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 the religions of the world have been promising the vision of God, mental peace, salvation, and many kinds of temptations to their followers, but so far nothing has come true. The more that people are involved in sectarian religious activities, the more likely they are to become disappointed because of frustrated expectations of God and religion. Many preachers claim that if their teachings are followed without question, believers will find salvation. But after they return from their church or temple, they are frequently more stressed, frustrated, and worried about their problems than are “non-believers.”
Mere belief in God alone does not satisfy the students of life who are searching for Ultimate Truth. Suppose a student believes in the existence of God but is not emotionally mature and does not have a peaceful mind. Such a student does not have tranquility and equanimity, which are the main prerequisites for enlightenment. On the path of enlightenment, it is necessary to have control over the senses and mind, but it is not necessary to have belief in God. Enlightenment is a state of freedom from the ignorance that causes suffering, and attaining this is the prime necessity of every human life. There is no necessity to attain mere belief in God, but it is necessary to have profound knowledge of the truth which lies behind the concept of the word God.
The word G-O-D is not God. The religionists, because they superimpose their own limited fantasies upon the truth and call it God, suffer more than the people who do not believe in the concept of God. If Ultimate Truth is called God, then there is no difficulty. Then it can be practiced with mind, action, and speech, and once the truth is known with mind, action, and speech, knowledge is complete. But having faith in the fantasies of the religionists creates limited boundaries for the human intellect and leads to a religious atmosphere in which the poor followers must suffer until the last breaths of their lives.”
- Swami Rama in Enlightenment without God