashed and became a child-like devotee of Neem Karoli Baba. Richard stayed near him for 6 months while going through a deep inner transformation. Later, when his Guru asked him to go back to the US, the Guru sent him blessings through another devotee. The devotee said to Ram Dass, “Maharaj ji is giving blessings for the book.” Ram Dass asked, “Book? What book?”

After he returned to the US, he could not do anything but teach. He told everyone about the love & greatness of His Guru and the great saints of India. Eventually, in 1971, he wrote the book, “Be Here Now”, which is his story of visiting India, and meeting his Guru. He also talks about India’s spirituality in general. The book is considered to be one the most popular spiritual books of its times and was described by multiple reviewers as “seminal”, and helped popularize Eastern spirituality and yoga in the West.

Neem Karoli Baba reading “Be Here Now”

Maharaj ji was known to be very comical and was not straightforward at all. He sometimes used to abuse his devotees and hit them physically. Once a devotee said, “I was alone with Maharaj ji. He started beating me. I was rolling on the floor and he was beating me hard with his feet and legs. But instead of feeling bad about it, I was drunk with bliss and laughter. Every time he hit me, I felt more bliss. I wished he never stopped the beating.” That was Maharaj ji. He spoke very less about spiritual things and he was often mysterious. Devotees wanted him to visit and stay at their homes. With the fear that he would leave their home while everyone else was sleeping or busy somewhere, they would latch his room and windows from the outside. On occasions, it was found that he would leave the room & home without breaking the door or any windows, by just using his yogic powers. Devotees understood that he had many such powers with which he could do many miracles. Many devotees thought that he was an incarnation of Hanuman.

The story of how Ram Dass met his Guru:

His Talks were very Entertaining but they also drew many Souls to the Spiritual Path

After coming back to US, Ram Dass became a very prolific speaker. He felt that His Guru was reaching others through him. But he thought that he was not pure enough to teach others.

Gurus are Immortal

A realized Guru never dies. They live on higher planes and continue to help all those who need their help on earth. Those who meditate deeply on them, can feel their love and divinity pouring over them.

Ram Dass confirmed the same. He said:

Even without encounters on the physical plane, visions, or dreams, most of the devotees continue to feel Maharajji’s presence and protection. But why should that be surprising? After all, Maharajji had again and again assured us that he would always be in communion with us and that we didn’t need to be with his physical body.

One afternoon I was sitting across the temple courtyard from Maharajji. He was surrounded by devotees who were massaging his feet, laughing and talking about this and that, and sharing fruit and sweets. As I watched, the scene suddenly appeared to become static, as if I were watching a tableau. I felt remoteness from it all. In my mind, I thought, “My relationship with Maharajji is not in time and space. I don’t need to be at his feet in physical form. It wouldn’t really matter if I were to never see him again. He is in my heart.” Just the thought made me feel guilty, but at that moment it all came back to life and I saw Maharajji turn and whisper to an old Indian devotee standing at his side. The man immediately came rushing across the courtyard, came up to me, and touched my feet. Then he said to me, “Maharajji told me to come over and touch your feet. Maharajji said, ‘Ram Dass and I understand each other perfectly. His heart is open.’ At that very moment, I knew that Maharajji had freed me from attachment to his form.

God & Guru use their devotees to Help others

Just like Ram Dass acted as an instrument of Guru and God to help others, similarly, while a devotee is still progressing on the path, he can be used by the Divine to do some good in the world. For example, he may be asked to take some initiative to help others or he may be asked to talk to specific individuals and help them heal or make them aware of the spiritual path with the intention to help them. To convey to the Devotee to do a certain task, God & Guru may not necessarily appear before the devotee or speak to him in the usual manner. In many cases, a devotee simply feels drawn to the people he needs to help, and what God/Guru want him to do is revealed from inside. This is a common thing that happens with many devotees who are sincerely dedicated to the Goal of Self-Realization.

This is done, not just to help others, but also to help the devotee who accepts the Guru’s inner push to help others and thus acts as a little channel of Guru’s and God’s love, wisdom, healing, and blessings.

Hose (water pipe) that is used to water Plants

Such a devotee is like a water pipe(hose) that is used to water plants. An unused pipe becomes dirty from the inside because of dust, but when the divine waters of selflessness, love, compassion, and caring for others, flow through this pipe, it not only waters the plants, but it also cleanses the pipe from the inside. The plant that may be getting the benefit, may just see the pipe and give credit or discredit to the pipe, but it is the divine waters of God’s love, healing, and wisdom, that do the real magic. It is the divine hand holding the pipe, and the tap of divinity which is the only source of divine waters in the pipe, that decides which plant needs to be watered & nurtured and to what degree. That probably depends on the plant’s readiness for the Divine. The pipe is just a channel through which some form of divinity flows in a pure or imperfect manner.

When a devotee is used by God for doing any selfless work, the devotee himself feels cleaner, happier, and better from the inside. He feels he is doing the right thing to progress toward his goal of Realizing the Self. More importantly, he learns to give more importance to the suffering of others than to his own. When we are not actively involved in helping those who are suffering, we see their suffering from a distance, so to speak. But when we are actively involved in helping others in a selfless manner (not like someone who is trying to drive material benefit from helping others) we feel connected to the suffering and can feel the suffering of the other and thus do more & more to remove it, just like as if it is our own suffering. By doing this, little by little the devotee realizes his “Bigger Self”, of which every human being & every creature in the universe is a part of. His consciousness gradually expands from a limited ego to feeling the pains of all creation. And when the ego dissolves little by little, the joy and unconditional love of his own soul pours over his consciousness. Even though that joy was always there, it was held and hijacked by the ego. As the ego is loosened, the soul feels more relaxed and relatively free to express its beauty and unconditional love more and more, little by little. The soul’s wisdom, joy, and love, naturally overflows from the consciousness and tend to help others in loosening their ego too, so that they could also experience this miracle of consciousness.

Just because someone is progressing into more joys and love, does not mean that their life will be smooth, and perfect. Life is never smooth but one gets divine love, strength, and wisdom to handle such problems. It is never easy but isn’t it true that even a usual normal life with its twists, turns, and uncertainties, is also never easy? The advantage a devotee of God has is the inner support system that gives him substantial strength and reason to fight through his problems and immense Love & Bliss to heal his wounds and make him experience the elixir of Divinity. This love is not just that unconditional love that is described above but it is that kind that can never be explained, for the thinking mind is extinguished in love. It can only be experienced!

The devotee does not help others in just material ways — giving money or through health care, God also works through the devotee as a channel of his divine love and wisdom. Sometimes, God may transmit love through such a devotee depending on the spiritual advancement of the devotee and the receiver’s readiness.

To sum it up, helping others is not just a blessing for the receiver, but also for the giver.