If you see a copy of Ram Dass’s book Be Here Now in a bookshop, pick it up; or download. No, buy the paperback, for it’s a work of art and a hymn for the meditative, thoughtful mind.
I was living in Los Angeles at the time, sort of transitioning out of the film and television industry and into writing (part-time). You might say I had lost my way in a dark wood, like Dante in The Divine Comedy. That is not to say that there was a darkness to me (I wasn’t devolving into a Goth kid), but there was certainly a lack of illumination in my life. A dullness attended everything. Even the atomic pastels and black silhouetted hills of Los Angeles seemed two-dimensional and faded.
Into this dim world walked my friend one day, a girl who very often rides the terminator line between light and darkness. We strolled through the Abbot-Kinney neighbhorhood of Venice Beach. After ten minutes of walking and stopping at shops, we came upon the Mystic Journey Bookstore. I know what you’re thinking: yuppie Buddhists, vegans, melodic bowls, soft voices, pleasant aromas and New Agers everywhere. But these bookstores have much more to them if you but look.
I immediately beelined it for the esoteric section, looking for something, anything by artist Austin Osman Spare. I came up empty-handed.
My friend then approached from behind with a copy of Ram Dass’s Be Here Now. I’d heard of Ram Dass from an author event I’d hosted at Book Soup in 2009 or thereabouts, when the author of The Harvard Psychedelic Club, Don Lattin,stopped by for a chat. My friend said Be Here Now was beautifully illustrated and had some great thoughts contained in it. She figured I’d like it because I’d mentioned the Lattin reading. And, of course, I did.
Now, I don’t really want to dive into the whys and wherefores of how Be Here Now seduced me, or why I think Ram Dass turned out to be a great teacher after his psychedelic period, because the pleasure of reading the book is in its presentation. It must be held and felt. It aids in the absorption of Dass’s teachings.
So the image you see above is simply one of my favorite pages from Be Here Now.