Time is flying. It's already a new year. Life is often so busy with work, relationships, travel, problems and more, that it's easy to get swept along with all one's attention engaged in just staying afloat. But all too soon, next year will be here. Then the next year, and so on. In all this hurry, if a little time is not taken, now, at the beginning of the year, to set one or more spiritual goals to work on this year, then that part of life will go wanting. So this is a good time to set such a goal.
"But what is a spiritual goal?" you might wonder.
One of the greatest adepts, teachers, writers, and humanitarians of the 20th century, Swami Rama (1925-1996) is the founder of the Himalayan Institute. Born in Northern India, he was raised from early childhood by the Himalayan sage, Bengali Baba. Under the guidance of his master, he traveled from monastery to monastery and studied with a variety of Himalayan saints and sages, including his grandmaster who was living in a remote region of Tibet. In addition to this intense spiritual training, Swami Rama received higher education in both India and Europe. From 1949 to 1952, he held the prestigious position of Shankaracharya of Karvirpitham in South India. Thereafter, he returned to his master to receive further training at his cave monastery, and finally in 1969, came to the United States where he founded the Himalayan Institute. His best known work, Living With the Himalayan Masters, reveals the many facets of this singular adept and demonstrates his embodiment of the living tradition of the East.
"The individual soul is bewildered because of its own impotence, which is self-acquired through its identification with the objects of the mind, which are constantly changing and decaying. Under the heavy, self-imposed weight of ignorance, desire, action and the longing to reap the fruits of action, the individual soul is drowned in the ocean of samsara.
Suppose a swimmer reverses the correct technique of paddling with his hands: if, rather than propelling his hands away from his body, and thus pushing himself forward, he instead pulls the water in toward him, he will drown. As long as the individual soul does not yet have the knowledge of how to renounce and destroy all its fetters, he cannot cross the mire of delusion created by the ocean of samsara.
When the same swimmer or aspirant knows and practices the techniques of tyaga and vairagya, he gains freedom from the fetters created by the superimposition of his own creation."
- Swami Rama in Wisdom of the Ancient Sages: Mundaka Upanishad pages 122-123