Fifteen years ago, after a few very dark years I realised that I could not hide from certain traumatic life events, and decided to explore ways to move forward in life. That life looked good from the outside - a career, money, parties, but something inside was wanting something more, or, more accurately , I think it was screaming for less. An adventure with a mushroom lead to a glimpse of something profound, and sparked a period of investigating plant-based shamanism. And so I found myself attending a week’s course in plant shamanism, based at Tourne, a retreat centre and grand old house in the French Pyrenees.The course had its own facilitators, Tourne’s hosts and chefs were Ram and his wife Paula. While the course was interesting, and healing, both my wife and I agreed that the biggest impression had been left not by shamanic plants or tools or facilitators, but by the simple graceand presence (even in the face of adversity) of our chefs/hosts. The shaman who facilitated the course that week said something on the first night that did however stick with me - when you have grand experiences, look beyond the fireworks and sparkles, because that is where the real treasure lies.
So we wondered what it was that had made this impression or impact on us, was it the effect of breathing in good clean air, was it the energy of the house, land or mountains there, or was it the people holding that space? Well whaddya know? It turned out to be all three and more, and the chefs knew a trick or two about a lot more than just good food. Both my wife and I signed upsoon after to a body of work called the 100 Days, a correspondence course over two years, and began attendinggroup meetings and other retreats at Tourne and guided by Ram (meditation, tai chi, qigong, toltec encounters), and so began, what is now, a twelve year relationship.
As a student of Ram’s, what was being studied? The simple answer, for me, is that Ram has been a teacher of life and how to live it. A profound lesson in just … being. Someone who lives simply and by their word, and someone who embodies what they teach and is the example. I had just spent ten years working in advertising, a place where these values don't have much meaning, and people who practice impeccability are few!
Over the years, the tuition receivedhas been from various traditions, various forms and practices, which have reaped practical, tangible and relevant benefits, and yet what is being ultimately pointed at is somehow common to, but also beyond all traditions, forms, and practices. It took me some time for me to realise this. And what is it that is being pointed at? Have a look, see for yourself!
Ram is a fantastic storyteller, something he did professionally i believe. He weaves a web of magical words that you can get lost in and which confound your logical reasoning - which is exactly what is intended in the first place i think. When i first met him, probably 70% of what he said went whistling over my head, but when I learned to listen from my heart I started to catch a lot more!
So, a man of many hats, of many skills and talents, who offers compassion and softness, but who can also be fierce when necessary. Through the endeavours that I have seen Ram engage with, there is a receptive and creative energy present, that he states is not his, and in agreement, i would say that i recognise that energy this same creative force runs through my life, and the lives of every other created being. So even though we may both manifest, experienceand engage with this energy in different ways, there is an understanding that this creative energy does not belong to an “I” or a “me”, and that in its infinite permutations, it is available to everyone to experience and live in greater connection to, be it any sphere of creativity.