Before a life-altering catharsis involving hallucinogens transformed him into the mystic Ram Dass, Richard Alpert was merely a brilliant mind.
A Harvard professor studying the potentially therapeutic effects of psilocybin, LSD-and other psychedelic chemicals, Alpert, along with his colleague, Timothy Leary, became their own guinea pigs, an experiment that would split their lives into two distinct parts before and after at its most extreme.
Both would be dismissed from their Harvard professorial positions in the mid-1960s and embark on spiritual searches, inward-seeking that would eventually shape them into vocal leaders of nothing less than cultural revolution.
Alpert would head first to India and in 1967 discover there both his guru and his new identity as Ram Dass - which translates to servant to God. Armed with a new identity and a deeper knowledge of self, Dass returned to the States and become on of the most respected proponents of spiritualism, compassion and inner exploration.
He has authored several books, among them the iconic Be Here Now, a vivid take on modern spirituality featuring simple but powerful mantras and cosmic graphics and drawings. The book remains both in print and in demand.
With this and other tomes, (as well as documentaries, talks and podcast and on and on), Dass, now 85 - continues to spread the love. It is important to expect nothing, he explains in Be Here Now, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the pathand to proceed.