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It's Here Now (Are You?) Paperback – September 15, 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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

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.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony (September 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076790009X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767900096
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #538,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was very interested in reading this book especially after
reading "Be Here Now" by Ram Dass. I had wondered after reading that book what became of Bhagavan Das.
First I will say that Bhagavan Das deserves credit for his honest account of his journey. He certainly paints a picture of himself that I personally did not find too admirable and I give him credit for his honesty.
This book has tremendous energy and is very hard to put down. The different experiences he has are described vividly and with focus and emotion. You feel like you are living each sentence with him as he goes through his ever changing situations.
Bhagavan Das is constantly caught in a battle between the spirit and the flesh. He's almost analogous to a manic depressive who experiences extreme highs and lows, except in his
case he goes between extreme devotion and extreme narcissism.
I did get very disturbed by his self indulgent behavior, not just in his narcissistic drug, sex and spiritual phases but in the way he abandoned his wives and children so that he could indulge in his spiritual quest. This seemed to be a major cop-out to me. He seemed to run away from his responsibilities in the name of spirituality.
Also from a spiritual standpoint he seemed too obsessed with finding spiritual experiences of "bliss" which seemed also a form of escapism. True spirituality (in my opinion and experience)has very little to do with "states" of bliss but rather are found with finding the beauty in life itself in the present moment. All the "spiritual fireworks" he speaks of seem to be no more than a lot of spiritual masturbation.
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Format: Paperback
This book should be called "I'm Escaping The Present Moment And All Responsibility For My Actions Now, Are You?"

This book is hard to review without judging the man who wrote it. In terms of literary merit, it is not well written. It reads more like an outline of a vast array of psychedelic events that never goes into any one event very deeply. That being said, it is a fascinating tale of an extraordinarily conflicted man who constantly contradicts himself and loves to swing between extremes. A great, if tragic character.

The value in this book is not found in any wisdom Bhag. Das may (or may not) have gleaned, but in the colorful picture it paints of the spiritual scene in late 60s India and early 70s America. The book is an intriguing portrait of what it was like to be right in the middle of it. The real gurus, the fake gurus, the zealous devotees, the drugs, the sex, the confusion. In India he studied with several famous teachers and when he gets back to America, Allen Ginsberg, Alan Watts (who was apparently a notorious drunk!) and Ram Dass, among others are constantly floating in and out of his life. It is also an interesting to see how he dealt with his unwanted fame.

Bhagavan Das says that in America he was living like a "spiritual rock star." Spiritual hypocrite is more like it. The book is rampant with examples of how he uses his spiritual quest as a way to escape from his own present reality. For example, in a chapter in which he claims to have been learning about devotion from his Native American "grandfather", he also describes how he had a stream of girls going in and out of his teepee while his wife and child were "in the background" in Santa Fe.
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Format: Paperback
This is an interesting story and a page-turner. It definitely rambles and becomes incoherent, especially towards the end. I was left wondering about all the contradictions between the professed spirituality of Bhagavan Das, especially his 'deep' spiritual experiences in India, and then the full-blown hedonism and ego-centered pleasure that he pursued later. But in the end they were really the same pursuit.

It seems that his Guru never taught him that Yoga includes moral precepts, called the yamas and niyamas. These include practices such as celibacy, purity, and contentment. BD goes hog-wild for the drugs, booze, and women without a thought to these principles. The story seems to become more of a memoir to the anything-goes 'if it feels good do it' mentality/morality of the 60's. He's definitely looking for the ultimate high for himself and NOT spiritual contentment or service to others, especially his wives or children.

I think if the spiritual experiences he describes were really authentic, he would have behaved with some self-control and concern for others. Real practice cultivates peace within and compassion for others without. It's not always these dramatic fireworks and orgasms of merging into Infinity. What good is that? Also, you can't behave like a sex-and-drug-crazed-psycho and think you are a holy man. The constant changing of gurus, deities, mantras, wives, practices, etc. is classic 'monkey-mind' behavior. There is nothing holy or balanced about it.

The huge consumption of drugs throughout the story makes me wonder if BD wasn't delusional and after reading it I felt like I had taken a bad acid trip with him for 15 hours. I was glad it was over.
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