Nov 19 2010

Bridges to Love

Jonathan_Anderson

I also love the final image of the sacred 108 pages. The bridge serves us when we need to cross what seems to be a flowing obstacle; it helps us remember when we pause on it to look at our reflection; it helps us to love when we use it to cross over to the people who wait for us on the other side. It’s the perfect image for the final page of BHN’s From Bindu to Ojas~Ram Dass saw the bridge, paused on the bridge, and crossed over it. He does it again from Be Here Now to Be Love Now.

And with a reflection, you’re looking down at the illusion of yourself, and identify with it; but it’s not you, it’s just a reflection. Right? Depends on how you look at it: what you see IS you (the reflections, the water itself, etc)  vs it’s your brain separating you from the water that has your reflection in it. The simpler way is usually pretty good. So, both. I go with both.

I’ve had only one picture in mind during these 108 days, and I knew I was going to show it on the final blogging day because it’s my version of the bridge on 108. I took this picture in the Fall of 2008 in Austin, Tx.  This old fisherman sat patiently floating in the middle of the reflection simply waiting for fish. Then he came to rest in the eye of what the reflection completed as a fish that reminded me of the Christian Ichthys. I was stunned. He WAS both the reflection, and himself at the same time; reflected and reflection.  I was immediately taken back to this final page of BHN when I saw the image.

Ram Dass has given us a bridge; just as Maharajji gave to him; Just as Hanuman bridged the ocean with a great leap to serve God and the beloved. I am grateful to have participated in this blogging experience, and am more assured that while I am still on my bridge, that I can enjoy my reflections as I move to the other side in each moment as it presents itself.

Namaste’
Jon

Icthys Eye - Fisherman rests in the eye of the Icthys

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Nov 15 2010

Funny about that!

Zach_Leary

A great yogi once was asked what’s the secret to enlightenment, he replied “when I’m happy I laugh, when I’m sad I cry, when I’m hungry I eat and when I’m tired I sleep.”

Simplify everything. Our egos and emotions want to complicate it to no end making us think that our issues are somehow the defining factor in our experience. That may be true as it relates to our perception but the trick at getting through our issues and being here and happy right now is to simplify everything. This is not an original thought I know, I’m just saying it because it rings true to my heart at this moment and I need to feel that.

I’ve always found that my tendency is to want to go “through the doorway too fast.” My intellectual mind wants there to be some trick to being on the path like I have to learn all of these complicated mantras, I have to be a level 3 yogi, I have to be a scholar of the vedas, etc. All of these things are great I guess but most of the time I think it’s ego that’s driving my motivation to do all of these things faster and better. My favorite beautiful yogi teacher Saul David Raye always reminds his students that the ancient yogi mystics never heard of Level 3 yogis, that we made that up. And I’m learning that all of the conflicting motivation makes it hard to deal with my issues (or with others) a problem. Matters of the heart when infused with ego sure does make for some confusing realities.

I feel that there’s a little misunderstanding with how eastern spirituality is being practiced in the west. Because of the explosion of yoga and bhakti there is a whole new world that is being exposed to us in the west. So many new ideas, texts, asanas, chants, teachers and traditions. We get so hungry to learn them all but as we all know the far out thing is that they are all telling us to Be Here Now. That it’s all ready within. Just don’t go “through the doorway with your ego” (pg 98). That’s it. Again, simplify everything.

It’s so frustratingly perfect that Maharaj-ji would constantly reply to queries with “love people. feed people. remember God.” I can see it now – all of these smart westerners coming to him with all of these complicated problems and questions and then he would just look at you and say that. Over and over again. Ram ram ram ram ram. Over and over again. Ram ram ram ram.

It all sort of lies in the “funny about that” place. Whenever I find myself in conflict I just want to reply “love serve remember” or repeat the maha mantra. I want to go there so badly but I have to learn that even though I want things to be that simple I must understand that everybody else’s experiences are different. We are all unique and are in different spots on the path. Furthermore I’ve also learned that if you try to force your trip on somebody who doesn’t want to hear it then you just make matters worse. When in suffering or conflict finding that delicate place where there is beautiful common ground is the sacred dance. That’s the place where you realize that most of the conflict you may be in is actually quite small and insignificant. You go through so much struggle to realize that love really is such a sweet solution.

We are nearing the end of our blogging journey. Only one more post left. I feel that this week is inspiring me to report back on how this book can be applied to my daily life. What it did for our culture is immense, what Maharaj-ji was like is very interesting but how we can apply this to our lives and be better people needs to be said. It’s my hope that I can contribute in a small way.

