Ram Dass helps people to Be Here Now
Ram Dass is a pivotal influence on a culture that has reverberated with the words “Be Here Now” ever since the seminal book was published in 1971. His spirit has been a guiding light for three generations. Ram Dass’ words have carried millions on their spiritual journeys. He has helped others become free from their bonds as he worked through his own. Ram Dass’ practice of karma yoga (spiritual service) has opened millions of other souls to their own deep, yet individuated, spiritual practice and path.
Ram Dass continues to uphold the boddhisatva ideal for others through his compassionate sharing of true knowledge and vision. His unique skill in getting people to cut through and feel divine love without dogma continues to be a positive influence worldwide.
Director Derek Peck has toured the nation showing his latest documentary 30-minute short titled Ram Dass, Going Home. The film is now available to watching streaming on Netflix. This documentary is an homage to Ram Dass as he lives out the remainder of his time on earth in his body. It poignantly captures the essence of Ram Dass’ teachings.
Director Derek Peck and his Spiritual Path
Derek has been a storyteller for over 20 years, as a journalist and more recently in film. He has produced and directed short films on artists such as Peter Beard and Marina Abramovi, in which he tells their singular stories. Derek’s own spiritual path studying Eastern religions and being influenced by teachers such as Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung led him to read the book Be Here Now when he was in his 20s.
Fast forward a few years. Derek asked himself, “What would Ram Dass’ teaching be now that he is in the last chapter of his life?” There are other noteworthy films exploring Ram Dass’s life (such as Fierce Grace and Dying to Know). Derek wanted to know more specifically whether Ram Dass’ stroke more than 20 years ago has changed his outlook or path.
I viewed Going Home in San Francisco’s Dolby Theatre. This was an experience in of itself. The theatre’s high tech, state-of-the-art design did justice to the film’s visuals and sounds. I was captivated by Maui’s lush foliage as well as the sounds of the birds, wind, and ocean. It was as though I could feel the warm trade winds blowing through the palm trees; the waterfalls, streams and ocean flowed, inviting me to hear Ram Dass’s words like a lullaby speaking to my very soul.
Ram Dass Narrates the Process of Going Home
There is synchronicity in the visits of elements of nature as when Ram Dass is sitting at the Hanuman Garden statue, a lizard climbs up the statute for a brief visit as if to say “Hello, I see you and you see me.” And the moment Ram Dass exhales deeply the sun shines bright over his head as if spirit is surrounding him and his own light. In some people’s eyes, these instances would be considered to be a little nod from his guru Maharajji, an acknowledgement that he knows your heart is open enough to feel the energy.
Ram Dass is the film’s narrator. He leads us from his time using psychedelics to his trips to India and meeting his guru, and later to his stroke. Interspersed with the tale is his wisdom. He reminds us, “Make friends with change. Death is just another change. Identifying with soul and death is a snap. Death is like taking off a tight shoe.” Overall, it feels like a personal guided meditation.
In the process of making Going Home, Derek says he spent a period of months with Ram Dass talking and simply being with him. He describes the experience as a mixture of love, awe and presence.
Ram Dass’ incredibly open and receptive spirit is at peace, which comes across instantaneously. Because he doesn’t speak as fluently as he did before the strokes, when he does it is beautiful, profound and poetic.
“There are really no words to justify the feelings of being with Ram Dass, his energy permeates through his teaching and his very presence opens your heart,” Derek explained.
The Film as a Teaching
As the film came together, Derek realized that it would become a teaching and has found that it has an impact when people watch it. Even those who are closest to Ram Dass feel the teachings in a new way. Perhaps one of the most down-to-earth and real lessons of the film is that, although Ram Dass is an iconic teacher for over 50 years and has written dozens of books, he admits that he is merely a human on the path. He says he is still working to the connection of his own soul.
Derek sensed that Ram Dass had come even deeper on his path of self-realization since the most recent documentary. This film is pure and powerful, an introspective of life and the desire to live with as much grace as humanly possible. Ram Dass says he wishes everyone could experience the grace his stroke has offered him. He encourages all to find grace within the time we have on earth. “We are all walking each other home.”
Ram Dass: Going Home is alive with dignity and grace. It has brought me back to seeing others as souls more than people. Watch it more than once, since something new will be seen each time. This film will become a reference point for all on the path of walking each other home.
Shelley Karpaty is a yogi living in the Bay Area where she brings her spirit into writing, recruiting and career coaching. Medium: medium.com/@skarpaty and Instagram @shelleykarpaty