Meet a Guru: Ram Das

Meet a Guru: Ram Das June 11, 2013

Baba Ram Dass in San Francisco, in 1970. Credit: Robert Altman/Michael Ochs Archives
Ram Das is an American Hindu (born in the Boston area, just like me!) who I think is most famous for the book Be Here Now. He’s not necessarily a guru, per se, but he has taught and explained the ideas given to him by his guru and has a foundation and a following.

Wikipedia quotes him as saying, “I help people as a way to work on myself, and I work on myself to help people…”


Ram Das’s name was originally Richard Alpert and he was born to a Jewish family in Massachusetts in 1931. He was given his Hindu name by his guru,  Neem Karoli Baba. Before traveling to India and meeting the guru, Ram Das was exploring psychedelic drugs in his quest to understand life. He was a prominent figure in the counter-culture revolution that was the 1960s and 70s in America.


From the blog at

The most important aspect of love is not in giving or the receiving: it’s in the being. When I need love from others, or need to give love to others, I’m caught in an unstable situation. Being in love, rather than giving or taking love, is the only thing that provides stability. Being in love means seeing the Beloved all around me.

My Experience

I think learning more about Ram Das is important for me because he is a non-Indian Hindu like me. In particular I found this quote very meaningful…

At 60 years of age, Ram Dass began exploring Judaism seriously for the first time. “My belief is that I wasn’t born into Judaism by accident, and so I needed to find ways to honor that,” he says. “From a Hindu perspective, you are born as what you need to deal with, and if you just try and push it away, whatever it is, it’s got you.” –Wikipedia

For me, I was born into a form of Hindu philosophy that wasn’t tied to tradition and history in the same way that Indian Hinduism is. I think that allowed me the freedom to see what elements of Hindu belief are the most important. If I had been born into an Indian family, I think I may have become distracted by ritual and not explored the meaning behind it. What I was given instead in this birth was the opportunity to see the meaning without the ritual and then to find and enjoy the ritual as a way to enhance those truths.

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  • In the last paragraph, perhaps you are right! I must see the meaning without the ritual, as some rituals (or even ritualism for the most part!) don’t make sense to me.

    The giving or receiving aspect of love is in reference to Kaballah (I’ve also looked at it and got about 50 pages into an introductory book before I realized what was going on and researched the truth about The Rav Berg and the Kaballah Centre in LA, and the fact that only orthodox Jews can study Kaballah if they are over the age of 40 and are deemed ready to study this information).

    “From a Hindu perspective, you are born as what you need to deal with,
    and if you just try and push it away, whatever it is, it’s got you.”

    What this means for me is that I cannot push away the Ancient part of me. I think that what will happen is that I will examine Sannatana Dharma as thoroughly as I can (I have a taste of it now with Sargeant’s Bhagavad Geetaa, and I’m having a hard time wading through the introduction part before actually getting to the Geetaa itself!), I will look at the parts that fit me, and maybe accept the fact that I’m not Hindu, but “something else” that has SOME similarities to Hinduism.

    That “something else” might be called Galeh Yuvo or something I eventually come up with. It is the name of the language I created 30 years ago, it means “To (simply) be,” and it is a standard greeting between people. I might even have to write a set of books similar to SD documents that apply directly to me as a record of my existence, in both English and Galeh Yuvo. I have a large amount of this information in the form of emails I saved over the last 12 years.