Queer Places:
Stanford University, Old Union 232, Stanford, CA 94305
Harvard University (Ivy League), 2 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Zalman Schachter-Shalomi & Ram DassRam Dass (born Richard Alpert; April 6, 1931 – December 22, 2019),[1] also known as Baba Ram Dass, was an American spiritual teacher, guru of modern yoga,[2] psychologist, and writer. In the 1990s, Ram Dass discussed his bisexuality.[57][58][59] He stated, "I've started to talk more about being bisexual, being involved with men as well as women," and added his opinion that who gay people are "isn't gay, and it's not not-gay, and it's not anything—it's just awareness."[59]

Ram Dass was born Richard Alpert in 1931. His parents were Gertrude (Levin) and George Alpert, a lawyer in Boston.[10] He considered himself an atheist[11] during his early life. Speaking at Berkeley Community Theater in 1973 he said, "My Jewish trip was primarily political Judaism, I mean I was never Bar Mitzvahed, confirmed, and so on."[12] In a 2006 article in Tufts Magazine he was quoted by Sara Davidson, describing himself as "inured to religion. I didn't have one whiff of God until I took psychedelics."[8] He was also interviewed by Arthur J. Magida at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, who published the interview in 2008, quoting Ram Dass as saying "What I mostly remember about my bar mitzvah was that it was an empty ritual. It was flat. Absolutely flat. There was a disappointing hollowness to the moment. There was nothing, nothing, nothing in it for my heart."[13]

Alpert attended the Williston Northampton School, graduating cum laude in 1948.[14] He achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Tufts University in 1952. His father had wanted him to go to medical school, but while at Tufts he decided to study psychology instead.[8] After earning his master's degree in Psychology from Wesleyan University in 1954, his mentor at Wesleyan, David McClelland, recommended Alpert to Stanford University.[8] Alpert wrote his doctoral thesis on "achievement anxiety", receiving his PhD in Psychology from Stanford in 1957. Alpert then taught at Stanford for one year, and began psychoanalysis.[8][15]

McClelland moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to teach at Harvard University, and helped Alpert accept a tenure-track position there in 1958 as an assistant clinical psychology professor.[8][16][17] Alpert worked with the Social Relations Department, the Psychology Department, the Graduate School of Education, and the Health Service, where he was a therapist. He specialized in human motivation and personality development, and published his first book Identification and Child Rearing.[17] McClelland did work with his close friend and associate Timothy Leary, a lecturer in clinical psychology at the university.[8] Alpert and Leary had met through McClelland, who headed the Center for Research in Personality where Alpert and Leary both did research.[16] Alpert was McClelland's deputy in the lab.[8] After returning from a visiting professorship at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1961, Alpert devoted himself to joining Leary in experimentation with and intensive research into the potentially therapeutic effects of hallucinogenic drugs such as psilocybin, LSD-25, and other psychedelic chemicals, through their Harvard Psilocybin Project.[8][17][9] Alpert and Leary co-founded the non-profit International Federation for Internal Freedom (IFIF) in 1962 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in order to carry out studies in the religious use of psychedelic drugs, and were both on the board of directors.[18][19] Alpert assisted Harvard Divinity School graduate student Walter Pahnke in his 1962 "Good Friday Experiment" with theology students, the first controlled, double-blind study of drugs and the mystical experience.[8][9] Leary and Alpert were formally dismissed from Harvard in 1963.[9] According to Harvard President Nathan M. Pusey, Leary was dismissed for leaving Cambridge and his classes without permission or notice, and Alpert for allegedly giving psilocybin to an undergraduate.[9][20]

His best-selling[3] 1971 book Be Here Now, which has been described by multiple reviewers as "seminal",[4][5][6] helped popularize Eastern spirituality and yoga in the West.[7] He authored or co-authored twelve more books on spirituality over the next four decades, including Grist for the Mill (1977), How Can I Help? (1985), and Polishing the Mirror (2013). Ram Dass was personally and professionally associated with Timothy Leary at Harvard University in the early 1960s. Then known as Richard Alpert, he conducted research with Leary on the therapeutic effects of psychedelic drugs. In addition, Alpert assisted Harvard Divinity School graduate student Walter Pahnke in his 1962 "Good Friday Experiment" with theology students, the first controlled, double-blind study of drugs and the mystical experience.[8][9] While not illegal at the time, their research was controversial and led to Leary's and Alpert's dismissal from Harvard in 1963. In 1967, Alpert traveled to India and became a disciple of Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba who gave him the name Ram Dass, meaning "Servant of Ram," but usually rendered as simply "Servant of God" for western audiences. In the coming years, he founded the charitable organizations Seva Foundation and Hanuman Foundation. He traveled extensively giving talks and retreats and holding fundraisers for charitable causes in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. In 1997, he had a stroke which left him with paralysis and expressive aphasia. He eventually grew to interpret this event as an act of grace, learning to speak again and continuing to teach and write books. After becoming seriously ill during a trip to India in 2004, he gave up traveling and moved to Maui, Hawaii, where he hosted annual retreats with other spiritual teachers until his death in 2019.

My published books:

See my published books