Ram Dass and Jamie Catto Invite You Into the Joy of “Becoming Nobody”
When you were a child, you likely heard the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” From an early age, we’re encouraged to develop an identity. Yet British producer, musician and creative coach Jamie Catto’s latest film, “Becoming Nobody” invites us, through the example of the American spiritual teacher Ram Dass, to surrender our identity and discover what lies beyond it. This film is an evident labour of love for director Jamie and producer Raghu Markus. We spoke with Jamie about his relationship with Ram Dass and the message he hopes to bring forward with the film.
Parvati Magazine: This is your second film, and the subject matter seems much more personal for you. What moved you to choose this topic now?
Jamie Catto: It wasn’t really chosen now; it’s always been treasure. Everything that he talks about, it’s the eternal, timeless message that all humans need to hear about reframing adversity, how to look at life through the kindest, most patient, wise, awake eyes. He represents it in such a beautiful everyday way.
Jamie Catto: I want the connection of this incredible message to go to as many people as possible. I really resonate and feel inspired and aligned and my best self when I’m in the field of that transmission. The desire for connection is to say to everyone “Hey, look at this. Listen to this one. It will connect us all.” But I also just want to connect to them through the deepest part of myself, which is very much represented by this film.
Parvati Magazine: Is it true that you first heard Ram Dass’s teachings on an audiocassette tape after a yoga class? What in his message resonated with you so deeply, and how come?
Jamie Catto: I can’t remember what his message was. It was probably the same message he always has, which is being unapologetically human, laughing at all the melodrama, and not getting sucked in and triggered into that zombie sleep state. Most people spend their days in anxiety, strategy and manipulation and then fantasy, planning and worrying.
He never talks about getting rid of the ego. And I love that. He talks about just not having it as the master; looking at it, laughing, being patient, living through it.
Parvati Magazine: In the three decades since you first met Ram Dass, how has your commitment to his teachings evolved?
Jamie Catto: It’s his attitude that I have the commitment to spreading and embodying: kindness, lightness, un-grandiose, unpretentious, simple, sober, funny, funny, funny. Wisdom can’t exist without humor.
Parvati Magazine: Ram Dass has been teaching for almost 50 years. How did you narrow down your selections from such an abundance of archival footage to create the film?
Jamie Catto: All you can do as an artist is trust your taste and trust your inspiration. I responded to the things that moved me the most: reframing adversity as a curriculum and not being a victim in a panic; loving kindness being the cornerstone of the whole thing.
Parvati Magazine: You’ve included Ram Dass talking about some of his own hard-won lessons along his spiritual journey. Is there one lesson in particular that stands out for you? What does it mean to you?
Jamie Catto: I love the story he tells about the microphone. He was sitting in his equanimity and then arrived at a venue and saw that the microphone wasn’t the one that they requested and he seized up. He became a curmudgeonly, slightly complain-y guy. I just love that for all of us. We can do the most yoga, meditating, and self-development but it only takes one little thing and suddenly you can be automatically catapulted into a totally grumpy, unevolved being. Everyone should know that it can happen to anyone and it’s not like you’re not spiritual enough when that happens.
I love it when Pema Chodron says, “I’ve been a monk chanting for forty, fifty, maybe more years. And I have one morning with my granddaughter and the whole thing unravels.” Knowing that every human, no matter how much work they’ve done on themselves, has that vulnerability, or even laughs about that vulnerability, is one of the huge keys to a happy life. We can’t beat ourselves up.
“My purpose is to offer seekers a transformational experience, so they can be the best possible version of themselves. The Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary is our opportunity to do the same for the planet.”
– Jamie Catto
Jamie Catto is the creator, producer and director of the multi-award-winning “1 Giant Leap” films and albums, founding member of Faithless, and now leader of transformative workshops and one-on-one sessions. He draws from diverse wisdom, techniques and processes encountered in voyages across all five continents to spark professional and personal breakthroughs.
Other films to check out this month:
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”
(December 19, 2019):
J. J. Abrams (“The Last Jedi”) returns to helm this final installment of the third “Star Wars” trilogy. Rey (Daisy Ridley), Poe (Oscar Isaac), and Finn (John Boyega) are all back to take on Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order, with Luke (Mark Hamill) and Leia (Carrie Fisher in archival footage) cheering them on from beyond.
(Universal—December 20, 2019):
One of the most successful stage musicals of all time has finally been translated to the silver screen. A star-studded cast includes Taylor Swift, Dame Judi Dench, Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, and Jennifer Hudson, directed by Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”, “Les Miserables”).
(Columbia Pictures—December 25, 2019):
Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel breathes new life with Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen. Screenplay and direction by Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”).