On this episode of the Here and Now Podcast, Ram Dass talks about being in limbo in India in his search for the answers he came for.
We hear about the transformative lessons Ram Dass learned from one of the last people in India he might have expected – a twenty-year-old Westerner.
Click here to read the transcription of this podcast.
The Journey Begins (Opening) – Raghu arrives at his first ashram in India, disappointed because he didn’t find the answers he was looking for. He is left in limbo while he continues to seek his friend and his guru.
Culture Shock (2:40) – Meanwhile, Ram Dass ventures out of his comfort zone and follows Bhagavan Das on a transformative journey through India, leading to a very special meeting at the Kainchi Ashram. He tells about adopting the robes of the holy men of India. Quickly Ram Dass learns of the reverence this new role brings and struggles with accepting this treatment.
“These village people would call, ‘Hey, Baba-ji,’ and I would always be embarrassed. I wasn’t a holy man, I was just wearing a white cloth. I was a Western intellectual overaged hippie looking to see what was going on in India. That was who I was in my head, my fixed model of myself.” – Ram Dass
Just Be Here Now (9:55) – In his early travels roughing it across India with Bhagavan Das, Ram Dass felt like a child learning the customs of a Sadhu – being led around and taught everything as if for the first time. He describes the difficult but priceless lessons he learned from Bhagavan Das, like the famous phrase “Be Here Now.”
“I would say to Bhagavan Das something like, ‘How long do you think we are going to be on the road?’ and he would say ‘Don’t worry about the future, just live now.’ So we would be silent for a while, sleeping on our wooden beds and I would say, ‘Gee, this sure is strange in relation to the past. You know when I used to…’ and he would say, ‘Just be here now.” – Ram Dass
First Contact (20:40) – Ram Dass talks about meeting Neem Karoli Baba, who he would soon call Maharaj-ji, for the first time and at first it was not the fireworks you might expect. We hear about the incredible acts that reversed Ram Dass’s impression of this old man in a blanket.
“He looked directly at me and said, ‘ You were out under the stars last night. You were thinking about your mother. She died last year. She got very big in the stomach before she died. She died of the spleen.’ My rational mind stopped at that point. I realized that ‘I’ had just been overwhelmed. ‘I’, my ego – Richard Alpert, had just been beaten. I wasn’t high, so I couldn’t say this was a drug hallucination. Here was a guy doing this to me right then, this man knew what was inside of me.” – Ram Dass
Image via Bhagavan Das