by Swami Rama of The Himalayas
What is the meaning of life?
Usually we begin asking this question when we have experienced a great deal of pain after suffering the loss of property or relationships. We’ve seen the emptiness in getting more material wealth or fame or power. We’ve seen how fleeting the pleasures of those are. We’ve begun to say, “If wealth, fame, and power do not give happiness, then what does?” Out of our pain we begin to suspect there is something more to life, that life is not limited to what our senses experience. We may only suspect.
Our knowledge of anything beyond the world of forms—that which we see and hear, and so on still may be barely a whisper deep within us, but the possibility is worth the exploration. The exploration begins by establishing the philosophy that there may be something more to life. That philosophy at least gives a direction. With a philosophy life takes on more meaning and immediately begins to take a different shape.
The intention to learn more provides focus and focus gathers energy. There is joy in that alone. With only the vaguest of goals and our motivation still only a whisper, we begin to see the objects and relationships in our lives differently. They are no longer the center of our lives.
The pain inherent in the loss of them, or in the fear of loss of them, is not so intense. Having such a philosophy that suggests a greater meaning than owning and keeping changes life’s atmosphere. A sense of freedom grows. Gradually we begin to detect that it is not owning and keeping the things of the world that matters, but something else—perhaps giving and letting go. Yet these thoughts remain only faint sounds within us, especially since we have heard all our lives so loudly and distinctly that acquiring possessions and wealth and power, and having sensory pleasures are topmost in priority for a good life.
The Himalayan Tradition
The systematic practices of the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Tradition come from the ancient cave monasteries of the Himalayas. The Tradition has an unbroken lineage of Guru and disciples relationships which is known to be at least 5,000 years old, and which traces its roots through the history of mankind and back to the primal energy or primal consciousness of the universe.
Twelve centuries ago, Shankaracharya organized five centers of the Himalayan Tradition. As one of those five, our tradition is the Bharati lineage. ‘Bha’ means “the light of knowledge,” and ‘rati’ means “a lover who is absorbed in it,” thus, ‘Bharati’ indicates one, who as a lover of knowledge, becomes totally absorbed in its light.
(Swami Veda Bharati: “The Himalayan Tradition of Yoga Meditation”)
The tradition has the following orientation
- One absolute without a second is our philosophy.
- Serving humanity through selflessness is an expression of love, which one should follow through mind, action and speech.
- The yoga system of Patañjali is a preliminary step accepted by us for the higher practices in our tradition, but philosophically we follow the Advaita system of one Absolute without a second.
- Meditation is systematized by stilling the body, having serene breath, and controlling the mind. Breath awareness, control of the autonomic system, and learning to discipline primitive urges are practiced.
- We teach the middle path to students in general, and those who are prepared for higher steps of learning have the opportunity to learn advanced practices. This helps people in general in their daily lives to live in the world and yet remain above. Our method, for the convenience of Western students, is called Super conscious Meditation. “I am only a messenger delivery the wisdom of the Himalayan sages of this tradition, and whatever spontaneously comes from the centre of intuition, which I teach. I never prepare my lectures or speeches, for I was told by my master not to do so.” – Swami Rama.
- We do not believe in conversion, changing cultural habits, or introducing any God in particular. We respect all religions equally, loving all and excluding none. Neither do we oppose any temple, mosque, or church, nor do we believe in building homes for God while ignoring human being. Our firm belief is that every human being is a living institution or a temple.
- Our members are all over the world, and for the sake of communication we also believe in education. Our graduate school imparts the knowledge by the sages, thereby fulfilling the inner need of intellectuals.
- We practice vegetarianism. We teach a nutritional diet that is healthy and good for longevity, but at the same time we are not rigid and do not force students to become vegetarians.
- We respect the institution of the family and stress the education of children by introducing a self-training program and not by forcing our beliefs, faiths, and way of life on them.
- Our trained teachers systematically impart all aspects of yoga relating to body, breath, mind and individual soul. Awareness within and without is the key, and the methods of expansion are carefully introduced to the students.
- To serve humanity we believe in examining, verifying, and coming to certain conclusions regarding the yoga practices, including relaxation and meditation.
- Our experiments are documented and published for benefit of humanity.
- We believe in universal brotherhood, loving all and excluding none.
- We strictly abstain from politics and from opposing any religion.
- Of great importance is the practice of non-violence with mind, action and speech.