Self-Realization through Yoga Meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra

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Sacred Journey - Introduction
by Swami Rama

From: Sacred Journey  

From Sacred Journey
By Swami Rama
ISBN 8188157007 (Buy)
Reprinted with permission of the Publisher
Copyright Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust (
Swami Rama Foundation (site)

This book is about the relationship between life and death, and the “how and why” of organizing one’s life in a way that leads to expansion and growth, and that is helpful in preparing for the transition we call death.

Modern civilization is a marvel of technological achievement, material wealth, and communications systems that have shrunk the globe. In spite of all the wealth and ease of modern life, people are not content. They are not happy because of their attitude toward the objects of the world and toward their relationships with others. Throughout their lives they uphold the notion that they must have more and more possessions. They have a similar notion about relationships and maintain that something is to be received from a relationship rather than given. Instead of simply enjoying the objects and people in their lives, they cling to them, own them, and fear losing them.

Over the course of a lifetime of needing, having, and clinging, the fear of death grows and hovers, creating a spiral of more need, greater fear, and inescapable pain. In this way life cannot be lived effectively and is merely squandered. Death is feared, denied, and pushed as far away from consciousness as possible instead of being accepted as a natural and inevitable part of human experience. Thus, no one is prepared for death.

This fear of death is the reason for the insatiable need for more things, ever new relationsips, material comforts, endless entertainment, and the excessive use of alcohol and drugs. All of these keep the reality of death in the distance. They are the tools of denial. Unfortunately, they are not useful tools.

To understand death, a person must try to understand the purpose of life and the relationship between life and death. The two are partners, each providing a context for the other. Death is not a period, but merely a pause on a long journey. When life and death are accepted as having real meaning and purpose, and death is understood and accepted as part of the human journey, then the fear of death disappears and life can be lived fully.

This book is about the relationship between life and death, and the “how and why” of organizing one’s life in a way that leads to expansion and growth, and that is helpful in preparing for the transition we call death.

The path described in this book is derived largely from the ancient Indian scriptures known as the Upanishads, the great scriptures that comprise the latter part of the Vedas, the oldest spiritual revelations in the history of humankind.

There are four Vedas—Rik, Yajus, Sama, and Atharva—and each is divided into two general sections. The first section of each is made up of hymns, rules of conduct, and instructions on the performance of rites and sacraments. The metaphysical section attached to each deals with the knowledge of the absolute Reality. These later sections are the Upanishads.

Tradition counts one hundred eight Upanishads, although there are closer to two hundred Upanishads in existence. Of these, ten expound the Vedantic philosophy. They are recognized as revealed texts, the wisdom that came to seers in the most purified and transcendental state known as samadhi. The seers passed them on to disciples who reverentially preserved them from one generation to the next.

The word Upanishad means to sit down near—to sit at the feet of a master and listen to the narration of these profound and often esoteric and symbolic scriptures.

Another interpretation is that the word Upan-ishad comes from the Sanskrit verb sad, which means to destroy, loosen, or guide. Upanishad is that which destroys the ignorance that binds a human being to that which is transitory. Upanishad helps to loosen one’s attachment to the material world and the physical, perishable self, giving guidance for attainment of the final goal.

These scriptures teach that human life has a purpose and a meaning. Innately all human beings know this, even though they may argue and create philosophies that maintain that life is aimless, just an accidental occurrence in a limitless universe. In one way or another everyone strives for happiness, calmness, and peace of heart and mind.

The Upanishads are maps that show the path of liberation and the meaning of life and death. That path is made clear by a central theme that runs through these scriptures: everything is essentially One.

One of the outstanding and exceptional teachings in the Upanishads is that the phenomenal universe is a manifestation rather than a creation. One absolute Reality has been manifested into many. This is different from the western idea of a creator who is separate from the creation. Duality is completely discarded in the teachings of the Upanishads. Eko’ham bahu syam. There is only One, here, there, and everywhere. The One is Brahman, the Upanishadic term for the Reality, or pure consciousness. “Brahman is real,” state the Upanishads, “and the transitory objects of the world are unreal.” Everything other than Brahman is illusory. Brahman is the source of life, light, and existence. The purpose of life is to realize this truth.

The tendency of most people is to look externally to the objects of the world for happiness. The Upanishads, on the other hand, tell us that happiness is not to be found in the things of the world. Those things, including relationships, are fleeting, and what is fleeting cannot provide lasting peace or joy.

The Upanishads tell us to look within to find what is everlasting. “Man looks toward what is without, and sees not what is within,” say the Upanishads. “Rare is he who, longing for immortality, shuts his eyes to what is without and beholds the Self. Fools follow the desires of the flesh and fall into the snare of all encompassing death, but the wise, knowing the Self as eternal, seek not the things that pass away.”

How similar this is to what St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians when he reminded them that everything in life is for spiritual growth. “All things are for your sakes,” he said. “Use them wisely. Life is brief.

“…though your outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day for the things which are seen are temporal, but things which are not seen are eternal.”

Jesus likewise guided his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust do corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust corrupts, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Life’s purpose is to know the distinction between what is outside and fleeting, and what is inside and eternal, and to discover through practice and experience the infinite value of one to the other. Once this distinction is realized life takes on a joyful meaning and the fear of death evaporates.

The Upanishads are also known as the Vedanta, or the end of the Vedas, and as such they express the highest purpose, which is to attain the supreme knowledge that frees the individuated soul from bondage.

This book is the outcome of a lecture series delivered at Congresses at Chicago and Honesdale, Pennsylvania, USA. Minor corrections have been made here and there.

Swami Rama
Jolly Grant, Dehradun, U.P., India
November, 1995



This site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.









Yoga Nidra Meditation CD by Swami Jnaneshvara
Yoga Nidra CD
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