Subject: Review on Ram Dass' Still Here


I found the article on Ram Dass deeply interesting.

It is, of course, easier to consider disability an asset if one has fame and money. I have a deteriorating neurological problem. I am not happy to have to be dependent upon others. I do not feel remotely more spiritual for needing cars to take me on the shortest journey.

Ram Dass is lucky. Many still fall at his feet. He will be wealthy and well protected by secretaries and others who would wait on him hand, foot and finger even if he were not disabled.

I wish him no ill, indeed Still Here has been inspirational for me in many ways.

As with Krishnamurti, whom I admired very much. It is easy to be spiritual with thousands in the bank and private planes to take us anywhere.

--- Kind Wishes,
Dr Gerald Phillips

Our Reviewer Responds:

Hi, Gerald:

Thanks for your letter.

I was, I think, too harsh on Ram Dass. He suffers like the rest of us, and (I suspect) is willing to be an optimist ... at a price.

I watch my friends age, wither and die. They did not have my experience --- infectious illness of the spinal cord in 1952, loss of 60 - 70% of the body. But they still suffer mightily.

I thought what happened to me was singular. Now I know it is no more singular than the death of a bee, the pain that ultimately enmeshes all of us, next year's arrival of the spring and the singing birds.

Thus my belief in singularity was perhaps too much the effort of seeking out the mirror, not enough searching the window that looks out over the fields.


Finally, the original writer responds:


Many thanks for your reply.

It is certainly easy to think in the singular when one is ill and incapacitated.

Many years ago I was treated for a thyroid problem by a doctor who was a Rudolf Steiner follower and a great believer in anthrosophic medicine. He cured me. I remember saying to him about my health "Well there are plenty worse off than me." To which he replied, "Worrying about them won't make you feel better." This is, of course, absolutely true.

I look at people who are seriously disabled but I no longer compare my suffering with theirs. It seems pointless somehow. I have absolutely no idea how they are feeling and, likewise, they have no idea how I am feeling.

Over the years, I have done much work with the terminally ill. I have always felt it to be a privilege to be with them on this journey. I hope that when my time comes, there will be at least someone who can help me with the little things in life, which would make the passing so much more comfortable.

I think my problem with Ram Dass is the Guru status. One can join his association for a minimum of $9 per week. I'm not sure how much that is in pounds sterling. The suggestion is there that more would be appreciated. I suppose envy enters into this somewhere, for if I became short of money I could not open a website and obtain money in such a way. I feel that Ram Dass' stroke has raised him to martyr status.

Ram Dass is no guru or martyr. He is like the rest of us in his position: someone trying to get along in the best way possible.

--- Kind Wishes
Dr Gerald Phillips
(London, England)
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