Being in love, sharing sacred song


Nov 8 2010

The Edge of Formlessness

Zach_Leary

I’m so happy to be back here with you, my brothers and sisters. Last week, I was contemplating the silent freeways while my head was in the clouds in Maui. Tough life I know. For whatever reason getting to a computer to write just didn’t seem to work out. Funny how that is – I was near the source with Mr. Be Love Now himself yet I felt like I had very little to say. Somehow just being with Ram Dass in the gorgeous manifestation of mother earth left me with few words, I was just floating from one moment to the next.

I always experience this very powerful visual metaphor when I’m Hawaii. I’m on the beach in Maui and I can see, very clearly, a birds eye view of my body sitting on that beach. I can see from deep outer space my little body on the edge of a tiny island that is the most remote land mass on planet Earth. There I am, just sitting on a spec of rock in the middle of the ocean. Because of the physical circumstance that this vision puts me in I can go deeper and really understand my connection to the rest of the universe. I am no different than the sand, the ocean, the fish in the ocean or than the earth itself.

The trip about being human is that we’re aware that we’re aware. We may be the only species that is aware that we’re aware. So I see that I’m just this sentient life form in the middle of nowhere – I can vibrate into oneness with the one, the formlessness. Touching the sand and feeling the warm water I can blend into matter. Slowly though, balance kicks in. I become aware of sight, sound, touch, ego, responsibility, perceptions. The role that I am a man with relationships, jobs, money and speech weighs on me and suddenly I’m back to participating in this incarnation. Oh no. Is there illusion here?

Page 93 cracks it open “A fully realized being – you must delight in the exquisiteness at every single level. you must take joy in your maleness or femaleness.”

It’s that expression of love found within my role that I don’t subscribe to the notion that it’s all just a meaningless illusion. Sure, we made up the idea of working 9 to 5. But the energy that I put forth in all my actions contributes to the energy that I find when I’m just being in oneness at the beach. It all has to work together.

In fact, if I had to summarize one lesson from “Be Here Now” it would be that this path encourages me to be present in every moment – mundane or not. You still have to “chop wood and carry water” (pg 96). The dance here is really finding the balance that makes it all work together. If I go too far one way I bliss out and don’t do much of anything. If I go too far the other way I perform meaningless actions that are unconscious and robotic.

It’s fun to live on the edge. I have a friend who once said that he lives on the edge because “that’s where all the action is.” Damn straight. When I sit on the beach in Maui I seriously contemplate selling everything I own just so I can continue sitting on that beach. But then I fall in love with my role and some of my desires. I learn to embrace them as sometimes flawed but always perfect. I relish in the deliciousness of kissing my mate, or eating ice cream, or the miracle of sound that comes through my iPod. Ram Dass has told me over and over again that I must “love the chair because it’s a perfect manifestation of the one.” If “flow in harmony with the universe. i can still do my thing” (pg 96).

That edge where consciousness, love, God and being human all play together is what’s really giving me a lot to think about these days. It’s so far out to think that I’m eternal and “can be anything this time around.”

Om Maui Om


Nov 5 2010

All your senses

Jonathan_Anderson

The ‘Hail the Goer’ mantra has particular significance for me. Right beside it is all of pg 88. The comfort of this almost chaotic looking page is that it’s presentation may make you look particularly carefully to make sure that you’re reading the words that are actually written. . . if you’re like me, you have to ‘work at it’ to see it, literally. But the message is so comforting that the work leading up to it is completely worth it.

That the water just goes on down stream, just like your senses just do what they do (and on this page, you get great exercise in the visual ‘doing’ something) . . . that you can overcome attachment through a simple exercise (karma yoga, candle focus) truly practiced, is relieving; this makes a lot of sense to me.  And what’s in sharp focus? Waiting for you to be drawn towards it (maybe as soon as you look at the page)? The clear Om Mani Padme Hum mantra. I mean, it’s literally the clearest thing on the page, visually. Where his heart rests, watching the unfolding happen. That’s just a warm sounding place, no matter what’s going on– it’s comforting to know that somebody’s there, in that warm place, and knowing it, and giving you a mantra to focus yourself so that you can find it too.

And not just that . . . also that there’s no claim to need to attain a permenant state of non-thinking just yet; and that the thoughts that you DO have can be appreciated for what they are (” . . . few people who know me don’t appreciate the fact that I think and have keen discrimination and have not lost my mind and I am a sophisticated aware being”).

So you work pretty hard to actually read the page, and to get the tone and rhythm of it (though I guess many may not work at it at all and read it easily, but I think y’all will know what I’m referring to), only to find that, like water,  you do what you do, but you neither have to be attached to it, nor absent from living life. Take heart that there’s somebody guiding you home either way. Om Mani Padme Hum.

