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.
"The whole universe is a family, and we are all members of this family. Everyone should work for each other exactly as a family member works for the other members of the family. If everyone would work to help each other, all would become jivan muktas (liberated beings). Many people put a percentage of whatever they earn into a savings account thinking that the day might come when they will be sick and will need medical care. This means they are actually earning and preparing themselves for sickness. If you do that, you are directing your life toward sickness and uselessly keeping that fear in your mind. Instead you could be charitable and give something to someone who is sick now and needs help. Such a selfless act would give you great joy.
To do charitable work is considered to be one of the finest of all actions, provided you do it for the right reason. Unfortunately many people do charitable work to satisfy their egotistical whims. When you decide to help someone, selfishness and ego should not be involved. If you are doing something for someone, never expect anything in return. Otherwise, your real motive is to help yourself, not someone else. Rich people often do charity because they are afraid they might not get riches again if they don’t share what they have, and also because they want name and fame. Some people want to do charity for the sake of their departed loved ones, while others give so they themselves will be benefited after death. Another reason for giving to charity is so others will say what a great person you are. But all of these are low levels of charity. Only a fortunate few do charitable work for the right reason. Those who understand the law of karma, do charitable work so they will be rewarded in their next lifetime. Charity done in this manner is definitely helpful in the path of enlightenment."
- Swami Rama in Sadhana: The Path to Enlightenment, Pages 134-135