I recently discussed my greys with a younger, attractive woman (not my wife) and asked her with a very straight demeanor, “Do you think I should dye my hair so I’ll look younger?” She paused for a moment, with an earnest look on her face, and said, “Absolutely.” I belly laughed. She didn’t.
I just turned fifty one. For over twenty years, I’ve been listening to Ram Dass talking positively about aging and dying. Today, as a result, I imagine my death every single day. Departure is what I call it. I look around and ponder, “Am I ready to go now?”
I ask myself questions like, “Have I communicated everything I want others to know? Has my love been plainly shown to the people I care about most? Have I done my best to narrate the fact that Maharaj ji is the answer to the loneliness and separation that plagues humanity?” The answer to those questions is ‘yes.’ Birthdays are always a time I reflect deeply. If today is my day to depart, I’m good.
I also muse on the things I’m still attached to, like Adriana’s smile, my children’s wellbeing, Brook’s Atocha medallion, or a cup of Cafe Britt coffee with Rude Health Rice Milk and Stevia. I think, “If the bus pulls up today for my departure can I leave all these things today without shedding a tear?” Even the coffee? More than that, am I a good enough teacher that the people I leave behind won’t cry either?
I have work left to do, a lifetimes worth of it too.
When I was a young pastor, I heard Dr. John Maxwell say at a conference, “A man’s life should be divided into three phases. The first, his education. The second, his vocation. But the third and longest part of his life should be spent investing in others. Life is not really satisfying unless you finish well, and investing in others is the most rewarding thing.” Thanks to Ram Dass and Dr. Maxwell, I’ve spent an incredible amount of time thinking about the ‘finish line.’
From the time I was a young child, I’ve had a voice in my head that I identified as other than myself. I’ve thought it was God or Jesus or The Holy Spirit throughout different phases of my spiritual journey. I learned that if I listened to it, things always worked out. And if I didn’t, some shit would likely hit the fan. The better the intentions I hold in my life, the more precisely I can discern the voice.
When I met Mahara ji Baba Neem Karoli in an Ayahuasca ceremony (https://bit.ly/AyaCR), He revealed to me that the voice had been Him all along. He showed me the first time He ever visited me in person, on my third birthday in 1973, a few hours after He left His body. All the memories I had of the voice transformed into memories that included Him. There’s never been a moment of my life that I’ve been away from Him. I remember Him holding my hand forty eight years ago today as I experienced some of my horrible karma and He’s never let go since.
This past year I binged on Om Swami books and heard him talk about the preciseness of Vedic astrology. I knew a little about it from my study of Sri Yukteswar Giri (Yogananda’s Guru) and His book ‘The Holy Science.’ In Steven Newmark’s film, ‘American Yogi’, about his meeting Maharaj ji, he visits a leaf plate reader in India with information about his family written thousands of years ago on palm leaves. Intrigued, at the beginning of 2021, I found a Vedic astrologer to consult with (that has two M.A.’s and a Ph.D.) about my future.
Last year on my birthday, I wrote about a shaman I spoke with (bit.ly/JTC50th) that said I’d live to be over a hundred if I so desired. This year, when I told the astrologer what the shaman had predicted, he disagreed and put my ‘departure’ somewhere around 88 or 89 years of age. “By that time,” he says, “I think you’ll have had enough of this birth.”
Both of them have said I’m going to depart when I want to. Both have given me numerous, very accurate predictions about my future. I kept track of what they said during our meetings and made notes on my calendar for verification. They’ve actually confirmed each other on a few significant predictions.
Yet, how useful has this information been?
Today, I recollect that all my years have been a journey with Maharaj ji (God, the Christ-Consciousness, The Divine, Hanuman) or whatever you’d like to call it. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He was there with me as a small child. He’s here in the room with me now, helping me write this essay. Whether I die today or in forty or fifty years, what’s going to change about the unchangeable Soul within me and its relationship to Maharaj-ji?
Departing souls only get freer.
Ram Dass taught about a disembodied spirit named ‘Emmanuel,’ which was channeled through a medium named Pat Rodegast. He said of Emmanuel, “He is a spook, a being of Light that has dropped his body. Emmanuel shares a lot of great wisdom. He is like an uncle to me. I once said to him, “Emmanuel, I often deal with the fear of death in this culture. What should I tell people about dying?” And Emmanuel said, “Tell them it’s absolutely SAFE!” He said, “It’s like taking off a tight shoe.”
I learned this past year that my acquired future knowledge can be exceptionally dull, and trusting Maharaj ji for the moment is exceedingly more rewarding. The more solid path and thought pattern is ensuring that I’m always ready to leave today if it’s my departure date—not imagining there’s some time left on the clock. The motivation of this moment is way better than an educated guess about future events, which are unwritten as far as John is concerned. Astrology and divination have their uses but don’t supersede ‘being here and now’ when experiencing this reality. The surprise and phenomenon of life are quite better.
Steve Jobs said, “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
At fifty one, I’m busy following Steve’s advice. I’m remembering I’m going to die, living in the moment like I’ve got nothing to lose, realizing I’m naked and following my heart where Maharaj ji resides.
And the grey? I’m not dyeing it. I show Adri photos of Deva Premal and Miten and say, “See, this is your future!” to which she replies, “Bring it on.” The hoary hairs are reminding me more and more that I’m that much closer to having the illusion removed and my faith in Divinity confirmed.