Ram Dass, Going Home

For those of us who hold Ram Dass dear to our heart, if you haven’t already, watch the newly released Ram Dass Going Home streaming on Netflix.

Words can’t express the indebtedness to Richard Alpert, who, in the midst of the political, social, and spiritual turmoil of the late ‘60s, went to India in search of the truth and returned as Ram Dass to spread his message of peace, love, and happiness to the many seekers who were inspired by his journey. His book ‘Be Here Now’ motivated us to join him on the pathless path and discover our essential nature that his presence now embodied.

And now, at age 87, having gracefully weathered a severe stroke he suffered over twenty years ago, he is preparing to die. His mantra, ‘I am loving Awareness.’ His message, ‘Let’s all lead each other home.’

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Ram Dass!

Eternal gratitude!

We love you!

Undead Or Unborn?

Mythology and folklore are filled with stories and legends of the undead – vampires, ghosts, zombies, etc. – dead beings that behave as though they are alive. With a little twist, human beings can be added to this legendary group – living beings that behave as though they are dead.

We think that we are alive, but everything we identify with as an individual self, as a body-mind – thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions – has a brief life span. Most thoughts pass within seconds or minutes. Moods pass within hours or days. And our body-mind gradually, sometimes suddenly, gives up and dies. In other words, all attributes of the body, mind, and world are bound by the limits of time – they are born, live for a while, and then die.

If we live our lives identifying with this illusionary separate self made up of temporary attributes all destined to vanish, we might as well be counted amongst the walking dead.

Why not discover that within you, within each one of us that is timeless, that is unborn?

First, recognize the knowing presence within you, us, that says ‘I am’. Now drop the thought ‘I am’ and what remains? Something remains because you are still here.

What is it that exists in the absence of thought? After all, when a thought comes and goes, you, the one aware of the thought, don’t come and go with it.

Is this aware you ever not here? Is this aware you that experiences feelings disappear when a feeling fades? No. It is ever-present, timeless.

This aware you that knows the coming and going of all things, yet doesn’t come and go with them, is the source of your being, the source of all of our beings, as there can only be one.

We think that our ever-present awareness is ours alone, yet when we investigate the attributes of this ever-present consciousness, no limits can be found, and something that is limitless allows no room for two. Would it be possible to fit one infinite sky inside another?

Ever-present awareness has no beginning or end, experiences no birth or death. It is timeless and beyond space.

It is the unborn.

And you, I, we, are that.

We All Appear To Die

Death surrounds us. It’s featured daily in the national news – 30 dead in a terrorist attack; 6 die in fire; reported 1200 dead in early figures following earthquake; 17 gunned down in a movie theater; a famous actress dies at 97. We see, hear, and read about death so often that it’s easy to tune it out. Death is a part of life, but in many cases we don’t want to dwell on it. It’s not a pleasant subject, after all. It’s just too final. But when someone close to us dies it tends to bring our own mortality into sharper focus.

Death surrounds us. But do we actually die? Aren’t the seeds of birth and death contained in our essential being, the ever-present Awareness from which all manifestations arise, linger, and disappear?

We all appear to die. Eventually our minds give out, our bodies give out, and everything ceases to function. The body-mind ‘dies’, but does Awareness, that which know the body-mind, die with it?

Awareness, the sense of being that has been with us as far back as we can remember, exists prior to, during, and after any experience of the body-mind has come and gone, be it a thought, image, feeling, sensation, or perception of the world through our five senses.

If Awareness is our essential nature, we, in the absolute sense, do not die. Death is just a concept within the vast ever-presence of infinite and eternal Awareness.

Were you a witness to your own birth?

It might seem obvious that you couldn’t witness your own birth, as you, a separate self, were not conscious enough to know anything. But the reality is that you would have to be present and aware to answer ‘No’.

Could you ever witness your own disappearance or death?

Conceptually, it makes sense that you couldn’t witness your own death because you are the one that appears to be dying. But, again, you would have to be present and aware to answer ‘No’.

Stick to the facts of your own experience and live your ‘life’ as your essential Self: ever-present Awareness. Not as a temporary, and thus illusionary, separate self we call a body-mind that appears to be born, live, and die.

When you do this, life turns into timeless, wondrous moments of endless discovery. Actually, you don’t have to ‘do’ anything because this is your original nature. No doing, no effort involved in being who you already are.

Not a Matter of Life & Death

An old friend was going to visit a mutual friend who was dying of cancer. In preparation, he was reading up on death and dying. He said that what he had discovered was that death was not the problem, but the fear of being alone. This brought to mind J. Krishnamurti, who said something like, ‘Death is the unknown and how can you fear the unknown? What you really fear is losing what you know.’ If we examine what we think we know, what do we come up with? And, whatever it is, is it really something to fear losing? In addition, can we discover that which is beyond any idea of worldly loss or eternal isolation?

Most of us claim to be a body-mind experiencing the world. Just for a moment, entertain the possibility that this is an illusion, and, if so, it would follow that if we were not a body and a mind that perceives the world, there could be no possibility of birth or death. Only a body-mind can be born, live, and die. If we look closely, our true identity is ever-present, unchanging, untouched, and undisturbed by all appearances – it is never born and never dies. It has many names – conscious awareness, divine spirit, or ‘nothing that is everything’ – but we don’t have to name it. It just is.

You can confirm this with your own direct experience. As a so-called body mind, what are you made of? Investigating thoroughly, we appear to be a conglomeration of thoughts and images in a mind, and feelings and sensations in a body that perceives the world through the senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. All of these are temporary, limited by time and space, but your true self, that which knows all of these appearances, is ever-present and aware, existing prior to and beyond all experience.

Whatever this aware-presence is, we are that. This is our true nature that never comes and goes – it is beyond life and death. You can ask yourself now: did I experience my own birth? If you answered yes or no, you would have to have been present to confirm either one. Could you ever experience your own death? If you say yes or no, you would have to be present to confirm either answer. You are present regardless of the circumstances.

Place your identity in that unnamable presence that never comes and goes and experience what it really means to be beyond life and death – to feel, no, to be the expression of peace, happiness, and love. Actually, you don’t have to place your identity anywhere because there is no ‘you’ to place and no ‘anywhere’ to place it. There is only being and you are already that.