Oct 21 2010

In the Beginning was The Word


And the Word was RAM. Many say that the first manifestation of sound was AUM, but as far as Maharajji was concerned, everything revolved around RamRamRamRam. He’d be sitting quietly on his tucket, rocking and swaying to the silent tune of Ram. Sometimes he chanted RamRam (go to the home page of www.nkbashram.org and you can hear him chanting Ram). He didn’t use a mala, but would touch each joint of his fingers with his thumb, over and over again, as he did his Ram Nam. He told us, “By taking the name of Ram, everything is accomplished.”

By the time I got to India, I was already on the RamRam bandwagon, having impressed the sound onto the wooden mala Ram Dass had given me in New Hampshire that summer on his father’s farm. He had attached a little thread of Maharajji’s blanket to the end of the “guru bead” on the mala, and it was amazing the amount of connection that little thread had . . . . it pulled me right to India. Of course, I’ve had many different malas since then, and used a number of different mantras over the years to connect to certain energies, but RamRam has always been home base.

Ram. That simple word is more than just the name of Rama, the avatar of Vishnu and hero of the Ramayana, or the name of the formless Absolute. It’s a seed syllable for the element of fire, and it certainly plunged us into the cauldron, burning in the fire of love. Many people mistakenly think that our time with Maharajji was all grace and bliss. Grace, certainly. Bliss, well, sometimes. When the light is so very bright, as it was in his presence, everything that’s buried within you, all your shadow stuff, comes up and looms larger and darker than you can imagine. I spent many hours sitting on a rock in the river that runs behind the ashram in Kainchi, crying my heart out.

And Blake, part of what created such pain and suffering, even in the presence of the guru, was the confusion created by the very question that’s plaguing you about the spiritual versus the worldly. Did I have to be a disciplined and unattached yogi to “go to God,” or was it okay to be simply a sloppy bhakti who wanted to get married and have kids and nice dishes? Did I have to do rigorous practices so I could merge into the Oneness, or was it all right to kick back and have some fun in good old duality?

Over the years, I had a lot of trouble with those who answered every question or viewed every situation with an “up-level.” Like those who said about Maharajji leaving his body, “But where could he go?” and claimed not to miss his form when all I wanted was to touch his feet one more time. Sure, in Oneness, I AM all form, the breath, the river, the guru, and the void. But down here, rooted in the Mother, I’m definitely attached to my kids and grandkids and Project Runway.

And you know what? It’s all okay. Just keep saying Ram, whenever you remember to. After a while, it says you.