Ram Dass was born in 1931 as Richard Alpert, son of a wealthy lawyer who was the president of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad and founder of Brandeis University. After studying psychology and earning an M.A. from Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. from Stanford University, he taught and conducted research at Harvard University's Department of Social Relations and Graduate School of Education from 1958 to 1963.While at Harvard, Ram Dass's explorations of human consciousness led him to conduct intensive research with LSD and other psychedelic elements in collaboration with Timothy Leary, Aldous Huxley, Allen Ginsberg, and others. Because of the controversial nature of this research, Ram Dass and Leary were dismissed from Harvard in 1963.In 1967, he traveled to India and met his spiritual teacher, Neem Karoli Baba. Under his guru's guidance, he studied yoga and meditation and received the name Ram Dass, or "servant of God." Since 1968, he has pursued a variety of spiritual practices, including Hinduism, karma, yoga, and Sufism.In 1974, Ram Dass created the Hanuman Foundation, which has developed many projects, including the "Prison-Ashram Project," designed to help inmates grow spiritually during incarceration, and the "Living Dying Project," which provides support for the conscious dying. The foundation is also the organizing vehicle for Ram Dass's lectures and workshops, which keep him traveling the world.Ram Dass is also a cofounder and board member of the Seva Foundation ("service," in Sanskrit), an international organization dedicated to relieving suffering in the world. Among its efforts, Seva supports programs designed to help wipe out curable blindness in India and Nepal, restore the agricultural life of impoverished villagers in Guatemala, assist in primary health care for American Indians, and bring attention to the issues of homelessness and environmental degradation in the United States.