Aging into Awakening by Ram Dass
Open to a journey of growing older that’s spiritually vitalizing, joy-filled, and infused with love — no matter your age.
Discover how to laugh more, fear less, and accept everything as a blessing through the profound teachings of one of America’s most revered spiritual teachers.
No matter your age, do you find yourself resisting, resenting or even dreading the process of getting older?
You’re not alone.
In our culture, we’ve been programmed to see aging as a problem to be managed rather than a gift to be celebrated. We hide signs that we’re aging, complain about our aches, or flat-out deny it’s happening.
The truth is that the journey of aging can be one of the most important catalysts for your spiritual development and ultimate freedom of your soul.
Aging can be a time of spiritual blossoming as you make peace with the ups and downs of life, let go of ego identifications and outdated agendas, and find your way home to your true Self.
But that’s not something you can simply visualize or snap your fingers to make happen. It requires you to consciously and deliberately shift your view of aging from a source of anxiety to a source of exciting possibilities and undreamed-of opportunities.
As you begin to take aging on as an awakening practice, you can become far more radiant, happy and fulfilled than you ever imagined possible — even WITH an aching hip, fading eyesight, or receding hairline (or worse).
In many ways, each challenge that arises with aging can serve as a reminder to prioritize spirit over ego, let go of perceptions that no longer serve you, and express gratitude for all the many blessings in your life that you may be taking for granted. You will then discover that when you are determined to find blessings everywhere, blessings are just as determined to find you.
As you continue the soul work of letting go of the ephemeral and deepening your connection with the eternal, you recognize that change and growth are as enriching as they are inevitable, and you begin unearthing the gold in your golden years — nuggets of wisdom, beauty, and awakening.
You begin to see life with fresh eyes and a deeper appreciation of how every day unfolds with beauty and purpose.
An Illuminating Mentor Awaits
If you’re ready to view aging as one of the most significant opportunities for the liberation of your soul, there is no better teacher to learn from than Ram Dass, one of the world’s most beloved spiritual leaders.
Ram Dass, one of THE iconic pioneers of the sixties, is a founding figure of the hippie movement and the author of the landmark book, Be Here Now, which continues to nourish seekers worldwide to this day.
Over the years, his dedication to spiritual growth evolved into a focus on sacred service, and he became the revered elder for an entire generation.
Then, on a February day in 1997, at the age of 65, Ram Dass was blindsided by a debilitating stroke. From that day forward, he struggled with partial paralysis, aphasia, and a host of physical challenges, including chronic pain and all manner of inconveniences.
He could have viewed this as a terrible — and terribly unfair — tragedy. He could have focused on what he had lost.
Instead, he considers the stroke an act of “fierce grace” that propelled him to a higher level of self-discovery and spiritual growth.
In the crucible of his physical ailments, he demonstrated that in the peace and beauty of unconditional surrender, suffering can become a gateway to transcendence and transformation.
Ram Dass now lives with an effervescent grace, radiance, and beauty… even in a body that has been severely impaired. By aligning himself more with his spiritual essence than his body-bound ego, he’s become freer, more authentic, and, yes, more whole and complete.
Over the years, through his books, talks, and teachings, Ram Dass ushered in a new era of understanding on subjects ranging from Eastern wisdom to higher consciousness to social change. And now, through the example of his own suffering, he’s inviting us to reframe the journey of aging as a practice of awakening.
A Journey Into Freedom
In the 4-module Aging Into Awakening program, Ram Dass will light the way to transforming the heaviness that can come with the journey of aging, helping you establish a baseline of expanded lightness of being and joy.
Ram Dass’ team has curated some of his most important teachings, videos, and reflections for this program to ensure you’ll receive the essential teachings and practices you’ll need to make your own shift.
Ram Dass’ goal in offering this program is to help you flourish as you mature, and to shine with the illuminating light of your true essence.
These four modules will provide many seeds of wisdom for you to harvest and plant in the garden of your own life — seeds that promise to blossom into peace, playfulness, and joy as you navigate your own journey of growing older.
When you join us for this soul-expanding journey, you’ll not only have the chance to directly receive insights and blessings from this remarkable spiritual teacher, you’ll also benefit from in-depth insights from some of his most cherished allies and soul friends. After each module, one of these beloved allies will apply their decades of experience with Ram Dass to answer intriguing questions posed by former students.
