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.
This following is an excerpt from Let the Bud of Life Bloom: A Guide to Raising Happy and Healthy Children by Swami Rama.
"When you practice meditation, initially you come in touch with yourself and all your thought patterns; you come to understand your inner dialogue. Then, you learn to discriminate—to select and reject; and finally, you learn how to work with yourself. These seeds should be sown in childhood.
Instead, believers of all faiths, clinging to external rituals, impose their ideals on their children and force them to participate in their time-honored customs. Children are taught to love and to worship pictures of Christ, Krishna, or other gods and goddesses, and sometimes even community or religious leaders. This does not help them to become independent or to acquire peace of mind. Children need to be taught how to cultivate divine virtues within themselves; they need to be taught how to look within, and how to find within in order to attain freedom. I think if everyone were to be given a spiritual education in childhood, they would have fewer problems living in the world. Without understanding the values of spirituality, with all its currents and crosscurrents, one becomes lost living in this jungle that is called world. The world is the real jungle; that which is considered to be the jungle is not the real jungle.
Most diseases originate in childhood. Children become ill because they have not learned the means of acquiring peace of mind. Why do you not lead your children to silence before they learn to be active? Mothers can do this if they are friends with their children. But these days mothers have no time. They go out and enjoy themselves while their children remain at home. The lack of communication between the younger generation and the parents is creating great chaos. First of all, you have to learn to respect the family institution where parents become counselors to their children, and where children accept their parents, not only as parents, but also as friends.
When you make meditation a part of your life, your children will follow your example. Exemplary education is very important for children. Children imitate their parents; you don’t have to teach them to meditate. Never do that. You should teach your children through example how to sit quietly and make their minds one-pointed. When you sit in meditation, your child will also come and sit next to you and pretend to do what you are doing. In this way the child will come to know what you are doing and will also form the habit of sitting with you."