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Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying Paperback – June 1, 2001
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After being introduced for a lecture, Ram Dass eschewed the stairs and, from his front row seat, leapt up on to the stage--or tried to, anyway, but age and gravity brought him crashing back to earth. Like other baby boomers, Ram Dass has learned the hard way that aging is unkind to the body. But he has also learned that it can be an opportunity for growth. While others begin to devalue you, you can reconnect with the spiritual, grow into wisdom, and create value for yourself. In Still Here, Ram Dass offers a philosophy for aging that teaches us how to diminish our suffering despite the aches, pains, and limitations of age. This becomes possible when we step away from the ego-self and into the soul-self, where we can witness our thoughts and emotions and evaluate their effects on us. If aging has brought challenges to Ram Dass, it has also brought him wisdom, which, through his personal anecdotes and stories of others in the struggle against aging, he shares with great generosity. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In 1971, Ram Dass became an icon for a generation of spiritual seekers with the publication of Be here Now, a hip, heartfelt chronicle of a search for truth that began when he got kicked out of Harvard along with Timothy Leary for tripping on psilocybin mushrooms and launching a psychedelic movement. The author, who was born Richard Alpert, discovered the magic of reality itself in India, when he met his guru, Maharaji, who gave him a name that means "Servant of God." In the decades since, Ram Dass has produced a stream of books about how heart-and mind-expanding service can be. His writing (and his globe-trotting lectures) were suffused with the ebullient humor and insight of a born storyteller. Then, one evening in 1997, as he lay in bed wondering how to finish this work on the wisdom potential of aging, Ram Dass was hit with a massive stroke that left him wheelchair-bound, partially paralyzed, requiring round-the-clock care. This book was revised and edited by Ram Dass as he struggled to say what he wanted to say without the words that had poured out of him before. What has emerged from the suffering is a humble masterpiece of being. "The stroke has given me a new perspective to share about aging, a perspective that says, 'Don't be a wise elder, be an incarnation of wisdom,'" writes Ram Dass in the introduction. The energy of this new state of awareness resonates under the words of this work. Ram Dass delves in to the aspects of aging that terrify most of us-loss of roll and independence, the threat of senility-and affirms there is an awareness in each of us that transcends all the attributes that necessarily diminish with age. Ram Dass shows readers of all ages that it is possible to stay present in the midst of suffering, to be still and know that God is here now. (June).
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Fast forward to today, I have severe chronic thoracic back pain which restricts me to bed for all but a few hours per day (I'm 53). Everything about my life, or what's left of it, has changed. This book has helped me through, over and over. I read it, re-read it, and chew on passages over and over. The book stays on my bedstand constantly, so I can pick it up and read a section on Lonliness, Suffering, Loss of Role, Powerlessness, Depression, Facing Fear, Dependency, The Gift of Service, Releasing the Past, Learning to Grieve, Shedding Attachment to the Future, Learning To Die, Preparing for Death, etc. The book is a treasure trove of wisdom, beautifully concieved and written with love and compassion for you, the reader.
I have never been a religious person, and do not accept Ram Dass' own belief in reincarnation. But the pages of the book devoted to religious aspects are relatively few, and because the book is so profound and yet down to Earth, anyone, regardless of their personal philosophy or religion, can benefit greatly from this wisdom.
This book is the perfect gift for anyone who is dealing with the aging process - either their own or a loved one. Not only do our needs change as we age but so do our wants, as he eloquently points out. By the time I finished the book I was less attached to things that no longer served me and more curious about what lies ahead.
I highly recommend this book for people of any age for whom aging is an issue.
I'm jumping around, but here are some of the ideas raised in this book.
Here is information to help cope and understand the habits of thinking that occur as the body gets older and death is approaching. In this he touches on how society values information over wisdom; the wisdom found in aged persons, how many ancient cultures and spiritual teachings value elderly and wisdom, the spiritual over the material society, the eternal soul or jivaman and reincarnation, the ability to go outside the subjective self seeing three areas, the ego, the soul and the awareness level, the leap from self to awareness difficult for the ego as it signifies going home to what we are in union with God or the Universe.
In growing old we can shift from our loneliness to aloneness, objectively accepting what is without suffering or pushing away, anotherwards ways of developing a new frame of mind as the mind becomes older, we become newer; Zen mind Beginners minds. The wisdom in aging, "being" over role playing, the ego mind and the witness soul, how what we do is only a part of what we are, how others perceptions are their problems not ours, how to face the silence without rushing back into activity, how are dharma is our karma in the world, how to face ourselves in the present moment and drop our personal histories and future obligations as the problem is not thinking of the past, but getting locked in the subjective waves of attachment - or race, culture, self-pity, etc. "The key to freedom is understanding that in the present moment, there is no time." p.135 By viewing all time or taking a time as the Sabbath or daily meditation times we consider as sacred and free from past and future, we can find the soul view, God, Awareness.
We learn to take on the soul view of life with acceptance which equals wisdom. The soul can rest in silence, it needs no meanings, we let the ego cease to tyrannize us, we embrace our fears over denial, escape the ego prison. If we take things slow in mindfulness, we cease the cruel rush of "time is money" or "time is efficiency," then we can taste the freedom of experiencing life and communicating with others - soul to soul communication - as he took his father to a childhood farm in two trips; one rushed, the other slow with the communication and connection.
And as our bodies age we need to accept them. It is the ego which rejects as the king rejects the messenger or prophet with his news. We help ourselves by sitting in soul quietness over speaking. bringing listening calm over conveying our models of reality. In this as we can cope with pains by watching verses experiencing, letting it pass as the clouds pass by.
There is advise on learning how to die, knowing the Soul consciousness at the time of death in mindfulness to stabilized us through the tumult of dying. The dissolution of the ego structure, of the conceptual map by which we have chartered reality.