Over the course of the four modules, you’ll:
- Understand how to graciously welcome the changes that occur as you age, even those that seem impossible to embrace
- See how the Eastern concept of aging embraces these changes, and defines the roles of elders more clearly
- Release unnecessary suffering by becoming more mindful and aware of exactly what’s happening, which opens you to direct experience rather than your mental interpretation
- Break free of the patterns of attraction and aversion that keep us caught in separateness
- See how you can witness and even enjoy the changes that come with aging while cultivating equanimity, spaciousness, and clarity through deep spiritual work
- Open to a deeper experience of your interconnectedness by recognizing the universal commonalities in the changes you’re going through
- Make peace with death and see it not as an error or failure, but as the culminating adventure of life
Too often, aging is seen in a negative light in Western culture — with our worth, contribution, and respect seemingly diminished with time.
It doesn’t have to be that way. If you’d like to discover how to embrace the gifts of aging and make your later years your “greater years” — the most spiritually meaningful time of your life — there is no wiser guide than Ram Dass.
You can make aging into a journey of liberation, laughter, and lightness of being if, like Ram Dass, you embrace it as “fierce grace.”
Aging Into Awakening gives you the wisdom and the means to make the rest of your life the best of your life.
Greater Connection Through Video
In three of the four sessions, Ram Dass’ teachings will be presented through video from his work of teachings exclusively curated for The Shift Network, ensuring an even more powerful connection and transmission. This video connection will be easy to use and will greatly increase your learning and transformation.
What You’ll Discover in These 4 Modules
In this 4-module intensive, Ram Dass and his beloved guests will guide you through the fundamental spiritual skills and competencies you’ll need to make friends with the changes that occur as you age and to transform the way you relate to death.
Each contemplation and training session will build harmoniously upon the previous ones so you’ll develop a complete holistic understanding of the practices, tools and principles you’ll need to sustain your humor, honesty and connection to the reality of the aging process while building a community of interconnectedness with other like-minded individuals.
The course modules will consist of a one-hour video or audio teaching from Ram Dass followed by a 30-minute contemplation guided by a different guest faculty who is one of Ram Dass’ beloved associates who have collaborated with him for many years.
Module 1: The Nature of Aging as Change
Change is all around us; we are fascinated by it. But when it comes to aging — when change starts to happen to who we think we are — the fascination turns to fear. What’s more, our zeal for independence and individuality has separated us from the structures of family, community and nature that give meaning to aging. We are so heavily identified with our physical form that our resistance to aging becomes a burden on our soul. Is there a place to stand in relation to the changes of aging that is not rooted in fear?
In this module, you’ll explore:
- How we’re living in a system that’s out of balance and treats aging as a problem
- How the Eastern concept of aging embraces the changes that come with aging, and how they clearly define the roles of elders
- The physical changes associated with aging, and how it’s possible to break out of identification with our physical form
- The psychological changes associated with aging, and the way we struggle to maintain emotional security by clinging to the past, rather than embracing the present; in other words, we can learn to Be Here Now
- A meditation for using purposeful breathing to let go of things that prevent you from knowing your soul — so you can access your true nature
- How it’s possible to witness and even enjoy the changes that come with aging while cultivating equanimity, spaciousness and clarity through deep spiritual work
Deeper Insights With Raghu Markus
Raghu Markus currently is the Director of Ram Dass’ Love Serve Remember Foundation and the Host of the Mindrolling Podcast on the Be Here Now Network. Raghu spent two years in India with Maharaj-ji and Ram Dass. He’s been involved in music and transformational media since the early 1970s when he was program director of CKGM-FM in Montreal. In 1974, he collaborated with Ram Dass on the box set, Love Serve Remember. In 1990, he launched Triloka Records and Karuna Music in Los Angeles, California. Triloka established itself as a critical leader in the development of world music, and for 17 years was home to artists such as Krishna Das, Hugh Masekela, Walela, Jai Uttal and transformational media projects featuring Ram Dass, Deepak Chopra and Les Nubians. He owns Yatra Media and lives with his wife in Asheville, North Carolina.
Module 2: Awareness & the Shift From Ego to Soul
How can you shift from identifying with your ego to identifying with your soul? It’s only through identification with your soul that you can face aging and death without fear. If you’re identified with your ego, the combined self-image of your body and mind, then you’re destined to face the perils of aging in a constant state of suffering.
