Be Here Now
The Counterculture Bible, by Ram Das
I don’t remember buying the book and I don’t remember reading the book. I do remember getting wildly and regularly stoned alone in my married suburban New Jersey apartment on those nights that P. was thankfully out. I remember melting into the drawings; touching them, feeling them, becoming them.
Richard Alpert, now Ram Das, told me about sadhana, spiritual practice, and he told me about being in the moment. Although I was a nice married Jewish girl teaching English in a suburban high school, although my furniture matched itself and my plates matched their placemats, inside of me I knew I didn’t match; somewhere inside of me, I knew I was a hippy, a flower-child. I did not yet have the term, seeker. I knew that something, that everything was missing. I did not yet have the term, lesbian. I just knew that the outsides of my life did not match my insides.
I remember wanting what Ras Das so cleverly, so coyly seemed to have; I wanted spirituality more than anything, with a vague and a powerful passion.
Be here now, Ram Das invited me, us, all. Be. Here. Now. What does that even mean, I wondered? I thought it was a beckoning to smoke more pot, surely the only way to hear the planets spin. I had no inkling of the pain that was driving my addiction, the pain I was running from. That time would come. The unraveling of that pain would come. The seeker would emerge, more clearly, more readied for practice.
And as that time came, and as it continues to come, I continue practicing being right here, right now.
In this week, the hungry ghosts in me cried out, grasping for that which is not real, to fill that internal void that is already complete.
In this week, I return to Ram Das.
I practice remembering.
In his poem, the Time Before Death, Kabir, the great Indian mystic and contemplative, as translated here by Robert Bly, calls us into the moment by saying:
Jump into experience
while you are alive!
Think . . . and think . . .
while you are alive.
What you call “salvation”
belongs to the time
Living yoga is a call into life, now. Not through any idealized mental construct—not someday, when we can meditate with a quiet mind, not when we can do that damn posture without regretting our limitations, not when we’re calm and chanting om in hideous morning traffic. Now, right here, right now. As it is, each moment is a moment of grace.
The human experience is the doorway to the divine.
The headache, the anger, the allergy attack, the disappointment, the heartbreak, the traffic, the child who goes astray—all are doorways back to the Guest, that Kabir hearkens. The salvation that he offers us comes from being where we are! It is the most simple of practices, and, oh, we are such complicated beings.
I have adored Kripalu Yoga, certainly not because of any achievements on the mat. I love Kripalu Yoga, both on and off the mat because it so compassionately meets us in our moment, AS WE ARE. Right here, right now, as we are.
It’s a giant, come as you are party! Who knew? I should be further along, is probably one of the more toxic curses I can offer myself today.
I should be thinner.
I should have more money.
I should….I should.
These ancient thought patterns blur and separate us from the solution, the salvation, in Kabir’s words.
Right here, right now, can we bless ourselves as we are?
Right here, right now, can we offer unconditional regard, not just to the people around us, but to ourselves?
Right here, right now, can we be here and seize the day, embrace the moment, however, we are showing up in it?
Here is a clip we use to show in our self-discovery programs, Robin Williams from the Dead Poet’s Society, 1989, made even more poignant by our oh, too early loss of Robin and his brilliance. Give yourself these three minutes to watch:
Dear Folks, let us be kind to ourselves. Let us practice being here, abiding what is, abiding ourselves in it. Here in this moment lives the lilac, sweeter than life itself, the honeysuckle, the hoot of the mourning dove. Here in this moment lives laughter and the breath of another. Here in this moment, yes, also lives the pain of the human dilemma, our needing to force and change and constrict. And here in this moment lives the freedom of our surrender.
How do you run? How do you stay present? It’s all sacred. It’s all inevitable. And how can you seize this day, and “jump into experience”? Keep me posted. I am firstname.lastname@example.org. Hearing from you is my blessing.