It was in the 1990’s. I was in Rishikesh, India, at Swami Rama’s beautiful ashram along the bank of the River Ganga, Sadhana Mandir. This was the third time I’d been there in three years—each year I went and served my teacher, Dr. Usharbudh Arya (who later took vows to become a swami and became Swami Veda Bharati).
Swami Rama was staying at the ashram at this time, and everyday he’d leave in the morning to travel to the vast hospital complex he was building at Jolly Grant—a 45-minute drive away—and he’d return in the evening. The guests at the ashram would see him off in the morning and welcome him back in the evening. I loved to see him. He seemed above everything. So strong, so confident.
Over the years before that, I’d heard how being in the presence of a master could change one’s life. I’d heard of people seeking this master or that master, running from master to master. These stories made it seem like simply meeting such a master brought instant enlightenment.
But the presence of a true master taught me that a fool who meets a saint is still a fool. Although meeting a master can give a spark of inspiration, wisdom, even of blessing, that fool must receive the inspiration from the master and take the steps necessary to advance himself. Nobody else can take them for him.
The world has received an invaluable spiritual gift in the form of the Himalayan Yoga. But, to be effective, yoga must be practiced. It’s not enough to buy some books on yoga and read them. It’s not enough to simply meet teachers, attend retreats, or to call oneself a “yogi.” If one is to make real progress on the path of Self-realization, s/he must, with full determination and a sincere and positive attitude, do consistent, regular practice.
Don’t chase after the master. Be committed. Do your practice. If you do so, in time, you may draw the master to you, who can then help you move to the next level. As is said in the tradition, “when the student is ready, the master appears.”