Dale Borglum is the founder and Executive Director of A Living/Dying Project. He is a pioneer in the conscious dying movement and has worked directly with thousands of people with life-threatening illness and their families for over 30 years. In 1981, Dale founded the first residential facility for people who wished to die consciously in the United States, The Dying Center. He has taught and lectured extensively on the topics of spiritual support for those with life-threatening illness, on caregiving as a spiritual practice, and on healing at the edge, the edge of illness, of death, of loss, of crisis.
Dale has a BS from UC Berkeley and a PhD from Stanford University. He is the co-author of Journey of Awakening: A Meditator’s Guidebook, Bantam Books and has taught meditation for the past 35 years. He has intensively immersed himself in the practices of devotion, meditation, and contemplative prayer for over forty years, studying with many of the greatest masters of the last century, including Neem Karoli Baba, Suzuki Roshi, Ananda Mayee Ma, Kalu Rinpoche, the 16th Karmapa, Dilgo Khyentse, Mahasi Sayadaw, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Trungpa Rinpoche, Goenka, Dudjom Rinpoche and HH the Dalai Lama. Dale has taught with Ram Dass, Stephen Levine, Joan Halifax, Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, Rev. Wayne Muller, and many others. His life’s work and passion has been and continues to be the healing of our individual and collective relationship with death and also using our mortality as an inspiration for spiritual awakening.
I’ve been meditating since the 1960s. My mind is calmer. My ego structure is less intrusive and cumbersome. Insight and wisdom have increased, yet the longer I am on this wonderful and challenging path to freedom from fear, the clearer it becomes the essence of this journey is devotion, in particular, its expression in loving and serving our fellow beings. Devotion to what? Devotion to whom? From one perspective we are all connected. From a deeper perspective we are one. The Beloved can only be everything – you, me, the Sacred. Our true nature is Love.
When I was in India, Maharaji told us there is no need to do complicated meditation practices – just love everyone, serve everyone, and remember God. The Living/Dying Project offers spiritual support for people facing life-threatening illnesses and those who support them. It’s wonderful work. I truly feel that the best practice for this chaotic and challenging age in which we live is having an intimate relationship with death combined with an inner contemplative practice.
Can I make my support of the dying more than glorified social work? Can this work become the vehicle for expressing my devotion? Can being with the dying shatter complacency and show me that now is the moment to love utterly. As Mother Teresa asked, “Can I see Christ in his distressing disguise?” as she picked a leper from the gutter in Calcutta? Can I see the sacred in the forms of all the people I meet?
Most of us have a much better disguise than the leper or the dying person. Yet crisis tends to shatter the disguise. Often it is so much easier to see God in the eyes of the dying than when looking into the mirror or at your neighbor, but we’ve got to start somewhere.
Ages ago when people wanted to find God, they went into the desert or the mountains or a cave and then used this solitude to look within. Today we are lucky to have a little time each day, possibly the occasional few days, to retreat from our busy lives to do this inner exploration of the depths of our hearts and minds. We live in a world of relationships. Every day we are meeting people. Everyday when we brush our teeth we look in the mirror. The Object of Devotion, the Beloved, can only be everything and everyone.
Walt Whitman said, “Sometimes touching another human being is almost more than I can bear.” How often do we allow ourselves to be undefended enough to directly experience the vastness that each of us truly is? In this technologically driven age, this time in which so much seems out of balance in our fragile and beautiful world, the most direct path to freedom for many of us is the path of devotion, and the most accessible path of devotion is loving and serving everyone.
I struggle so hard to open my heart. I expect you do as well. Let’s meet there. Let’s admit face-to-face, heart-to-heart, what we want, what we need as much as air to breathe and food to eat.
— Dale Borglum
Book to Hang out With: Journey of Awakening – A Meditator’s Guidebook
Ram Dass is an American psychologist and spiritual teacher who has studied and practiced meditation for many years. Co-authored by Dale Borglum, Ram Dass shares his understanding and explores the many paths of meditation–from mantra, prayer, singing, visualizations, and “just sitting” to movement meditations such as tai chi–and suggests how you can find methods suitable for you. He illuminates the stages and benefits of meditative practice, and provides wise and often humorous advice on overcoming difficulties along the way.