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.
"I want to give you a glimpse of your individual self, because there are many false notions. When a human being suffers, the suffering is not because of external forces, not because of others. The suffering is because of his or her own thinking and understanding. So we will discuss that. We have many such fears in our life. We talk of God so much, we sing kirtans, we study the scriptures like the Ramayana, the Gita and Bible, we go to temples or churches. Yet our ignorance remains. There is no change in our daily life, in our behavior. What is the reason? The reason is that right from our childhood, we are trained to see and examine things in the external world. Nobody teaches us how to look within, find within, and see within. So we remain a stranger to ourselves, yet we want to know others; isn’t this strange?
So first of all, a human being should learn to understand himself on all levels and then he can understand all, the Self of all. And he can understand that absolute Self which is called absolute Truth. This is the right system and there are three schools, and any of these schools will help you: the school of meditation, the school of contemplation, and the school of prayer. If you learn to understand prayer, what prayer is, you can easily evoke your emotional self and attain that height of ecstasy and be there. If you understand the philosophy of life through contemplation you can attain the goal of life. If you understand the school of meditation and systemically meditate, you can attain the fourth state which is called sleepless sleep, you can attain the purpose of life."
- Swami Rama in Conscious Living, pages 5 and 6