Monday, January 22, 2007

Ram Dass

I saw Ram Dass speak this weekend.* He was not much more than a famous name to me before, but I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to see for myself why he was famous, and whether he had anything to share that I might want to learn.

His manner of speaking was unusual. Most speakers rush to fill every second with words. His rate of delivery was glacially slow, maybe 10 words per minute sometimes. I wondered at first if this were due to some age- or disease-related issue, or deliberate. I wondered if he was just making this up as he went along, and waiting for the words to come to him. I had time in between words to wonder about a lot of things, and to think about the actual words and their meaning, and why he was giving each one so much importance. I think it was a way of letting us experience living in the now, living each moment, really hearing each word. He never said, "Just live in the now", though he wrote a book called Be Here Now, which I assume conveys that message. He created a space for us to actually experience it. This is what the very best teachers do: design an experience so students can create their own learning. This is what I aspire to do in my teaching and facilitation. There were other master teachers at the event, who used their manner of presentation (body language, rate of delivery, repetition, emphasis) to deliver their message more powerfully than through their words alone. I have a lot to learn.

* See my post on HonuaOla, below.


honuaola said...

Yeah, well Ram Dass had huge stroke a few years ago. He has been, and continues to be, in therapy to regain his speech and movement. I agree with your comments; the power of silence, and of breath, can outweigh the words, but he had good words too. Love your site too! Mahalo - wyatt

IdeaMapper said...

Thanks for the info; I didn't know he'd had a stroke. Makes sense. Yes, his comments were powerful and thought-provoking: I found myself thinking about them for several days afterward. Mahalo!