When I got Be Love Now, I opened to a random page to see what was revealed to me. Page 116 talks of what the guru does. I think he’s the one that’s sitting in that warm heart place calling you home, waiting for your awareness to merge into one with with the mantra. Far out as that sounds to me, the idea resonates with something in me; I’m not entirely clear on what yet, but it’s comforting in the same way as pg. 88 of BHN.

I haven’t finished Be Love Now yet, but I can say that it is truly as beautiful in it’s essence and presentation as Be Here Now–and it goes beyond that too. When you read it, notice the voice that it sounds like it’s in–I like to imagine Ram Dass speaking the words out loud, in conversational style with me. For me, it’s a laid back, deeply heart-felt tone speaking to comfort, not just inform. I could go on . . . but suffice it to say that I’d suggest getting a copy. Please stop by www.BeLoveNowBook.com and take a look around, watch the video, and get a copy of the book. Really. Watch the video. “. . . You. . .Love everybody.”

Namaste’
Jon
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Nov 4 2010

A Round Trip Ticket to Ride

Parvati_Markus

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 2 2010

GO . IN . IN . IN . IN

Carin_Channing

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.

To continue the conversation, please also visit

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www.facebook.com/StayOpen

where by becoming a fan you’re automatically entered in a drawing to win a copy of Ram Dass’s new book, Be Love Now


Oct 25 2010

Dance Partners

Zach_Leary

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


Oct 23 2010

Subtle Gentle Wisdom

Sue_Callaway

I am about to set out toward the Cambridge, MA area today to see my daughter at college and spend an evening of chant with David Newman, Girish and Donna Delory. Blissy day. I love Cambridge with all of the intellectual vibe and international influence. It is such a mix of  out–of-the-box and status quo. I have spent hours in The Harvard Coop absorbing the constant flow of languages and cultures and mindsets evidenced by the variety of books that make their way to the check-out.
I lurk behind stacks of books eavesdropping on conversations hoping to overhear something from the mouths of one of those brilliant minds that will open me up to a new perspective.

“BECAUSE WHEN YOU KNOW HOW TO LISTEN EVERYBODY IS THE GURU”. page 78

The Coop is near the top of my long list of favorite people-watching venues. I can sip my latte while indulging my voyeuristic tendencies and let my mind wander uninterrupted for hours.
During that meandering mind travel I often find my way to thoughts of Ram Dass and his days at Harvard. I try sometimes open my mind’s eye to see him all of those years ago strolling the streets of Cambridge or through Harvard Yard. With his quick mind, eloquence and radiant smile beaming …impressive and engaging. If I had met him there all of those years ago I wonder,would his words then have resonated in my heart as they do now? I know I would have loved him immediately. I just know. But I wonder if my pure seeking soul would have recognized that this man would come to be one of my closest companions on the journey of my life.

He has led me through words and example from Be Here Now to Be Love Now.

A long time ago Ram Dass gave me a mala with a single thread from Maharaj-ji’s blanket just as he had given to Parvati. He must have passed along thousands of those threads over decades with each one connecting perhaps to that thin thread of ego that was Maharaj-ji and creating thread by thread a blanket of love. A simple gesture with profound results. Another example of the gentle wisdom that is Ram Dass.

I love the imagery of the words, “ a subtle thread to keep in contact”. I so often refer to the thread of connection that runs through my life. It is a steady connection to the deep, abiding love of the divine that is always there.
The weaving of that thread through my busy minutes,days and years  is creating the unique pattern of my life with all of its imperfections and beauty. The thread is subtle and pure and although I am very much involved in my human life and all of the duality,ups and downs, joys and sorrows, successes and mistakes, etc. I am  never disconnected from that thread.
It is my lifeline and I am grateful. Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram


Oct 13 2010

Be Love Now: The Path of the Heart

Ram Dass

Dear Lovers of the Beloved,

I have just received a copy of BE LOVE NOW, The Path of the Heart, the new book that Rameshwar Das and I have been working on for almost five years. I have written a number of books since BE HERE NOW, but this one excites me the most.

BE LOVE NOW is a real summation of where I’ve come from since that first trip to India. It tracks our journey into the heart, drawn by the guru’s grace. And it introduces some of the realized beings I came to know in India who illuminate the path for so many of us.

I hope you will enjoy reading BE LOVE NOW as much as we enjoyed putting it together. You can pre-order it via the links below. Please share your thoughts about it with others on this Path of the Heart.

Peace and love,
Ram Dass

Pre-order BE LOVE NOW from:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Borders

IndieBound


Sep 22 2010

Video: “My words were coated with Maharaji”

Ram Dass

A video message…
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