In 1961, while at Harvard, explorations of human consciousness led him, in collaboration with Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, Aldous Huxley, and Allen Ginsberg, to pursue intensive research with psilocybin, LSD-25, and other psychedelic chemicals. Out of this research came two books: The Psychedelic Experience (co-authored with Leary and Metzner, based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead, published by University Books); and LSD (with Sidney Cohen and Lawrence Schiller, published by New American Library). Because of the highly controversial nature of their research, Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary became personae non grata and were dismissed from Harvard in 1963. Tim Leary and Alpert then went to Mexico, ate mushrooms, and went from being academics to counter culture icons, legends in their own time, and young at that. For Ram Dass psychedelic work turned out to be a prelude to the mystical country of the spirit and the source of consciousness itself. Mind expansion via chemical substances became a catalyst for the spiritual seeking.
Ram Dass first went to India in 1967. In India, he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, affectionately known as Maharajji, who gave Ram Dass his name, which means “servant of God.” Everything changed then – his intense dharmic life started, and he became a pivotal influence on a culture that has reverberated with the words “Be Here Now” ever since. Ram Dass’s spirit has been a guiding light for three generations, carrying along millions on the journey, helping free them from their bonds as he has worked his way through his own.
Since 1968, Ram Dass has pursued a panoramic array of spiritual methods and practices from potent ancient wisdom traditions, including bhakti or devotional yoga focused on the Hindu deity Hanuman; Buddhist meditation in the Theravadin, Mahayana Tibetan and Zen Buddhist schools, and Sufi and Jewish mystical studies. Perhaps most significantly, his practice of karma yoga or spiritual service has opened up millions of other souls to their deep, yet individuated spiritual practice and path. Ram Dass continues to uphold the boddhisatva ideal for others through his compassionate sharing of true knowledge and vision. His unique skill in getting people to cut through and feel divine love without dogma is still a positive influence on many people from all over the planet.
In 1974, Ram Dass created the Hanuman Foundation, a non-profit meant to embody what he had absorbed from his Guru. Hanuman Foundation developed the Prison Ashram Project, designed to help prison inmates grow spiritually during their incarceration, and the Dying Project helped many cope and transcend, taking the unnecessary sting out of the tail of life and giving people a way to deal with suffering and death.
Ram Dass is a co-founder and advisory board member of the Seva Foundation (“seva” means “spiritual service” in Sanskrit), an international service organization. Seva supports programs designed to help wipe out curable blindness in India and Nepal, restore the agricultural life of impoverished villagers in Guatemala, assist in primary health care for American Indians, and to bring attention to the issues of homelessness and environmental degradation in the United States, along with other nations.
Ram Dass now resides on Maui, where he shares his teachings through the internet and through retreats on Maui. His work continues to be a path of inspiration to his old students and friends as well as young people who are just discovering the path of Being Here Now. His most recent book, “Be Love Now” (2010) follows the track of his own heart awakening and his quest to embody the unconditional love that he experienced with his guru Neem Karoli Baba.… More