The Compassion & Choices community mourns the passing of Ram Dass. A Compassion & Choices supporter, Ram Dass often wrote of and discussed the spirituality of death and dying, including in his books Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing and Dying and Walking Each Other Home: Conversations on Loving and Dying co-authored with Mirabai Bush.
Upon his 1968 return from India, former Harvard University psychology professor Dr. Richard Alpert became Baba Ram Dass (the name bestowed by his spiritual teacher and meaning “servant of God”) and became an icon of the anti-establishment counterculture of the 1960s.
Rising to international fame following the publication of his 1971 book Be Here Now, Ram Dass used his profile to found and support philanthropic ventures that included his work with Compassion & Choices.
Ram Dass was partially paralyzed in 1997 following a cerebral hemorrhage, but re-learned how to speak and continued to teach and collaborate on artistic and philanthropic ventures from his home in Maui, Hawaiʻi.
The announcement of his passing notes that Ram Dass, “A guide for thousands seeking to discover or reclaim their spiritual identity beyond or within institutional religion,” died surrounded by loved ones. He was 88 years old.
“For many years, I’d been thinking about the phenomenon of death, but not my own death .… Now, when I piece it together with my heart, not with my intellect, I find nothing to fear if I identify with loving awareness. Death becomes simply the final stage of my sadhana (the ultimate expression of life) … ”
Ram Dass, from Walking Each Other Home: Conversations on Loving and Dying