In the short video clip of Ram Dass posted on this site, he says that in the two years between his first meeting Maharajji and going back to India, in all the countless lectures he gave during that time, his “words were coated with Maharajji.” Some didn’t get it, many did. Be Here Now, the distillation of his talks from that time period, touched millions of others. Those of us who wound up in India at Maharajji’s feet heard him loud and clear—the trumpet call to wake up, the message that LSD would only get us so far on the journey, the realization that the holy books were all real, and that enlightened beings did exist and could touch our lives.
In India, they said that Ram Dass had “the gift of Saraswati.” Saraswati is the goddess who is the consort of Brahma, the Creator. She’s the muse, the portal for creative expression, such as music and poetry. Ram Dass was like a fountain whose words endlessly poured out the essence of Maharajji. And his delivery of that essence made it easy for Westerners to “get.” We could relate to him—this very smart, very funny “bad boy” who’d been kicked out of Harvard—and we could catch a glimpse, a taste, of what he had experienced in the presence of Maharajji’s unconditional love.
I know that when I initially met Ram Dass in the summer of ’69, and heard him speak to the dozen of us who were gathered in the barn at his father’s place in New Hampshire, it was the first time in my life I felt like I was getting answers instead of more questions. My search, which had led me through all the “dead white guys” of Western philosophy and psychology, alcohol, sickness, hallucinogens, and failed relationships, had finally paid off. I moved into a tent in his father’s backyard the very next day.
This year, around 40 of us gathered in Maui with Ram Dass for a reunion. We’d all been through a lot in the four decades since we’d been with Maharajji. There was Ram Dass’s massive stroke years earlier, and the gratefulness that he was still with us, and able to speak far better than the doctors ever expected (with the added benefit of those long pauses that give us time to sink into the heart space). There were the deaths of satsang members to remind us to appreciate the blessings of this life. But no matter how much time has elapsed, no matter how many challenges we’ve faced—divorces, bankruptcies, physical issues, difficulties with family and friends and businesses—we were still all joined in this large family of the spirit, still telling and listening to the stories, the words, that have coated our life with Maharajji.
And no words can express the gratitude for such grace.