If we are looking for a teacher who will magically turn us into enlightened saints without effort on our part, then we’re really looking for Santa Claus, not a spiritual teacher.
The sole purpose of a true teacher is to promote our spiritual growth. Being with a true teacher is not easy. The teacher causes us to face our impure desires and emotions, our egotism, and our agitated mind, so that we can purify and calm ourselves.
So, to learn from a spiritual teacher, we have to exert effort to raise ourselves spiritually We have to do our sadhana (spiritual practice). It’s not realistic to hope a teacher will remove all of our impurities and lift us up to the heights without any effort on our part.
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.
"Through self-analysis you come to know that you are not only a physical being, you are not only a breathing being, you are not only a sensing being, and you are not only a thinking being. You have a body, breath, senses, and mind, but you are something more than this.
People continue to build shrines, chapels, churches, and temples. You don’t have to do this, just realize that you are a living shrine. The day you have attained the knowledge that the Lord lives within you, you will be in samadhi. All questions will be answered, all problems will be resolved.
As you progress in the practice of meditation, the mind becomes one-pointed and calm. Such a tranquil mind begins working in accordance with the intellect. No contradiction remains between the functions of mind and intellect. The impurities of mind, such as doubt and conflict that usually pollute the intellect, are removed from the mind. Intellect is no longer disturbed by the activities of the mind, and you experience an extraordinary inner peace.
Intellect is described in the scriptures as a mirror that is in very close proximity to Atman. As long as the mirror of intellect is clean, it reflects the clearest and least distorted vision of Atman. If the intellect is colored with the thoughts and feelings of the lower mind, it presents a distorted picture of the Atman. According to the Upanishads, one should remove all the impurities from the mind, and make the mind free from all doubts and conflicts, so the intellect can be as pure as crystal.
An intellect free from the influences of the lower mind finds itself in a well-balanced state. Only such an intellect is capable of making an aspirant self-confident and self-reliant. Through such an intellect, the meditator knows that the goal of life is not far away.
An intellect free from the disturbances of the lower mind attains the illumination of the Atman from above. Darkness belonging to the realms of mind and senses cannot exist in the light of an illumined intellect. In the absence of all thought constructs, the lower mind merges into the intellect.
When intellect is absorbed in the Divine Light that is the state of samadhi, the state of fearlessness and immortality. As long as one takes refuge in worldly objects, the body, pranic energy, and the forces of the lower mind, one remains a victim of old age, death, and rebirth.
When the intellect is fully illuminated by the light of the Atman, one becomes fearless. At the dawn of spiritual enlightenment, the mind and the intellect find their place in the kingdom of Atman, and one thereby attains freedom from the pairs of opposites such as pain and pleasure. This is the highest state of freedom.
When an individual learns to expand his consciousness or unites with the universal consciousness, then he no longer remains within the bounds of his karma. He is totally free.
You should do your duty in the world with love, and that alone will contribute significantly to your progress in the path of enlightenment.
One who dwells in the domain of the Atman does not belong to a particular family, society, or nation. Rather, he is part of all of humanity. He loves the welfare of all, as much as he loves his own Atman."
- Swami Rama in The Essence of Spiritual Life, pages 90-91