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|About the Book|
From the Publisher
More than thirty years ago, an entire generation sought a new way of life, looked for fulfillment and meaning in a way no one had before. This was the Woodstock generation, and they were led on their quest by one man, the man who was "there" before everyone else: Ram Dass. He changed the way we thought about life; he left his teaching post at Harvard to embody the role of spiritual seeker; he showed us all how to begin to find peace within ourselves, in one of the greatest spiritual classics of this century, the two-million-copy bestseller Be Here Now.
Ram Dass went on to lecture around the world, to create organizations, and to dedicate himself to serving others. A few of his readers followed him, but most went into business, had children, built houses, and set the larger questions of meaning and fulfillment aside.
Now we find we again need Ram Dass. As we enter the later stages of life, the big questions of peace and of purpose have returned, this time demanding answers, and our old friend Ram Dass has also returned to offer a helping hand. He again blazes a new trail, inviting us to join him on the next stage of the journey. This part has been particularly difficult for him: as he was finishing a draft of the manuscript, he was stopped in his tracks by a massive cerebral hemorrhage that he was not expected to survive. But survive it he did, with his humor intact and a bigger heart than ever.
In Still Here, Ram Dass helps us explore the joy, pain, and opportunities of the ripening seasons of our lives. Writing with his trademark humor and wisdom, sharing stories from his own life, and meditation exercises to integrate the teachings into daily life, Ram Dass offers us a new perspective on the territory that lies ahead. It is a perspective on aging, changing, and dying that he hopes will make the tumultuous process a little easier for all of us.
Still Here is essentially a sequel to Ram Dass' influential spiritual classic of the 1960's, Be Here Now, and its messages are familiar to those who were there then. But here he is more specific, more instructive, and more inspiring than ever: we learn that the man whose words once flowed so effortlessly now struggles with a brain that blocks and frustrates the formation of concepts into words, the legacy of a debilitating stroke.
Though it is for and about the elderly, Still here has an important message for those in middle age as well.
Napra Review - (July/Aug. 2000)
With simplicity and humor, one of the world's beloved elders offers profound wisdom on aging, encouraging us to live out our lives with grace, fully present to the end.
Dass, former Harvard psychologist turned spiritual guide, here shares a positive view of aging that seeks to embrace--not erase--the suffering that accompanies it. Building on years of teaching others how to grow old with wisdom and the stroke he suffered in 1997 while writing this book, he offers a perspective on disease and aging that focuses on spiritual growth and healing rather than a return to the way things were. Meditation techniques and advice on coping with pain, powerlessness, and other age-related problems are also covered. Dass's personal honesty and sense of hope make this a worthwhile purchase for public libraries that serve many baby boomers. For a more Western treatment of Dass's themes, see James Hillman's The Force of Character and the Lasting Life (LJ 8/99).--Madeleine Nash, York Coll. Lib., CUNY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
The Denver Post
This is "elder wisdom" that our society badly needs to hear, and we can be glad that Ram Dass... is still here to engage us in the joyous dance of the Soul.
The Age Sage
Often, the advent of aging and illness serves as a wake-up call for many, an alert that our bodies are declining and the inevitable is approaching. Such was the case for Ram Dass, once a spiritual adventurer and icon during the '60s and '70s and always a seeker of the secrets of the soul. His wake-up call came at the age of 65 when he experienced a debilitating stroke that left him speech-impaired and partially paralyzed. He explores this awakening process as well as the cultural taboos surrounding aging and death in his new book, Still Here: Embracing Changing, Aging, and Dying, an honest and sometimes painful exploration of our fears, our biases, and our limitations. And although the voice and persona of Ram Dass may be subtly different, his ultimate goal is still the same as it was 30 years ago: to find meaning, contentment, and joy in life -- and this time out, also in death.
