Nov 4 2010

A Round Trip Ticket to Ride


I’ve been reading Be Love Now and I love the way Ram Dass is revisiting his early experiences with Maharajji, looking back at the beginning, filling in the blanks in between the layers of the stories we’ve heard before. When I think about those first awful weeks after his massive stroke, when we didn’t know how much brain function he would recover and the prognosis looked grim, and then read the way his memories pour out in the new book, I’m so grateful for the round trip Ram Dass been able to make.

He talks about the six months he spent at Kainchi after first meeting Maharajji and how they seemed like “one timeless moment.” I understand. I also keep revisiting the time I spent in Maharajji’s presence. And revisiting is the wrong word for a timeless experience that lies at the core of who I am and who I’ve been for the last four decades—a devotee of Spirit who tries to live with no “scruple of change” as the drama plays itself out. Rereading Be Here Now, and first reading Be Love Now, is like having a round trip ticket to ride once again the waves of love and surrender, joy and despair, of that timeless moment.

Like Ram Dass writing his new book, I’ve been immersed in the past. I’ve started archiving the stories of those of us Westerners who were with Maharajji during those few brief years in the early 70s before he left his body. Looking back four decades, what is amazing for all of us is how vividly that time stands out. We may not remember everything he said, or the exact progression of whether it happened in Kainchi or Brindavan or Allahabad, but the feeling, the space, the connection is always there—timeless.

What can erase from memory the greatest love story of your life?

One of the things that those of us who kept journals during our time with Maharajji did was to write down quotes that were relevant to us. I don’t have a lot of words today. Instead, here’s a quote I’d written in my journal back then.

“When love beckons to you, follow him, though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you, yield to him, though the sword hidden amongst his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him, though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, so shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.”
–Gibran, The Prophet

A page from Maharajji's "journal"--all RAMs

Nov 3 2010

Putting the RAMA in DRAMA


If someone clings too much to me in a relationship, I start to feel my freedom compromised, and I begin to distance myself emotionally. It’s happened before. And I am usually aware of it and feel guilty about it. This is why it’s understandable that my girlfriend has been doing the same with me recently. I have been very attracted tothe idea of being with her as much as possible and not sensing her needs to be herself apart from me. And I have been aware of it but can’t stop it or control it… with my mind.

I have found myself in this wonderful new relationship with a person that could only have come my way out of grace. I find her more beautiful physically than anyone on the planet. All her parts, sync up with all the pleasure centers of my brain. I have more activities in common with her than I have ever had with anybody (friend, girlfriend or relative). She loves me. We both want to be with each other for a long time. However, without my realizing it, I became very attached to the prospect of keeping these pleasure centers constantly clicking, so that I could make that “long time” a reality. So as my daily focus came to her for inspiration, assurance, and validation, the other aspects of my life started to fall away. Teaching yoga became a chore. So did my radio show. So did my volunteer work. I didn’t think it was related to how much mental energy I was giving to my attachment.

She started to distance herself consciously and unconsciously, even sadly developing an slight unexplainable depression. She wasn’t getting the space and freedom she needed. And I was blinded by my own neediness. I broke down in tears the moment I revealed to myself and her that I don’t trust in intimacy. Because at moment, though I had never emotionally pieced it together, my parents’ divorce at age 1 flashed into my mind. I’ve never felt solid towards an intimate relationship. I have never trusted a relationship, I guess. I couldn’t trust being apart. (I’m also having the hardest time allowing my new dog Veda offleash…no trust…but she’s also a dog).

That gave me some distance from it thankfully. And allowed me to feel a root, a reason behind my unconscious behavior. I never understood relationships. I am learning how to trust now. It’s only just begun. Can we be apart and feel grounded and in trust and in love? Sure it’s totally possible. Carin, I don’t know how it works across the world, but I’m wishing you strength and inner-love.

