RAM DASS FIERCE GRACE

Words & Wisdom

The Film

Late 1960s image of Timothy Leary and a bespectacled Richard Alpert donning conservative suits and ties
Timothy Leary (L) and
Richard Alpert at Harvard
“Equals any transcendent moment you're likely to find in a fiction film, a novel, or a ‘manual for conscious being.’”— The New York Times A young Ram Dass sits adoringly at the feet of guru, who is wrapped in a plaid blanket; both are smiling
Ram Dass with Maharaji in India

When Harvard expelled faculty members Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary in 1963 for LSD experimentation, Alpert, the son of a wealthy Boston lawyer, traveled to India, met his guru the Maharaji Neem Karoli Baba, affectionately know as Maharaji, and returned to the United States as Ram Dass, or "Servant of God.” Since then, Ram Dass has continued to teach, inspire and serve others for more than three decades. Named by Newsweek as one of the Top Five Non-Fiction Films of 2002, RAM DASS  FIERCE GRACE offers an engrossing, poignant meditation on consciousness, healing and the unexpected grace of aging.

Book cover art for Be Here Now

Working from his home office an older Ram Dass works at his computer.

Now in his seventies, Ram Dass remains best-known for his 1971 classic bestseller Be Here Now, a book which sparked a generation’s quest for expanded consciousness and meaningful spirituality. The film weaves vivid archival footage from hippiedom's glory days with intimate glimpses of Ram Dass today, as he continues to remake his life since suffering from a stroke—or in his words, “being stroked”— in 1997. While the illness might have broken others, it has provided Ram Dass with a new passion: using an unexpected, uninvited challenge as a tool for spiritual transformation, and using what he learns to help others face issues of aging, death and dying.

"When I first met Ram Dass 25 years ago," says filmmaker Mickey Lemle, "one of his messages that touched me was that we are both human and divine and that we must hold both simultaneously. He would explain that if one goes too far in the direction of one's humanity, one suffers. If one goes too far in the direction of one's divinity, one runs the risk of forgetting one's zip code. So his stories and teachings were funny, self-effacing, and with an extraordinary grasp of the metaphysical. In form and content his stories are about living on those two planes of consciousness, and the tension between them. His explorations took an uninvited turn, when he suffered a massive stroke. Now, he has been forced to live his teachings in a way he had not expected.”

Against the vivid backdrop of half a century of social, cultural, pharmaceutical and spiritual history, RAM DASS  FIERCE GRACE is a lively chronicle of a life well lived and a portrait of a spiritual teacher who has reshaped his physical limitations into an act of fierce grace.

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