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.
"We must not create a wall between our worldly and spiritual lives.
"People disorganized in their worldly life search for spiritual wisdom in seclusion; whereas, if organized properly, they can have all the means and resources that are of utmost importance for spiritual enlightenment. The purpose of human life is to make the best use of the resources that nature or God has given us.
"There are typically two kinds of people. Some are involved in the world and are busy in their self-centered activities. Others renounce their families and do not participate in worldly life at all. There are very few people who use discrimination, work hard for their self-fulfillment, and at the same time, contribute to the welfare of society. People belonging to these two categories have an incomplete world view, and therefore, strive for their limited goals.
"In our modern age, where the standard of living has been facilitated by science and technology, we must learn to make the best use of our ample resources. A lifestyle that is suitable for both worldly fulfillment and spiritual enlightenment is the best.
"Those who strive to attain personal enlightenment and help others light their lamps are the true leaders of the human race. Blessed are those who are useful for themselves as well as others. They attain the highest goal of life here and now. Right in this mortal world, they become immortal and their wisdom guides humanity on the path of immortality.
"Today’s society is waiting for selfless, spiritually enlightened, well-balanced leaders to guide them in how to live happily here and hereafter. Such leaders or reformers will not come from outside our society. They have to be born, raised, and trained right in our own society. We are the ones to become our own guides, our own leaders, and we are the ones to enlighten our own lives.
"Get up, my friends, arise: attain knowledge, and dedicate your life to the service of your fellow beings."
--Swami Rama in Spirituality: Transformation Within and Without pages 115-116