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It's Here Now (Are You?) Paperback – 1 Oct 1998
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From the Inside Flap
In his classic book "Be Here Now, Ram Dass introduced the world to a young guru named Bhagavan Das. Continuing his own story in "It's Here Now (Are You?), Bhagavan Das shares the profound and surreal moments of his spiritual awakening in the East, his fall from grace in the West, and his peaceful reconciliation with the sacred center.
For many years in the early '70s Bhagavan Das moved through India and Nepal, embracing the austere life of a holy man, exploring Hinduism, Buddhism, transcendental meditation, tantra, worshipping the divine mother, and living under the loving blanket of his guru, Neem Karoli Baba. Only twenty-five years old when he returned home to the States as a celebrity, he found himself traveling on the "guru circuit" with Ram Dass, Allen Ginsberg, Jerry Garcia, and Timothy Leary--living more like a rock star than the saint he was proclaimed to be.
In compelling detail, Bhagavan Das explores the tortuous journey that led him from his quest for the sacred to his spiritual death and eventual rebirth. A vivid memoir like no other, "It's Here Now (Are You?) is an odyssey that will inspire seekers of any age on their own road to fulfillment.
About the Author
Bhagavan Das was born in Laguna Beach, California. He is a frequent speaker and performer at gatherings around the country. He lives at Harbin Hot Springs in Northern California.
Top customer reviews
He has some amazing stories to tell of life on the spiritual trek. He lived the life of a serious Hindu sadhu in India, and some other, in some ways even more exotic, forms of life in America. This book is mostly story-telling--the most fascinating stories imaginable. These are challenging stories, stories that inspire and that remind us that authentic spirituality has nothing to do with conventional belief systems or other similar mundane matters. Real spirituality is about transcendence, and Bhagavan Das' book gives us a first-person account of what transcendence really looks like. Such books are rare and precious. Even his preachments are few, far between, and usually descriptive of some important truth. This passage captures the spirit of both the story-telling and the sermonizing:
"I have done it all. I have done the deepest, most intense spiritual practices. When I was doing my one hundred thousand prostrations at Bodh Gaya, I had my board and I was out there at four in the morning for three hours, one hundred thousand prostrations. . . sixty to seventy thousand prostrations into doing this, I did a prostration, and I completely slide off the board into infinity. I went into this complete realm of golden light and bliss, I saw nothing but golden Buddhas shining a light upon me. And I opened into a whole realm. And then I got up and did the next prostration. . . In a way, that's what life is. Life is like doing prostrations. . .The point I'm getting to is that it takes one hundred thousand prostrations to get one good one."
If you need some fuel to start you on your next thousand prostrations, this is a good place to start.
It details Bhagavan's journeys through India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, his meeting many Indian and Tibetan saints and teachers, and being embraced by the people who later popularised the Eastern spiritual movement in America; namely Allen Ginsberg, Alan Watts, and Ram Dass.
Bhagavan Das was there first - he watched as India and Nepal became overrun with hippies looking for Eastern wisdom after LSD gave them their first hunger for another reality.
After Ram Dass published Be Here Now, it set off another influx of Americans going over to India, and helped inspire Bhagavan's rise to fame in the states after coming home from seven years in the East.
Now, twenty-six years later, Bhagavan Das puts pen to paper to tell his own story, one that is infinitely deeper and more compelling than the one that was originally told in Be Here Now.
It al! ! so accurately portrays the hardships and internal divisions one goes through on the path to enlightenment. A worthwhile book, the kind of book I wait years for.
Books of this quality, conveying this range and depth of experience, and also being so enjoyable to read, are simply too few and far between. Cherish this one while it's here now. It's one I plan to read over and over, as I have done with W. Somerset Maugham's book about the original Dharma Bum, The Razor's Edge.
His tale is worth reading for those of us interested in spiritual seeking & how it relates to India, psychedelic drugs, & "the 60s." Seeing how the author continues this seeking with great energy through difficult circumstances can be inspiring to our own efforts. It's also interesting to see how the author, who was presented as a Great Holy Man in Ram Dass' "Be Here Now," was in fact a confused kid bumbling his way along like the rest of us.
The downside of the book is that the author, in spite of the numerous zigs & zags of his life & path, in spite of the obvious suffering he's brought to others along the way (such as the woman he impregnated, married, & cheated on), still considers himself a teacher. That is, the tone of the book isn't just that of a fellow seeker sharing his experience, but of someone with Great Insight to impart to the rest of us.
These Insights, sprinkled throughout his tale, come off as flaky. Bhagavan Das often doesn't clearly distinguish what's happening objectively from what's going on in his mind. Whereas Ram Dass was able to write about Indian spirituality without abandoning "Western" rationality, Bhagavan Das *doesn't* have a background in rationality, & comes off as a spaced-out hippie. He makes profound-sounding proclamations that seem too naive by 30 years. For instance, he visits a certain temple & suggests that everyone who goes there gets their prayers answered by God. Were such magic really available, I imagine India would be in much better shape than it is.
Many of us begin our spiritual search feeling like we'll find Truths to make us holier & more special than ordinary people. After years of efforts, we hopefully gain the humility to see that, while our chosen path may be wonderfully helpful to us, it doesn't make us holier than others, or give us the standing to preach to anyone else. I was fascinated by Bhagavan Das' tales, & disappointed that he still doesn't seem to have found this humility.
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