by Swami Rama from “Living with the Himalayan Masters”
Shankaracharya established an ascetic order 1,200 years ago, though renunciates had already lived in an unbroken lineage from the Vedic period. He organized his order through five main centers in the North, East, South, West, and center of India. The entire ascetic order of India traces its tradition from one of these centers. Our tradition is Bharati. Bha means “knowledge”; rati means “lover.” Bharati means “he who is the lover of knowledge.” From this comes the word Bharata, the land of spiritual knowledge, one of the Sanskrit names used for India.
There is one thing unique to our tradition. It links itself to an unbroken lineage of sages even beyond Shankara. Our Himalayan tradition, though a tradition of Shankara, is purely ascetic, and is practices in the Himalayan caves rather than being related with institutions established in the plains of India. In our tradition, learning of the Upanishads is very important, along with the special advanced spiritual practices taught by the sages. The Mandukya Upanishad is accepted as one of the authoritative scriptures.
The knowledge of Sri Vidya is imparted stage by stage and the advanced student is taught Prayoga Shastra.* (*which explain the practicality and application of the discipline one has to follow for this knowledge) We believe in both Mother and the Father principles of the universe. That which is called maya, or illusion, in our worship becomes Mother and does not remain as a stumbling block or obstacle on the path of spiritual enlightenment. All our worship is internal and we do not perform any rituals. There are three stages of initiation given according to our tradition. First, mantra, breath awareness, and meditation; second, inner worship of Sri Vidya and bindu vedhan (piercing the pearl of wisdom); third, shaktipata and leading the force of kundalini to the thousand-petaled lotus called sahasrara chakra. At this stage, we do not associate ourselves with any particular religion, caste, sex, or color. Such yogis are called masters and are allowed to impart the traditional knowledge. We strictly follow the discipline of the sages.
It is not possible for me to discuss in detail the secret teaching of Prayoga Shastra for it is said, “na datavyam, na datavyam, na datavyam – don’t impart, don’t impart, don’t impart” unless someone is fully prepared and committed and has practiced self-control to a high degree. These attainments can be verified through the experiences of the sages of the past. In our path, gurudeva is not a god but a bright being who has faithfully and sincerely attained a state of enlightenment. We believe in the grace of the guru as the highest means for enlightenment, but never as the end. The purpose of the guru is to selflessly help his disciples on the way of perfection.
Our tradition has the following orientation;
1. One absolute without a second is our philosophy.
2. Serving humanity through selflessness is an expression of love which one should follow through mind, action, and speech.
3. The yoga system of Patanjali 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.
4. Meditation is systematized by stilling the body, having serene breath, and controlling the mind. Breath awareness, control of the autonomic nervous system, and learning to disciple primitive urges are practiced.
5. We teach the middle path to students in general, and those who are prepared for higher steps of learning have the opportunity to learn the 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 Superconscious Meditation. I am only a messenger delivering the wisdom of the Himalayan sages of this tradition, and whatever spontaneously comes from the center of intuition, that I teach. I never prepare my lectures or speeches, for I was told by my master not to do so.
6. 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 beings. Our firm belief is that every human being is a living institution or a temple.
7. Our members are all over the world, and for the sake of communication we also believe in education. Our graduate program imparts the knowledge given by the sages, thereby fulfilling the inner need of intellectuals.
8. 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.
9. 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, faith, and way of life on them.
10. 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.
11. To serve humanity, we believe in examining, verifying, and coming to certain conclusions regarding the yoga practices, including relaxation and meditation.
12. Our experiments are documented and published for the benefits of humanity.
13. We believe in universal brotherhood, loving all and excluding none.
14. We strictly abstain from politics and from opposing any religion.
15. Of the great importance is the practice of non-violence with mind, action, and speech.
The knowledge that is imparted by the sages and masters of the Himalayas guides the aspirant like a light in the darkness. The purpose of this message is to awaken the divine flame that resides in the reservoir of every human being. This flame, when perfectly kindled by spiritual discipline, mounts higher and higher into the vast light of truth. It rises through the vital or nervous mind, passes though our mental sky, and finally enters at the paradise of light, its own supreme home in the eternal truth. Then the illumined practitioner sits calm in his celestial sessions with the highest of powers and drinks the wine of infinite beatitude. This child of immortality is a child of universal parents, protected all the time by Mother Divine. This rapturous child of bliss remains divine – will intoxicated in delight. He becomes a sage, a sleepless envoy and ever-wakeful guide for those who tread the path. Such a leader on the path marches in front of human people to comfort, help, and enlighten them.
Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti