Saturday, July 31, 2010


note: the following blog post will be split into 6 installments and each will be posted in roughly 2 day intervals beginning August 1st 2010. your comments are welcome below.


post date: Aug 1, 2010

I had my heart broken on Maui.

Broken open.

The story starts with a wedding invitation. Suspiciously, the invitation only went out about a month before the event. Amongst other things, because of that I sensed something special must be could say I was suspicious it might be auspicious.

Backing up a bit, 30 years ago today (August 1st 1980 - still have the receipt) I bought a book - on a lark, really - from the Carriage House bookstore in Richmond Virginia. That same copy of the book has been on my coffee table almost continuously in the 30 years since. At the time I understood little about what the content was, but I knew it was about Eastern spirituality, and the middle of the book was filled with really cool psychedelic illustrations. Since that time, my understanding has grown, and it has been a resource to return to for inspiration and guidance about the tenets of one of the oldest spiritual systems on the planet.

That publication was written 40 years ago by a man named Baba Ram Dass, pictured here at home on July 26th 2010 at the wedding rehearsal:
Ram Dass had been a professor called Richard Alpert at Harvard, and had various research grants with prestigious institutions like Yale and Stanford. He was at the top of his field. In the early 60's, he met and worked with Timothy Leary, and Aldous Huxley and started experimenting with various psychotropic substances, especially as a way of elevating consciousness and spirituality. He was also heavily influenced by ideas of eastern spirituality, and in 1967, disillusioned by his life as it was, he left and traveled to India. He lived in the tutelage of the Maharaj-ji, a spiritual leader in India, who passed away in 1973. He spent a number of years there, and there he took the name Baba Ram Dass.

The book he wrote, "Remember: Be Here Now", is considered a classic of eastern spiritual thought. As I sit in the Maui airport typing this, I have that very same copy purchased in 1980 in my carry on luggage, my cover is below:

A number of people who were in that place along with Ram Dass in India during that time period with the Maharaj-ji some 40 plus years ago were in Maui this week for a 40 year reunion of the book's publishing. Ram Dass himself, who is now 79 years old, lives on Maui now, and hosted this event at his home.

I have had a friend since high school originally named Robin Eisen. (Hiking with her on Maui earlier this week):

Robin has grown and flowered in ways that astound me constantly. She is also stunningly beautiful in the physical sense (as well as the inner sense), and the years have been kind to her in both aspects. Also, I am a friend of her family's, as well as of her. Her brother Danny and I have been friends for over 30 years also, and saw each other daily from our college days in the early '80's until he left New York for San Diego in the mid '90's. In the late '80's, I escaped New York under despair of a failing relationship and stayed with Robin's mother for over a week, and she consoled me and provided me companionship and solace while I built shelves in her new apartment. I mention that because I can't imagine staying with anybody else's mother like that. The entire family are special, full of good energy and positive vibes. Some of the best people I've ever known, or can even imagine knowing.

Robin has been on a spiritual path in this lineage that Ram Dass represents for some time. In fact, several years ago, she traveled to the same place in India as Ram Dass and his group, and was given the name 'Saraswati' by an heir of the Maharaj-ji's. With respect, I will refer to her in these posts as 'Saraswati' from here on out. Saraswati has also been deepening her relationship with her partner Raghu, and they decided to marry. Raghu was one of those people staying in India when Ram Dass was there, and is good friends with him, and takes a part in running the affairs of the good works their foundation does. I was deeply honored to be invited to Maui to share in their ceremony, and to share in their Satsang (community), for the 6 days that I was there.

note: Some of the above historical facts may be a little inaccurate, especially dates - it's basically the story as I understand it. I urge you to seek out other sources for better info, this is just for background.

When I first got the invitation, I was finding all sort of fear coming up. For example, did Saraswati really want me there? How would I (unworthy me) interact with these amazing people? What about the money, and logistics? What about emotional equilibrium (like ego)? I talked to a trusted advisor, I ran it by my friends, and in the end, decided to take the leap. This was to be a pilgrimage for me, and I sensed it could be a turning point in my emotional life.

That was the biggest fear of all. All of those emotional layers are so tightly coiled and wrapped - trying to keep it together. Life for some of us is a fight to keep it together isn't it? Tight. as. possible - avoiding the dance so you don't look silly, avoiding your tears so you don't look stupid. We can't let others see these things, or they find out you're silly, or a whimp, or unwanted, whatever.

What would it be like to give all that up?

I ran it by Saraswati in an email…you really want me there? She wrote me back: "You are just so funny! I would love for you to be there. You are someone who has threaded through my entire life in a very unexpected and sweet and meaningful way."

OK. I guess that's not the problem?

In the early morning of July 24th as I I stepped on the plane at Newark airport, all those fears were very much in the backseat, and a sense of adventure was the primary feeling. Like a parcel put in the mail…it's out of my hands now……

…and I was about to have my heart broken…