Be Here Now
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"Be Here Now" Characters Analysis

By Ram Dass

spirituality | 416 pages | Published in NaN

Describes one man's transformation upon his acceptance of the principles of Yoga & gives a modern restatement of the importance of the spiritual side of human nature. Illustrated.The book is divided into four sections:Journey: The Transformation: Dr Richard Alpert, PhD into Baba Ram DassFrom Bindu to Ojas: The Core BookCookbook for a Sacred Life: A Manual for Conscious BeingPainted Cakes (Do Not Satisfy Hunger): Books


Estimated read time: 7 min read

Table of Contents

  1. List of Characters

List of Characters

Ram DassProtagonist
Richard AlpertAuthor
Maharaj-jiSpiritual Teacher
Timothy LearyFriend and colleague

Role Identification

In the book "Be Here Now" by Ram Dass, several key characters play significant roles in the author's spiritual journey and transformation. The main character and protagonist of the book is Ram Dass himself. Other notable characters include Richard Alpert (the author's previous identity), Maharaj-ji (a spiritual teacher), and Timothy Leary (a friend and colleague).

Character Descriptions

Ram Dass

Ram Dass, born Richard Alpert, is the central character and narrator of the book "Be Here Now." He starts the story as a Harvard professor and psychologist, known for his work in the field of consciousness exploration with Timothy Leary. After experiencing a profound spiritual awakening through the teachings of Maharaj-ji, Ram Dass embarks on a transformative journey to find meaning and enlightenment.

Richard Alpert

Richard Alpert, also known as Ram Dass, is the author of the book and the former identity of the main character. As a Harvard professor and psychologist, Alpert was known for his research on psychedelics and consciousness alongside Timothy Leary. However, his encounter with Maharaj-ji leads him to question his previous beliefs and embark on a spiritual quest that ultimately leads to his transformation into Ram Dass.


Maharaj-ji, also known as Neem Karoli Baba, is a revered spiritual teacher who plays a significant role in Ram Dass's journey. Maharaj-ji is described as a saintly figure with extraordinary wisdom and compassion. His teachings and presence deeply impact Ram Dass, leading him to explore spirituality, meditation, and the path of devotion.

Timothy Leary

Timothy Leary, a well-known psychologist and former colleague of Ram Dass, is mentioned in the book as an influential figure in the author's life. Leary and Ram Dass conducted consciousness research together at Harvard, often using psychedelics. While Leary's approach leans more towards the use of drugs for spiritual exploration, Ram Dass's path takes a different direction after his encounter with Maharaj-ji.

Character Traits

Ram Dass

Ram Dass's character is characterized by curiosity, intellect, and a thirst for spiritual knowledge. He is courageous in his pursuit of truth and willing to challenge societal norms and expectations. Ram Dass demonstrates humility and a deep sense of compassion, traits that develop as he undergoes his transformation. He is also a gifted communicator, using his experiences to inspire and guide others on their spiritual journeys.

Richard Alpert

Richard Alpert, prior to his transformation into Ram Dass, is depicted as an intelligent and ambitious academic. He is driven by a desire to explore the mysteries of the mind and consciousness. Alpert's character initially reflects a more conventional approach to understanding spirituality and the human experience, but his encounter with Maharaj-ji causes a shift in his perspective.


Maharaj-ji's character is portrayed as wise, compassionate, and deeply spiritual. He possesses a profound understanding of the human condition and imparts his wisdom through simple yet profound teachings. Maharaj-ji's unconditional love and ability to see beyond the illusion of ego leave a lasting impact on Ram Dass, transforming his understanding of spirituality and his connection to others.

Timothy Leary

Timothy Leary is portrayed as a charismatic and provocative figure in the book. He embodies a more experimental and unconventional approach to spirituality through the use of psychedelics. While Leary's character is not as central to the narrative as Ram Dass and Maharaj-ji, his influence on Ram Dass's early exploration of consciousness cannot be overlooked.

Character Background

Ram Dass

Born as Richard Alpert in 1931, Ram Dass had a privileged upbringing in a Jewish family. He pursued a career in academia and became a prominent psychologist and professor at Harvard University. Ram Dass's involvement with Timothy Leary in psychedelic research brought him recognition and controversy. However, his personal journey took a profound turn when he encountered Maharaj-ji during a trip to India in the 1960s.

Richard Alpert

Richard Alpert, before his transformation into Ram Dass, had an accomplished academic career. He received a Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University and went on to teach at Harvard University. Alpert's research on psychedelics gained attention, but his dismissal from Harvard in 1963 marked a turning point in his life, leading him to explore spirituality and eventually become Ram Dass.


Maharaj-ji, born as Neem Karoli Baba in 1900, was a revered spiritual teacher in India. He attracted followers from various backgrounds, including Ram Dass and other Western seekers. Maharaj-ji's teachings emphasized love, devotion, and selfless service. His influence on Ram Dass and the spiritual community in the West continues to be profound.

Timothy Leary

Timothy Leary, born in 1920, was an American psychologist and writer known for his advocacy of psychedelic substances. He worked as a professor at Harvard University and conducted controversial research on the effects of LSD and other substances. Leary's experimentation with psychedelics and his countercultural influence played a role in Ram Dass's early exploration of consciousness.

Character Arcs

Ram Dass

Ram Dass's character arc in "Be Here Now" is one of transformation and self-discovery. Through his encounter with Maharaj-ji, he undergoes a spiritual awakening that challenges his previous beliefs and identity as Richard Alpert. Ram Dass's journey takes him from a conventional academic life to a path of spiritual exploration, ultimately leading him to become a beloved spiritual teacher and author.

Richard Alpert

Richard Alpert's character arc is closely intertwined with Ram Dass's transformation. As Ram Dass, he discards his previous identity and embarks on a spiritual quest to find deeper meaning and understanding. The encounter with Maharaj-ji serves as a catalyst for Alpert's transformation, leading him to shed his former academic pursuits and embrace a more heart-centered and compassionate approach to spirituality.


While Maharaj-ji's character arc is not explicitly depicted in the book, his presence and teachings serve as a catalyst for the transformation of both Ram Dass and countless others. Maharaj-ji's teachings emphasize the importance of love, selflessness, and devotion. His influence on Ram Dass's character arc showcases the power of a spiritual teacher to inspire profound personal growth and transformation.


Ram Dass and Maharaj-ji

The relationship between Ram Dass and Maharaj-ji forms the heart of the book. Maharaj-ji becomes Ram Dass's spiritual guide, challenging his beliefs and opening him up to new dimensions of love and spirituality. Ram Dass's deep love and devotion towards Maharaj-ji are evident throughout the book, and Maharaj-ji's teachings serve as a guiding light for Ram Dass's transformation.

Ram Dass and Timothy Leary

Ram Dass and Timothy Leary share a complex relationship characterized by their shared interest in consciousness exploration. While Leary's approach leans more towards the use of psychedelics, Ram Dass's encounter with Maharaj-ji causes a shift in his perspective and spiritual path. Despite their differing paths, Ram Dass and Leary maintain a connection and friendship, albeit with distinct spiritual trajectories.

In conclusion, the characters in "Be Here Now" by Ram Dass play pivotal roles in the author's spiritual journey and transformation. Ram Dass's encounter with Maharaj-ji and his subsequent transformation into a spiritual teacher are at the core of the narrative. This character analysis provides insight into the traits, backgrounds, arcs, and relationships of the key characters, highlighting their significance in shaping the author's spiritual evolution.