Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Be Here Now? A Soul Through Time...
The above video is a CBC interview with Baba Ram Dass before he wrote his seminal book Be Here Now. Be Here Now is considered by many a manual to make the transition from a psychedelic lifestyle to a yogic lifestyle. It continues to be an influential spiritual catalyst, and has inspired many to follow their own path with renewed faith and passion.
The heyday of Hindu chic may be surprised by Mickey Lemle's 90-minute documentary profile of Ram Dass. While Lemle covers all the biographical details that make his lifestory fascinating, the heart of the film is a touching reflection on aging, suffering and the prospect of death. The film opens with Ram Dass, now in his eighth decade, discussing the night he was "stroked" by a "fierce grace": In 1997, he suffered a debilitating stroke that left him with partial paralysis and aphasia. Despite his impaired language skills, Ram Dass is still remarkably articulate and a wonderful storyteller, and his tale is a good one. Born into a well-to-do New England Jewish family — his father was a lawyer and president of the New York-New Haven railroad — Richard Alpert's top-notch education lead him to a teaching post at Harvard, where he fell in with LSD advocate Timothy Leary. "Continuous experimentation" with the mind-altering substance got them both kicked out in 1963, and after their fabled drug-utopia experiment in Millbrook, N.Y., came to an end, Alpert's search for transcendence led to Eastern mysticism (specifically the teachings of the Maharaj-ji), a spiritual awakening and a name change: Alpert became Ram Dass, or "God Servant."
A visit to Be Here Now, for a reader unaware of the best-seller lists 30 years back, is tonic; the book is not just a glimpse into a vanished cultural moment, but also an effusive attempt to search out a way to exist in the world. A self-described ''manual for conscious being,'' it is charged with antic energy. It opens out, in its exuberant middle stretch, into a kind of cosmic comic strip, pages printed on brown paper with prototypically ''psychedelic'' line drawings blossoming around blocks of text set ALL IN CAPS and running up the pages at right angles, requiring the reader to turn the book on its side."
"Ram Dass's ongoing message: enlightenment, a condition of heightened being, rides along a continuum linking all experience. With a properly selfless perspective, day-to-day living is transcendent. You have to adjust and detach. You have to turn the book on its side. Cleansed of preconditions, awareness translates into love. ''All your acts,'' Ram Dass writes, ''will be consecrated.''" From New York Times, Feb 9, 2008.
For madmen only
price of admission
mind" Be Here Now
Below is Baba Ram Dass in 1980's talking about how he came to follow a yogic path after rejecting recreational drug use...
Ram Dass Satsang
Interview with Baba Ram Dass
New York TimesMovie review about the life and work of Baba Ram Dass.
PBS about the film
Kicked out of Harvard: from here...1963