This is a book of wonderful and profound spiritual wisdom. It is a book of 'Dharma' - a Sanskrit term which can be translated as 'truth' and 'path'. Dharma is both the spiritual journey and its destination. Ram Dass (Richard Alpert), a former Harvard psychology professor (and friend of Timothy Leary), experimented with LSD (and other entheogens), during the 1960's. This experience was combined with the encountering of Buddhist and Hindu spiritual philosophy, through English translations of holy books - including the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Ram Dass began to see that these spiritual books, far from being works of pre-scientific ignorance - infact represented a profound wisdom in the form of cognitive maps that showed a spiritual seeker the 'inner' direction to take, on the path to enlightenment.
The paperback (1987) [revised] edition contains 170 numbered pages and consists of 15 distinct chapters. Ram Dass, in the 'new' Preface to this edition, points out that the original (1976) edition, appeared a little 'dated' in the mid 1980's, and as a consequence, the text has been brought up to date, so that the 1960's and early 1970's references can be understood by a new generation.
Contents. Dedication. Collaboator's Note (By Stephen Levine). Preface to the New Edition. 1) The Journey. 2) Receiving the Transmission. 3) Rules of the Game. 4) The Evolutionary Cycle. 5) Levels of Reality. 6) The Mellow Drama. 7) Lineage. 8) Guided Meditation. 9) Questions & Answers. 10) Dying: An Opportunity For Awakening. 11) Freeing the Mind. 12) Nobody's Special. 13) Karmupance. 14) God Beyond. 15) Methods and More.
In the 'Dedication', Ram Dass explains that Stephen Levine's contribution to the book is 'poetical' in nature, and helped express certain ideas and concepts in a clearer manner. This book is a collection of transcripts of Ram Dass' public talks from the early 1970's. Ram Dass explains that he does not use a 'script' or 'notes' for these teachings, but rather meditates before speaking, so that the mind is 'emptied'. In the late 1960's and early 1970's, Ram Dass travelled to India and met with his Guru - Neem Karoli Baba - also commonly known as 'Maharaji'. Ram Dass studied Yoga and meditation, whilst being spiritually guided by Maharaji. This book hangs heavy with Dharma. Each line and word has a 'freeing' and deeply 'reassuring' quality to it. Profound simplicity and compassion combine to form a spiritual classic.
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Ram Dass changed mine. If I was ever to be famous (G-D forbid!) and I was asked that question of who has been my biggest influence, the answer is Ram Dass. An ex -professor of Psychology at Harvard, originally named Richard Alpert, (the same as the character in 'Lost') realises he 'knew' nothing and shares his journey and the essence of who we really are and what we're really doing here. A MUST read for anyone peering behind the curtain.