A Wider Spirituality

Beauty and wisdom

Spiritual practices help us move from identifying with the ego to identifying with the soul. Old age does that for you, too. It spiritualizes people naturally.” – Ram Dass

“The most exquisite paradox…as soon as you give it all up, you can have it all. As long as you want power, you can’t have it. The minute you don’t want power, you’ll have more than you ever dreamed possible.” – Ram Dass

 

Ram Dass died just before Christmas and just after my last blog post. I had barely paid attention to this man all my life, only vaguely remembering him simply as one  of the gurus of my young adulthood back in the ’60’s; part of the wave of opening up the drug culture and introducing Eastern spirituality as the foundation of an enlightened life.

Then last year, the mentor who became the foundation of my life as a blogger sent me the 2019 Ram Dass calendar, and as a Christian and a pastor, I became curious about Ram Dass in a whole new way.

I had watched an enlightening program about Ram Dass the year before, made after he had had a devastating stroke which had changed his outward life dramatically. I saw the spirituality of this man and the power of his beliefs to give him what he needed to transcend the radical change that had been visited upon him. He had found peace with his new life, in spite of the changes, losses and sufferings that had surrounded him then.

Advancing age has a way of giving us multiple opportunities for a new life. The kinds of opportunities that come out of things like change – and loss – and suffering. We all know them, do we not? They’re not unique to older age, but they do seem to increase with the increasing years.

How many gatherings of us older folks inevitably includes an “organ recital?” You know…the shared lists of challenging changes that are happening to our physical bodies? Knees, shoulders, eyes, ears, hearts, kidneys, procedures, surgeries… (“Head, shoulders, knees and toes…knees and toes…” Who knew how different that child’s song would sound now?!)

How many conversations do we have about loss: what it’s like to be a widow – or a grieving parent of an adult child – or an expert who can’t find a job at this age – or the craziness of giving up a home for a care facility – or losing the ability to walk without a cane or walker?

How many of us share the very real physical and emotional suffering that arises when we live every day knowing that our independence is at risk? When we discover that the physical strength that we’ve counted on has gone south? When we begin to notice the shades of memory loss?

And how many of us resist it all? How many of us get lost in feeling sorry for ourselves when life becomes difficult and painful? How often do we rail against the injustice of the ways that our lives have changed against our wishes?

Ah, then Ram Dass comes through.

“The resistance to the unpleasant situation is the root of suffering.”

“As long as you have certain desires about how it ought to be you can’t see how it is.”

“…a lot of your emotional suffering is created by your models of how you think the universe should be and your inability to allow it to be as it is.”

“Healing does not mean going back to the way things were before, but rather allowing what is now to move us closer to God.”

So in this new year, this new beginning that we love to embrace, perhaps we can find some wisdom from places where we have not yet ventured.

Let go of our resistance to what is.

Grab hold of the possibilities in what has come to be.

Allow ourselves to move closer to God in our own ways.

Open ourselves to the reality that

change

loss

suffering

are givens in every life.

But our responses are not.

Grace still bats last.

We can choose to find a way to overcome them all.

To move toward a richer – wider – spirituality.

 Surrender enough of our inadequate power; 

and find The Power that changes it all. 

And I’m very okay with that. (Hunh…that last “bold” part looks something like an hourglass…how did that happen?!)

21 thoughts on “A Wider Spirituality

    1. Ann, I’m so sorry to hear how much you’re having to deal with. Even when we know that death is a part of life, it doesn’t hurt any less. And when there’s a pile-on, it can feel downright unfair. I’m very grateful that this post resonated with you, and I hope that it helps going forward. I’ll be thinking of you!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Liz, I’m so glad to hear that. It’s the main reason for writing this blog. And I am so often thunderstruck by the beautiful and insightful comments that people leave! And you are one of them. Thank you for connecting so often.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wise words to contemplate here! There is a popular saying now, “It is what it is.” We cannot always change a situation the way we would like; we can change our response to it. With faith in Christ we overcome the world…the world in all its limitations. The more we yield our mind and spirit to God, the more mindful we are of the opportunities and not the limitations. It is as though a great table were spread out before us…all good things in their time. As we age, we cannot keep reaching for things that do not suit us; baby food is good for a baby. We must find nourishment in a new way; it can still be beautiful, just different.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Every age we ever live has a gift of its own. We must be open to receive it. If we keep looking only for the gifts we received in our youth, we will be frustrated. The gifts are there; we must open our hearts to their exquisite beauty.

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  2. It’s not easy to make sense of Ram Dass. And to make Ram Dass accessible. You did both, including one of my favorite quotes: “Healing does not mean going to the way things were before, but rather allowing what is now to move us closer to God.” Love that. As I loved your entire post. Thanks for sharing him with all your readers. I hope they are as inspired as I was. Yahooooo!

    Bill Apablasa http://www.oxygenbuzz.com 818-216-8948

    >

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  3. Thank you thank you thank you, Martha, for sharing Ram Dass’s wisdom so succinctly and with relevance for all of us. He is one of those teachers I thought was too “out there” for me when my mindfulness journey was sparked a decade ago. Over the years his enlightening teachings have trickled onto my path, enhancing my understanding and sense of connection. Somehow having YOU, dear friend and Christian pastor, share you openness throws the door of gratitude wide. xoxo TOM

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    1. Thank YOU, Martha! You’ve opened up the mindfulness journey for me, and perhaps that’s why this man’s death felt more consequential. He came on the scene when I was a young adult, and whoa! way too far out for me. But here and there I picked up on some of his wisdom. His best-known quote, probably, is “We’re all just walking each other home.” I made it my tag for my emails, and some day may use it for another kind of focus. Thank you for your gratitude – and your wonderful friendship! xoxo TOM

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