The Mother Divine
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Book Review
Author: Ram Dass
Reviewed by: Aaron Pascoe

Be Love Now, by Ram Dass highlighted the deep and rich world of Indian spirituality against the cold and sterile world of American delusion and want.  In reading Ram Dass’, Be Love Now, he describes the foundation of the relationship between the self and spirituality, as well as the relationship that exists between a Guru and a student.  The process of being a “witness” in which Ram Dass states, “the witness in me isn’t trying to change any of the other me’s… it just observes it is that place inside you it is your cantering device, your rudder (Ram Dass & Das, 2010, p. 25).” Ram Dass gives examples of his beloved Guru and the amazing experiences that he has witnessed and encountered thorough his Guru.  Ram Dass’ Guru, Maharaj-ji, not only inspired him but as he states, “What the Beloved, your Guru, reveals to you is your own soul” (Ram Dass & Das, 2010, p. 55).  He talks about the experience of unconditional love being not only felt but experienced.  In venturing inward and stripping the self of the ego we open our lives to this unconditional love for not only ourselves but for all the world.  This changes our encounter with the world and by consequence the meaning of this encounter. 

In reading Ram Dass’ book I was taken at times with how he described this feeling of unconditional love and the power behind the relationship with his Beloved Guru Maharaj-ji.  Here in the U.S. we have very little depth in terms of spiritual practice.  In my own life most times I feel like it is up to me to discover a spiritual path.  This discovery it seems happens mostly in the dark and thorough stumbling and bumping into things.  It is a process of losing oneself in the material world and drowning in the shallow and material aspects of this American life to the point of total numbness and separation.  Then at some point you connect with something powerful and it jolts that soul awake for a brief period and everything crystalizes and one can feel the spirit fill you up.  Then you look around and from this clear space you can see the tidal wave that is American materialism, greed, and self-ascribed superiority coming to wash you away and drown you out into obscurity.  I spend most of my time feeling like a savage beast in a society of hungry ghosts, of which I am one, endlessly consuming.  Most of what glitters and appears glamorous just turns to ash in your mouth.   When reading about how Ram Dass describes this feeling of unconditional love I imagine it feels freeing, like releasing all those things that one carries with them and just feeling totally seen.  No hiding necessary, no shame, just humanity standing in grace and acceptance. 

This book made me curious about Gurus and if they all have powers like Maharaj-ji.  It made me wonder about my Karma and if I will ever find that sense of peace and wonder in this life. I started to wonder if I could find my way beyond this ego-self, which can be so vicious and self-absorbed, but also so critical and self-deprecating.  In my studies on Buddhist thought and in my practice of meditation I feel I have only touched on this feeling in rare and few moments, but I don’t doubt that it can transform and change one in profound ways.  Ram Dass talks a lot about this process of transformation or attunement with the divine and the processes and ways one can practice toward this aim.  Ram Dass mentions that he couldn’t get to his “spiritual heart through my rational mind” (Ram Dass & Das, 2010).  That statement resonated with me as I often feel that my head gets in the way of my heart and they are just out of sync. 

Since my trip to India I have felt a strong pull toward Shiva and Kali, but in the past few months have realized that all these wonderful spiritual forms are different manifestations of the One.  They have, so many of them, come into my consciousness at different points and I have felt their love and presence to a degree, but there was always something that got in the way of fully falling into that unconditional ocean of love.  Ram Das helped me understand the connections and the possibilities that await on the spiritual path.  He highlighted his experiences and realizations in a way that helped me understand more about the spiritual life and the presence of the divine.

Aaron Pascoe, the reviewer, is a Masters of Clinical Psychology Graduate Student in the United States. He hopes to one day combine his dedication to spiritual growth, and nurturing personal development, with his counselling services.