And then I sat for my first meditation in a while. After 30 minutes of fighting against thinking about my relationship and eventually letting myself THINK about it, it came to me. I am exactly where I am supposed to be, feeling exactly how I am supposed to feel. Being guided. Unfolding lawfully. And then I realized, it was the first time I connected to God and guru deeply for the past two months. You can probably smell the apathy in some of my previous posts.

The desire had brought me to believe I was the creator of my own plentiful or abject destiny. That I was in control. And it was such a seductive thought. So seductive that it brought me out of the work I had been doing for a while. So seductive that it made me less of “me” and more aligned with my desire than anything else. I love the person I am with dearly. She makes my heart light when I’m not coming from a desperate place. She is an angel to me and I am learning how to love and be loved, and it is completely different than I thought it should be. Trust.

Nov 2 2010

GO . IN . IN . IN . IN


All roads point within.


I’ve been in a smackdown with my thoughts and emotions, attempting to plan and to understand a picture beyond what my pea brain can actually understand.

I write “morning pages” as a way to pour out the cobwebs of fear and judgment with which I awake in the morning. This morning I was, indeed, pouring with them. Perfect for Halloween: fear, fear, fear [I’m writing this on Halloween, preparing for the week ahead]. Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way, recommends that one does not re-read morning pages – at least for two months.

So this morning, after writing, and calming down in the process, praise Jah, I looked back two months in my notebook, hoping to see something brighter, if I’m being honest. And yet, there it was, almost the same chant: fear, fear, fear. And also, two months back, anger.

While I was writing this morning I saw (remembered, woke up to the fact) that inside is the only way to go. Quieting the mind, for me, is it.

I’ve been reading Be Love Now (***Released TODAY, Tuesday Nov. 2!!!). Ram Dass is speaking right to me when he says: “I couldn’t get to my spiritual heart through my rational mind.”

About six weeks ago, I wrote about the arrival of my beau coming from another country. I was panicked, as I was driven by my (ir)rational mind. Now, weeks later, I find myself panicking again, fearful of his departure back to his home country, which – to my limited mind – seems like another planet, inaccessible.

This process is not about thinking things out, I come to see.

My judgments, my ego-tripping, my attempts to plan and to know what the future holds or to try to drive the future in any way — all futile and hung up on a desperate mind, clinging to an image of importance that simply cannot stand against an open heart, against the field of a quiet mind.

See, when I’m not engaged in intimate relationships, I have a sweet quiet mind and a heart, languid in its openness. But get a mirror of “another” close to me, and all hell breaks loose. In my mind.

It takes it all so dang seriously.

Earlier this week as I’d been begging for a paradigm shift because I couldn’t stand the suffering I was putting myself through, I found freedom even in the words “I hate my life.”

Point being that when all hell breaks loose, when I’m hating my life, when I’m forgetting my practices and become focused on what seems to be outward (such as another person and the context our relationship seems to be situated in), eventually, out of grace or just being fed up with the aching mind, I remember:

GO  .  IN  .  IN .  IN .  IN

(BHN, p. 85)

Nothing is about the other person, nor is it personal. My personal grasping for love and affection are reminiscent of the little girl whose mother was outta there when the girl was just small, and as the circumstances prepare to shift (i.e., my man prepares to return to New Zealand for now), I freak. I feel like I’m dying. I’m terrified of something that hasn’t happened.

There’s the part of me, then, that says, “Go for it! Die!” Not literally, not physically, of course, but more in the sense of, “Bust on through!”

Meanwhile, the early pages of Be Love Now resonate so much with me. Ram Dass: “The more I gave up my desire for personal love, the less distance there was between his being and mine, and I felt much closer to him.”

We know it. We forget it. We write it so we can remind ourselves and each other. And ultimately, all roads lead within. And then we get to sit there, lightly smiling, relieved, exhaling. Breathing easy.

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Oct 31 2010

Bonfires and Pumpkins


The night of Halloween used to be the most feared evening of the year. It was believed by the Druids in Britain and Brittany, France, that on this night, Samhain, the Lord of Death, allowed the spirits of those who have died within the last 12 months to roam the earth. In order to fend off the evil spirits, the Druids would light huge bonfires on hilltops. This tradition of lighting bonfires has since evolved into carving pumpkins and putting candles inside of them. Nonetheless, may we all honor those souls that have gone before us on this special day.

