After this first insight (see last post) Richard Alpert – later Baba Ram Dass continued to explore and experiment with hallucinogens including setting up a research study with Timothy Leary and taking vast amounts of drugs. What he noted was that there was always a ‘coming down’ and with that the realization that it was all immensely frustrating to be open to the kingdom of heaven and new states of awareness and then being cast out again. He was left with a general low level state of depression that whatever he knew still wasn’t enough.
‘I was four hours in a state of total homogenous light, bliss, and then I recall starting to “come down” and this huge red wave rolled in across the room … and it was all my identities, all rolling in over me … it was like this heavy burden I was going to take on myself … I realized I didn’t have the key…’
Inevitably he was thrown out of Harvard and in time found his way to India still failing to find what he was searching for, and now tired of the LSD experiences he began to feel intense despair. ‘I had gone through game, after game, first being a professor at Harvard, then being a psychedelic spokesman, and still people were constantly looking into my eyes, like “Do you know?” … and I was constantly looking into their eyes – “Do you know?”’ Meeting an American, Bhagavan Dass who repeatedly told him to ‘be here now’ Alpert travelled with him to meet his guru and so Alpert was introduced to Neem Karoli Baba whom Ram Dass called Maharaji.
The first meeting the guru asked Alpert for his car – this was a land rover borrowed from a friend and something Alpert was upset to be asked about about so the guru went to the heart of the idea of possessions, but also spoke to Alpert about the death of his mother confirming a vision Alpert had had a few days before of his mother’s presence with him. Alpert’s western mind couldn’t compute what was happening, he couldn’t make sense of it – he theoretically knew about psychic experiences and also experientially knew about them through chemicals… but this wasn’t either of those:
‘My mind just gave up. It burned out its circuitry … its zeal to have an explanation. I needed something to get closure at the rational level and there wasn’t anything. There just wasn’t a place I could hide in my head about this. And at the same moment, I felt this extremely violent pain in my chest and a tremendous wrenching feeling and I started to cry. And I cried and I cried and I cried. And I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t sad. It was not that kind of crying. The only thing I could say was it felt like I was home. Like the journey was over. Like I had finished. That night I was very confused. A great feeling of lightness and confusion.’