This is a simpler, gentler, and more introspective Ram Dass, a man humbled by his own frailties and strengthened by his hard-earned wisdom. He admits that prior to his stroke he gave little thought to his own mortality, behaving as if he were invincible and ignoring the normal signs of aging. But after the stroke, death -- and his fear of it -- shadowed him like a bodyguard. To try to deal with this fear, Ram Dass confronted it. He spent time with others who were dying. He explored the various philosophical, spiritual, and metaphysical aspects of death. And he tried to take control of his life, to let go of his ego's fear-inducing grip and embrace an awareness and awakening of his soul instead.
Ram Dass shares the details of this very personal journey, including all the potholes and speed bumps he encountered along the way. He also shares bits and pieces of others' journeys, highlighting their successes and failures and taking a hard look at the societal and cultural influences that affect us. He begins by examining the way we cling to the objects of our youth and our past, engaging in a form of philosophical and spiritual materialism. He shows how we search for self-worth and meaning in nonspiritual arenas, such as our jobs, our possessions, and our physical appearance and condition. All too often, spirituality is ignored or minimized, limited in both scope and practice. Ram Dass's objective is to help others give their spiritual side the attention it both needs and deserves.
Part of his focus in Still Here is on reshaping the way we think, to get us more in touch with our souls rather than our egos. He believes we all have the power to age in whatever way we choose and to view it as a process of loss or of gain. But in order to achieve the latter, we must first deal with the fears and sources of suffering that are attached to aging, such as the loss of mental acuity, physical ability, energy, control, and stamina, or the specters of depression, loneliness, and powerlessness. Our body image and our roles in life are altered, sometimes drastically. And society as a whole often treats older people with disdain or, even worse, dismissal.
In coming to terms with these issues of aging, Ram Dass offers exercises, advice, and contemplation. The key, he suggests, is to not grieve over what we have lost but rather to marvel at and celebrate what we are becoming. It's not a simple process, and Ram Dass, who has arguably devoted more time to the process than most people, is still working on it himself. But progress can be made, and Ram Dass shares the ideas and meditations that have helped him achieve a greater level of awareness and contentment.
On the issue of death, Ram Dass has fewer answers and a notably humbler approach. He identifies three root questions that he believes we all have with regard to death and offers a spirited and convincing argument in support of reincarnation. He brings his Buddhist and existentialist experiences to bear, offers some great bits of wisdom, and discusses the many ways other cultures deal with death. And he suggests that, by trying to ignore death, we hide our mortality from our everyday awareness, which in turn prevents us from fully embracing life.
Ram Dass doesn't have all the answers and he doesn't claim to. What he does have is spiritual courage and curiosity, a bracing sense of honesty, and the same human fears and frailties the rest of us have. Both humor and solemn sobriety can be found in these pages, and no doubt many will find some comfort and wisdom there as well as they embark on their own spiritual journeys. More than anything, Still Here serves as a spiritual guide to all who are, or ever will be, "old."
From the Author of Wherever You Go, There You Are and Full Catastrophe Living
continues to share his on-going journey with us to our great
benefit, as usual. He is wiser here, more sober, more humble,
and funnier than ever. There is so much to laugh about and cry
about, to learn from, and to celebrate together.
when we were young and easy, Ram Dass taught us to be fully
present to our lives. Here and now we're not as young and it's
not so easy and he's still teaching us how to age with courage
Ram Dass has
given us yet another blessing. With consummate skill and humor
he guides us through the later phases of life. When you finish
this book you ar ewiser, freer, more awake, more in touch with
your heart. What more could you ask?
This book is
an astonishing gift of love and clarity. Ram Dass guides us
through many dimensions of aging with courage, humor, and
Ram Dass has
entered the often stormy relationship between our physical and
spiritual sides, and he has lived to tell about it. This is no
gussied-up, glossed-over personal account of illness, but an
honest, courageous sharing that flows from the soul. Listen
up, everybody, while Ram Dass tells it like it is
There are many
things one could say after reading a book as wonderful and
profound as this one but they all add up to the same thing:
Thank you, Ram Dass, Thanks a lot.
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