I first read Be Here Now by Ram Dass in 1991 while backpacking in India. It propelled me on my spiritual journey. So, earlier this year, when a friend told me about a weeklong retreat with Ram Dass in Maui, I signed up. I would stay in a guesthouse on his property and see him twice; once on the first day and again on the last day of the retreat. The rest of the time, I’d be on my own.
I felt nervous meeting the spiritual teacher who’d had such an influence on me. In the morning of the first day, a knock came at the door. Looking up, I saw Ram Dass through the screen.
“Can I come in?”
“Of course!” I said, as my heart beat fast.
He sat quietly, looking at me with his deep blue eyes. I relaxed in his loving presence. He didn’t “teach” or talk of spiritual things. He asked me about my family and my life, listened attentively, laughing a lot as I told him my story. Two beautiful hours passed. I felt happy being with him.
The next morning after meditation and breakfast, another knock came. There was Ram Dass again looking at me through the screen door with mischievous eyes.
“Surprised?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said. “Please come in. I’m happy to see you.” We sat in silence, sipping fresh ginger tea.
“I’m here because of him.” He pointed at a portrait of his guru Neem Karoli Baba. “He wanted me to tell you something.” I sat quietly, my heart open. Leaning forward, he said, “He wants you. If you want him, he’s yours.”
It felt like lightning struck. Looking deeply at Maharaji, for a moment I saw my grandfather’s face. My grandfather loved me unconditionally. After he died, I talked to his picture on my wall. I can still feel our connection and his love to this day. Now, I felt the same love from Maharaji, and Ram Dass, too.
“You have his Ashirbad for writing your book,” he said.
He laughed. “That’s what I asked when a silent yogi wrote it on the blackboard for me. It was Maharaji’s blessing to me to write Be Here Now.”
It took me a moment to realize Maharaji was blessing my book. It broke my heart open. It seemed my whole life led to this moment. Everything made sense.
Ram Dass came to my room every day that week. He’s such a beautiful soul. I laughed and cried a lot in his presence. On the last day, I cooked a five-course vegan feast for him and his friends. I was so touched when he arrived wearing a blue suit, as if it was a special occasion. We all savored the meal one bite at a time. Ram Dass kept saying, “Oooohh, yum yum yum, I can taste Maharaji’s love.”
Many weeks later, I can still taste the love.