Be Here Now (book)
San Cristobal, New Mexico
Be Here Now (or Remember, Be Here Now) is a seminal 1971 book on spirituality, yoga and meditation by the Western-born yogi and spiritual teacher Ram Dass. The title comes from a statement his guide, Bhagavan Das, made during Ram Dass's journeys in India. The cover features a mandala incorporating the title, a chair, radial lines, and the word "Remember" repeated four times.
Summary of the book
The book is divided into four sections:
- "Journey: The Transformation: Dr. Richard Alpert, PhD. into Baba Ram Dass"
- "From Bindu to Ojas: The Core Book"
- "Cookbook for a Sacred Life: A Manual for Conscious Being"
- "Painted Cakes (Do Not Satisfy Hunger): Books"
The first section is a short autobiography, describing his successes as a psychologist, his research with Timothy Leary into psychedelics at Harvard, and his subsequent anxiety when this research does not resolve his spiritual questions. He then describes his first journey to India and his initiation into a Guru-chela relationship with Neem Karoli Baba, and spiritual renaming as Baba Ram Dass, or "servant of god". Ram Dass closes the first section of the book with this passage:
Now, though I am a beginner on the path, I have returned to the West for a time to work out karma or unfulfilled commitment. Part of this commitment is to share what I have learned with those of you who are on a similar journey. One can share a message through telling "our-story" as I have just done, or through the teaching methods of yoga, or singing, or making love. Each of us finds his unique vehicle for sharing with others his bit of wisdom. For me, this story is but a vehicle for sharing with you the true message ... the living faith in what is possible. --OM--
The third section is a manual for starting on a yogic or spiritual path, and includes various techniques for yoga, pranayama, and meditation, as well as quotations from respected teachers of many religions and spiritual traditions.
The last section, entitled "Painted Cakes Do Not Satisfy Hunger" (a Zen commentary on liturgy), contains a list of recommended books on religion, spirituality, and consciousness. The book lists are divided into "Books to hang out with", "Books to visit with now & then", and "Books it's useful to have met".
Be Here Now is one of the first guides for those not born Hindu to becoming a yogi, by a person himself not born a Hindu. For its influence on the Hippie movement and subsequent spiritual movements, it has been described as a "countercultural bible". In addition to introducing its title phrase into common use, the book has influenced numerous other writers and yoga practitioners, including Steve Jobs, Wayne Dyer, and Michael Crichton.
The first section of the book inspired the lyrics to George Harrison's song "Be Here Now", written in 1971 but released on his 1973 album Living in the Material World. The book was referred to in a study on daydreaming by Matthew Killingsworth, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Harvard University, which suggested that "[people] thinking about something other than what they’re doing [...] doesn’t take them to a happy place".
Ram Dass has written two sequels to Be Here Now. The first is Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying (2000), and the second is Be Love Now: The Path of the Heart (2011).
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