Who FIRST said “you have to be somebody before you can be nobody” and where?

The two major contestants for this answer are Jack Engler and Ram Dass. I am trying to find a reliable source for either of them. I am not attached either way, as long as I can back it up.

3 thoughts on “Who FIRST said “you have to be somebody before you can be nobody” and where?

  1. I believe the quote you are looking for is from Ram Das’s book “Be Here Now”:
    “The game is not about becoming somebody, it’s about becoming nobody.”

  2. Jack Engler is one of the pioneers of transpersonal theory, a relatively new way of thinking about human development in which Western psychological theory meets Eastern enlightenment philosophy. He is a practicing psychotherapist who also teaches Theravada Buddhist “mindfulness” meditation and Buddhist psychology. He is also the man who made the by-now famous declaration: “You have to be somebody before you can be nobody.” His statement has become a catchphrase in much of the Western Buddhist world and almost a commandment among transpersonal psychologists and theorists. Because enlightenment is traditionally understood to be about the death of the ego, I wanted to ask this psychologist who is deeply steeped in Buddhist practice and philosophy what he meant when he originally made that statement back in 1981.

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