The Teachings of Baba Ram Dass

To cut a long story short; last week I ended up finding myself being faced with having to do a decorating job at home myself that I had tried to pay a professional to do for me.  After being let down by the decorators two rooms needed painting, so I spent time finding the right materials to get the job done.  I had prepared the rooms and found myself ready to open the first tin of paint for the mist coat on the newly plastered wall in my sitting room, when I realised with horror that I hadn’t thought about what I was going to listen to for the next three days I had allocated for the painting task.

Two years ago, when I decorated my dining room, I enjoyed listening (three times) to a seven hour YouTube compilation of all Terrance McKenna’s lectures on ethnobotany from the 1980s.  I yearned for something similar that I could really enjoy, but my mind went blank.  It was Friday, so as usual I listened to Tim Whild’s practical ascension update and after 20 minutes I had my gloves on rollering the wall with the mist coat when YouTube started to autoplay a random channel.  Usually at this point I get up and put something on of my own choosing, but because I was in the middle of painting I decided just to let it roll, and what a treat the universe sent to me: the teachings of Ram Dass.

I felt an instant rapport with his humorous style of speaking and discovered that he had an interest in some of my own paths of enquiry: psychoanalysis, psychedelics, Buddhism, and more recently Hinduism.  He brought all of his experience together in a series of lectures from the 70s, 80s, and 90s in which he discussed his own path to enlightenment, which involved being in his heart when witnessing the suffering of others, practicing meditation, and taking on his Dharma despite feeling that he wasn’t ready or pure enough to help others.

The lectures were selected and remasterd by a lovely group called The Love Serve Remember Foundation, whom I discovered also publish podcasts on their Be Here Now Network by other speakers I have previously enjoyed including: Jack Kornfield and Dr Robert Svoboda.  Jack Kornfield is a real blast from the past for me; I followed his teachings in 2007 when I got serious about meditation, while Dr Robert Svoboda is a more recent discovery after having been introduced to his work via an interview recommended by a friend regarding the use of Cannabis in Hindu culture.

The biggest take away I have received from the past three days is Ram Dass’ teachings about holding compassion and sadness for the suffering of others while simultaneously holding the balancing notion that God and the Universe have created the perfect moment for us all.  Suffering is everywhere and our task is to be aware of it without seeking to make it go away; to accept that suffering is part of the perfection of our experience whilest finding our own way to support others through their suffering.

Who are we to interfere with the path of others?  We all have our own Karma to work through and we need to remember that others do too.  However, we can assist with the relief of the suffering of others by working on ourselves, opening our hearts and remaining in our open hearts so that we can become beings full of love and light to guide and support others through their trials.

Of course, he reminds us that we often create our own suffering due to our desires; so his answer is the elimination of desire as the path to elimination of personal suffering.

He recommended reading the The Bhagavad Gita and the Love Serve Remember Foundation recommend the translation by Eknath Easwaran, which I am looking forward to reading soon along with the companion guide, The End of Sorrow: Vol 1 the End of Sor (the Bhagavad Gita for Living), also written by the same author.

Born Richard Alpert he was dismissed from his job as a professor at Harvard University in 1963 for assisting Timothy Leary with experiments using psychedelics. In 1967, he traveled to India and became a disciple of the Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba, who gave him the name Ram Dass, meaning “Servant of Ram,” or “Servant of God”.  He died at his home on Maui in December 2019 aged 88, and shortly after the Corona Virus narrative ramped up.  It is amazing that his life’s work has provided us with all the tools we need to get through these challenging times without having to experience them himself.


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