This is our first update in
many months. Apologies! It has been a busy time, and a time of some sweeping
Ram Dass is presently staying on
Maui, recuperating from a particularly nasty breed of bacteria that has set up
housekeeping in his body. It is tough, and keeps outwitting the antibiotics
the doctors have been trying, but we think we finally have it beat. Ram Dass
is at home after spending two-and-a-half weeks in the hospital. "I'm
bedridden on Maui," he says. "That doesn't sound so bad." In fact, Maui
sounds so good that Ram Dass has decided to make it his home base. No more
Sunday Satsangs at Open Secret, alas!
Ram Dass Returns Home ... to
In October, Ram Dass went to
India for a few weeks at Kainchi Ashram. Kainchi is where Ram Dass spent the
winter following his first meeting with Maharajji. It is in northern India,
in the Kumoan Hills, the foothills of the Himalayas. It is a place where
Maharajji's presence is very strong and tangible.
Kainchi is in the spiritual care
of Siddhi Ma; she is one of the Mothers who loved and cared for Maharajji, and
she was especially close to him for many years. It was to her that he
entrusted his "Ram, Ram, Ram" diaries just before he left his body. It is
impossible to convey in words the experience of her presence: the love, the
peace, and most profoundly the totality of her faith. Ram Dass had several
private potent with Siddhi Ma, sharing the deep well of their love for
Maharajji. Other Indian friends visited with Ram Dass at Kainchi: K.K. Sah
came from Naini Tal nearly every day, bringing special boxes of sweets. Indra
Baba, who officiated at the Durga Puja ritual, came to have chai with Ram Dass
on the porch every morning. Guru brothers and sisters who had been with
Maharajji at the time Ram Dass was at Kainchi came and shared stories. The
peace and the devotional bhav of Kainchi, and Maharajji's palpable presence
there, awakened the hearts of all of us. We felt totally loved and cared for;
it was an experience of service so filled with Maharajji's spirit that every
cup of tea was a love-offering.
While we were staying at Kainchi,
Durga Puja was celebrated. It is one of the major festivals of the year,
calling forth the power of the Sacred Feminine to defeat the forces of
negativity and wickedness in the world. Ram calls on that energy to defeat
the demon Ravana, and in many villages, at the conclusion of Durga Puja, a
huge wooden image of Ravana is burned to signify the obliteration of his
powers. It is a potent ritual of purification and renewal.
Ram Dass and Tipper Gore ...
The September 13th issue of The
New Yorker magazine featured a profile of Al Gore. The author, David Remnick,
said, "We passed the Southern Baptist Convention building. Earlier in the
day, Gore had made a point of telling me that he and Clinton used to pray
together in the White House. I asked him which church in Nashville he and
Tipper attended now. There was a pause in the front seat. ‘We're ecumenical
now,' Gore said finally. Tipper said with a laugh, ‘I think I follow Baba Ram
Dass.'" It's nice to be in such good company!
"Fierce Grace," Mickey Lemle's
award-winning film about Ram Dass, was shown nationwide on PBS in July. Ram
Dass is now recognized in airports by the most unlikely people, who come up to
ask him, "Weren't you on PBS?"
The Wisconsin retreat, held in
mid-July, was memorable. Ram Dass was delighted to find "family" there in the
middle of the country. Before the week was over, the Sisters from the
Christine Center, where the retreat was held, were rocking out to Uma Reed's
kirtan right along with all the retreatants! The Breitenbush retreat, which
immediately followed, built on the momentum of the Midwest week – and it
soared! It was essence Ram Dass, combined with Krishna Das' bhakti-powered
kirtan. Words can't do it justice, but everyone there felt transformed by the
Maharajji's birthday (or
"appearance day," as it's called in India) will be celebrated this year on
December 19th. December 21st is the Winter Solstice. We are in the midst of
Hanukkah, and Christmas is soon to follow. Let's celebrate, celebrate,
celebrate all these manifestations of the return of the Light. Happy
Holy-Days, and God Bless Us, Every One!