Walking Home with Ram Dass

"We are all just walking each other home." Ram DassThe spiritual leader, Ram Dass, has been walking home quite awhile now, starting out as a clinical psychologist anamed Richard Alpert at Harvard, where he worked with Timothy Leary to explore the impact of the psicolycbin mushroom and other psychedelic substances on the human mind and spirit.

Alpert’s explorations led him away from the ivory towers eastward to India, where he studied Eastern philosophy, returning to his homeland with the name Ram Dass to share his insights and continued explorations. His 1971 book, Be Here Now, still stands as a monument to his discoveries — and ours, in how he opened the door to Eastern thought for so many of us. About that same time, Ram Dasa also began to study, meditate, and write about the concept of conscious dying.

Here are a few articles about death & dying that he has written and shared along the way, arranged somewhat chronologically.

A Metaphor for Dying (1973 speech, republished 2012)

Because it’s obvious that the way to die is to learn how to live, and the answer to dying is to be present at the moment.

Awareness Beyond Death  (2010)

Something has happened to me as a result of meandering through many realms of consciousness over the past fifty years that has changed my attitude toward death. A lot of the fear about death has gone from me.

On Death, Dying, Illness and Grief (2010)

…a contextual appreciation of suffering – that suffering is part of the fabric of a human incarnation, as is death. And not feeling that death is the enemy, but that death is part of a process. Just like Autumn and Winter aren’t enemies of Spring and Summer. They are just continuing parts of the process.

Dying Consciously (2013)

My view has evolved to seeing death — the moment of death — as a ceremony. If people are sitting with you to help as you are going through this dying ceremony, help them to see you as the soul you truly are, not as your ego. If they identify you as your ego, during the last part of this ceremony they will cling to you and pull you back instead of facilitating your transformation.

Finding a Way to Be with Death (2013)

For some of us, the subject of death is easy to talk about, and for some of us, it’s a little threatening and frightening. I recognize all that. But part of the essential spiritual work for us at any age is to find a way to be with death.

Death as Reminder: Live Life Fully (2014)

At the moment of death, you are surrendering and being cradled in the arms of God. If we let go lightly, we go out into the Light, toward the One, toward God. What grace!

The Answer to Dying (2015)

The answer to dying is to be present in the moment. And the way in which you die is by being conscious at the moment of dying and saying, ‘Right! Look at this! Far out! Look at this energy!’

Just Another Stage of Life (2017)

Death is very much a part of life, and it has cycles like leaves falling in Autumn, it has touch, taste, sound, feeling, think about it…to be in a culture where death is not seen as failure or an enemy, it is seen as a stage of life.

Understanding Death to Live Life Fully  (written by Frank Ostaseski, published by Ram Dass)

Death is not waiting for us at the end of a long road. Death is always with us, in the marrow of every passing moment. She is the secret teacher hiding in plain sight. She helps us to discover what matters most. And the good news is we don’t have to wait until the end of our lives to realize the wisdom that death has to offer.

As their journeys and explorations took them in different directions, Ram Dass & Timothy Leary had a philosophical falling out, with Leary skeptical of his old friend’s growing spiritualism. When Leary learned he was dying, however, he reconnected with Ram Dass, figuring if anyone knew anything about dying, his old friend would. They worked together again during Timothy Leary’s dying days, leaving behind a beautiful documentary of their time exploring his coming death, Dying to Know: Ram Dass & Timothy Leary.

Death is not an easy subject to think about, much less talk about. But I strongly feel that by talking about death that we can better prepare ourselves — and our loved ones — for the end we all will face eventually.

About bullersbackporch

I am a native Austinite, a high-tech Luddite, lover of music, movies and stories and a born trainer-explainer.
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