The Ancient Traveler

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.

This is an excerpt from The Essence of Spiritual Life by Swami Rama. Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust. 2002.

The most ancient traveler in the universe is love. It is love that travels from the unknown to the known, from eternity to eternity.

Those who want to realize the greatest delight should realize themselves in others. This is the definition of true love.

The spirit of love is boundless and emancipates our being from illusory bonds and superimpositions. It is unity that will lead us to Truth. That which is the beginning and the end of the phenomenal world is divine.

Loving somebody does not mean hating others. Remember this. If you love somebody, that means loving all. Your love should travel toward expansion, not toward contraction.

Love is to giveLearn to love others and demonstrate your love through selfless action. This is very important. Try not to hurt others through speech. Dark words have no capacity to contain real feeling and love, for they are not containers. Love is immortal and needs an immortal container. People say that it is expressed through the heart; therefore, the heart is the center of love. I deny that. The soul, actually, is the real container of love, for the soul alone is the most ancient traveler, and so is love. They are one and the same.

There are two types of love: one can be expressed, and one can never be expressed or explained. Anything that can be explained is not deep love. Though we all try to express it in a million ways, it is in vain.

There is only one Reality without second, without any space, time, or causation. We call it love.

You talk of love. You always aspire to have love. You always want to be loved. If you really want to know what love is, there are two phrases: as life is to live, love is to give.

Usually love is mingled with selfishness. I need something, so I say, “I love you.” You need something, so you say you love me. This is what we call love in the world. Real love is when you do actions selflessly and spontaneously, and you don’t expect any reward.

Reverence is the first rung on the ladder of love.

Love is not mere contemplation of the truth, but suffering for it. Suffering is not punishment, but a reward and a gift of love. The reward is received when you are no more there.

May we light the fire of love that burns out the ego and enables us to pass from fearful fragmentation to fearless fullness in the changeless whole.

God bless you. God loves you, I love you, let you learn to love yourself. 


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