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.
We cannot all of a sudden wake one moment and let go of all attachments. It is a lifetime’s work to undo the habit of forming attachments and requires attention every day, because the attractions and temptations of the world constantly work to strengthen attachments.
While spiritual seekers work on non-attachment, they must at some time develop some understanding of what death is and what it does. Does death merely mean the end of life? Is it just this horrible event that comes without invitation, like some evil that crawls in the dark?
From an eastern metaphysical point of view, death cannot end life. The body stops and a person’s moment in a particular blip of time and space ends. The individual does not end. From this perspective death does not appear dark and horrible. Death is as natural as birth, even as miraculous and beautiful as birth. Death, as well as birth, leads to life and growth.
In such a perspective, and individual enters a blip of time and space for a specific purpose and for a specific span of time. It is like plowing and sowing a field in spring. The time and conditions are right to accomplish a purpose. The job must be done then. When the job is completed, there is no reason to remain in the field. Then it is time to wait, allow the seeds to sprout and the crops to grow. When the growing season is done, it is time to revisit the field – another purpose, another time.
- Swami Rama in Sacred Journey: Living Purposefully and Dying Gracefully, page 111