Excerpt from Still Here by Ram Dass, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Still Here

Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying

by Ram Dass

Still Here
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2000, 208 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2001, 208 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Preface

Be Here Now was first published in 1971. It recorded the two major experiences I had had during the Sixties: one of them was psilocyben mushrooms, and the other was my guru, Maharajji. Both of them - mushrooms and Maharajji - did many things for me, one of which was to give me a familiarity with other planes of consciousness. They showed me that there's much more in any given moment than we usually perceive, and that we ourselves are much more than we usually perceive. When you know that, part of you can stand outside the drama of your life.

There were a number of transformations in Richard Alpert (my name at birth), which were inspired by mushrooms and Maharajji, and the best, I think, is the one that opened my heart and gave me a chance to serve. For me, the way the compassion seemed to express itself was through showing people what I had done, how I had approached my experiences, and so opening avenues for them where their own spirit could emerge. I felt incredibly fortunate because of all the things that had happened to me in the Sixties, and I wanted to spread the grace around. So there were lectures, there were books, there were tapes, and there were videos - a patchwork of different means for sharing my life with people. Gandhi once said, "My life is my message." That's what I aspire to.

As I opened my heart, various forms of suffering in my fellow human beings presented themselves, and I decided to do what I could to help. Prisoners read Be Here Now, and then wrote to me, and through corresponding with them I realized that many people can do deep spiritual work in prison. So I started the Prison Ashram Project.

Then I noticed how frightened we are of death in our culture, and what a lot of suffering that was creating. That was in contrast to what I'd seen in India, which has a much different understanding of death than we do because of their knowledge of the continuation of the soul. I wanted to find ways of sharing that, so I instituted the Dying Project. I started hanging out with people who were dying - including my mother, my father, my stepmother, people with AIDS and cancer, many, many people over the years, whom I've been with as they died. To each of these individuals and situations I brought what I had to share - my acquaintance with other planes of consciousness, and the way that affects how we perceive our living and our dying.

I started to look at the social institutions in the world around me, to see whether the spiritual tack I was taking might be commensurate with social action. A couple of friends were starting the Seva Foundation, and invited me to join them to work with doctors and activists, doing work in India, Nepal, and Guatemala, and with American Indians and in the inner cities of America. Other friends had wondered how business, which is the institution which has the most power in our society, might become more informed by spiritual Awareness and started the Social Venture Network. They are compassionate businesspeople who invited me to work together with them. I joined the board of Creating Our Future, which was an organization for teenagers who wanted to inform their lives with spirit. These organizations were trying to prevent suffering in areas in which I felt a personal connection. For some people, it's world hunger, or literacy. For me it was seeking spiritual answers to many of our problems.

My interest in aging came from a personal direction: I was getting older - and so were the baby boomers, who were fast approaching fifty. In this youth-oriented culture, aging is a profound source of suffering, and that is what I was responding to when I decided to turn my attention to conscious aging workshops, and to writing this book.

One evening in February 1997, I was in bed at home in Marin Country, contemplating how to end this book. I'd been working on the manuscript for the past eighteen months, weaving together material from personal experience and from talks I'd given around the country on conscious aging, but somehow the book's conclusion had eluded me. Lying there in the dark, I wondered why what I'd written seemed so incomplete, not quite rounded, grounded, or whole. I tried to imagine what life would be like if I were very old - not an active person of sixty-five, traveling the world incessantly as a teacher and speaker, caught up in my public role - but as someone of ninety, say, with failing sight and failing limbs. I fantasized how that old man would think, how he'd move and speak and hear, what desires he might have as he slowly surveyed the world. I was trying to feel my way into oldness. I was thoroughly enjoying this fantasy when the phone rang. In the process of my fantasy, I'd noticed that my leg seemed to have fallen asleep. As I got up to answer the phone, my leg gave way under me and I fell to the floor. In my mind, the fall was still part of my "old-man fantasy." I didn't realize that my leg was no longer working because I'd had a stroke.

Reprinted from Still Here by Ram Dass by permission of Putnam Pub. Group, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2000 by Ram Dass. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: All We Have Left
    All We Have Left
    by Wendy Mills
    September 11, 2001 is a date that few Americans will ever forget. It was on this day that our ...
  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

Read the best books first...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.