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Ram Dass
Photographer Unknown
Ram Dass
Photographer Unknown
Ram Dass
Photo from Stolaroff Collection
© 2009
Erowid Character Vaults
Ram Dass
(Richard Alpert)
Richard Alpert was born in 1931, the son of a wealthy lawyer who was the president of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company and the first Chairman of the Brandeis University Board of Trustees. Alpert studied psychology and earned an M.A. from Wesleyan and a Ph.D. from Stanford. From 1958 to 1963, he taught and conducted research at the Department of Social Relations and the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.

While at Harvard, Alpert's explorations of human consciousness led him to conduct intensive research with LSD and other psychedelic elements, in collaboration with Timothy Leary, Aldous Huxley, Allen Ginsberg, and others. Because of the controversial nature of this research, both he and Leary were dismissed from Harvard in 1963.

In 1967 he traveled to India where he met the spiritual teacher, Neem Karoli Baba. Under his guru's guidance, he studied yoga and meditation and received the name Ram Dass, or "servant of God." Since 1968, he has pursued a variety of spiritual practices, including Hinduism, karma, yoga and Sufism. His book Be Here Now brought him further into the public eye in 1971.

In 1974, Ram Dass created the Hanuman Foundation, which has developed many projects, including the "Prison-Ashram Project," designed to help inmates grow spiritually during incarceration, and the "Living Dying Project," which provides support for conscious dying. He is also a co-founder and board member of the Seva Foundation ("service," in Sanskrit), an international organization dedicated to relieving suffering in the world. (Mystic Fire)

In 1997, Ram Dass suffered a stroke which paralyzed the right side of his body and significantly affected his ability to speak. Despite this challenge, he continues to teach, write and lecture.

Through the 2000s, Ram Dass was largely wheel chair bound, but continued to be involved in intellectual projects and supporting a variety of endeavors. He died on December 22, 2019 on Maui, Hawaii.
Author of (Books)
  • Birth of a Psychedelic Culture (2009)
  • Paths to God: Living the Bhagavad Gita (2004)
  • Fierce Grace (2002)
  • One-Liners: A Mini-Manual for a Spiritual Life (2002)
  • Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying (2000)
  • Compassion in Action (1992)
  • How Can I Help? (1985)
  • Miracle of Love: Stories about Neem Karoli Baba (1979)
  • Journey of Awakening: A Meditator's Guidebook (1978)
  • Grist for the Mill (1977)
  • Be Here Now (1971)
  • The Only Dance There Is (1970, 1974)
  • LSD (1966)
  • The Psychedelic Experience (1964, 1992)
  • Author of (Articles)
  • Walking The Path: Psychedelics and Beyond, in Higher Wisdom (2005)
  • "Egg On My Beard" (PDF) (1976)
  • "LSD and Sexuality" (1969)
  • Interviews
  • "Fierce Grace", interviewed by Daniel Redwood (2003)
  • "Still Here", interviewed by Edie Weinstein-Moser for New Visions Magazine (Aug 2002)
  • "Talking with Ram Dass", interviewed by by Alan Davidson for This Issue (2001)
  • "Stroked by the Guru", interviewed by David Jay Brown (1999)