US spiritual leader Ram Dass dies aged 88

US spiritual leader Ram Dass dies aged 88

Ram Dass, a spiritual leader and pioneer of the US psychedelic movement, has died at home in Hawaii, aged 88.

He was well known for his first book, Be Here Now, which sold over two million copies.

Dass’ official Instagram confirmed his death Monday.

Born Richard Alpert, the future spiritual teacher met experimental psychologist Timothy Leary while the two taught at Harvard University. They founded the Harvard Psilocybin Project and shared psychedelic drugs with volunteer graduate students to explore their mind-altering effects.

In 1997, he suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on the right side of his body and limited his ability to speak. In 2004, he had a life-threatening infection and cut back on travelling.

He didn’t become Ram Dass until a fateful trip to India in 1967. There he met Neem Karoli Baba, his guru, who gave Alpert the name Baba (or “father”) Ram Dass, which means “servant of God,” per Dass’s website.