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.
"There are positive powers within every human being, and the power of emotion is one of the highest. It can enlighten one if he learns to direct that force properly. Buddha said, 'Learn to light your own lamp. No one else can give you salvation.' One simply has to know the light behind this lamp of light.
There was a sage in Punjab whose name was Bulleshah. Someone once asked him, 'Sir, tell me, how can I attain God?' He said, 'Why are you bewildered? It is very easy to attain God. Simply disconnect yourself here,' he said, pointing downward, 'and connect yourself there' - pointing up. 'Direct your emotions upward toward God and never forget these words: "This body is like a shrine, and He who dwells within, that Light within, is the Bright Being in you. Know Him first!’
To do this, one does not necessarily have to make any changes in his daily life or withdraw from the world. Only one's attitudes toward life and toward the world should change. To find peace one need not run away, sit under a tree, or go live in a monastery or in the Himalayas. All the sages were not renunciates. Many of them lived in the world because they knew how to organize, how to control, and how to direct their energies.
Anyone who is able to do that is free here and now. He lives above like a lotus, the symbol of yoga science. The lotus grows in the mud, in the water, but it keeps its petals free from the effects of the water and the mud. In the same way, a person of awareness learns how to live in the world and yet remain unaffected by it.
So one can live wherever he is, but he should learn or organize his actions, his thinking process, and his emotions. We human beings have that capacity, but it will not be realized as long as we limit ourselves to matter, energy, and mind. One has to learn to understand bhava, the power of emotion."
-Swami Rama in Choosing a Path, Pages 71 & 72