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 consciousness that has descended into us as the kundalini contains in it both life and awareness. It may be called the life force (jiva-shakti) or the consciousness force (chit-shakti). Through the chakras, a division of its two powers occurs, for in order for the personality to function, a certain specialization becomes necessary. A semblance of awareness is imparted to the energy called the mind, and at the same time aliveness and vitality of the cells, organs, and senses also comes into operation through prana receiving the infusion of life energy from the kundalini. Thus the two powers of the kundalini consciousness devolve onto the mind and prana, and through them they are further infused into the entire personality. The thrill of life and awareness, however, that passes through the psychophysiological stations into the personality, is so minute compared to the actual power of consciousness, that yogis repeatedly tell us that the true consciousness is lying dormant, asleep in us.
All that humankind has ever accomplished or created, all that ever passes through an individual human being, is no more than a minute fraction of the universal consciousness. But the majority of human beings are not capable of experiencing even this minute thrill at its fullest, because the lower-level energies are not capable of containing or measuring higher-level energies. By the same token, if given more than the requisite voltage, any energy system will overload and blow up the circuits. We have established such strong identification with lower-level energies (the body, emotions, etc.) that we have weakened our power system and made it incapable of receiving a larger dose of the thrill. So we have to purify the personal consciousness and gradually tune it to its higher-level energies until enough strength is built up in the system for us to be able to awaken to the full glory that is flowing into us even as we read this. Those who have tried experimenting with the kundalini consciousness without such preliminary purification and without expert guidance have only suffered damage to both the psyche and the body.
In us, the gates of the chakras are thus open only enough to permit a mild infusion of consciousness. But look at the intense awareness we have in these centers. Even that mild infusion of dormant energy leaves us restless in each center. Look at what is going on in us at each of these stations: in the perineum and the genital areas, the sensations can sometimes seem to be uncontrollable; in the navel region, the hungers cannot be satiated; the pull of rising emotions felt in the cardiac region keeps thousands of psychiatrists busy; and all the words that we have ever spoken from the larynx are not quite enough. As to the forehead and the brain--they are the devil's workshop. The energy already disposed through each of these centers often seems to be excessive to us, and we then say, "I just don't know what to do with my restlessness." This feeling of overload, that we are about to blow a fuse, is a common experience. It happens because the lower-frequency energies (such as those involved in ordinary physical and sense experiences) do not have the capacity to absorb all the power that is being infused into us from consciousness.”
- Swami Rama in Inspired Thoughts of Swami Rama, page 206