Monday, April 18, 2005

Ram Dass

Dr. Richard Alpert (born 1933), later known as Baba Ram Dass, was a professor of psychology at Harvard University who became well known for his controversial research program which studied the effects of LSD. He later converted to Hinduism and is currently one of the most prominent American Hindus. He was born to a prominent Jewish family in Boston, Massachusetts. His father, George Alpert, was one of Boston's most prominent lawyers and was also a railroad executive. Richard Alpert has two older brothers. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Tufts University, a masters' degree from Wesleyan University and a doctorate degree from Stanford University.
Alpert worked closely with Dr. Timothy Leary at Harvard, where the two conducted many experiments on the effects of LSD. The pair were dismissed from the university in 1963 due to their controversial research on the Harvard Psilocybin Project. They relocated, and continued their experiments at a private mansion in New York (see LSD).
In 1967, Alpert travelled to India, where he became heavily involved in meditative practice and yoga. After meeting and becoming a devotee of Neeb Karori Baba, a Hindu guru in Uttar Pradesh, he changed his name to Ram Dass, meaning servant of God.
Upon his return to the United States, Alpert founded several organizations dedicated to expanding spiritual awareness and promoting spiritual growth. In February 1997, he suffered a stroke which left him with expressive aphasia, but he continues to give lectures at a variety of places.


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