There is a whole generation of us that see this book cover as a symbol of our awakening as much as the peace sign!

Well, almost.

Be Here Now was written by Ram Das, one of my heroes.  I listened to him for hours on those cassette tapes in th olden days.  He was my friend on long long long road trips between here and wherever I was headed.

I really connected to his teachings, and two that I remember come to mind now, even more powerfully than ever, as they illustrate two skills that I have been teaching for over 25 years, and which I view as key---totally essential---if you are to live the life you truly desire.

The first story he tells of a huge field of hippies all tripping on LSD back in the days after he and Timothy Leary had been kicked out of Harvard.  I remember those days with great fondess----the innocence, the couriostiy, the willingness to let go of everything we had been taught for a brave new reality where peace and love reigned. 

Ram Das had gone home to try to get some sleep, when the phone rang, and a woman who had been at the event called.  She was having a "bad trip" as we used to say, and began screaming for help form Ram Das and having an emotional meltdown.  As Ram Das tells the story, he simply asked the woman if she would kindly as the person who was wise and caring enough to dial the phone in the first place to please get on the phone.  The woman immediately calmed down and began to speak about her feelings, rather than being over identified with them.

Lesson #1: We must have a non-judgmental witness to our experience if we are to become free from the identifications of our ego.  This one skill alone can shift your perception and invite miracles into your life.

The other story I recall so well is when Ram Das shares what he's learned from being in the dark well of depair.  Imagine, he says, you are at the bottom of a darkwell that is so steep and so slippery, that you see no way out.  But then you visualize finding a thread, that you begin to follow, in the dark.  That thread becomes a string, and that string becomes a rope, and before long, you are climbing that rope up into the sunlight.

He was masterful at painting the picutre of the human condition.

Lesson #2: Enlightenment is a process of following the thread with unbending faith.  Every effort is rewarded.  In this time of the quick fix and instant messaging, this is essential to remember.

I tucked these lessons into the expanding treasure chest filled with gems of teachings from various teachers that had touched my heart and resonated with my soul.  I used them in my life, I taught them in my pratice.

I met Ram Das for real one day, per chance, as close as you are to whatever you are reading at this moment.  It was in the Lisner Auditorium, in Washington DC, at least 10 years ago, and it was one of his first appearances after having had his stroke.

He was wheeled onto the stage and sat there---for a long time---a very long time---enough time to make some people uncomfortable. He was smiling broadly, his crystal blue eyes beaming, radiating love.

Some people wanted Ram Das the lecturer.  He was gone.

I could have stayed with him smiling forever.

He spoke that day about feeling very discouraged, angry and sad that he was so debilitated.  It made many people in that auditorium so uncomfortable that one woman finally told Ram Dass that he should'nt feel that way after all his enlightenment.

He fiercely exclamined, "That doesn't help me.  You are denying my experience.  This is really hard and I want you to know it.  I am working it out, but what I need is your love and understanding.  Don't try to change what is."

You could hear a pin drop.

I cried. And cried.  And cried.

I knew that feeling, of someone wanting me to be different than I was.

I felt so connected to Ram Das, again.

Before long, the event was over, and someone announced that Ram Das would be wheeled over to the side door and people could gather into a line and have a meeting with him.  My friend stayed, but I felt very full, and began to leave, with deep gratitude.

Just as I was about toexit the theater, Ram Das was coming through the door, and we were inches from each other.

He looked a me with the BIGGEST BLUE EYES and said, "Hi.  How are you?" as if he had been waiting for that moment.

I said, "I am great.  How are you Ram Das?"

"Right now, really good," he responded.

We smiled.

Fast forward to today, when I heard Ram Das speak again, now 85. amd still very limited from the stroke he suffered years before.  It was a heart transmission from his soul.

You still have an opportunityto listen to him here, on the webinar called Relaxing Into Aging: How To Befrined The Changes With Humor, Grace And Lightness of Being.

Today, Ram Das said that once he began to see the grace that was unfolding due to the stroke, things beganto shift.  The stroke was keeping him from driving his sports car, from travel and lecturing, and countless other activities that were of the world, that prevented him from having the time to dive more deeply into his soul.

The grace of the stroke was that now he had the time to visit other levels of consciuosness that he never would have visited---a place he calls Soul Land.

His teacher, Maharajji had taught him to "love everybody and tell the truth," and he had been on that path for years.  He said he always fell short, until the stroke.

He said that joy is a part of Soul Land. Joy lives in your soul along with love, compassion, wisdom, and peace.

He said when you are in touch with the joy of your soul, you can radiate love:

"I used to be a lecturer.  Now they wheel me onto the stageand i just sit there and love everyone, and they seem to kike it.  Once you connec to the ove and joy you radiate it, and other souls feel that.  And they aren't interested in their egos, and they to to Soul Land with you."

To live like this requires a big surrender, which he said is a "bad" word in our language, akin to resignation.  But, says Ram Das is when you surrender your identification with the past and all you could do, and you come fully present and you BE HERE NOW, in this very moment, there is joy.

And when you feel love for another person, you experience the oneness that is behind all things and that leads you to joy. You experience the truth.

Ah, it was so awesome to visit with my old friend today, along with thousands of others.  His message of BE HERE NOW applies as never before.

Imagine if we surrendered comparison between now and then, betwee Democrats and Republicans, between every kind of judgment of good an bad, and made it our very practice to be fully present, regardless of what is going on.

We might open to grace, and finally be able to love everyone and tell the truth, a last....at long last.

contact Kathleen Hanagen at (571) 305-5499 or email Kathleen@KathleenHanagan.com for more information.