When I think of the whole notion of “those souls that have gone before us”, it seems like a sort of oxymoron to me. Where can a soul go? “There is nowhere to go and there is nothing to do”.  Maybe the right term to use would be “those bodies that have gone before us”. The souls, or Soul, is always here, in “eternal time and space”.

I love this idea of having nothing to do and nowhere to go. It provides a welcome relief from the feeling of never doing enough. It reminds me of the feeling I would get when I was younger, looking at pictures of our planet, surrounded by other planets and stars, and a whole lotta space. It would make me feel so small. Maybe some people don’t like feeling small, but I always have. Looking at Earth put things in perspective for me when I was younger. All of a sudden, things that were bothering me didn’t seem like such a big deal. I mean, there I was, on this tiny planet in the middle of who knows where, worrying about not having skinny enough legs. I would call it the “zoom out”. Take your position on this planet, and zoom out to the Milky Way (and that is just the beginning). Are you still worried about the fact that those jeans that have been sitting in your closet for 5 years still don’t fit? If you are, zoom out further. It is a never-ending zoom-out. I always picture some other being on another planet worrying about the same thing I am. When I do that, it all just seems kind of silly.

Here we are, on this day, honoring the spirits. While we honor these spirits, may we honor the Spirit as well. That is, the eternal Spirit. The Spirit within us all. Because essentially, in honoring those spirits, we are really honoring ourselves, as we are all of these spirits, and they are us. And in knowing that, we honor the Spirit. So as you do whatever you are doing tonight, may that pumpkin sitting in the corner of the room remind you of the bonfire on the hilltop. May the bonfire remind you of the spirits. And may the spirits remind you of the eternal Spirit. So lets just skip some of those steps.

Tonight, let the pumpkins remind you of the eternal Spirit that we all are.


Oct 30 2010

Bhakti Marg, path to love


I received an early finished copy of BE LOVE NOW from the publishers (thank you!) and have read to page 60 as of about an hour ago. I’d been looking at it on my desk for days longing to get started reading and finally found a time late last night. Sleep deprivation, parental obligations,hunger and the need to get blogging here gave me barely enough incentive to put it down and I can’t wait to get back to it. I was totally immersed from the beginning pages where Rameshwar Das so sweetly relates his story of personal connection to Ram Dass and the ensuing journey to his heart.

There is so much in this new book that coalesces years of my life experiences and seeking. While reading the words I hear Ram Dass’s warm, loving voice in my head and I feel myself sitting in rapt attention in front of him. His deep presence is palpable through the words and wisdom he shares. I was totally immersed from the beginning pages where Rameshwar Das so sweetly relates his story of personal connection to Ram Dass and the ensuing journey to his heart

While reading I’ve been trying to integrate this new journey Be Love Now is taking me on with the pages of Be Here Now and I’ve  found it to be an effortless intention. It’s as if the profound simplicity and spaciousness of Be Here Now is filled in with layer upon layer of delicious detail and personal insights that help me bring together years of my own adventures on this bhakti marg, the road to Love. And I am thrilled that beyond the integration in this new book Ram Dass also offers more possiblities for opening to that Love.

I read on the pages of Be Here Now that there’s nothing to do, nowhere to go, you’re sitting here always. The cosmic joke is that we all struggle to get somewhere, but in reality…as I read on page 60 of Be Love Now, “When you stop for a moment, when you dive into the presence of this moment, the drama goes on, but it is all just love”.

And on page 26, “It’s a being thing not a doing thing”.

This is not to say that doing things isn’t part of the equation. I know I am here in this life to be in my humanity to its fullest and with all the passion I can muster. But doing so with a deeper connection to being makes it a more joyful and fulfilling dance. I am growing into the sense that each moment is infused with love and that  I am that loving awareness as Ram Dass reminds me in Be Love Now.

