It has been only a short time since my teacher, my guru Ram Dass passed. I won’t lie, when I
heard he had left his body it hit me like a steam train. Ram Dass spoke of death as simply “taking
off a tight shoe.” That always made me smile, I am at peace with the knowledge that at some
point, I will also remove my mortal shoe, I have no fear over death, in fact the knowledge that
death is inevitable gives a certain sweetness to life, embrace it, live it, make good damn use of it
because it won’t be here forever.
I know that Ram Dass left his body and merged with the one, that he became part of everything in
this universe and that he left in peace, having been an inspiration and a teacher to Millions. When
he finally left his worn out tired body it was time, he deserved that peace, that release.
And yet still, I was completely overwhelmed with grief. When he was in his body, I knew where he
was, when I listened to his podcasts and talks, his meditations or watched his movies, I could
imagine him ensconced in Maui with his team of carers and sangha around him glowing with love
and kindness. Still, despite his stroke able to have a profound effect on the world around him
with his wonderful energy and message of love.
I had a fantasy, I would imagine visiting him on one of his yearly retreats, to sit at his feet and fall
into his gaze, that divine loving gaze and tell him how much his work had meant to me, how he
had held me through some powerful transformations and had with his wit, wisdom and love
helped me steer my ship home.
But somehow life with all of its twists and turns conspired to keep me grounded here in my
community, with my family, this was to be my Sadhana, sitting at the feet of my guru was not my
path to walk this time round.
The news came just before I was about to teach a class, and the wave of emotion was so
overwhelming it nearly took me of my feet, I had to gather my thoughts and pull myself together,
my yoga studio always shows a Ram Dass quote, and I think the one it was showing that week
was, “We are all walking each other home.|” Ram Dass was home, but I wasn’t with him , or at
least so I thought.
I couldn’t even bring myself to dedicate the class to him, I didn’t trust my voice. It took a week
before I was able in a hushed tone at the end of the meditation to offer my practise to my teacher,
Ram Dass. My class who know of my deep connection were kind and thoughtful, with many hugs
and kind words, I thought Ram Dass would love this, his death creating kindness, love,
As the weeks passed I found myself weeping from time to time, my meditations and quiet
moments flooded with memories of his teachings and his larger than life life. I berated myself for
not making myself attend the retreat, and fulfilling my wish to meet him and thank him. I relistened
to pretty much everything I had downloaded and a lot more besides. He accompanied
me on my gym sessions, laughing and talking in his irreverent style in my earphones as I marched
along on the treadmill. Every now and then laughing out loud to his jokes and anecdotes. My
fellow gym members looking confused as I quietly sang along to the Hanuman Chalice. Off key,
and certainly not word perfect.
But the most remarkable thing began to happen, as the weeks passed instead of feeling further
away from my teacher, I began to feel closer, as if instead of being separated by oceans and
mountains, he was right here beside me. When I breathe in he is in my breath, when I breath out
he is all around me, when I remember his smile I see him in the faces of my community, when I sit
with a client experiencing deep suffering, I hear him whisper “its all grist for the mill.” Ram Dass
may have left his body but somehow he is closer to me than ever.
Even in death he is reminding me that we are more than our earthly body, more than our mind
projections, that we are so much more than our thoughts, and that when we stop resisting what is
and allow ourselves to open up to the reality of what is our truth right here right now, we
experience such richness, such love, and expansiveness, there is only joy beneath that pain, only
love, and the true and certain knowledge we are all one.
Thank you Ram Dass for walking me home.