Loving Ram Dass
After I got the call that Ram Dass had died yesterday, I closed my eyes.
He is still here.
I could feel the vast field of love that was shining from Ram Dass when Trudy and I taught with him just a couple of weeks ago. And I always will.
On the final day of this last retreat, called “Open Your Heart in Paradise,” Ram Dass was frail and didn’t have access to many words. But he was there in the most powerful way. He swam delightedly with the group in the ocean, chanting “Oh Joy, Oh Joy.”
And on the retreat’s last morning, he put his hands on a basket of 350 wrist malas, each tied with a thread of his guru’s blanket, to tenderly bless them. Then, as participants came by slowly to receive their malas, he silently looked into each face, offering to all what is sometimes called “the glance of mercy,” a gaze so full of love that it left many of us speechless and weeping, drunk with blessing.
I have known Ram Dass for 48 years, as master teacher and inspiration and role model, as a dear friend and benefactor who helped me begin to teach, as a companion on the path, as a truth teller and prankster, as a profound healer and whisperer of souls, as a kind of prophet for a generation. Out in public with him across the years, over and over people would come up to him and speak lovingly, tentatively, urgently, offering thanks, “Ram Dass, I just want to let you know you changed my life!” And he did… for so many of us.
Yes, his book “Be Here Now” changed countless lives. Yes, his work with Seva Foundation cured 5 million people of blindness. Yes, he taught almost nonstop for 50 years, spreading wisdom and humor, wild devotion and love and a vast timeless mystical perspective across the world. His obituaries will be filled with his many other accomplishments.
For me he is family and Sangha, even now still spreading his playful, tough, delicious love everywhere, connecting with our hearts. “Yum, yum,” as he would say.
He was so ready to leave the wheelchair and skinny and broken body, to go home.
Home is not somewhere else.
It is here, in life and death, in the eternal dance of consciousness, weaving together form and the formless mystery from which it all comes.
Ram Dass is the vastness reminding us that in the end, there is only love.
December 23, 2019