Baba Ram Dass (1931 – 2019)

“Be Here Now” ~ Baba Ram Dass

Spiritual teacher Baba Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) died this week.  He was part of the consciousness-raising movement of the 1960s, together with Timothy Leary, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.

Birth Chart

Ram Dass had 0 planets in the Air signs, relying on instinct.  The Sun was exactly conjunct Uranus in his chart, bringing up the Pioneer and Rebel Archetypes.  This conjunction, making a close triple conjunction with his North Node (karmic mission) is placed in his 9th House of higher philosophy, making him an innovator in this field.  This conjunction was not easy, being part of a T-square with Jupiter/Saturn opposite Pluto: he steered himself through the minefield that was 1960s consciousness exploded with LSD, to become a beloved teacher.  His philosophy was very much informed by Hinduism.  We have an accurate birth time for him, which gives him Pluto on a Cancerian Ascendant (psychological and emotional trials), and his Moon squaring  Neptune describes both drug taking and mysticism.  Mercury sextile Venus describes his ability to put into words his mystical experiences.

Religion and Consciousness

He was born Jewish, but did not relate to the religion in his youth, and became an atheist.  He recalled: “I didn’t have one whiff of God until I took psychedelics”.  He gained a doctorate in psychology (Pluto on the Ascendant natally) at Stanford University.  His doctoral thesis was on the subject of “achievement anxiety”.

In 1958 he became an assistant clinical psychology professor at Cambridge, Massachussetts.  His specialism was human motivation and personality development. It was at Cambridge that he met Timothy Leary, who became famous for his experimentation with psychedelic drugs under controlled conditions.

In 1961 Alpert (Ram Dass) began to work with Leary.  He also worked with Walter Pahnke with theology students, exploring the effects of drugs on mystical experience.  Their work proved controversial, and Alpert and Leary moved to New York in 1963.  There they founded a group with the purpose of  raising consciousness and the divinity within, through drugs.

In 1967 Alpert travelled to India, where he encountered the guru Maharaj-ji, and found spiritual love; Maharaj-ji re-named him Baba Ram Dass.  He returned to the U.S. and in 1971 published a book of his teachings, entitled  “Be Here Now”, under his new name.  In the book, he recounted his spiritual journey.  He subsequently began to teach and work with groups for the betterment of society.  One of his students was Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, whose valuable work with the dying is legendary.  Ram Dass gave all his profits from his books and teachings to charities.

He re-examined his original religion Judaism at the age of 60, with the explanation “My belief is that I wasn’t born into Judaism by accident, and so I needed to find ways to honor that. From a Hindu perspective, you are born as what you need to deal with, and if you just try and push it away, whatever it is, it’s got you.”

In later life he worked with other new age teachers such as Jack Kornfield (author of The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness and Peace”)  and Wayne Dyer.


In February 1997 he suffered a stroke, which left him with expressive aphasia, making it more difficult for him to speak.  The way he saw this was “The stroke was giving me lessons, and I realized that was grace—fierce grace … Death is the biggest change we’ll face, so we need to practice change.”  This attitude was entirely consistent with his main transit of the time, Neptune sextile his Midheaven in Pisces in the 9th House (a spiritual surrender and orientation).

“The heart surrenders everything to the moment. The mind judges and holds back.”

~ Baba Ram Dass

“Home is not somewhere else.

It is here, in life and death, in the eternal dance of consciousness, weaving together form and the formless mystery from which it all comes.

Ram Dass is the vastness reminding us that in the end, there is only love.” ~

eulogy by Jack Kornfield


Mercury left Sagittarius and entered Capricorn early this morning, almost declaring an end to the party season.  Now we have the Sun, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn, plus two of the asteroids, Ceres and Pholus.  We are well and truly in the mental mode of Capricorn, which is practicality, and systematic and methodical thinking. Mercury in Capricorn favours planning (so helps with planning the forthcoming year), and if you had bright ideas over the festive season while Mercury was in Sagittarius you may start to put them into action, or shape them into a practical plan to precede action.  Official documentation may need to be worked on, forms to fill, authorities to interview, etc.

There is uplift for the mind tomorrow evening (Monday 30th) when Uranus trines Mercury, adding innovation and originality to the mix.  If you lacked inspiration as you worked on Sunday, Uranus will add extra spice to your mind, ideas, plans, and documentation. You will be more able to think outside the box.  Mental brilliance, technological upgrades, lightbulb moments, and futuristic inspiration can be yours.  You can upgrade technological appliances more easily under this aspect.  You may receive new ideas about your path for 2019, embellishing your hopes and wishes ready for the start of the year.


Even better news arrives on Thursday (2nd January), with a conjunction between Mercury and Jupiter.  This favours learning and education, communication and good news, sales and transport.  It’s an optimistic mindset, so good for the start of the year.  If your transport issues have taken a battering recently, there may be light at the end of the tunnel, though this is usually the time of year rail networks announce price rises (so it’s good news for the providers).  And it will be good for business and the high street sales.  Aside from that, there should be plenty of enjoyment and philosophical awareness around on that day.

Mars enters Sagittarius on Friday (3rd), which is another bright note.  Mars tends to be intense and combative in Scorpio, so in Sagittarius it can use its energy differently; it has permission to be an Adventurer!  If you haven’t gone back to work yet, and you want to re-kindle your inner pirate, you could watch old swashbuckling Errol Flynn films, or the Pirates of the Caribbean series.  Whether to channel your inner Errol Flynn or Johnny Depp, you decide.  A new fitness regime would have added gusto at this time, or the mental gymnastics of a new philosophical study.

Whatever you choose to go for, Happy New Year to you!

The week in bullet points:

  • Today – knuckling down to mental work
  • Tomorrow – mental brilliance
  • Thursday – good news
  • Friday – new energy