In this module, you’ll discover:
- The difference between the soul and ego structures
- The planes of awareness and consciousness, and how you need to “change the channel” in order to shift your perspective
- How to break free of the patterns of attractions and aversions that keep you caught in separateness
- The concept of the “witness,” a tool to help grow your awareness
- A one-pointed concentration meditation to quiet the mind and relax tension in the body so you can access deep awareness
- How the aging process becomes grist for the mill of your soul’s awakening and is part of the curriculum of your soul’s work
Deeper Insights With Mirabai Starr
Mirabai Starr writes creative nonfiction and contemporary translations of sacred literature, especially the Spanish mystics, John of the Cross (Dark Night of the Soul) and Teresa of Avila (The Interior Castle and The Book of My Life). She taught Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years and now teaches and speaks internationally on contemplative practice and inter-spiritual dialog. Mirabai met Ram Dass in 1975 at the Lama Foundation when she was fourteen, and has been a devotee of Neem Karoli Baba ever since. Her book, Caravan of No Despair: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation, dedicated to Ram Dass, received the Spirituality & Practice “Best Books of 2015” award. God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity & Islam, also the winner of numerous awards, is dedicated to Maharaj-ji. She lives with her extended family in Taos, New Mexico, home to the wondrous Hanuman Temple and the only Neem Karoli Baba ashram in the West.
Module 3: Reflections on Suffering & the Value of Elder Wisdom
Pain and suffering are everywhere we look these days; it’s easy to start drowning in it. Is it possible to stay present in the midst of suffering and keep your heart open? How can we deal with the suffering caused by aging in a society that ignores the collective knowledge of our elders? The currency of the wisdom of age has been devalued by a youth-dominated culture.
In this module, you’ll contemplate how:
- There is a high cost to armoring our heart against suffering… and an ecstasy in embracing everything
- Bearing the unbearable is the root of the deepest compassion in the world
- For an awakened person, suffering is grace and can help foster spiritual growth
- Our society, unlike more traditional cultures, does not articulate or encourage socially relevant roles and curriculum for somebody that’s aging, because we do not treat aging as a separate stage of life
- We can access our intuitive wisdom to empty and quiet the mind, and become reflective rather than reactive
- Through the building of a community of people who are committed to exploring aging, we can redefine the curriculum of aging
- To perform a mindfulness meditation to experience the rising, existing, and passing away of each moment
Deeper Insights With Rameshwar Das Lytton
Rameshwar Das (James) Lytton met Ram Dass in 1967, soon after his return from India, and spent time with Maharaj-ji in India from 1970 to 1972. His principal vocation has been photography, working primarily on a freelance basis, including for the New York Times. He’s taught photography and photojournalism, and has also worked as an environmentalist and writer. Over the years, Ramesh has collaborated on several projects with Ram Dass, including the original collection of manuscripts that became Be Here Now and the Love Serve Remember box set of recordings. He is the co-author of Ram Dass’ newer books, Be Love Now and Polishing the Mirror. He lives with his wife and children on Long Island in New York.
How can our spiritual work best prepare us for death? Perhaps no one has more experience on this subject than Ram Dass, who has worked with countless dying people in a quest to demystify the subject of death. Ultimately, his experiences have taught us how to approach the mystery of death with a spaciousness that allows us to see it as part of the process of life, rather than simply the “the end.”
In this module, you’ll explore how:
- The medical profession sees death as failure and as the enemy, while the hospice movement is at least useful as a psychologically supportive environment
- People who are dying — when given the space to explore and be conscious about it — can use the process as an opportunity for spiritual awakening
- Working with death and dying can be incredible grace; it gives us the opportunity to be in the presence of truth
- Death is part of the process of life; nobody dies a moment before their time, and nobody remains a moment after their time — it’s all part of the lawfulness of nature
- We can make peace with death and see it not as an error or failure, but as the culminating adventure of life!
- To perform a crossing-over meditation in which you will learn to experience coming and going as one
Deeper Insights With Mirabai Bush
Mirabai Bush is co-author, with Ram Dass, of Compassion in Action: Setting Out on the Path of Service. She is a devotee of Maharaj-ji and spent time with him in India from 1971 to 1972. She is also Senior Fellow and founder of the Center on Contemplative Mind in Society, which encourages contemplative practice and perspective in American life in order to create a more just, compassionate and reflective society. Mirabai has also worked with Google on a workplace course called Search Inside Yourself and with the US Army on a program for chaplains and medics. She formerly directed the Seva Foundation Guatemala Project, which supports sustainable agriculture and integrated community development. She is editor of Contemplation Nation, co-author of Contemplative Practices in Higher Education, and author of the audio, Working With Mindfulness. She lives with her partner in Western Massachusetts.