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Ram Dass (1931–2019), spiritual guru

Getty Images / Michael Ochs Archives / Robert Altman

Pioneer of the 1960s psychedelic movement

Ram Dass was a beloved spiritual guru who was a pioneer of the 1960s psychedelic drug movement. Born Richard Alpert in Boston, Massachusetts, Dass was a psychologist who taught at Harvard. There he became friends with Timothy Leary and the two studied the therapeutic effects of psychedelic drugs, leading to their dismissal from the school. Alpert went on a journey to India in 1968 and came back with the name Ram Dass. He became a central figure in Eastern spiritual thinking and his 1971 book “Be Here Now” became a counter-culture classic.

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Died: Sunday, December 22, 2019 (Who else died on December 22?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 88 at his home in Maui.


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What they said about him: “Deeply saddened to hear of Ram Dass’ passing because I loved him and his words. But he also wrote things like “Dying is absolutely safe” so I know he is fine. Wishing him a safe passage to his next destination.” —Actor Josh Radnor

“Ram Dass passed from earth a few hours ago. How perfect that he left this plane on the first night of the Festival of Lights. “Be Here Now” shifted my world when I was young, as it did for millions of others. Praise & thanks to a huge & radiant soul. May he be forever blessed.” —Author and politician Marianne Williamson

Ram Dass quote: “You are loved just for being who you are, just for existing. You don’t have to do anything to earn it. Your shortcomings, your lack of self-esteem, physical perfection, or social and economic success — none of that matters. No one can take this love away from you, and it will always be here.”

Full obituary: Los Angeles Times

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