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.
"It is a mistake to think there is no free will, that the entire universe and what happens to anyone and everyone are predetermined by something called karma. There is free will. That is the point of karma. Those arrows that have not yet been shot are still in the quiver of our will. We choose which arrows to shoot and when. We decide and act. How we do so determines the future. Something or someone apart from us does not decide our fate. The future is our own design in all its detail, good or bad, sorrowful or joyful. We chose how to live in the past by what we did, said, thought, and desired. We are choosing now in the present. Karma is the law of cause and effect, but free will enables us to eventually transcend the bondage of the law.
This is reassuring and empowering. Instead of placing blame for life’s circumstances on God, fate, or others, a person takes full responsibility. The power of growth is in that. From life to life, and circumstance to circumstance, a person creates and chooses what is needed for growth at any given moment in the long evolution towards enlightenment. Each soul chooses the parents and family situation he or she needs, the role in society, and the mix of ease and discomfort, to provide the perfect opportunity for progress on the path toward freedom."
- Swami Rama in Sacred Journey: Living Purposefully and Dying Gracefully pages 54-55.