The following excerpt is taken from the book The Wise Heart by Jack Kornfield. I had already read about Ram Dass’s stroke on previous occasions but this sounded very suitable as a link up to my post on struggling with some limited immobility in 2010.
Joelle, a forty-seven-year-old Buddhist practitioner, developed multiple sclerosis, which progressed rapidly. In the first few years she lost her balance, then she couldn’t walk well or carry things, and finally she needed a wheelchair. As she got weaker she felt more and more apart from the world. She felt ashamed, as if there were something intrinsically wrong with her.
“Then she came to a retreat with the American spiritual teacher Ram Dass, whose books (starting with Be Here Now) and lectures have inspired generation of meditators. After more than thirty years of teaching and service to the poor, Ram Dass had had a major stroke. He too was in a wheelchair, his speech was impaired, and yet he was bright and joyful and free. He said, “If I take my body to be who I an, I am in trouble. But I have learned this is not who I am.” Joelle’s life was transformed by this encounter.