Ram Dass On The Ultimate Trip
In the opening of the beautiful 30-minute short documentary film profiling the spiritual icon Ram Dass, he reflects: “We are souls; as souls, we are not time and space. We are infinite.” And there you have some food for deep thought and contemplation. Ram Dass: Going Home is an intimate summary of his life learning and awareness, as well as a poetic meditation on life and death, which is ultimately the soul’s journey to what Ram Dass considers “home”.
Before he became an influential cultural figure in the 1960s and 70s, Ram Dass was born Richard Alpert to Jewish parents in Newton, Massachusetts. Although he had a bar mitzvah, Alpert considered himself an atheist until he began researching and experimenting with psychedelic drugs while working as a professor, along with his friend and associate Timothy Leary, at Harvard University. The two would infamously leave Harvard to become psychedelic pioneers—practicing, writing, and lecturing on the psychedelic experience, with or without drugs, through meditation, yoga, and group therapy sessions. Alpert’s spiritual awakening fully blossomed when he traveled to India in 1967 and met his guru, Maharaj-ji, who gave him the name Ram Dass, meaning “servant of God.”
Ram Dass was already a beloved spiritual teacher and yogi when he authored his seminal manual for conscious being, Be Here Now, in 1971. It’s still in print and has sold more than 2 million copies. Since then, he has written numerous books and has become an outspoken advocate for death and dying awareness.
Now, Ram Dass is 86 years old and lives in Maui. At home, he is surrounded by nature and the beauty of the landscape. With a bird’s-eye view of the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by flora and fauna, he listens to the sound of the trade winds passing through the trees and watches the birds pirouette through the air.
Since suffering a life-changing stroke 20 years ago, Ram Dass has been deepening his spiritual practice, which is centered on love and his idea of merging with his surroundings and all living things. In the film, he describes his stroke as grace—he’s the same inside; the stroke allowed him to look further inside himself and to “make friends with change.” His stroke has also shown him what it means to be dependent on others, and he is cared for by an intimate and dedicated community that assists him so that he can enjoy his swimming pool and, with great triumph, indulge in the ocean. It’s the simple pleasures that he experiences that give the audience the most satisfaction.
The film was selected as one of 10 nonfiction titles to the Academy Awards 2018 Best Documentary (Short Subject) shortlist. The film will be available to Netflix subscribers on April 6, 2018.