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.
“As we become more spiritually evolved, we become less self-interested and self-involved; we should then also become more active in the world. We can continue to do our work and contribute to our world for as long as there is life. Life is meant to be an opportunity for selfless action, and we should always enjoy and find pleasure in these actions that we do for others.
All human beings enjoy doing pleasant things for themselves, but so do most animals. When a human being lives only on the primitive level - eating, sleeping, having sex, and experiencing fear because of the primitive urge for self-preservation - that person resembles an animal. The difference between animals and human beings is that people have the capacity to empathize, express compassion, and do things for the welfare of others, while most animals act to satisfy their own needs. Human beings have the power to continually increase their understanding of life, and as this understanding grows, they realize more completely how they are related to others. Finally, when their evolving awareness leads them to become totally selfless, they become free from the bondage of karma. Then, wise people experience a deep inner joy. They think, "This is life! What more do I need or desire? I need and want nothing else; when I desire nothing, then I am never disappointed in life."
- Swami Rama in Love and Family Life page 102