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.
To be on a spiritual path with a guru is not an easy thing. It is not pleasant. The guru tests the disciples, puts them in the most difficult situations, and creates obstacles for them. All the tests, difficulties, and obstacles are meant to train and expand the consciousness of the disciple.
That is the sole work of the guru. The guru wants nothing from the disciple. Guru is that force moving a soul toward enlightenment. The guru’s actions are from pure compassion. As the sun shines and lives far above, the guru gives spiritual love and remains unattached.
Guru is a channel for spiritual knowledge. Jesus repeatedly reminded his disciples of this. “I have not spoken of myself, but the Father who sent me.” The Father is that stream of pure knowledge. Jesus, as an enlightened being, was attuned to that knowledge.
No human being can ever become a guru. Guru is not a human experience, or, better said, guru is not a sensory experience. It is a divine experience to be a guru. A human being allows herself or himself to be used as a channel for receiving and transmitting by the power of powers. Then it happens. Then guru manifests. To do that, a human being must learn to be selfless, must learn to love. Real love expects nothing. That is how genuine gurus live. Selfless love is the basis of their enlightenment, and the basis of their roles as channels of knowledge.
Guru is not the goal. Anyone who establishes himself as a guru to be worshipped, is not a guru. Christ, Buddha, and other great persons did not set up any such example. Guru is like a boat for crossing the river. It is important to have a good boat and it is very dangerous to have a boat that is leaking. The boat brings you across the river. When the river is crossed the boat is no longer necessary. You don’t hang onto the boat after completing the journey, and you certainly don’t worship the boat.
Many times students come to the guru with a preconceived idea of what the guru should be like. They come with expectations of what the guru is there to do for them. Perhaps the students think the guru should give them much attention, or make decisions for them, or take on troubles they have created for themselves. Sometimes the students think the guru should behave in a certain way. When these expectations and preconceived images are not met, the student becomes upset and may even leave the guru.
This is not the proper way to approach a teacher. A student should not be filled with expectations and preconceived images, but with a burning desire to learn, and with firm determination. Then there will be no difficulty. The guru and the disciple can then do their work accordingly.
The spiritual seeker should not worry about who the guru is, or what the guru will do. The seeker’s first concern is getting prepared, organizing her or his life and thoughts in a spiritually healthy way, and then working toward a way of life that simplifies and purifies. At the right time the master will be there.
Once the guru has arrived, the methods and behavior of the guru should not be the disciple’s concern. The disciple’s work is to act on the instructions and teachings of the master, and at the same time work toward more and more selflessness and surrender of the ego. It is the ego that is the principle barrier to enlightenment.
A spiritual master’s ways of teaching are many and sometimes mysterious. To one student the guru may show much attention, spending much time with a student, even doting on a particular student. Another student may be utterly ignored by the master. It doesn’t matter. Each student is getting a teaching, and because of the insight of the master, just the right teaching at the right time. The guru is not in a student’s life to give the student what the student thinks she wants, but rather to give what is needed to progress spiritually. . . .
The guru does not operate from what seems fair, or outwardly appropriate. He is not constrained to such cultural amenities. He can seem harsh, even brutal. He will put students in situations that make no sense, or are very uncomfortable. He will say things that won’t make any sense for months. He will ask things of students that students think are impossible. Everything the guru is doing is for the growth of the student. The student need only have faith in that fact.
The guru also teaches without words or actions. As the disciple learns to surrender and move the ego out of the way, and grows more selfless, the ability to learn intuitively from the guru grows. The student learns in the cave of silence. It is like tuning into the guru’s frequency or plugging into that stream of knowledge. The guru is always working from there. The disciple’s role is to gradually learn to also work from that place. The disciple learns this by doing all duties with love, by being non-attached, and by surrendering. The disciple should always be striving to purify and prepare for more and greater knowledge. Then God will say, “I want to enter this living temple that you are.” Remove the impurities and you will find that the one who wants to know reality is the source of reality.
There is also the activity of grace. Grace is the impulse or the impetus of the energy to dispel darkness. There is the grace of the scriptures, from the wisdom that has passed down from others. There is the grace of the teacher, who imparts that wisdom and helps bring it to life in the student. There is the grace of God, or pure consciousness, that is alive and everpresent in everyone’s life. Integral to these three graces is the grace of oneself, having the will to undertake a purposeful journey in life, to do the spiritual work of life, and to prepare oneself.
- Swami Rama in Sacred Journey:Living Purposefully and Dying Gracefully.
Original post by: The Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust