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Ram Dass – Aging into Awakening
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What You’ll Discover in These 4 Modules
In this 4-part intensive, Ram Dass and his beloved guests will guide you through the fundamental spiritual skills and competencies you’ll need to make friends with the changes that occur as you age and to transform the way you relate to death.
Each contemplation and training session will build harmoniously upon the previous ones so you’ll develop a complete holistic understanding of the practices, tools and principles you’ll need to sustain your humor, honesty and connection to the reality of the aging process while building a community of interconnectedness with other like-minded individuals.
The course modules consist of a one-hour broadcast of a video or audio teaching from Ram Dass directly followed by a 30-minute Q&A session hosted by a different faculty who is one of Ram Dass’s beloved Guru brothers and sisters.
Module 1: The Nature of Aging as Change
Change is all around us; we are fascinated by it. But when it comes to aging — when change starts to happen to who we think we are — the fascination turns to fear. What’s more, our zeal for independence and individuality has separated us from the structures of family, community and nature that give meaning to aging. We are so heavily identified with our physical form that our resistance to aging becomes a burden on our soul. Is there a place to stand in relation to the changes of aging that is not rooted in fear?
In this module, you’ll explore:
How we’re living in a system that’s out of balance and treats aging as a problem
How the Eastern concept of aging embraces the changes that come with aging, and how they clearly define the roles of elders
The physical changes associated with aging, and how it’s possible to break out of identification with our physical form
The psychological changes associated with aging, and the way we struggle to maintain emotional security by clinging to the past, rather than embracing the present; in other words, we can learn to Be Here Now
How it’s possible to witness and even enjoy the changes that come with aging while cultivating equanimity, spaciousness and clarity through deep spiritual work
Q&A With Raghu Markus
Raghu Markus currently is the Director of Ram Dass’ Love Serve Remember Foundation and the Host of the Mindrolling Podcast on the Be Here Now Network. Raghu spent two years in India with Maharaj-ji and Ram Dass. He’s been involved in music and transformational media since the early 1970s when he was program director of CKGM-FM in Montreal. In 1974, he collaborated with Ram Dass on the box set, Love Serve Remember. In 1990, he launched Triloka Records and Karuna Music in Los Angeles, California. Triloka established itself as a critical leader in the development of world music, and for 17 years was home to artists such as Krishna Das, Hugh Masekela, Walela, Jai Uttal and transformational media projects featuring Ram Dass, Deepak Chopra and Les Nubians. He owns Yatra Media and lives with his wife in Asheville, North Carolina.
Module 2: Awareness & the Shift From Ego to Soul
How can you shift from identifying with your ego to identifying with your soul? It’s only through identification with your soul that you can face aging and death without fear. If you’re identified with your ego, the combined self-image of your body and mind, then you’re destined to face the perils of aging in a constant state of suffering.
In this module, you’ll discover:
The difference between the soul and ego structures
The planes of awareness and consciousness, and how you need to “change the channel” in order to shift your perspective
How to break free of the patterns of attractions and aversions that keep you caught in separateness
The concept of the “witness,” a tool to help grow your awareness
How the aging process becomes grist for the mill of your soul’s awakening and is part of the curriculum of your soul’s work
Q&A With Mirabai Starr
Mirabai Starr writes creative nonfiction and contemporary translations of sacred literature, especially the Spanish mystics, John of the Cross (Dark Night of the Soul) and Teresa of Avila (The Interior Castle and The Book of My Life). She taught Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years and now teaches and speaks internationally on contemplative practice and inter-spiritual dialog. Mirabai met Ram Dass in 1975 at the Lama Foundation when she was fourteen, and has been a devotee of Neem Karoli Baba ever since. Her newest book, Caravan of No Despair: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation, dedicated to Ram Dass, received the Spirituality & Practice “Best Books of 2015” award. God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity & Islam, also the winner of numerous awards, is dedicated to Maharaj-ji. She lives with her extended family in Taos, New Mexico, home to the wondrous Hanuman Temple and the only Neem Karoli Baba ashram in the West.
Module 3: Reflections on Suffering & the Value of Elder Wisdom
Pain and suffering are everywhere we look these days; it’s easy to start drowning in it. Is it possible to stay present in the midst of suffering and keep your heart open? How can we deal with the suffering caused by aging in a society that ignores the collective knowledge of our elders? The currency of the wisdom of age has been devalued by a youth-dominated culture.
In this module, you’ll contemplate how:
There is a high cost to armoring our heart against suffering… and an ecstasy in embracing everything
Bearing the unbearable is the root of the deepest compassion in the world
For an awakened person, suffering is grace and can help foster spiritual growth
Our society, unlike more traditional cultures, does not articulate or encourage socially relevant roles and curriculum for somebody that’s aging, because we do not treat aging as a separate stage of life
We can access our intuitive wisdom to empty and quiet the mind, and become reflective rather than reactive
Through the building of a community of people who are committed to exploring aging, we can redefine the curriculum of aging
Q&A With Rameshwar Das Lytton
Rameshwar Das (James) Lytton met Ram Dass in 1967, soon after his return from India, and spent time with Maharaj-ji in India from 1970 to 1972. His principal vocation has been photography, working primarily on a freelance basis, including for the New York Times. He’s taught photography and photojournalism, and has also worked as an environmentalist and writer. Over the years, Ramesh has collaborated on several projects with Ram Dass, including the original collection of manuscripts that became Be Here Now and the Love Serve Remember box set of recordings. He is the co-author of Ram Dass’ newer books, Be Love Now and Polishing the Mirror. He lives with his wife and children on Long Island in New York.
Module 4: Facing Death
How can our spiritual work best prepare us for death? Perhaps no one has more experience on this subject than Ram Dass, who has worked with countless dying people in a quest to demystify the subject of death. Ultimately, his experiences have taught us how to approach the mystery of death with a spaciousness that allows us to see it as part of the process of life, rather than simply the “the end.”
In this module, you’ll explore how:
The medical profession sees death as failure and as the enemy, while the hospice movement is at least useful as a psychologically supportive environment
People who are dying — when given the space to explore and be conscious about it — can use the process as an opportunity for spiritual awakening
Working with death and dying can be incredible grace; it gives us the opportunity to be in the presence of truth
Death is part of the process of life; nobody dies a moment before their time, and nobody remains a moment after their time — it’s all part of the lawfulness of nature
We can make peace with death and see it not as an error or failure, but as the culminating adventure of life!
Q&A With Mirabai Bush
Mirabai Bush is co-author, with Ram Dass, of Compassion in Action: Setting Out on the Path of Service. She is a devotee of Maharaj-ji and spent time with him in India from 1971 to 1972. She is also Senior Fellow and founder of the Center on Contemplative Mind in Society, which encourages contemplative practice and perspective in American life in order to create a more just, compassionate and reflective society. Mirabai has also worked with Google on a workplace course called Search Inside Yourself and with the US Army on a program for chaplains and medics. She formerly directed the Seva Foundation Guatemala Project, which supports sustainable agriculture and integrated community development. She is editor of Contemplation Nation, co-author of Contemplative Practices in Higher Education, and author of the audio, Working With Mindfulness. She lives with her partner in Western Massachusetts.
Ram Dass first went to India in 1967. He was still Dr. Richard Alpert, an already eminent Harvard psychologist and psychedelic pioneer with Dr. Timothy Leary. In India, he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba (affectionately known as Maharaj-ji), who gave Ram Dass his name, which means “servant of God.” In that moment, everything changed — his intense dharmic life started, and he became a pivotal influence on a culture that has reverberated with the words “Be Here Now” ever since.
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