Being Ram Dass

Being Ram Dass

Hello, dear readers! I’ve really missed you, or my perception of you, which is writing and publishing here.

My partner and I took 2 vacations in September, after going almost nowhere for nearly 3 years, and then for whatever reason I haven’t had the mental space or inclination to write much lately. But I can feel it changing. Something typically Z-ish will come out soon.

In the interim…

I finished (nearly – it was an audiobook & I had 30 minutes left when the library took it back) Being Ram Dass this week. I’m not a big biography or memoir person, but we had a long road trip and we’re both fans, so I made an exception. He was working on this with Rameshwar Das right before he died. Since I didn’t hear the ending, I don’t know whether he considered it complete when he moved on, or if Rameshwar Das filled in the final bits, but he does talk quite a bit about dying, which I always find compelling from someone who is actually on that edge, especially someone like Ram Dass.

I’ve heard many of, and weekly listen to more of, RD’s talks, so the really good stuff, the funny, vulnerable, human, loving Ram Dass stuff was nothing new to me. And if you want that, I’d recommend the Here and Now podcast instead. What I valued most in this book was him returning, again and again, to fucking up.

My first reaction to the stories of him getting wrapped up in ego, or power, or non-spiritual drug use, or blame, or self-pity, or self-criticism, or lies, or disingenuousness, was discouragement. I mean, if Ram Dass, who had known Neem Karoli Baba – who had known universal unconditional love – who had been guided by some of the highest beings on the planet and devoted his career to the pursuit of truth kept falling off the path, what hope is there for me?

But the flip side of that interpretation is (you already know the answer) that when we keep fucking up, we are just like Ram Dass. Human life is an institution not designed to cultivate spiritual development, but it’s the only school that would let us in, or the only one our guidance counselor told us about. So if that’s the major we chose, we just have to make the best of it & get what we can out of the curriculum. Much like the Acting BFA my former classmate & I were deprecating a few days ago: it wasn’t a great program, but we’re grateful for what we managed to take out of it. Unlike the Acting degree, we don’t have any other programs to compare it to, so living is truly the best and worst option available to us.

As Edward Abbey wrote, “Life sucks? Compared to what?”

Write at you soon, loves.