Blog Here Now, Be Here Now

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Those of you “of a certain age” are no doubt well aware of where I got the idea for the name of this blog: Ram Dass’s famous book, “Be Here Now”, one of the holy books of the late 1960s and early 1970s “counterculture”. And if you have read much of this blog, I’m sure you also recognize that the similarity of the titles is probably the only thing Blog Here Now and Be Here Now have in common. Part of the reason for this is that, while I very much respect the insights delivered by forms of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism (and the practices of meditation upon which they’re based), I don’t have much to say about those insights. In fact, I tend to think that the more one talks about them, the less insightful they seem. That’s not the fault of the insights, it’s just a result of the limits of languages and the conceptual schemes they encode. Poetry, music, and the visual arts do a better job of communicating the insights than language. But two well-educated intellectuals (or counter-intellectuals) of the mid-20th century, Ram Dass and Alan Watts, probably have done the best jobs of trying to communicate them in English. I tend to gravitate more towards Watts’ approach than Dass’s, because Watts “clothes” the insights in less religious language, and when he does use religious language, he goes out of his way to clarify what he means by it. Dass, however, perhaps more faithfully translates aspects of the Hindu tradition into English.

If you have never seen Mickey Lemle’s documentary, “Ram Dass: Fierce Grace“, which deals with how Ram Dass “transacted” – and continues to transact – with a life-altering stroke, I want to take this opportunity to recommend it to you. Here’s the poster for the film-

I think it’s particularly relevant to aging baby boomers such as myself. The way he managed, painfully, to integrate his neo-Hindu insights with his stroke is truly impressive and inspiring. Who knows when each of us might be similarly challenged?

What got me thinking about Ram Dass was an email I received from Noah Te Stroete, a former student of mine and one of the few regular commenters on this blog. It turns out that Noah has an artistic talent of which I was previously unaware: he’s quite a painter! Here’s his portrait of Ram Dass (which, I think, beautifully captures the man’s “spirit”)-

Portrait of Ram Dass

"Ram Dass", by Noah Te Stroete

2 thoughts on “Blog Here Now, Be Here Now

  1. I feel your respect for Watts–The Book turned me on in ways no other could. However, the faith as shown in Ram Dass’ very life inspires me in ways Watts never could (or maybe I just don’t know enough about Watts?). I was told recently to avoid using the word ‘God’ simply because of the political connotations that follow along with it (along with the names of Krisna and other deities). Here and now, however, we can admit ourselves to the sentiments and inspirations of spiritual passage, and for that I would like to see the world recognize at least the notion of what is beyond them, of what bridges them to that which lies beyond the self. So here is to impermanence! Here is to that self that has no name! Please join us for our online publication of puns on impermanence–for if we can trust our true selves we must trust the limitations and possibilities which brought this into being. Join Sojourn Sentence! We need readers and writers! http://bit.ly/y8qhOY

  2. Howard- Could you provide us with some examples of what you mean by “puns on impermanence”?

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