Today’s post is all about the wisdom of Ram Dass.
Firstly, because in this pic he is giving me a bit of Claus with a capital C. If I didn’t know he was one of the most successful spiritual teachers of our time, I’d think: Hey Kris Kringle, why so pensive? Is it because you’ve lost your hat? The department store cut your shifts?
Secondly, because all jokes aside, Ram Dass has been one of the most important voices of our time for bringing awareness of alternative spiritual practices to the West. His famous book Be Here Now, described as a “counterculture Bible”, has sold over 2 million copies since its first printing in 1971, and remains to this day a seminal text for those pursuing knowledge of Eastern spiritual teachings. Personally, I love him because of his non-granola approach to spirituality and the punchy, sarcastic quotes he’s used over the years in his teachings.
Some of my favorites are:
- “In most of our human relationships, we spend much of our time reassuring one another that our costumes of identity are on straight.”
- “Treat everyone you meet like God in drag.”
- “Just because you are seeing divine light, experiencing waves of bliss, or conversing with Gods and Goddesses is no reason to not know your zip code.”
But here is my favorite quote, which is very timely indeed for this week:
“If you think you’re enlightened go spend a week with your family.”
I always have this one on standby. I don’t know how many times I’ve used it as a humorous salve for friends when they’re in the throes of dramatic family dynamics, or as a soothing reminder to myself when I start reverting to a toddler with my own family. It goes without saying that it’s a teaching that tends to come up with more frequency around the holidays, hence my desire to share it with you guys too.
Maybe you’re better than me, but I don’t even have to see my family in person to get irritated and unsettled. It can just as easily be a soul-syphoning Skype call, the kind where you quietly type and click around, just inserting an encouraging grunt every now and again.
The beauty of Ram’s quote is the simple truth of it. Sometimes us spiritual folks feel like big, fat failures come family time, whether it’s at the holidays, events and celebrations, or, the dreaded family vacation. It can be a major come down to enter back into old paradigms when you’ve been away, living free, clean and easy.
We’re doing the work, we’ve dedicated ourselves to the path…why do we still feel so crap? Why does this family stuff get us so angry? The fact is that all of still have work to do around our childhood conditioning, no matter how much we’ve studied, prayed and meditated, how many countless asanas we’ve practiced this year or enlightening books we’ve read. No one is immune. The quickness with which we are reduced to a child around our family is humbling – as it should be. Sometimes it’s a good reminder of the work that’s still left to do.
Or, it’s like a post-it note from the Universe to tell us we still haven’t grown into those extra-large spiritual britches.
Enlightened? Bitch, please.
This isn’t my usual 1000+ words post. I just wanted to shoot across a quick reminder that whatever you’re feeling, its okay. Forgive yourself and everyone else, and just move on. If you’re finding it hard to deal with the holidays and all of what that can entail, use another bit of the Ram Dass repertoire:
Be here now.
It’s not just the title of his book, but a way to deal with anything that comes your way.
Don’t let yourself be dragged into a painful past or future fears by the psychic jabs being launched from across the dining table.
Be in the moment.
Keep this thought, to be here now, in mental pole position for the holiday season. Just be here now, in this moment, the only moment we have. You don’t have to do anything else.
If all else fails, use some of the spiritual tool-kit you’ve been developing: take a few deep breaths, go for a walk outside, or slip out for a quick 10-minute meditation. Do whatever it is you know that you need to do in order to vent out a bit of the tension.
Be here now, and enjoy every minute of it – you’re a ghost-soul driving a meat-coated skeleton made from star dust. What do you have to be afraid of?
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. ♥
Does this mean anything to you too? Do you also sometimes want to run off into the jungle like a little Mowgli and disappear from family contact? What’s come up for you this holiday season? Tell me and the rest of the crew about it below in the comments.