The legendary Ram Dass passed away at his home in Maui, Hawai’i, on Sunday December 22nd. We were honoured to pay tribute to him in our Winter 2019/20 issue, and we know that our upcoming screening of his new documentary, ‘Becoming Nobody’, will be beautiful, bittersweet and poignant. This amazing soul touched many lives with his profound teachings. Earlier this month, we published an extract from our article about him … and we now offer the full article, with deep reverence and respect for this teacher who has now passed on to another plane of existence, embracing the next stage of his soul’s journey. Thank you for everything, Ram Dass.
Paying Homage to Ram Dass
Shaper of spiritual consciousness
by Alison McEvoy
‘Becoming Nobody; Everybody’s Busy Becoming Somebody’ stars Ram Dass in interview with director Jamie Catto, and is produced by Raghu Markus. Released this year, the film is a homage to Ram Dass’ past and present, mingling historic clips amidst a humorous and deeply engaging conversation held by Jamie and Ram Dass from his home on Maui Island, Hawai’i.
The making of this movie brings together a stellar behind-the-scenes cast from the spiritual stage. Jamie Catto is a creator, and producer/director of the multi-award winning global 1 Giant Leap films and albums. Raghu Markus has produced transformational media projects featuring Ram Dass and Deepak Chopra. He is the executive Director of the Love Serve Remember Foundation.
Richard Becomes Ram Dass
Ram Dass was told his spiritual name on his first visit to India in 1967. Prior to his fateful encounter with his guru Neem Karoli Baba he was Dr. Richard Alpert, esteemed Harvard psychologist. His passion was in delving into explorations of human consciousness using psychedelics such as LSD. From 1968 onwards, Ram Dass spent time, along with Krishna Das, in company of his guru and pursued an eclectic array of spiritual methods and practices. These initiated him on a mystical journey, deeper into the realms of consciousness and the very source of consciousness itself. Ram Dass’ dedication to spiritual service (seva) led him to open up his learnings and teachings to millions of others and, in the process, he has helped to shape the spiritual perspective of three generations.
‘Be Here Now’
The aphorism ‘be here now’ is perhaps the most memorable which Ram Dass has given to the spiritual community – the community of those seeking beyond the material world for meaning, joy and inner abundance. In honour of Ram Dass I invite you to be here now with me, as we celebrate and recall the many spiritual promptings which Ram Dass offers as a spiritual guide.
We begin with ego, as it is indeed our beginning when we start down the spiritual path. It is the “matrix of thoughts, feelings and sensations” which we have gathered and solidified since our birth, until such time comes when the ‘protection’ it offers us through judgements, classifications, likes and dislikes, becomes more limiting and cumbersome than helpful, and we begin to seek freedom from its reins.
Ram Dass continually speaks to our higher self – a voice beyond what the ego is telling us to think, to feel and to do. Led by the ego, our actions become more and more self-serving and it seems as if we are ‘minding ourselves’ but the reality is that we are becoming more and more separate; separate from others, from the world and from our true selves. People like Ram Dass offer a voice that can help us find our way home.
‘The ego tells us what leads to what, what to avoid, how to satisfy our desires, and what to do in each situation. It does this by labelling everything we sense or think. These labels put order in our world and give us a sense of security and well-being…
The ego has convinced us that we need it – not only that we need it, but that we are it. I am my body. I am my personality. I am my neuroses. I am angry. I am depressed. I’m a good person. I’m sincere. I seek truth. I’m a lazy slob. Definition after definition…Like a dictator, it offers us paternalistic security at the expense of our freedom…
‘Meditation raises the question: Who are we really?…But as long as the ego calls the shots, we can never become other than what it says.’
On Finding The Right Spiritual Practice
‘A lot of people were so gung-ho in their spiritual practices early on that you’d find them five years later at the local bars, drinking beer and watching television, and talking about how they used to do spiritual practices and how they fell off the path. Now, it isn’t really falling off the path, it’s just another part of the path. But part of that violent reaction was because of the impurities with which they did it in the first place. So my usual guidance is to go slow, to not get too gung-ho. Don’t figure you’re going to get enlightened yesterday, relax. Just start to tune yourself…
‘Now, the other thing is when you say, “I’ve found my practice.” You can’t assume that the practice you’ve found is the practice that’s going to last you for the rest of your life…So you’ve got to keep staying open. Gurdjieff said an interesting thing…he said that an alarm clock that will wake you up one moment, then you can sleep right through it later on. And he said that you need to keep finding new alarm clocks to awaken you.’
On Love and Relationships
‘When you say, “I’m in love with you,” what you’re really saying is that you are the key stimulus that is opening me to the place in myself where I am love, which I can’t get to except through you.
….you get into “You love me, I love you, here we are,” and it’s incredible because through this dynamic you have opened to a place that’s like a triangle; the two people together are feeding something that they don’t even know. If they’re feeding the unitive space behind the dualism, they’re feeding the quality of love, and when they’re together, they touch it.’
‘…we’ve got to keep our quietness inside. We’ve got to keep our love. Our compassion. We’ve got to keep our wisdom during this time. In this political scene, I don’t think we all should sit back and say, “It’s just perfect.” But I want to say you should not do social action with frustration and anger, but with love. I put Trump on my puja table. And it’s good work for me. He’s good inner work for everybody. The fear, the anger, and all those things, that’s the work. Is that inside you? Love it. Those things are thoughts, and those thoughts are not productive.’
On Waking Up
‘A soul takes human birth in order to have a series of experiences through which it will awaken out of its illusion of separateness, in each moment.
The physical experience of being incarnated is the curriculum, and the purpose of the course is to awaken us from the illusion that we are the incarnation. Spiritual practices are tools to help us accomplish these goals…
We are on an inevitable course of awakening. If you understand that message deeply, it allows you to enter into your spiritual practices from a different perspective, one of patience and timelessness. You do your practices not out of a sense of duty or because you think you should, but because you know in your soul there really is nothing else you would rather do…
Ours is a journey toward simplicity, toward quietness, toward a kind of joy that is not in time.’
Positive Life Pays Homage
Positive Life will be screening ‘Becoming Nobody’ on Thursday 16th January, 2020, followed by a question and answer session with director Jamie Catto. Click here for all the details.