There is such freedom and peace in knowing I don’t have to be or do anything or go anywhere to reside in that ocean of love.

It is …Here Right Now Always.

Ram Dass shares,

“I used to feel I could only get that love in India but now all I have to do is plumb the depth of the moment. “  Be Love Now p. 16

These words, “plumb the depth of the moment” create an excitement in me about the possibilities to explore those depths. I am grateful also for the many ways available to me to bring myself into that moment awareness through darshan, kirtan and by opening my heart to the eternal flow of Maharaj-ji’s grace and love.

I could so easily go on and on here carried by a wave of gratitude for this new opportunity to deepen in my  life. I feel myself on the verge of veering off into another whole blog about the darshan and kirtan threads that tie it all together for me, but Ram Dass does a much better job of explaining all of this and so much more. In the interest of actually getting this posted today and since the next 236 pages of Be Love Now are mine yet to discover I will end here now….at a new beginning place.

Thank you Ram Dass and Rameshwar Das. I love you.

Oct 29 2010

Just experience


Short and sweet is what my computer is telling me today. It keeps turning off this morning . . . ? I spent time trying to fix it, and it kept doing it, so I’ll keep this short. I suppose Maharajji works through computers, too! And I think he sees fewer words than I hear running around my  head.

(p 87) The Stillness – The Calmness – The fulfillment. That’s the rooted place. Ram Dass talks of the roots being where ‘it’ is at. We speak of their stillness. There are no beautiful leaves or color in the roots; Just the driving force of life. That still place that literally soaks up what is around them.

We ARE roots. This does not seem magical to me. This just seems to be a truth. We absorb what is around us–always. Jesus is a root. Maharajji is a root. I am a root. Papa is a root. We’re all roots, absorbing what is around us. And even if ‘we’ are not being still (ie if we are running around as hyper egos), our roots are still quite still; the steady calmness of the roots is always with us. We just have to turn in in in in in through love love love love love to be our roots.

My screen is beginning to flash, so I’m going to hit ‘publish’ now, but I may return to update this post. Please check back, and please add your thoughts on stillness and roots, your experiences of being rooted.

Further thoughts now on different computer: We have to care for our roots. While they may rest deep inside of us, they are still there and need to be nurtured, loved and cared for.


Oct 28 2010

This Is The Place


There may be no place to go, just the OM home of the here and now, but I’ve been traveling for the last two weeks and, let me tell you, I’ve been a lot of places both inside and out.

First I went to Albuquerque for my goddaughter’s bat mitzvah. There was the mishpuka (a probably misspelled Yiddish word that means all the crazy relatives) and all the chaos involved in helping to put on and photograph a series of events (rehearsals, meals with out-of-towners, the main service, the big party). There also was my goddaughter’s absolutely exquisite singing of her Torah portions and the blessings and prayers. For her, it was truly a spiritual initiation, a rising into the next level of both adulthood (or teenager-hood) and commitment to her path (at least her path at this moment of her life), and a real sense of community. But being Jewish never cut it for me. Being Jewish meant bagels and lox and The New York Times. I loved her singing, but somehow Sanskrit resonates more with me than Hebrew.

Then I went to Santa Fe, where I spent days with my ex-father-in-law, the 90-year-old patriarch of a large family of Maharajji devotees. He’s starting the process of turning inward. He’s not into storytelling, doesn’t seem to have real highs or lows, just a steady march on shaky legs into a hopefully dignified ending. He is living the lessons of changing and letting go that are so necessary at any stage of life, but especially the one he’s now facing. And the same is true for his wife of the last 30 years, as her life changes along with his.

I saw old friends. Some are going through extremely difficult times of suffering—loved ones dying, children with serious problems, career frustrations, economic difficulties—heartbreak in all its manifestations. All the sorrows of the world. While others are rising above, getting through the hard times and coming out stronger and more alive and more creative.

The wheel of karma. The law of life. It’s in the midst of all this living that we learn to let go. It’s loving fiercely and letting go. Parenting and letting go. Watching parents go. Living more here, in the moment, in the now of life, whatever it may hold, whatever it may ask us to hold.

