It’s Here Now. Are You?

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I love this book, by Bhagavan Das, the tall, blonde, blue-eyed kid from Laguna Beach who met Richard Alpert in India, quickly got tired of him, and in order to get rid of him, introduced him to his guru, Neem Keroli Baba, and the rest is history.

Bhagavan has written an extremely honest, funny, and vivid account of what it is like to totally go for it spiritually. I saw him the other night in performance at Exhale in Venice, where he sang beautifully.

The book is not about the dangers of meditation – not at all. He is just telling the story of his experiences. Just by being honest, he illustrates some of the hazards of the spiritual path, and forewarned is forearmed, as they say. Reading books like this is like getting vaccinated – it lets your immune system recognize the virus and build up defenses against it. Learn from Bhagavan, let him help you build up your spiritual immune system.

“Practicing Hindu austerities by day and partying wildly by night”
From Library Journal
Michael Riggs was a disillusioned American teenager who traveled to India in 1964 to forge his spiritual way. Seven years later, he returned to America as Bhagavan Das, the name given to him by his guru, Neem Karoli Baba. While in India, Bhagavan met Richard Alpert, the Harvard professor who became Ram Dass and who wrote Be Here Now, which launched them both to celebrity status during the guru craze in America. Practicing Hindu austerities by day and partying wildly by night, Bhagavan hobnobbed with Allen Ginsberg, Allan Watts, Timothy Leary, and others. In this memoir the author idealizes his spiritual exploits in a rambling, incoherent fashion that epitomizes his life of contradictions. Although weakly written, this is a memoir by a significant figure chronicling the disenchantment with Western materialism that has sparked many to turn to Eastern mysticism.

Bhagavan Das's writing is guileless. He neither boasts nor apologizes. Review
Bhagavan Das is back. The 1970's guru of egregiousness, who inspired the title of Ram Dass' Be Here Now, has penned a spiritual memoir that is stranger than fiction, farther out than the Oort Cloud. We last saw our hero when he was a spiritual rock star touring the hippie circuit with Allen Ginsberg. Soon thereafter he dropped out of the scene and took a job at a Dodge dealership to support his second family. Peyote beckoned him to the desert, then he raised magic mushrooms, sold encyclopedias to Marines, dabbled in solar power, attended Bible college, and ended up selling overpriced car insurance to poor people--until his latest 18-year-old girlfriend flipped out on acid and ended his career.
Bhagavan Das's writing is guileless. He neither boasts nor apologizes. He describes the manic ride he has been on since he left California after high school. For seven years he wandered around India and Nepal, practicing austerities, sitting at the feet of gurus, studying Buddhist scriptures, and getting laid. The common denominator in his pursuits seems to be a search for the ultimate high. Whether he is kissed on the forehead by a saint, standing at the foot of a 20-foot stone statue of Vishnu, lost in meditation, dropping acid, or being initiated into tantric sex, his descriptions are in the same terms: "mind-blowing," "out-of-body," "ultimate bliss," "beyond the beyond." It's Here Now (Are You?) is an entertaining, vicarious journey through a life that you don't mind visiting, but you wouldn't want to live. --Brian Bruya