I Am Loving Awareness

Image Ram Dass Young

         On December 22,2019, Ram Dass died.

         For those of you who don’t know him, he was a beloved American spiritual teacher who was one of the first Westerners to come back from India after studying and practicing Eastern philosophy and religion and put it in Western terms, so that the rest of us could understand it. His ground-breaking book was Be Here Now (Dass, 1971), which I read when I was quite a bit younger and it blew my mind.

Coincidentally, my own spiritual teacher sent me his latest book, co-written by Mirabai Bush, called Walking Each Other Home: Conversations on Loving and Dying (Dass and Bush, 2018), which I am in the middle of reading, and find it very inspiring and soothing. So, because I felt so inspired and because getting his latest book a few days before he died was so serendipitous, I set up an altar for him. I found a photography book I had, with a picture of him lying against a big boulder and looking out at the ocean. I set up 2 candles and objects from the seashore and underneath it all, the words “I am loving awareness”, which is, I recently learned, a mantra that he would focus on.

And so, the last couple of days, I’ve been focusing on that same mantra, and find that it warms my heart, and so I’ve been basking in the truth of that sentiment, and how it’s true for everybody, that that is really who we are.

So, I’m not one to order you around, but I urge you to try it out for yourself and see how it feels. It’s a simple thing to do, really, it doesn’t take much effort and it brings you Home to your True Self. It’s a kind of remembering, a waking up.

Try it.

I am loving awareness.

So… thank you, Ram Dass… for your kindness, for your love, for you wisdom.

Blessed Be

Image Ram Dass Older

 

 

Dass, R. (2010). Be Here Now. United States: HarperOne.

Dass, R., & Bush, M., (2018). Walking Each Other Home: Conversations on Loving and Dying. Boulder, Colorado. Sounds True.

Saunders, C. (n.d.). Ram Dass. Cat Saunders, Ph. D., Counselor – Author. Retrieved from https://www.drcat.org/links/ram-dass/

Shift. (2019, December 25). Shift: Personal Evolution. Being here now – Remembering Ram Dass (1931-2019). Retrieved December 27, 2019, from https://www.shift.is/2019/12/being-here-now-remembering-ram-dass-1931-2019/

Where you can find Ram Dass’s articles, media, podcasts, events, online courses: https://www.ramdass.org/

 

 

 

 

 

R.I.P. – A Poem

“R. I. P.”

I’d like to give

this body a break,

lay it across a gentle

creek and let the

sweet water carry it

to rest.

I’d like to give

this mind a break,

lead it to the wind,

and let it be carried

by the sweep of air

to rest.

I’d like to give

these emotions a break,

to let them sigh deeply

against the limbs of

redwoods, to carry

them to the ground

to rest.

I’d like to give

this self a break,

to surrender to that

Great Eternal Space

that holds all things

so that I can finally,

finally lay down

and rest.

by Maluma (My Wild Embrace, 2010)

Conversation with Dieuwke

Note – one item of profanity

Dieuwke comes into my bedroom and gives me a hug when she enters. It’s always like this, every night she’s here. It’s been about 10 years since she’s been working for me as a caregiver and we have our set routines, just like any long-term relationship. After hugs, she goes on the other side of my bed, where I’m lying, and sits in the rocker by the sliding door. We catch up on our week, but our conversations are never light or superficial. When we ask each other how we are, we tell the truth. We get down and dirty. This soothes me, even when the truth is hard to take. Speaking my truth and listening to hers, releases something inside me and calms me down.

Tonight, she tells me she realizes she’s depressed. “About what?”, I ask, sitting up. I really want to hear this.

“It’s taken me awhile to figure out what I’m feeling. It’s this searching thing…”: She looks off into space as if whatever she is searching for is out there somewhere. “Nothing is fulfilling”. I furrow my brow, trying to understand. “We look for the next thing to make us feel satisfied, you know(?) We want to fall in love, or, in our restlessness, we want to move somewhere… or…” – she drifts off for a second – “but any real satisfaction we get doesn’t last long”.

This interests me. I understand what she is talking about. She’s talking about the human condition, I realize, and this I can wrap my mind around. Buddhists are often talking about this sort of thing.

“To me”, I say gingerly, testing out my thoughts and words, “this realization is actually good news, even when it doesn’t feel like it”. We both laugh, understanding.

“Yeah”, she says, her blue eyes brightening. “We’re supposed to be happy about this. When we get it that we can’t be truly fulfilled by outer experiences, we stop searching so much and go inward”.

“Yup”, I say, watching her.

“But I’m fed up with these spiritual teachings and reading books on spirituality”. She sticks out her tongue, then laughs.

“Yeah – fuck them!”, I say gleefully and laugh along with her.

The truth in not always easy. It’s kind of depressing when we remember we “can’t get no satisfaction”, at least long-lasting, in worldly pleasures. I mean I love my Rice Dream bars, and going to my book group & hanging out with my friends when I can, but when the ice cream’s done, or I come home from a gathering, there can be a subtle sort of emptiness or let-down that can come with it. That’s the kind of depression Dieuwke is talking about. Everybody feels it; just maybe not aware of it.

This doesn’t mean we need to become nuns and monks and close ourselves off from the world; like going to gatherings or doing things that give us pleasure – those of us who have chronic illness often feel cut off from the world as it is. Understanding that these things come to an end at some point, we can, for example, more-fully appreciate and enjoy the soft sweetness of ice cream or a lively conversation with a friend. In this regard, life becomes more poignant. While we are engaged in such activities, we begin to understand that there is something else that is continuous, that holds these passing experiences, that lies within them, and is not separate from them that we can depend on.

This type of awareness comes slowly and is something all of us (able-bodied or not) must go through repeatedly. We need reminding to wake up out of our reverie. And this requires patience. And it requires conscious practice. And it requires kindness.

What do you think?