Ram Dass, who is formerly known as Dr. Richard Alpert, is a spiritual teacher out of a Hindu tradition. (And yes, Richard Alpert from the Lost TV series is a nod to Ram Dass.) He was a Harvard professor of psychology in the 1960s, where he became a friend and colleague of Dr. Timothy Leary. Together, they began experimenting with psychedelic drugs and consciousness/mind expansion and exploration. After becoming somewhat disenchanted with “tune in, turn on, and drop out” mantra, he traveled to India in 1967 and became a student of several Hindu gurus, including Maharaj-ji. Ram Dass wrote about his history, transformation from Dr. Richard Alpert to Ram Dass, and spiritual teachings in the landmark book, Be Here Now. I hate to admit it, but I have not read it yet but plan to quite soon. So, keep your eyes out for the review!
Ram Dass, Fierce Grace is a 2002 biographical film that provides some of this history, but it primarily focuses on Ram Dass’ recovery from a stroke that he experienced in 1997. I found it to a fascinating and very…human…depiction of Ram Dass’ life and his struggle to recovery from his stroke. The title “Fierce Grace” is very descriptive of how Ram Dass approaches this recovery – he considers the stroke and act of grace because it helped him to grow in ways that he didn’t know were possible. The film avoids being maudlin and illuminates the life this man who has inspired…and continues to inspire…so many.