Way before The Power of Now, there was Be Here Now, by Ram Dass, formerly known in Harvard circles as Richard Alpert, Ph.D.
He and the notorious Timothy Leary were colleagues, in fact, and you could say that the two of them went in separate directions; whereas Leary ended up as sort of a cautionary tale of excess and the target of defamatory campaigns by the U.S. government and others, Ram Dass became one of the most influential spiritual teachers of all time.
Be Here Now has sold about 2 million copies worldwide, having influenced everyone from Wayne Dyer, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and George Harrison to Steve Jobs, and if you’re into spirituality, religious studies, psychology and all that good stuff, it should definitely make it onto your reading list sooner rather than later.
Divided into four sections, you can think of it as like a manual for conscious being; in other words, being here now, immediately, where all the action is.
There’s really no other place you could be, when you think about it, because everything that has ever happened in either your life or the history of the universe has happened now.
The first section is autobiographical, following Richard Alpert’s personal transformation in the mountains of India after which he would return to the mainland U.S.A. as Baba Ram Dass. The second section contains aphorisms — memorable ones at that — concerning vivid awareness, identification with what is, etc.
It’s very much a product of its time, so reading it now (when else could you possibly read it?) won’t make a whole lot of sense in several places, but it’s a trip and a half for sure.
The third section contains techniques concerning yoga and meditation, and the fourth section is a recommended reading list featuring books that you’ll find in any well-stocked lysergic library.
Be Here Now itself pops up in the most unlikely of places, and myself, I encountered the book again behind the bar at a resort where I was attending the first HighExistence meditation retreat, Apotheosis. Turns out it’s one of the favorite books of the general manager there. No surprise: he was one of the most grounded, intelligent, peaceful, joyous people I’ve ever been blessed to meet…