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  • Writer's pictureRon Brent

10. Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice Celebrations are a big deal for Yogi Bhajan. On top of this, he’s building a strong community base in Santa Fe. The celebration coming up in June has several significant moments for me. I’ll mention one in particular.

Among the many Solstice participants is a young man with a cassette tape recording of a recent lecture by Baba Ram Dass. Ram Dass left for India in 1967 as Dr. Richard Alpert, a discredited ex-Harvard University professor, fired as a result of his LSD experiments along with his colleague, Dr. Timothy Leary. He returned to the United States in 1969 as Baba Ram Dass, a cultural phenomenon, enrapturing audiences with his beguiling tales of India. The prominent story in this recorded lecture (and each subsequent lecture) is the extraordinary initial meeting he had with his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba. He also speaks a lot about what it was like “hanging out” with his Guru.

Ram Dass’ lectures are more like performance art than philosophical presentations. He has a unique quality that’s part stand-up comic and part Master of Ceremonies for hippy love-in’s. There’s also a good mix of chanting and meditation. Ram Dass delivers a broad range of teachings with wit, wisdom and authenticity. He has a wonderful talent for connecting with people. Just the right blend of humor and spiritual insight. Most importantly for me, he takes the seriousness out of spirituality and makes it seem like fun.

As I listen to Ram Dass on the tape I begin to reassess my attitude toward spiritual matters and the way in which I have been trying to emulate the yogi/Sikh image portrayed by Yogi Bhajan and his followers. Listening to the stories Ram Dass tells about his Guru, makes me all the more want to meet someone like Neem Karoli Baba. With plans already underway to move to Carmel, I don’t think too much about what steps to take regarding a change or finding a new teacher.

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