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.
“Sit down and quietly think about what you have done in your life, because in the end, during the period of transition, you will have to face yourself. What have you done that is satisfying? Have you done anything selfless--totally selfless?
You go on doing your work and reaping the fruit, and then you hoard. In this way there can be no liberation. All the misery and chaos in the world is because of this. Somebody has an abundance; someone else doesn't have even a square meal. This disparity and the suffering that we find are created by ourselves.
How can you be peaceful if your neighbor's house is burning? How can you say you are at peace, and you don't feel any warmth? Those who understand life, understand the ripples of life. We are like ripples in the vast ocean of bliss.
If you are suffering, I am suffering, though I am not aware of it. How can I live without suffering? If my foot is suffering, definitely my whole being is suffering. We are all limbs of one huge, one great prajapati (being)--the whole universe. How can we live happily? Let us learn not to hoard, but just to give. To whom? Not to strangers. I'm not telling you something impractical. Give to those with whom you live.
Do not work for yourself; that is not the way of life. You will become selfish. Learn to work for others. If the wife learns to work for her husband, and the husband learns to work for his wife, they both will be happy. Problems come when they both become selfish, demanding, and expecting. Learn the path of selflessness. That is the only way of liberation.
Learn to give to each other, and then slowly that learning will expand to the whole universe. One day you will feel that the whole universe is your family, and you are one of the members of that family.
On the path of selflessness there is great joy.
Selflessness in the singular expression of love.”
- Swami Rama in The Essence of Spiritual Life pages 41-42
One should learn about his individual mind, about his thinking process. If he comes in contact with something depressing, undesirable, or repressive, he should understand that there are other dimensions of the mind that are very healthy, very creative, and very helpful. He should not be disappointed. Each person is fully equipped with all the instruments--body, senses, mind, and consciousness. To understand the nature of these tools means to attain the goal of life. This goal is actually not to search for God as religionists do.
The real aim of Vedanta is to attain happiness, bliss, and wisdom. Happiness means freedom from all pains and miseries, and the greatest of all miseries is ignorance. The total absence of ignorance is a state of happiness. The goal of human life is to attain that state of happiness which is freedom from ignorance. Wise people seek that ultimate knowledge, which is Truth or absolute Reality, so that they can attain the purpose of life.
After attaining that state of happiness, there is nothing else to be known.
- Swami Rama in Choosing a Path, pages 39-40