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.
“All our actions are dependent on thought, all our thoughts are dependent on emotions, all our emotions are dependent on desires, and all the desires are dependent on four primitive fountains or innate urges that all human beings share. These are food, sex, sleep, and self-preservation. These four primitive fountains control the activities of all the creatures of the world.
Animals and human beings are equally motivated by these four urges, but human beings have the ability and means to establish orderly control over these four fountains. In dealing with any emotional problem, one has to analyze these four urges because all emotions arise from them. One thought form alone cannot be the source of emotions; it goes deeper than that. First, one should learn to study the four primitive urges and determine which has the most impact on his life, which controls his life. One of the greatest of all human agonies is not to be able to understand the primitive fountains and their impact on the human body and mind. When one learns to train his will and then uses it to control the four fountains, there is no question of “Don’t do this,” or “You have to do that.” Whatever one does, he does with full control. In the modern world, there is enough food, enough time to sleep and to enjoy things, but people do not seem to have the capacity or ability to make correct use of the objects of the world. They have no inner strength because they do not know how to regulate their emotional lives by regulating their appetites. Those who want to be powerful and creative in the external world, those who want to use their emotional power for enlightenment to attain the goal of human life, should learn to work on regulating the four appetites. One can easily learn to guide his emotional power by understanding his needs.”
- Swami Rama in Choosing A Path, pages 57-58