Ram Dass (1931 – 2019)


Baba Ram Dass, who epitomized the 1960s of legend by popularizing psychedelic drugs with Timothy Leary, a fellow Harvard academic, before finding spiritual inspiration in India, died on Sunday at his home on Maui, Hawaii. He was 88. His death was announced on his official Instagram account. Having returned from India as a bushy-bearded, barefoot, white-robed guru, Ram Dass, who was born Richard Alpert, became a peripatetic lecturer on New Age possibilities and a popular author of more than a dozen inspirational books. The first of his books, ‘Be Here Now’ (1971), sold more than two million copies and established him as an exuberant exponent of finding salvation through helping others. He started a foundation to combat blindness in India and Nepal, supported reforestation in Latin America, and developed health education programs for American Indians in South Dakota. He was particularly interested in the dying. He started a foundation to help people use death as a journey of spiritual awakening and spoke of establishing a self-help line, ‘Dial-a-Death,’ for this purpose. When Mr. Leary was dying in 1996 — and wishing to do it “actively and creatively,” as he put it — he called for Ram Dass. Over the years, Ram Dass had alternately been Mr. Leary’s disciple, enemy and, at the end, friend. In a film clip of the two men preparing for Mr. Leary’s death, Ram Dass turns to him, hugs him and says, ‘It’s been a hell of a dance, hasn’t it?’ A year later, Ram Dass suffered a cerebral hemorrhage that left him partly paralyzed, unable to speak and in a wheelchair. From his home in Maui, he learned to ‘surf the silence’ at first, he said, but over time he painstakingly reacquired a halting form of speech and was able to lecture on the internet and make tapes. … While working at the University of California, Berkeley, Mr. Leary had done research on psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in some species of mushrooms, and he continued the work at Harvard. Psychiatrists were interested in mind-altering drugs as clinical aids because they mimicked schizophrenia, but Mr. Leary wanted to see if they could be beneficial. He invited some friends — including Mr. Alpert and the poet Allen Ginsberg — to his house in Newton, Mass., on March 5, 1961, a Saturday. In his kitchen, he distributed 10-milligram doses of psilocybin. …”
NY Times: Baba Ram Dass, Proponent of LSD Turned New Age Guru, Dies at 88
NY Times: Ram Dass is ready to die. (Sep. 2, 2019)
GQ: The Unified Theory Of Ram Dass (Nov. 27, 2018)
Rolling Stone: Ram Dass Rides the Holy-Man’s Circuit (April 22, 1976)
W – Ram Dass
YouTube: Becoming Ram Dass | Oprah Winfrey Network (April 2012), The LSD Crisis
1960s: Days of Rage: Be Here Now – Ram Dass (1971)


“A Discussion of LSD and Consciousness Expansion” poster for an event with Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass).

About 1960s: Days of Rage

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This entry was posted in Allen Ginsberg, Books, LSD, Pacifist, Religion, Timothy Leary and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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