The new book Love Everyone by Parvati Markus collects the intimate and revealing stories of the individuals whose lives were transformed by Neem Karoli Baba, (also known as Maharajjii) a being who embodied the experience of living beyond ego, beyond duality, and beyond conceptions of us and them.
At every point in time, the universal truths of love and compassion seek to be integrated into the heart of the human experience. Across decades, cultures and locations, it is the teacher who carries this eternal flame in a new lamp, delivering the message in the voice of the age and activating it in new generations.
When Richard Alpert first encountered his guru Neem Karoli Baba in the late 1960s, he brought back to the West from the hills of India a message simple and profound: Love everyone. This fundamental teaching of the Guru was packaged for consumption and delivered to an audience starved for new ways of relating to each other, and to themselves. The universality of love, compassion and selfless service was made palatable for a new generation, laying the foundation for the great counter-cultural movement to come.
Alpert – later Ram Dass – has had an influence that can not be understated. His seminal book, “Be Here Now,” touched nearly every aspect we think of today as “the ’60s:” the music, the communes and the wild trips to internal lands. But he was not alone. Ram Dass was joined by a “first wave” of other seekers who experienced Neem Karoli Baba in India. After returning home, these Western devotees found themselves integrating the Guru’s powerful message into all that they would accomplish. In spirituality, music, science, law and social work, the message remained the same: Love everyone.
What does it mean to love?
We tend to think of love as an active state, something we do to people and things. In the widest sense, love is a state of being that we all share, it is our unchanging nature. By becoming intimate with the unconditional state of love that we are, we have the opportunity to relate to one another in ways that are beyond self-interest. The role of the teacher or “guru” is simply to point to the love within us, reminding us of what is always accessible.
The word guru has come to mean many things in our culture. It is understood as “popular expert” and has been appropriated by tech and marketing companies to denote a fun, friendly know-it-all. In its deeper meaning, a guru is someone who points the way to our own truth, asking us to search within and discover the love and compassion that is active and illuminated when we strip away the many layers of the ego.
In India they say: “You do not find your guru, your guru finds you.” In the ’60’s a few lucky Westerners “were found” by Neem Karoli Baba, starting a 50-year game of spiritual dominoes that continues to inspire subsequent generations. This is a lineage without end, passed on by those willing to teach on behalf of the Guru through their work and service.
Last month, the prime minister of India noted that before starting Apple, Steve Jobs journeyed through the foothills of the Himalayas to the Ashram of Neem Karoli Baba. Modi was using Jobs as an example of someone who sourced India’s ancient spiritual wealth and used it to guide the rest of his life. In fact, Jobs kept photos of Neem Karoli Baba and the book that lead him to India, “Be Here Now,” by his bedside in the months before he passed.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently visited the ashram in India during a difficult time. Millennials like Zuckerberg who have been inspired by Neem Karoli Baba will give the teachings new context for the connected age, and with the help of technology, develop more ways for us to see beyond the divides of the ego. And so another name, one of the most influential people on the planet, is added to the ever-expanding “family tree” of Maharajjii.
Time and time again, we must rely on what and who has come before us to move forward. With the guidance of great teachers old and new, every generation has the opportunity to bring compassion and selfless service to the most important and challenging aspects of their lives.
Every generation has the opportunity to be transformed from the inside out by connecting to the presence of love.
By Jared Levy & Alex Deleuse
Order your copy of Love Everyone: The Transcendent Wisdom of Neem Karoli Baba told through the stories of the Westerners whose lives he transformed HERE.
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