Dr. Richard Alpert, now known as Ram Dass has become one of America's most prominent practicing Hindus as well as a major advocate of Eastern thinking and meditational practice. Born in 1931 into a prominent Jewish family in Boston, Dass studied psychology in college, focusing on human motivation and personality. He received an M.A. from Wesleyan and a Ph. D. from Stanford. This academic thread lead to a faculty position at Stanford, and from 1958 to 1963 Dass taught and researched at Harvard.
There he explored human consciousness with Dr. Timothy Leary, Aldous Huxley, Allen Ginsberg, and others. The main ingredient of these studies was the use of psilocybin ("shrooms"), LSD, and other psychedelic chemicals, and the controversial nature of the use of such substances eventually led to Leary and Dass' dismissal from Harvard in 1963. The two relocated and continued their research in New York until 1967, wherein Dass travelled to India.
It was in India that Richard Alpert became Ram Dass (meaning servant of God) after becoming involved in meditative practice and yoga with Hindu guru Neeb Karori Baba. Since 1968, Dass has been a major force in a variety of spiritual practices, the support of psychedelic research, increasing environmental awareness, and fostering political action. In the United States he has been the founder of many organizations that support these interests, as well as a sought-after lecturer and the author of many best selling books.
In 1997, after beginning the groundwork for a talk radio program called "Here and Now with Ram Dass", Ram unfortunately suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed. While he had to postpone plans for the radio program, he has been able to take on teaching commitments and is utilizing his physical experience as a way of exploring the spiritual aspects of the aging process. Ram Dass continues to teach about the nature of consciousness and the ideal of service as the one true goal of spirituality.
If you are interested in listening to Ram Dass on audio, but you're not sure where to begin, we suggest trying "An Evening with Ram Dass". This recently uncovered recording features the iconic Ram Dass speaking at a lively event which was a benefit for the Seva Foundation.
If you want to go deeper into learning the insights of Ram Dass we recommend the Sounds True comprehensive course "Experiments in Truth".
In this program the search for truth is explored via the wisdom Dass has culled over the past 30 years of teaching, meditating, and just plain living a life that hasn't always been pleasant but has offered much to learn.
A final recommendation is "Conscious Aging" in which Ram Dass reflects on the aging process. In this audio book Dass explains why fears of aging and death can destroy one's love of life. He provides uplifting alternative attitudes by probing both Eastern and Western spiritual traditions. He offers the profound wisdom one can find from both lines of thinking, tempered with the practical reality of everyday life. This inspiring message presents us with an alternative to fear and explains how the final years of our lives can be just as fulfilling, creative, and exciting as our younger days. These are just a few of the suggestions we have to get you started with Ram Dass' work available on audio and video. For more, feel free to browse LearnOutLoud.com's full list of Ram Dass resources below.