There are a few once in a lifetime books that are more like life events. They happen to you. They arrive in your life, almost. They bang your head with a certain force with the power of plain, simple fiction; and then, they change the way you think. Ever thought! Be Here Now by Ram Dass is one of them.
I had first heard of its author, Ram Dass, in another book on philosophy and emotional well-being. In that, he had appeared as someone who was once a great orator and a spiritual leader but now greyed by age and health. This book, be here now, is a direct account from the horse’s mouth. Be here now is Ram Dass’ collection of his own, personal recollections. Of theories and fantasies, and of spiritual sojourns.
The book is essentially in four sections.
The first part of the book is more of a prologue, in which the author goes to explain his life as Dr. Richard Alpert, who has just returned from being a visiting professor at California in Berkeley. He held appointments in four departments at Harvard – Social Relations, Psychology, Education and Health Services. He was riding high on life and fortune. Until, well, he was expelled from the university. Openly, publicly. Along with a proper Press Conference. By reasons well vetted. He did drugs, among others.
And thus, stuck by fate and chance, he now embarks on a journey that he could not do while he still led a civil life. He gives it all up, now, to go and find out what matters most. And thus, he lands up in India.
What follows thereafter is in section 2, and straight out of a surreal world of mystic myths. On another day and on another occasion, what he reports will appear not only erratic but also a blabber of insanity. But here he was talking about something, someone, who later in time would also become a matter of desperate look out by several seekers, of whom the names you may easily recall are Steve jobs and, more recently, Mark Zuckerberg. Yes, you’re right. Ram dass goes on to become a follower and a disciple of the great mystic saint, Neem Karori Baba. Or Maharaj Ji, as he is more popularly known as.
In the following pages of the book, Ram Dass takes you along a journey. With him. There is no pattern, no opening, body or conclusion as one may expect for a Structure of a regular book. No, not here! Here, it is a matter of recollections. Of relaying events, feelings and thoughts that are as erratic, sublime and purposeful as the great yogi himself, or his disciples, the author. It is a commentary. A commentary on a live union of things beyond our regular mortal affairs of states and politics. Religion? No, not that even. It is an anthology of realisation, a path leading to a higher self, a search. A destination.
In form of pictures and stories. In form of diagrams and graphs. Illustrations. Of conflicts, of life and philosophy. The book freely moves from the Hindu concepts of sacred Shiva and Shakthi, too, in the very next minute, the stories from the Bible. Yin and Yang. Dichotomy. Mystery. Myths. From philosophical depths of Bhagwad Gita or tales from Hanuman Chalisa to the hardcore, real, truth findings along the trails of the Himalayan cliffs. The narration follows in form of a monologue, a running stream of consciousness.
Section 3 leaves you with, as it claims, a manual for conscious being. This includes quotations, exercises, and different alternative meditation practices – almost a guide to how and what to the road of uplifted spirituality. He lists his gurus, his saints, and his own path to revelation.
The final section lists some of the books that can play havoc in your life if you’d want so. It is a long, long list, consisting mostly of religious scripts and texts, while at the same time also including the psychology, science, and philosophy of the contemporary world.
The book is hard hitting. The book requires you to leave you well-formed world of opinions behind, as you pick it up. It takes you along the path of an adventure, where, for a while, you need to suspend your so called beliefs and disbeliefs. It challenges you to rise to larger myths of the apparently mundane human race. It calls upon philosophies from the dark ages, and from the enlightened sages. And it calls upon you, too. If you let it, this book will change you. It would change the way you are used to think or the way you look at life.
Be Here Now is one of those once in a lifetime books that you do not want to miss out on!
Author: Ram Dass
Genre: Non Fiction / Philosophy / Yoga
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