And then I went to Taos, the home of America’s Hanuman, the one temple in the West that bears Maharajji’s name. And oh, what a tempest in a teapot that’s been over the decades! The factions, the fights, the wounds that have been inflicted and never let go of. Along with the rich silent heart space where the beautiful murti of Hanuman and Maharajji’s tucket share equal billing.

Ram Dass created the temple inadvertently. I don’t know where his desire stemmed from, but he was the one who had a 600-pound marble murti sculpted in India (in his flying pose, as he was going to have to cross another ocean) and brought to America. We had a small bandhara on some land in northern New Mexico, where the crate was opened. And suddenly there was the question: What are we going to do with him? Where will he live?

He wound up living in Taos, and it’s there that I felt the pull of polarity the strongest. The temple/ashram is a large container for the area seekers and devotees, the hungry or just crazy. I always thought of it as a big pot of soup, a caldron, really, and Maharajji picks up his ladle and stirs the soup, and all us little veggies collide into each other, and in the process, melt a bit more. My old (and getting older) friends spend less or no time at the temple, some with nostalgia for the good old days, while some actively oppose its existence.

In the end, we all define our own path. There’s no need to worry about “finding” ourselves. Here we are. Doing what we do. Suffering/loving/suffering/loving in a million different ways. It gets so clear: love it all. Love what’s happening now, right in front of you. When you keep loving, keep the heart open, and try to be kind, even the suffering is love.

Today I fly home. As if I ever left.

Taos Hanuman

Oct 27 2010



Pages 79-87 is my second favorite section of this book. If you read my post last week, where I was frustrated about worldly/spiritual and sacred/profane, you will totally understand how these pages resolve much of my difficulty. I am trying to think of things to write about these wonderful pages, but honestly I can’t. I like what is written on these pages much better than any serious restatement I could make or digestion I could render. So naturally, I thought I’d write a silly poem.

Be Here Now: the poem.

Don’t have a cow. Remember BE HERE NOW.
Or have a cow if a cow you’ll allow.
But make a vow to steer your bow
to this moment, this presence, to the now.
You ask all these questions,
saying how? how? how?
Don’t you see, you are she and she is thou?
All there is is here and now.

Believe oh believe that you are well-endowed
As human, a mind, a cat, a meow.
But the mind makes bombs go POW! CRAUOW! BLAOW!
Well, we do the best we can when we’re here now.
But the newsman shouts “Housing is down, and so is the Dow!”
And there is nothing to do. So BE HERE NOW.

Don’t get attached. Sure, say “Wow!”
And don’t go so far as to tell world “Ciao”
The Tao is the way and the way is the Tao.
So, like, here we are. Like, sooo here and now.
Dig your roots or learn to plow
But always remember, BE HERE NOW.
Read this poem, f-f-f-f-furl your brow?
Knock knock. Who’s there? NowNowNowNaNaNaNowNow.

– bt


I just can’t help but hear The Grateful Dead’s “The Wheel” when I read this section of BHN:
The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down,
You can’t let go and you can’t hold on,
You can’t go back and you can’t stand still,
If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will.

Won’t you try just a little bit harder,
Couldn’t you try just a little bit more?
Won’t you try just a little bit harder,
Couldn’t you try just a little bit more?

Round, round robin run round, got to get back to where you belong,
Little bit harder, just a little bit more,
A little bit further than you gone before.

Small wheel turn by the fire and rod,
Big wheel turn by the grace of God,
Every time that wheel turn ’round,
Bound to cover just a little more ground.

Oct 26 2010

this raw state and the noisy, fluorescent world


The last time I did a Vipassana course, I nearly lost my mind.

The standard Vipassana meditation course is 10 days of silence and lots of meditation. And that’s about it. The days are broken up with walking to and from the meditation hall between hour-long sits to go to the bathroom and get some water, meals in the dining hall with other hungry people alone with their minds, a quick nap here or there, some stretching alone in your room, etc., but never is there a time when you’re going outside of yourself.

