Times of India: Being with Neem Karoli Maharaj-ji

reprinted courtesy of Times of India, Oct 14, 2011, 12.00AM IST
by Ram Dass

We were sitting in the courtyard of the little temple in the Himalayan foothills, around Maharaj-ji, wrapped in a plaid blanket, sitting on a plank bed.

Everyone had fallen silent. It was a meditative quiet, like an open field on a windless day or a deep, clear lake without a ripple. I felt waves of love radiating toward me, washing over me like gentle surf on a tropical shore, immersing me, rocking me, caressing my soul, infinitely accepting and open.

I could feel that everyone else was experiencing the same thing. My guru was just sitting there, not doing anything. It was just his being, shining like the sun equally on everyone. It wasn’t directed at anyone in particular.

That love is like sunshine, a natural force, a completion of what is, a bliss that permeates every particle of existence. Everything in that vibration is in love. It’s a different state of being beyond the mind.

We were transported by Maharaj-ji’s love from one vibrational level to another, from the ego to the soul level. When Maharaj-ji brought me to my soul through that love, my mind just stopped working. Within his love I felt so completely safe, I was able for a moment to let go of my fears and unworthiness and enter into my jivatman. It was such a deep sense of being home.

When Maharaj-ji was near me, I was bathed in that love. That unconditional love allowed me to surrender, to accept his guidance on this path of the heart to find that love in myself. If someone calls and you open a door and go out into the sun, you feel its warmth too. It’s not a concept. You can’t know it. You can only be it. This moment is love.

The first morning I was with Maharaj-ji he gave me the grace to experience Oneness for a moment. It was not just mind-reading, not only that he loved me unconditionally. I could see everything as One, but to become One is grace. It all happened in a rush of feelings and experiences which I am still integrating forty years later.

How impersonal his love was! I would watch him mouthing, “Ram, Ram, Ram,” and feel a wave of love. I realized it wasn’t directed at me. I saw he didn’t need anyone to love him back. It’s not a transaction. You just become a beacon of love for those around you. That’s what Maharaj-ji is.

Maharaj-ji gave few specific teachings. Life around him was largely a formless improvisation. Sometimes he’d just sit quietly with us. Those moments were precious. After a while he might order tea, one of the ashram staff would bring a teapot, and we would drink it in front of him. Once someone asked Maharaj-ji, how to get rid of attachments. He answered, “You want tea? Don’t take it.”

Maharaj-ji officiated from a distance over the kitchen, overseeing everything. He said food should be cooked with love and that people had to fill their stomachs before they could think about God. Feeding people was a big part of his teaching.

Since he left his body, my love for him has not been limited to his form. It didn’t go away when he died. Now we can just be, in love. The more open I am, the more I can receive the love. It’s the whole trip, the beginning, the middle, and the end.

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