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From drugs to being a ‘counter culture’ icon – the spiritual journey of Ram Dass


Spiritual teacher Ram Dass is one of the most prominent disciples of Neem Karoli Baba. Born as Richard Alpert in 1931, he is the author of the seminal work – “Be Here Now”. His spiritual calling brought him to India in 1967 where he met his Guru for the first time. It was there that he was given the name “Ram Dass”. He considered himself an atheist before this life changing encounter.

Ram Dass, spiritual pioneer, dies at 88 - Lion's Roar

In the 1960s when he was in Harvard as a Professor, Richard was involved in the therapeutic effects of psychedelic drugs. However due to the controversial nature of the subject he was dismissed from there. On his meeting Neem Karoli baba, he even gave some LSD to him as an experiment. To his utter surprise he found that it had no effect on him whatsoever. This was the start of a journey from academics to a lifelong spiritual seeker.

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On his return to America, Ram Dass travelled extensively, gave talks and held fundraisers. His book “Be Here Now” described as a “counterculture Bible” had impacted the hippie movement and the subsequent spiritual movements. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, was also greatly influenced by him and George Harrison also went on to write the lyrics of his song “Be Here Now”, being inspired by this work.

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Writing and teaching all along, he followed the path of love and service. He also founded the Hanuman Foundation in 1974 and the Seva Foundation to continue the humanitarian work of his Guru. In his later years, Ram Dass also delved into Buddhist Meditations and Jewish mystical studies.

Ram Dass passed away in 2019 at the age of 88, leaving behind a huge legacy. His life has been an inspiration, a “dharmic” journey, from drugs to true spiritual seeking. Some of his other books are Be Love Now, Polishing the Mirror: How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart and ¬†Walking Each Other Home.