Ram Dass, 2017
acrylic on canvas
24 x 24 in
In the spring of 2017, Joan, Jackson Browne, Wavy Gravy and Kris Kristofferson performed in a benefit concert for SEVA in honor of spiritual leader Ram Dass at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center in Hawaii. SEVA’s co-founder, Ram Dass, best known for “Be Here Now,” a 1971 book that turned a generation on to alternative spirituality, yoga and meditation, lives in Maui and watched the show from a wheelchair as it raised $150,000 for SEVA’s sight-saving programs in 20 countries.
Now 86, he has been in slowly declining health since a 1997 stroke affected his speech and limited his mobility.
“When I saw him, I thought, ‘This guy’s enlightened.’ He glows, he just glows with an enlightened twinkle,” Joan says. “He can’t even turn himself over in bed at night anymore, and he knows he’s dying. I asked him, ‘Do you have pain?’ He said, ‘Lots.’ I said, ‘How is that for you?’ He told me this whole thing about how his mind does this and his body does that. And then he said, ‘And then I love it.’ I just sat and cried and held his hand.”