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 word consciousness is often used in modern psychology and philosophical literature. It is used for Atmajnana, the direct knowledge that we receive from our Atman. Jiva Atma is the individual soul, and Param Atma is pure consciousness.
From the center of consciousness flows the life force in various degrees and grades. With the following simile, you will clearly understand. When a lamp has many shades, the light is very dim. When you take off the shades, one by one, finally you find the center of light.
Similarly, the soul is the center of consciousness and the knowledge that flows through manas, chitta, buddhi and ahamkara, and then through the senses, is called consciousness. This is the light of knowledge that flows from its source, the fountainhead of light and life, the Atman.
I have a firm faith that here, in life on earth where opposites clash together, the general level of consciousness can be raised. The development of intelligence and physical power and moral ethics are equally necessary for a human being to grow and unfold himself for the purpose of living.
That which obstructs the human being is the mind and the wall created by individual habits and superficial conventions; otherwise the human being is complete.
What is unique in the human being is the development of consciousness that gradually expands and deepens the realization of his immortal being, the limitless eternal and perfect.”
- Swami Rama in The Essence of Spiritual Life pages 65-66