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 sages say that the only difference between you and them lies in the nature of your thoughts and your mind. If someone tells you that you are bad or have done something wrong you accept it, and you become bad. If you even think it, then you feel bad. You cannot forget about that. You want to forgive yourself, but you have a habit of retaining such negative thoughts. Some people retain good and helpful thoughts, and others retain negative and passive thoughts. That is why the view of yoga is that those thoughts that are helpful should be encouraged, and those thoughts that are not helpful should not be encouraged. On the path of meditation you learn this process.
Suppose a thought comes into the mind that you should slap someone. The faculty of discrimination can tell you that it is not a good thing to do, and then the thought will diminish. An ordinary man retains the negative thought, while a sage allows it to pass away.
There is one issue that is very practical and concrete, and you should remember it if you really want to practice meditation. Often a thought comes into your mind and you become absorbed by that thought because of your habits and lack of training. Then, after a few minutes or hours, you suddenly wake up; you wonder what has happened and why this thought has controlled you. You need to practice to be free from the strong grip of those thoughts that do that to you. If one thought comes and then another thought comes, and if this continues indefinitely, then what becomes of your mind?
Then your mind is a catalogue of thoughts, which include desires, wishes and wants, and you can put them into various categories, such as inclinations or sensations. You can certainly create a hell that way! Every individual makes hell for himself. You create hell wherever you go because wherever you go, your mind goes with you. As we said earlier, the world created by you is the mind. When you use the word “mine” and emphasize your individual identity, you strengthen your sense of “I”. That is a mental habit: you strengthen that vibration by repeating and repeating “I”. But this sense of “I” is ignorance; it is what keeps you from expanding your sense of self. By taking off this shackle and barrier for yourself, you are beginning to understand your essential nature. You create this barrier of the ego out of insecurity."
- Swami Rama in Path of Fire and Light Volume 2