Ram Dass, also known as Baba Ram Dass, was an American spiritual teacher, psychologist, and author. His best known book, Be Here Now, has been described as "seminal," and helped popularize Eastern spirituality and yoga with the baby boomer generation in the West. He authored or co-authored twelve more books on spirituality over the next four decades, including Grist for the Mill, How Can I Help?, and Polishing the Mirror.
Dass was personally and professionally associated with Timothy Leary at Harvard University in the early 1960s. Then known as Richard Alpert, he conducted research with Leary on the therapeutic effects of psychedelic drugs. In addition, Alpert assisted Harvard Divinity School graduate student Walter Pahnke in his 1962 "Good Friday Experiment" with theology students, the first controlled, double-blind study of drugs and the mystical experience. While not illegal at the time, their research was controversial and led to Leary and Alpert's dismissal from Harvard in 1963.
In 1967, Alpert traveled to India and became a disciple of Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba who gave him the name Ram Dass, meaning "Servant of God."