“Their karma is their dharma,” he says. (He often speaks in pithy little nuggets of wisdom.) “We go from here, ego,” he says, tapping his head, “to here.” He pats his heart. “What I call the soul, the spiritual heart. That’s the path. Then you can view your life with a sense of detachment.” He closes his eyes and places his hand on his heart. “I am loving awareness,” he whispers.”
Ram Dass (formerly Professor Richard Alpert) is well known as America’s most famous guru, the author of “Be Here Now” first written in 1971, and in the last couple of decades, a leader in the death with dignity movement.
For many of us, as we age thoughts of illness, dependency and death may become more prevalent. It’s important to consider our deaths but not dwell on it. In The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying For myself, I want to approach
In this article from tricycle, Andréa R. Vaucher spends time in Maui with Ram Dass’ at his permanent home. Together they talk about keeping space with the dying, and how to change our own thinking to accept our own inevitable death.
Years ago, Ram Dass and Stephen Levine started a dying hotline. People on their deathbeds could call in and be supported through the process—“pillow talk,” Ram Dass calls it
Is there a middle way? Are we either holding our hands to our ears singing La La La when the subject of death arises, or does it maintain a shadowy presence in the back your thoughts. Do you feel that you must find some way to handle “the situation” before it’s here, to prepare?
A wonderful and timely hour-long talk from Ram Dass (formerly Richard Alpert) about senior citizens place in our culture, aging in our society, and loss of power as we age.
“It is very important that you only do what you love to do. you may be poor, you may go hungry, you may lose your car, you may have to move into a shabby place to live, but you will totally live. And at the end of your days you will bless your life because you have done what you came here to do. Otherwise, you will live your life as a prostitute, you will do things only for a reason, to please other people, and you will never have lived. and you will not have a pleasant death.” ― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
You know that feeling when you meet or encounter a person who commands reverence and yet is so humble and earnest. Hopefully, during our lives, we have met one or two of those individuals. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was one of those for me. And while I only saw her speak in Pasadena, California sometime around 1977-78.
In America, in our culture, death and dying are still unmentionable for many people, still considered unlucky. As if talking about death would somehow hasten yours or mine, and yet.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross influenced a cultural shift which continues to this day. She talked about and to the dying, giving them a voice and an ear. She started a trend toward reintegrating death into our lives instead of hiding it in a sanitized room away from family. We have much to thank her for. You can learn more about her life, books and work at http://www.ekrfoundation.org/.
Hearing her speak, and talk about death and dying and the importance of recognizing it as a natural part of life, a healthy part of life was inspirational. And even though I was just about twenty-one at the time her words and presence had a profound effect on my own relationship with my own mortality. We just started dating my mortality and me. No reason to rush into anything.
I first went to Burning Man in 2011 when a “mom” friend of mine mentioned she had purchased a ticket. We talked and decided I would buy a ticket and we would go together and share the experience. Together we planned and found a ride being offered for a fee on Craig’s List in a school bus with a 3 time burner from Washington State. We borrowed a tent, bought way too much food, packed and planned, watched a ton of youtube videos and mentally prepared ourselves for we knew not what.
I did have some trepidation about doing Burning Man over 50. Would the wind and dust overwhelm whatever fun things there were to do? Would I have breathing problems? Was it worth it.
Our “ride” was a veteran burner and invited us to camp with his burning man camp family during the event. This was a huge help as we would be with more experienced burners. First time burners are referred to as Sparkle Ponies for a multitude of reasons including coming unprepared, falling in love repeatedly, not drinking enough water, wearing enough sun screen, eating enough protein, drinking too much alcohol, a wide-eyed expression for more than 48 hours straight, and the list goes on.
My experience at Burning Man had three interesting effects on me. The first was that I had an unexplainable renewed hope for humankind. I think that came from this scene, this immense spectacle that people create for a week with only one motive, to share. The other two things I notice was that I had a complete disinterest in people and things that typically annoy me. Those things still were annoying, but I didn’t care. And the last thing, which did wear off in a couple months was breaking into little spontaneous songs at any given time including in public, and not caring.
Let me say that yes, it was worth it, SO WORTH IT!