Google Empathy Lab

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“Don’t get lost in the details. Let your awareness go free.” – Ram Dass

I was lucky to attend an advanced screening of Becoming Nobody, the new documentary about Ram Dass, presented by Love Serve Remember Foundation and Google Empathy Lab. I’d like to share some quick thoughts on the movie, and also the really exciting partnership between Ram Dass and Google Empathy Lab, with the mission to ensure our most essential human values are designed into the future — shaping technology into an enlivening, soul-nourishing, human-flourishing force for good. 

An Abundance of Lack

This advanced screening of Becoming Nobody took place at the Google Empathy Lab in Venice, California. Though it wasn’t a full-on movie theater, this was my first chance to see the film in a large-screen format with a packed house in attendance, and it was a really special experience. This is truly a movie to see with other people; there’s a communal satsang vibe that grabs hold of the audience. It’s a little difficult to put into words. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of going to a Krishna Das kirtan, it feels a bit like that, but with a lot less dancing in the aisles.

The movie itself has really stayed with me. It’s centered on a really warm and funny interview between Ram Dass and the film’s director, Jamie Catto, and uses archival audio recordings and video footage that get right to the core of Ram Dass’ teachings over the years. 

One of the lines from the movie, “an abundance of lack,” has been stuck in my head ever since the screening. It comes as Ram Dass and Jamie discuss that one of the reasons people seek the spiritual path is that they are looking to fill a void in their lives. There’s something lacking, and they turn to spirituality to fill that hunger. So “an abundance of lack” has served as a really useful reminder to me to embrace spirituality as a way to transform and awaken, not as the missing piece that will magically make everything better. 

And there are lots of thought-provoking moments in the film just like that one. It stirs up something a little different in every person who sees it. 

Becoming Nobody is in theaters nationwide. You can visit www.becomingnobody.com to watch the trailer, find a theater, and more.

Notes From the Audience

After the movie screening, there was a panel discussion featuring Trudy Goodman, Duncan Trussell, Raghu Markus, and Ananda Danielle Krettek, who is the founder of Google Empathy Lab. They discussed what the concept of becoming nobody means to each of them, and how to practice letting go of that little ‘me’ that seems to run our lives.

The floor was then opened up to the audience, who offered some amazing questions and insights about the film, social action and responsibility, and the meeting of spirituality and technology. Perhaps the best line of the night belonged to an audience member who shared this beautiful thought inspired by the movie:

“The more I can not be inside a story where I’m separate and apart from anybody, the more I’m everybody.” 

You can watch the entire panel discussion on the Mindrolling Podcast.

The Whole Conversation

On the subject of the union between Ram Dass and Google Empathy Lab, I wanted to share this beautiful short film that Ananda Danielle created to bring Ram Dass’ teachings directly into the heart of design, technology and working life today. 

And here’s what Ananda Danielle had to say during the panel discussion on the meeting of technology and spirituality:

“People were afraid to talk about things like Ram Dass, or their deep, personal places of refuge, because it was like, ‘I can’t talk about that stuff, this is the dominion of logic and the rational mind, where we know things and engineer things, and it’s all within our control, and we’re going to go to the future and be audacious.’ Moonshots. And there’s a beauty to that, but there’s a lot of missing pieces to that, too. It felt like it was time to bring the whole conversation in… We’re going to talk about all the stuff that makes us who we are, because if we allow more than this part of us to show up at work, then we’re going to show up and serve people, and make things that serve all of them.” – Ananda Danielle Krettek, Founder, Google Empathy Lab

Raghu added this about Ram Dass:

“I didn’t know how Ram Dass was going to respond to this idea of working with Google Empathy Lab, but he was so into it. He was thrilled to have these kind of values come into technology.” – Raghu Markus, Director, Love Serve Remember Foundation

Read more about the partnership between Ram Dass and Google Empathy Lab in The Argonaut and Cheddar

Finally, I’ll leave you with one last quote from Becoming Nobody that sums this up pretty nicely:

“I think that the spiritual trip, at this moment, is not necessarily a cave in the Himalayas, but it’s in relation to the technology that’s existing, it’s in relation to where we’re at, it’s in relation to issues like pollution and political interests and activism and stuff like that. I think that’s all part of one package now. The game is to be where you are, be it honestly and as consciously as you know how.” – Ram Dass 

May we all be where we are, honestly and consciously.

– Written by Noah Markus on behalf of the Love Serve Remember Foundation

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