Who says funny names have to be long? From the seven-letter laughfest of Ed Balls to the eccentric stylings of Kip Sopp, shorter names have certainly also held that awesome power of attracting the attentions of funny names bloggers. Joining in on that honored group today is celebrated spiritual teacher and friend to giggly teenagers everywhere, Ram Dass.
Yes, Ram Dass. Go ahead and giggle for a minute and I’ll wait over here.
Okay. Ram Dass was actually born Richard Alpert (cue suspicious thoughts in the eyes of Lost fans) in the eastern spiritual hotbed of Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated High School as part of the Cum Laude Association (thee-hee-hee) in 1948 and went on to earn degrees at Tufts and Wesleyan, and finished up with a doctorate from Stanford. But that was only the beginning of a lifetime devoted to learning and exploration.
Dass wound up at Harvard, where he conducted seminal research into some mind-expanding chemicals with Timothy Leary. Once things got a little too hot for Harvard, funny-named school President Nathan M. Pusey dismissed the both of them. He probably has some cool stories though.
Alpert, as he was still known, traveled to India, where he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, who could certainly be our official Funny Names Blog Guru as well with a name like that. It was Mr. Baba who named our hero Baba Ram Dass, meaning “servant of God”. I can only assume Baba was not familiar with colloquial English or how it would sound when he got back. Or maybe he did and liked a giggle as much as the rest of us. Very possible.
Dass now runs a popular podcast online, and is a celebrated spiritual teacher thanks to his massively successful book Be Here Now, which he published in 1971. It has sold more than two million copies to date, which is less than 1/30th of the copies sold of Fifty Shades of Grey so far, but pretty good regardless. It was definitely more popular than most books with chapter titles like “Painted Cakes Don’t Satisfy Hunger” and “From Binju to Oras”.
Ram Dass also founded several foundations advancing education and the general pursuit of goodness in the world, including the Seva Foundation, which he to our great joy co-founded with men named Wavy Gravy and Larry Brilliant. That foundation has, among other things, restored eyesight to more than 3 million blind people suffering from cataract blindness in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, which is a pretty terrific thing to do. Another testament to the limitless power of funny named people.
And that’s why Ram Dass has today joined our Funny Names Hall of Name Fame.