One of the country’s foremost self-help masters, Ram Dass is now 88 years old and in a wheelchair, still imparting wisdom while continuing to manage the dramatic after-effects of a massive stroke. Before Ram Dass concludes his journey as a human being on this earth, one of his devoted followers, Jamie Catto, wanted to immortalize him in a film. Becoming Nobody is Catto’s tribute to Ram Dass, capturing the essence of his spiritual teachings while offering a glimpse into his past.
Richard Alpert was born in 1931 to a Jewish family in Massachusetts. While religion wasn’t very compelling to him as a youth, he did exhibit an early interest in human nature, which eventually led to him earning a PhD in psychology from Stanford University. After Timothy Leary introduced him to psychedelics, Alpert went to India in 1967, where he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, aka Maharaj-ji. That’s when he became Ram Dass (“servant of God”), and a few years later in 1971, his bestseller Be Here Now was published, catapulting him onto a full-fledged career as 20th century American guru.
The film’s director, Catto first learned about Ram Dass in 1988, then met him on a retreat in the UK a few years later. What followed were interviews that paved the way for a face-to-face discussion in Becoming Nobody, which took place in 2015 in Ram Dass’ home in Maui. The one-on-one interview anchors the biographical documentary, which is interspersed with archive footage, including words of wisdom by Ram Dass himself, carefully culled from an array of scratchy black and white films and glitchy videos.
Becoming Nobody doesn’t go into the life story of Ram Dass much — it’s more like a highlight reel of all the teachings he espoused throughout the decades. Still, Ram Dass talks about …
Author: Tanja M. Laden / High Times