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.
Hari Om Swami muttered the Sanskrit verse "During that which is night to others, the enlightened one keeps awake." Then he explained: "The finest hours are the hours of night, but very few know how to utilize their worth and silence. Three categories of people remain awake at night: the yogi, the bhogi [sensualist], and the rogi [sick person]. The yogi enjoys bliss in meditation, the bhogi enjoys sensual pleasures, and the rogi keeps awake because of his pain and misery. All three remain awake, but benefited is he who is in meditation. The bhogi experiences momentary joy--and with a desire to expand that moment, repeats the same experience. Alas, it can never be expanded this way. In meditation real joy expands into everlasting peace.
"Closing the eyes unconsciously, without having any content in the mind, is sleep. Closing the eyes consciously is a part of meditation. A yogi closes his eyes and withdraws his senses from the sense perceptions. He remains free from the pair of opposites of pain and pleasure. Closing the eyes is for him the opening of the inner eye. Ordinary people see the objects of the world with the help of two small eyes--but do you know that my whole being has become an eye?"
Hari Om Swami to Swami Rama in Living with the Himalayan Masters