Ram Dass first went to India in 1967.He was still Dr. Richard Alpert, a prominent Harvard psychologist and psychedelic pioneer with Dr. Timothy Leary. He continued his psychedelic research until that fateful Eastern trip in 1967, when he traveled to India. 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’ spirit has been a guiding light for three generations, carrying along millions on the journey, helping to free them from their bonds as he works 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 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, and 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. This naturally led him eastward to the traditional headwater of mystical rivers, India. Once there, a series of seeming coincidences led him to Neem Karoli Baba and the transformation from Richard Alpert to Ram Dass.
In 1974, Ram Dass created the Hanuman Foundation, a non-profit foundation meant to embody the spirit of service inspired his Guru. The Hanuman Foundation developed the Prison-Ashram Project, directed by Bo and Sita Lozoff, which helped prison inmates grow spiritually during their incarceration and the Dying Project, conceived with Stephen Levine, which helped many bring awareness and compassion to the encounter with death. Also as part of the Hanuman Foundation, Dale Borglum founded and directed the Dying Center in Santa Fe, the first residential facility in the United States whose purpose was to support conscious dying. The Prison-Ashram Project, now called the Human Kindness Foundation, continues under Sita Lozoff in North Carolina and the Living/Dying Project, now a separate non-profit headed by Dale Borglum in the Bay Area, provides support for transforming the encounter with life-threatening illness into an opportunity for spiritual awakening.
Ram Dass has dedicated his life to reaching out and sharing his teachings across the world. The Love Serve Remember Foundation offers a range of loving resources, including over 100 podcasts, guided meditations, words of wisdom, a free app for Android/iOS and more. For generations, Ram Dass’ work continues to be a path of inspiration for people across all walks of life.
Learn to Love Everyone like Ram Dass
Spiritual practices are designed to awaken us out of separateness into connection with all things, with Spirit, God, the One. Ram Dass provides us with a range of loving resources and methods that take us out of our separateness into our awareness or oneness. We strive to enter a balance where we are both separate and not separate, a paradoxical reflection of the spiritual path. The cornerstone of Ram Dass’ philosophy and teachings is designed to bring us back to the one behind many.
There is no doubt that throughout our modern lives, thoughts, emotions and sensations will surface constantly and disturb our essential peace. How does one deal with things like anxiety, stress and depression, as they are an inevitable part of our spiritual path? When we are carried away by pleasurable experiences, or avoid unpleasant experiences, we reinforce our ego. Our ego is structured to seek pleasure and avoid pain and so we can use our practice to let go of attachment to our thoughts, emotions and sensations to get free and begin to shift perspective to our soul.
Love is the emotion of merging and becoming one. Love and compassion is being with another’s suffering and experiencing our interrelatedness in the most direct way by opening our hearts to one another. Spiritually, compassion is a profound issue. When we think of compassion, mostly we think of empathy and of seeing suffering. However, from a spiritual point of view, empathy is balanced by an appreciation of the reality that lies behind the appearance. Compassion involves a kind of paradox. When we respond from our human heart to another person’s suffering, we can experience incredible pain. Some individuals’ suffering is their route through to awakening. From that loving perspective, the universe is a set of unfolding laws and there are no errors of accidents. It is all perfect. One of the cornerstones of Ram Dass’ philosophy and teachings revolves around how to keep your heart open while cultivating our existence. We cannot take away the world’s suffering but at the same time, we are a part of the world’s healing and compassion. We are just another one of the forces in the universe.
The Love Serve Remember Foundation is a non-profit 501c3 foundation, established on behalf of Ram Dass philosophy and teachings. Proceeds from all events, retreats and website donations support Ram Dass’ legacy on healing and loving.