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Lions Roar : January 2014
IT WAS 1973 AND RAM DASS was giving a lecture at Winter- land, the famed music venue in San Francisco. The hall was full, as they always were in those days, and Ram Dass was getting ready to speak. I was walking through, welcoming people and greeting old friends, my toddler son, Owen, holding my hand. There were men and women in business suits, hippies in rain- bow clothes, American Sikhs in turbans, and the spiritual gang in flowing white. The center floor was open, and people were setting up their meditation pillows and sleeping bags, knowing Ram Dass would go until morning. After hugging an old friend, I turned to see that Owen was no longer next to me. I looked around. Gone. I panicked. He could wander out into the middle of downtown San Francisco! I found the security guards and told them to watch for him, then I started moving around the PHOTOCOURTESYOFHARPERCOLLINSCANADA room. At last, across a sea of people, I saw him, his little head pressed up against a giant speaker. He, like millions of others over the years, was listening as fully as he could to Ram Dass: “In a gathering like this, it is no longer sufficient just to talk about it. Now we have to become it.... If we come with the cer- tainty that we already know and that what we have is enough, then even though we hear the words, we will not receive the transmission...” It was at those gatherings—in what collaborator Stephen Levine calls “the direct, charismatic, air medium of the oral tradition”—that many people heard the teachings that became Grist for the Mill, now newly updated, following closely on the heels of Polishing the Mirror: How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart. Ram Dass, in a style that is part stand-up comic and part Harvard professor, uses stories from his own life to illustrate a truth, often learned though hilarious difficulty and resulting in a new humility. Once I asked him about his use of stories. He said, “Stories break through into heart spaces. And spiritual matters Being Here Ram Dass has led a long and adventurous life, one of loving and being loved. Fellow seeker MIRABAI BUSH recalls firsthand the patience, humor, and grace of one of our most influential spiritual figures. GRIST FOR THE MILL: Awakening to Oneness By Ram Dass with Stephen Levine HarperOne 2014; 256 pp., $15.99 (paper) Reviews 71 SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2014