It was 1970 in Washington, D.C. Friends played a tape recorded lecture in which Ram Dass described his journey to India and his transformation from Harvard professor to intrepid explorer of the mind to spiritual seeker and discoverer in terms, tenor and language that confirmed tenets I knew to be true, but had never heard anyone utter so convincingly.
The words were bright and clear, without artifice or guile, delivered free of personality through the heart of a being whose life had been profoundly opened to a mystic reality.
The words gave certainty to ideals long taught and believed but infrequently seen in a post-war western culture dominated by conspicuous consumption and separation from its underlying unity. They offered the possibility of attaining those ideals. They gave impetus to the search for realizing them.
After reading Ram Dass’s book, Be Here Now, and the cookbook for a sacred life it contained, the path had become clear and the effort worthwhile. And so I embarked. I left an impending career in law in abeyance, to be resumed in a few years but from a much different perspective.
Later, after many months of meditation and yoga practice, I learned that Ram Dass was speaking one evening at a nearby university. As Is entered the auditorium there on the stage was a chair, a floral arrangement and a color photograph of Maharajji large enough for anyone to see his beaming presence from any place in the audience. The lecture was moving, almost as if Maharajji was delivering the meta-message through Ram Dass.
And after it ended, way beyond the scheduled time, many people lingered to hear more, myself included, but mostly to stay in the presence of that moment. Upon taking leave and thanking him, the same light emanating from Maharajji’s picture could be seen radiating from Ram Dass in a most impersonal yet transcendent manner that made his words seem superfluous. That was my first meeting in person with Ram Dass.
Many months later I saw him at the Lama Foundation after a retreat in which I had been advised to set out for India. I told him that story and asked what he thought of this advice. His reply was wise. I was exactly where I needed to be for the next step in the journey. After a lengthy pause in which he undoubtedly could see the disappointment in my face, he suggested that if I happened to find myself in India that summer I should seek out S.L. Sah and tell him that Ram Dass sent me.
So that’s what I did. And three weeks later I found myself facing Maharajji. It was like looking at the sun. Here was the source of what we all came to understand as the unconditional love that had transformed Ram Dass. And there I remained for months in a timeless state of bliss and discovery, and in the profound experience of being always in Maharajji’s presence.
All this is because of Ram Dass.