Quote from a Ram Dass:
“These bodies we live in, and the ego that identifies with it, are just like the old family car. They are functional entities in which our Soul travels through our incarnation. But when they are used up, they die. The most graceful thing to do is to just allow them to die peacefully and naturally – to “let go lightly.” Through it all, who we are is Soul … and when the body and the ego are gone, the Soul will live on, because the Soul is eternal. Eventually, in some incarnation, when we’ve finished our work, our Soul can merge back into the One … back into God … back into the Infinite. In the meantime, our Soul is using bodies, egos, and personalities to work through the karma of each incarnation.”
This month the body in which I dwell turned sixty years old. It’s experienced a variety of things in that time. And in it all I seem to continue to live in the same manner in which I have for years – I am at peace with what has become my life. I have no regrets. Anything and everything that has occurred in my life over these years has served to allow me to become the person I am. I am me. I have come to love me, to be kind and compassionate to me, to be self aware of me and at peace in being with me. I am aware of my frailties and insecurities, that I am imperfect, and these have allowed me to find perfection in accepting these realities as part of who I am. I have experienced love and connection in many, many ways. I have given myself to love and connection and made it part of the fabric of my life.
Since I was a child, there’s been a voice in my heart that has told me I was not here for myself, but for others. I have learned and continue to learn how I can live my life in a way that allows me to live in love, to show compassion and loving kindness to those around me, to serve others in a way that may help to relieve their suffering by reminding them they are loved and special. To be present to each person I encounter in a way that allows them to be comfortable with who they are in my presence. To remind each person I encounter that we are connected in love as one. I have given my life to this and renew that commitment again as I turn another year older.
When I was in third grade, the teacher went around the classroom asking us what we wanted to be when we grew up. I still remember where I was sitting in the classroom when it came for me to respond. I said as a matter of fact that I was going to be a priest because I was here to help others. In my mind at the time, that was the manner in which I saw I was supposed to go. During my childhood and elementary school years I had lived with a plan to go to the preparatory seminary for high school. In eighth grade when a priest from the diocese came to our house to have me sign papers to enter the seminary, I thought long and hard for a moment, and then said that I couldn’t do it because I needed to experience life in the world around me so I knew what I may be giving up. I was very peaceful with my decision in that moment. I went through the regular high school and college route, and near the end of college and after, I lived in a manner where I did not seek to be in a relationship so that I would be single and focus on those in the world around me. I was planning to formally choose this path in life when circumstances over years led to me marrying and having a family. And after accepting myself and coming out as a gay man after those years which led to a change in my path and divorce, I eventually went back to what always seemed rooted in my heart…a path of living single for the sake of the world around me. My spirituality evolved and developed over these years where this path became more and more a part of my life. I began shaving my head each day as a daily reminder and intention that I was not here in this world for myself, but for others. I committed myself to a spiritual practice where I would live a life given in love to those in the world around me. And today, as I turn sixty, I renew that commitment.
I have reflected much over the years that one day this body in which I dwell will die. These reflections have been tempered with much joy and also with struggles in my life that could have led to an earlier end, but for some reason this bag of flesh and bones continues to go on for now. Reflecting on my death has given me great reason to be present to each moment of the life I have as much as I am able. Not every moment is glorious, but each moment is precious and filled with grace if I allow myself to be awake and see it. And the power of that realization has given me the opportunity to make a difference in the world around me one person at a time. I believe we are all connected in love in this life. Our lives have great meaning by this love and connection. It’s easy to have this truth obscured by our own stories and perspectives, by our beliefs and systems of thought. But in the end, we are of one origin, sharing this planet as part of one universe. I have tried to live in a way that shows this belief. Because of it I have held for a long time now the belief that this commitment to love and connection is the very means by which we can heal ourselves and our world.
Celebrate with me the commitment to love and connection. As I re-commit my way of life to this reality, join me and commit your way of life to love and connection.