One of the most profound aspects of the course is that you have no one to talk to about your troubles or the stories running in your head that are dressed up as problems and woes. There’s no one to get on board with how bad or troublesome any of it is. And you’re just left to chew it over, to plot and scheme and fantasize and attempt to solve, . . . all when there’s NOTHING you can DO about it.

No phones, no notebooks to write in, no computers, no iPod. Just the campus, the cushion, your body and your breath.

So the first time I went through the 10-day course, I knew it was the hardest thing I’d ever chosen to do, but I managed. I was impressed and proud of myself and found, for the next year, that my overall sense of peace had increased.

I stopped in about six months later for a 3-day course for old students, and as I wrote about in another blog, I only freaked out once.

Then, a year after my first 10-day course, I went back for another.

I was hesitant this time, and within the first 24 hours, I was losing it.

I cried the entire course, and twice I ended up in the teacher’s quarters talking with her (I will always be grateful for her care).  Besides recommending that I go ahead and take fruit and milk for dinner, ease up on the really deep practice at one point and also get a little extra sleep, she asked me the perfect question: Continue reading

Oct 25 2010

Dance Partners


When I was a young child I used to hide in my room for hours and hours playing video games. I would find so much pleasure in disconnecting from the rest of the world just so I could hide in that beautiful digital fantasy. Completing one level after another only to complete the game and then start another.

In and of itself video games are fun and actually quite healthy. But as I grew older I realized that the way in which I played video games was really a symptom of not being comfortable in the moment. I would play games to avoid doing my homework and to be alone. I had so much fun even while I let my responsibilities crumble around me. Anything to get me out of the here and now. There’s the old saying “wherever you go, there you are.” That’s true unless you keep your world is made fantasy where you’re a wizard or a little Italian guy with a big mustache.

As I grew up I continued to have problems in the here and now, in just being. All sorts of manifestations of that came up, some of which I’ve touched on in previous posts. The tough part about trying to escape from yourself is that you never can, you just keep running and running. Right? Why? Because “wherever you go…”. The only thing you can do is to stop and bear witness and surrender to the now. Nothing is anybody’s fault, there’s no one to blame and nowhere to run, everything that’s ever happened has led us to now. And it’s perfect.

For the last 40 years Ram Dass has given us simple yet profound instruction on finding bliss in each moment, by simply being “here now” we have the potential to make each moment into an experience of enlightenment. Each moment is a gorgeous gift of Gods and can be perfect no matter the circumstances. Even as faith lingers, Gods love does not. Now it seems that Ram Dass has taken it even a step further, the little rascal. “Be Love Now!” It’s no wonder that Hanuman is the patron saint of this practice, Ram Dass (and by all accounts Maharaji-ji) is such a little prankster monkey. So sweet, kind, full of devotion yet always challenging us with little pranks that are fun to toy with.

“Be Love Now”. Really? All the time? Try saying that in the middle of L.A. traffic! It’s a prank – just being here here here, right now – loving now now now. Just love, all the time.

I have yet to read the new book but I can tell that it’s Ram Dass at his best. RD and Ramesshwar Das have embarked on a journey that will no doubt share wisdom and love that will inspire us all.

We’re almost finished with our 108 pages of Be Here Now. Almost. “Nobody is going anywhere” (pg 81). That’s the best part. “We’re always going to be here” doing our dance. Living our Rasa Lila. Which reminds me – I’d love someone to write about living their Rasa Lila in the Kali Yuga, how much fun is that?

Anyway, as I continue to dance my divine dance I have a new goal this week. It’s to see everyone as a divine dance partner. Even when I’m furiously impatient in line at Starbucks or at those opposing Proposition 19, I want to dance with them. And I’ve started to realize that I can even have fun with it! I can make life into a love filled video game. Wonderful. “Going back into the world” (pg 82) is a good step indeed.

But maybe I should play a few games of “Angry Birds” on the iPad too.

The Rasa Lila

The Rasa Lila - the Divine Dance of Life