When I went to India five years ago, somebody came up to me and said, “Ram Dass, you’re looking so much older!” Now try that on in this culture. You’d think, “Oh my God, I didn’t get enough sun. I’d better do something – lift, tuck, push, smile more, look healthier, get radiant, take vitamins, get exercise.” I mean, you’re mind just runs the gamut of these things when somebody would say a horrible thing like that, but then I heard the tone with which he was saying it, and he was saying it with respect.
Like, “Wow, you’ve made it! Like, you’re an elder and somebody that can be listened to. You’re somebody that can be respected.”
Now, if you think aging is bad, try dying. There’s this culture’s obsession with issues of death, with capital punishment, with abortion, with inner city violence, with guns, with war, and I think there is a kind of moral crisis.
When I came back from India, I came back armed, if you will, with the fact that there were many more people who held different views of the process of dying. Now I have to for a moment go back to what had happened to me in 1961. I had gone from being a Western social scientist over the edge into another way of understanding reality, experientially, not intellectually, and without getting into all the politics of this issue and all the moral aspects of the issue, this was the result of me taking psilocybin mushrooms.