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HolyGround >> Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying

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6/18/10 4:55 AM
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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 the Hardcover edition.

6/18/10 5:05 AM
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quite a good book, Ram Dass  candidly discusses one of the most forbidden topics in modern society - aging and death. 

A Baptist preacher who specialized in working with the elderly and the dying told me once that old people are the most under utilized resources of the church community. Most people prefer to pretend that arent there at all. I think there are several reasons for this. We are uncomfortable, as a society, with seeing the end years of life and its effects. The vigor of youth has gone, the body and often the mind is breaking down, the senses are dulled.  And we know,all of us, that we are looking at our own future. 

This book addreses Ram Dass as he discusses his own aging in the context of his spiritual journey. He also candidly talks about the stroke that left him crippled, and how he sees it as a blessing, a chance to learn. 

I strongly recommend this book. As a culture, we ignore the elderly or see them as a burden. And we fear aging and tend to treat it as some sort of character flaw. Dass relates a story where he returns to India and an old friend greets him and says how old  he looks. At first he is insulted, but he sees a smile on his friends face and realizes that in his culture, saying that someone looks old is a compliment - it means one has gained wisdom and perspective, and status in the community because of this. How many other cultural assumptions do we have about the aging process, especially as we judge it a negative experience?

6/18/10 1:32 PM
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Any culture that hides death from plain site is living a lie.
6/20/10 2:27 PM
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clean livin'
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Great post. I am visiting/looking for a new church for my family. The one I went to today was really traditional Baptist. I noticed alot of older people, and I was relieved. I am 40, and and have taken an inventory of some things. I looked around the crowd, and saw old men, in black shoes, ties, jackets, looking as clean and neat as they could get on Father's Day. I saw their wives, in the female version sitting beside them, and I knew I could find tradition here. These old men and women could contribute greatly to my family, and we could help them. I need that in my life, old men that have been there and done that. made the mistakes, raised their kids, ran their business', lived most of their lives. I like to think I can maybe visit this church again, maybe make it my new church home. I had a great relationship with my grandparents, which is probably why I really like older people and place such a high value on them.
Yes, and Ridgeback is right on.

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