Ram Dass explores the art of how to bring the past into the present as we age, leads a powerful exercise centered around the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and talks about working with grief.
“There is a tendency that we do in our mind to romanticize our own existence. We become the center of ‘As the World Turns,’ we are the leading actor, we have been cast. We keep milking our history to justify our existence, to give our existence meaning. I want to suggest to you that there is a cost to that.” – Ram Dass
This episode of Here and Now is from a recording of a study group on aging hosted by Ram Dass in 1995.
- In the face of aging and death, part of the spiritual work we should consider doing is what Ram Dass calls the art of how to bring the past into the present. Using the example of his mother’s death, he shares the importance of processing events from our past with the perspective we hold in the present.
- We can also bring the past into the present in a cultural and historical context. Ram Dass leads an exercise centered around the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, having us contemplate and recognize that we are part of a culture that has models of reality that would legitimize the dropping of that bomb.
- Ram Dass explores the issue of grieving, especially as it relates to aging and loss. He reads a letter he had written to a family who lost their young daughter, and he talks about the importance of moving from the realm of ego to the realm of the soul.
“When I bring that historical moment up to the present, what I see is, I understand perfectly why my father did what he did, why the doctors did what they did, why my mother did what she did, why I did what I did. We were all part of processes that were resulting from our acculturation and our experiences, and we were all the different voices of our human condition if you will. Certainly, I can wish I had been different then, but I wasn’t different, that’s who I was. And in a way, the person who I am now can accept who that person was, and not blame that person, but understand it. Still say, ‘It’d be better if you don’t do it in the future,’ which I’m learning.” – Ram Dass
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