I got my Tufts Magazine yesterday and was absently flipping through it after dinner when a photo on the back cover caught my eye. A twinkly eyed, white-bearded, bare-chested septugenarian smiled from the sparkly turquoise water of what appeared to be a gunnite swimming pool.
“What’s Ram Das doing in Tufts Magazine?” it teased.
Why, “the backstroke,” of course.
Haha, Tufts Magazine! Good one. In fact, so good, that it drew me right in, and I immediately flipped to page 16 to the article entitled The Ultimate Trip and devoured it. From the article:
Ram Dass communicated Eastern precepts in a language Westerners could understand. He would run down Buddha’s four Noble Truths and keep the audience with him all the way. The first truth, he said, is that all life is suffering, because it’s in time. “Birth, death, not getting what you want, even getting what you want means suffering because you’ll lose it, in time.” The second truth is that the cause of suffering is desire or attachment. “If you don’t try to hold on, you don’t suffer over the loss.” So the third noble truth is: “Give up attachment; give up desire and you end the suffering, the whole thing that keeps you stuck.” The fourth truth is Buddha’s eightfold path for giving up attachment, which Ram Dass summarized in a phrase that clicked instantly with Western minds: “Work on yourself.”
The eight-fold path (akin to the Eight Limbs of Yoga) as “Work on yourself”….simple and brilliant.