Ram Dass Explores the Illusions of Time and Aging

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Now, when you get older one of the things that happens is the change of the meaning of time, in a whole raft of ways. First of all, time gets short before you get ready to leave your body, and that has a certain way of ‘making it all more significant.’ Not that this is the last picnic, but I mean you just start to feel it differently. There’s this agitation and there’s a whole chemical thing in it that makes you experience time as moving faster. When you’re a child spring is a big thing, and summer is ‘summer’ and then, I mean, you know, the feeling of each season is really present. Autumn is going back to school, at least it was in my day, and for adults, it runs apace.

We seem not to have enough time for anything, and then we get older, the years go by very quickly, and that’s one dimension of time.

Then there’s another interesting dimension of time when you say to friends, “How old do you experience yourself being?” instead of, “How old are you chronologically?” or, “How old is your body,” it’s, “How old do you experience yourself being?”

There are different kinds of responses. People like me would say, “No age at all, I don’t experience myself as age.” Some people would say,” I have always felt like I was 14 years old. I’ve always felt like a little girl up in a tree.” I think for the first 35-40 years of my life, I felt like I was a precocious child. I was a child who was living in over my head. This may be alien to all of you but bare with me. It’s just my pathology. Then I began to feel like I had gotten through puberty. I was about 40 and I started to experience this change in my psychological age. There were a lot of things that occurred in those years, of course, and I got up to the point where I started to feel that I was just who I was. I mean, I was this age at that time, 50-55, and it felt fine and comfortable. Then I went deeper, and I started to feel no age.

Now if you’re in ‘no age’ there’s no time, nothing’s happening, and that’s the nature of awareness… nothing’s happening and no one is going anywhere. There was no birth, there’s no death, it all just is, and that’s part of you.

And as you accept your own legacy, you’re own lineage, you begin to rest in that component in which there is just awareness. There is no time and there’s nothing personal about it.

I’ve certainly met people with profound illnesses who are honoring and caring for their body as best they can, with whatever wisdom they have, but they aren’t lost in the storyline. The fact that they have an illness hasn’t defined their reality. They are not ill, they are a person with an illness. And you take any of your pathologies, and how quick you are to define yourself in terms of pathology.

In our society, aging is a pathology. It’s seen as a failure, there’s something wrong and we don’t really see the person anymore because they don’t awaken an awareness of attraction or desire in us. You don’t have any power and you are our future that we are afraid of, so we’ll send you to beautiful places where you’ll be happy. Feels like “Brave New World,” and we’ll cast it through media such as Happy Faces in Modern Maturity Magazine…. “I’m so happy living in this senior citizen community!” It’ll show all these beautiful dentures, forced by the lobbyists for denture makers. Oh, God, it’s so macabre, you can’t help but laugh.

 

-Ram Dass

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