Dying is the Closest You Can be to the Presence of Truth: Remembering Ram Dass

An hour after realizing he was dead, joy began to rise in me—reflection on the countless gifts I’ve opened. Jewel boxes. Grit for a thousand mills. He told us love isn’t found in another person; it’s within us—it’s a state of mind. This is utter bullshit because I saw and felt and received love from him non-stop. But he also helped find it in me. He told us to take no experience for granted, but to live this one right here, right now, moment fully.

 

By Tyler Lewke

I can’t believe how good I feel and how bad I felt.

It leaves me wondering; how do emotions bend? What changes the composition of feelings? Why do things change so quickly? Do they change quickly? Or do I change quickly?

I can’t believe how good I feel and how bad I felt. Within five minutes of waking, violating my no-early-morning screen vow, I learn Ram Dass has died. People call it many things—like going to the other side—the great adventure—passed on. “A sacred transition,” one of his students called it. What’s sacred about dying? I prefer the simple term: dead.

Ram Dass is dead. Why do we need to fancy up things? Ram never did that; Love. Serve. Remember.

I can’t believe how good I feel and how bad I felt. The work of Ram Dass is like my skin, it covers me entirely. No part of me has not been influenced by his life, his teachings.

For any of us studying Buddhism, we understand it would be radically different without the paths he forged here in the west.

He created a framework for so many of us. A jungle gym. The monkey bars of Ram, Jack, Sharon, Sylvia—so many others—we swing from them day in, day out. I’m not one to feel deep sadness when someone dies. But I’m watching these tears perched on the outer limits of my face. They roll slow and smooth.

They leave a stain.

Ram Dass missing from this now moment is a cavernous hole (or would he say whole?) in the world we will forever be looking into.

I can’t believe how good I feel and how bad I felt.

I think about his pain—so many years of physical pain— he transcended it all so simply. I gave him money after he was stroked. A lot of money. More than was reasonable for me at the time. But I remember being haunted by the idea of his suffering and my security. I couldn’t figure out how to let those two things live together. After all his teachings had done for the world, direct and so profoundly indirect, how could I not pay him back when he needed it most? He is (or should I say was now? I’m confused. I’m not confused) foundational to my generous heart.

I can’t believe how good I feel and how bad I felt.

An hour after realizing he was dead, joy began to rise in me—reflection on the countless gifts I’ve opened. Jewel boxes. Grit for a thousand mills. He told us love isn’t found in another person; it’s within us—it’s a state of mind. This is utter bullshit because I saw and felt and received love from him non-stop. But he also helped find it in me. He told us to take no experience for granted, but to live this one right here, right now, moment fully.

I’m failing. I’m not failing.

I can’t believe how good I feel and how bad I felt. Before learning that my inner life could be visible. Before realizing that my actions could stand as testimony for my core values.

I can’t believe how good I feel and how bad I felt. I struggled with what I believed and how I was and how I showed up and what I showed up as. I struggled with now and then and what’s next. Ram Dass taught me how to go home, to be in the present and that my mind is not trustworthy when left uncultivated. He taught me, he taught us all to walk each other home.

We are. We are not.

He told us to take no experience for granted, but to live this one right here, right now, moment fully. ~ Tyler Lewke Click To Tweet

I can’t believe how good I feel and how bad I felt. I’m not allowing my mind to rule my life in this now moment. Ram would be proud. I was a good student. I’m still a bad student.

He said we all have stuff to deal with. If we push it away, it’s got us.

I’m pushing. I’m not pushing. He taught us to be our own witness and live in what he called our spiritual hearts. I’m sure he struggled with this just like the rest of us. Failing. Not failing.

I can’t believe how good I feel and how bad I felt. Before learning to cherish relationships. Before recognizing pain exists in the body and is perceived in the mind. Before learning that my only real job is to work on myself. I took notes. I implemented Ram’s teachings into the fiber of my existence.

It’s working. It’s not working.

I can’t believe how good I feel and how bad I felt. Ram Dass told us death is not the end. He told us being with the dying is the closest you can be to the presence of Truth. He told us that people die as they need to die. Ram, is it true? Or is it not true? You told us to ask.

I can’t believe how good I feel and how bad I felt. “Death is perfectly safe,” Ram likes to say. Or liked to say. Is it? I want to know. I don’t want to know.

Sad. Not sad.

I can’t believe how bad I felt. Or how good I feel.

Before knowing Ram Dass.

After knowing Ram Dass.

What I know for sure; Glory Bound.

“I would like my life to be a statement of love and compassion—and where it isn’t, that’s where my work lies” ~ Ram Dass

Where does your work lie?

 

Photo: source

Editor: Dana Gornall

 

Tyler Lewke is brutally irreverent, often way too direct and it gets him in trouble. He’s an optimistic pessimist, a grateful dad and friend, a hardcore capitalist, and a deep-seeking mindful and compassionate guy who’s most inspired by helping people through the bullshit parts of religion and spirituality to define a life of joy and contemplative service to others.

Tyler was born months before the official end of the Vietnam War on the Campus of Washington State University to a hippy mom and a heady scientist dad with an IQ that rivals Einstein… a combo that has left him totally out of place in the mainstream.

Tyler lives in the sky in downtown Chicago, in a 100-year-old bungalow in suburban Illinois and from his backpack as he explores the world. He teaches meditation and mindful leadership, has written as a form of art and spiritual practice every day for as long as he can remember. He shares his personal stories of integrating a spiritual life into a daily mainstream existence through his daily blog where he posts his raw, firsthand joys and struggles of trying to practice these mindful principles in all his affairs. Tyler thinks we all have only one real job, to add more love to the world.

 

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