Book Review- How Can I help?


How Can I Help? Stories and Reflections on Service -Ram Dass and Paul Gorman

This book is an well-written account of different ways to be of service. It explains various facets of offering “help” and being a conduit of healing for people as this can show up in many different ways. It offers personal accounts from many people during a variety of situations. This books speaks of the compassion, joy and hardships that are associated with dedicating yourself to others. It sometimes seems to be a bit redundant and I felt like I was less engaged as the book wandered on. It does shed light on the necessity of helping and caring for others, whether it be friends, family, community members or strangers, and the many ways it can be offered.

This book was littered with gems and mantras that could be meditated on for many moons. “No step is lost on this path... and even a little progress is freedom from fear. The reward, the real grace, of conscious service, then is the opportunity not only to help relieve suffering but to grow in wisdom, experience greater untiy, and have a good time while we're doing it.”( pg. 16) A good reminder to find joy in all things.

It also reminded me to look away from disease states and deeper into the life of the person that is needing help. It is a good reminder that we are all connected as a human race. “Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” (pg. 20)

I think it is a great book for anyone thinking about entering into the medical profession. It helped me to look beyond my expectations of what help should look like and tap more into what help is actually needed in that particular situation. I can also see offering this book to patients that are feeling helpless in others times of need. It shows how even little acts of kindness go very far.

Dass, R., Gorman, P. (1985). How can I help?: Stories and reflections on service. New York: Knopf.