cover image It's Here Now (Are You?): A Spiritual Memoir

It's Here Now (Are You?): A Spiritual Memoir

Bhagavan Das. Broadway Books, $22.22 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-7679-0008-9

In 1964, Michael Riggs began a pilgrimage from California to India that changed his life and transformed him into Bhagavan Das, a Hindu guru. Das opens this spiritual memoir by recalling how India both fascinated and repelled him, and by recounting his introduction to Hindu spirituality at the Temple of Silence in Firozpur. As Michael Riggs, Das searched persistently for the spiritual fulfillment that had eluded him in California and came under the wings of a number of Indian teachers, including Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. On his search, Riggs eventually came under the tutelage of his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, and took the name Bhagavan Das as he set off on his new path as a sadhu, or Hindu holy man. Das describes his journeys through India, where he taught pilgrims Hindu spirituality and the love of the Divine Mother that ""pulsates inside and outside us."" When Das began to explore Buddhism, he met Ram Dass, and he later joined up with Dass, Allen Ginsberg, Jerry Garcia and others to form a kind of traveling guru band in the U.S. The adoration and celebrity that surrounded Das in his public appearances caused him to abandon his focus on the spiritual and to descend into the physical world of drugs, money and sex. As he began to realize the error of his ways, Das returned to the fold and found a new audience eager for New Age spiritual teachers. While Das's memoir is an exhilarating excursion into a time when psychedelic drugs, peripatetic pilgrimages and confessional poetry often combined to reveal spirituality, the book is remarkable for its shallowness and lack of insight: ""I was drawn to Shiva; I liked the way he looked. He was naked; he smoked dope."" (Oct.)