Ram Dass, author and key figure of the consciousness revolution, passed away on December 22, 2019.
My guess is that when most people die, they are usually delighted or amazed to find that they are still alive. As for those in this life who choose to do bad things knowing full well that they are scandalously wrong, well, that’s another story.
Ram Dass was probably just relieved. Relieved to be free of his bodily burdens, especially since he was living in a body that had suffered a stroke in the late 1990s.
He was one of those characters whom I found helpful along the way. Turned on to in his writings while an undergrad student, I still have a cassette tape of one of his lectures stashed away in my closet… somewhere between my rarely used suit and milk crates full of books.
Ram Dass was engaging, honest and for many an inspiration. I particularly respected how he once admitted, I think it was in Yoga Journal, that he didn’t always love his enemies as Christ in the New Testament account teaches.
Something that really turns me off about some religious people is their holier-than-thou, phony-baloney piety. I see them in Church, making a big show of their religiosity (in front of everyone else) and then rushing off in their Mercedes or BMWs, driving like maniacs. Try to say “hi” outside the parish and they just glare or completely ignore you.
I don’t think Ram Dass was like that.
There was another story about how Ram Dass was once pulled over by a state trooper on the freeway. By the time Ram Dass drove away, the trooper was laughing and smiling, wishing him well. Apparently, the trooper caught the good vibe that Ram Dass was mediating and within the space of a few minutes turned from a tough authority figure to a roadside friend.
Of course, not all people respond that way to love. Some who are deeply unhappy just become more bitter and surly when exposed to goodness, maybe even violent if they are egregiously disturbed.
But Ram Dass successfully navigated past those kinds of jerks and borderline psychopaths until the ripe old age of 88.