Best Ram Dass Books That Will Help You to Be Here Now
Ram Dass is an American spiritual teacher. Previously known as Richard Alpert, he used to be a psychologist at Harvard University. But he was later dismissed in 1963 due to his controversial research on psychedelic drugs.
In 1967, he went to India and met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba. His guru gave him the name “Ram Dass”, which means “Servant of God”. After returning from India, he began sharing the spiritual teachings he received in India and worked with foundations to serve people such as prison inmates and the blind.
In 1997, he had a near-fatal stroke which paralyzed the right side of his body and limited his ability to speak. But his experience had given him new insights into aging and death. He continued to share his teachings through writing until he passed away at his home on Maui on December 22, 2019.
Below are books written by Ram Dass in different times of his spiritual life. Choose a book that resonates with you the most.
Top 10 Best Ram Dass Books
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1. Be Here Now
“I can do nothing for you but work on myself…you can do nothing for me but work on yourself!”
If you want a book that combines the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, read this book. It will help you see how the various spiritual traditions are connected.
The format of this book is a little quirky. The first part is an autobiography of how Dr. Richard Alpert (a Harvard psychologist) becomes Ram Dass (a spiritual teacher). The second part is like an art book with beautiful illustrations and philosophical sayings. The third part gives you practical, spiritual advice and tips. The last part of the book is a list of book resources.
This is a good book to start if you are new to Ram Dass’ teachings.
2. Still Here
“Wisdom is one of the few things in human life that does not diminish with age.”
If you have the fear of aging and dying or you are afraid of the illnesses that might come from aging, this book will help you embrace the change.
This is the first book Ram Dass published after he had a stroke. One evening in February 1997, he was at home contemplating how to end this book and he suddenly had a stroke. The stroke has given him a new perspective of aging and clarity on the ending of this book.
Reading this book helps you to deal with loneliness, depression, and powerlessness that might come from aging. It encourages you to accept what you cannot change and make the best of your circumstances.
3. Miracle of Love
“It’s better to see God in everything than to try to figure it out.”
Ram Dass met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba (whom he called “Maharajji”), in 1967. He was the man who gave him the name “Ram Dass”. Meeting Maharajji changed the course of his life and he started to perceive his life in spiritual terms.
After the death of his Hindu guru, he started collecting thousands of stories about Neem Karoli Baba from people who have met Maharaji. Stories were offered by Hindu priests, professors, police officials, farmers, industrialists, children, and their mothers.
Through this book, you get a sense of his character and feel his presence and grace. The stories are mostly made up of short paragraphs, so it’s easy to read. You can just flip to any page that interests you.
4. Polishing the Mirror
“The art of listening comes from a quiet mind and an open heart.”
This is a toolkit to quiet the mind, open the heart, and enter into oneness.
In this book, you will find many fascinating stories about his life and a summary of his essential teachings for living in the eternal present. You will learn how to open your hearts to unconditional love, how to deal with suffering, how to embrace the natural flow of life, etc.
As this book is written in Ram Dass’ later years, it also includes new insights and practices for living, aging, and dying. Great for someone who is new to his writings but also great for those who have already read some of his previous works.
5. Walking Each Other Home
“We often think that vulnerability is a kind of weakness, but there’s a kind of vulnerability that is actually strength and presence.”
What would it look like if you could approach dying with curiosity and love, in the service of other beings? What if dying were the ultimate spiritual practice?
Written with his lifelong friend, Mirabai Bush, this book is about being a loving presence for the dying. It teaches you how to grieve fully and authentically and how to create a sacred space for dying.
If you have a fear of death and you are afraid of the grieve you have to face when your loved ones die, this book will help you change your perspective and remind you who you really are.
6. Journey of Awakening
“Meditation raises the question: Who are we really?”
Meditation isn’t just about sitting with your eyes closed and repeating a mantra or facing a blank wall to empty your mind.
There are a wide variety of meditative practices to help you gain inner freedom. If you are lost and unsure which practice is best for you, read this book. The author explores the different types of meditation people do, from mantra, prayer, singing, visualizations, and “just sitting” to movement meditations such as tai chi.
All of these practices ultimately lead to the same result. They help you transcend self-consciousness. In this book, the author also suggests how you can find methods suitable for you and advise how you can overcome difficulties along the way.
7. Be Love Now
“Once you have drunk from the water of unconditional love, no other well can satisfy your thirst.”
Unconditional love exists in each of us and it is part of our deep inner being. But it’s very difficult to describe in words. If you are confused about what unconditional love is, read this book. It has valuable insights on what unconditional love feels like and will help you connect to your heart deeply.
This is the third book in a spiritual trilogy that began with Be Here Now and Still Here. In this book, the author shares what he has learned on his remarkable four-decade-long spiritual journey and his life-altering stroke. You will also find many stories about his beloved guru, Maharajji, who emanates love merely with his presence.
8. How Can I Help?
“We’re here to awaken from the illusion of separateness.”
Written with Paul Gorman, this book provides support and inspiration for those in the helping professions or those who want to help people.
As per the authors, caring is a reflex. When someone slips, our arms go out to help them. But yet, so much comes up to complicate this natural response: “Will I have what it takes?” “How much is enough?” “How can I deal with suffering?” “And what really helps, anyway?”
Drawing insights from inspirational stories and their own reflections, this book covers all the various stages one can go through in service work. If you are feeling burnout from helping others, this book is definitely for you.
9. Paths to God
“The world is won by those who let it go.”
This book grew out from a workshop that Ram Dass taught in 1974. The philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita turns out to be very suitable for Western culture as people in the West tend to focus more on their intellect and what they do. Instead of encouraging us to turn away from the world like the monks, Bhagavad Gita turns our lives in the world into our spiritual work.
However, this book is not a literal interpretation or analysis of the Bhagavad Gita. It is a series of reflections about the major themes in the Hindu scripture. It is written in a manner that is relevant to modern life so that everyone will be able to relate to the wisdom in Bhagavad Gita.
10. Grist for the Mill
“When the faith is strong enough it is sufficient just to be.”
This book is about the experience of being and the risks and rewards of our spiritual path.
Originally published in 1976, this book came from talks the author gave to different groups in the 1970s. It helps you to discover your deep spiritual essence and offers you a universal understanding of what it means to “be” and to grow as a human being.
Strategies in the book involve ways to use the mind to go beyond the mind. You will understand the different states of consciousness and identify yourself other than through your mind.
If you want to examine your own identity deeper and experience oneness, this book is for you.
Hey there, I’m Yong Kang, best known as Nerdy Creator. I’m an author of seven books. I write about spirituality, self-compassion, and mindfulness. I love reading books, especially non-fiction. The list above is a combination of what I have read and my research. Each year, I create a Top 10 list of my favorite books.