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Getting What We Need: Merging Theory and Practice

Awareness of the Reality Within

There is a simple story about a monk who, after living several years alone in the mountains, one day looked up at the sky and saw a bird flying overhead. Suddenly, due to the sheer power of his gaze, the bird fell down. When the monk realized what he could do, he said, “Just look at my power—so great that I can make a flying bird drop out of the sky!”

He was not the first to do something like this. That the power of gazing can accomplish so-called miracles has been recognized throughout the ages. Have you heard of mesmerism? There is a tale behind it. Dr. Mesmer was lost while hunting in the jungles of Africa and did not know where to go at night. So he climbed a giant tree and sat there. Several birds also came to take rest in the tree. Later that night, he saw a snake crawling toward the tree. The snake sat very still and just looked at the birds, and soon the birds started falling down. This is not an exaggeration, for the power of gazing is very great.

Getting What We Need Merging Theory Practice inline - Himalayan Institute

To continue with our story, the monk came down to the city the next day and went to a nearby house. The wife was busy looking after her husband, making him a meal. The monk said, “I am a great swami from the mountains and I need some food.” The wife replied, “Please wait, sir; let me serve my husband first and then I will feed you.” Now, had he been a real swami—literally, a master of himself—he would have been very appreciative, but he had only power without realization. He only knew how to concentrate his mind, but there was no deeper knowledge behind the technique. That is why I often say that superconscious meditation is a technique which is supported by knowledge.

Meditation gives you all that you need.

Technique alone is never sufficient. If you know how to do meditation but do not have enough understanding and background about life’s fuller dimensions, then that technique can be misused by you, and you will not benefit from it. You must learn to assimilate both the philosophy which supports the technique and the technique itself; neither theory alone nor practice alone will suffice.

So the monk said, “Look here, woman! Do you know my power?” But she calmly replied, “I am not that bird in the sky, swami, so you will just have to wait.” The monk was instantly surprised, wondering how this woman knew that when he looked at the sky, the bird fell because of his gaze. So he bowed and said, “Mother, please help me. I do not know what to do with my power.” She answered, “My son, this power is meant for the inner gaze, not for the outer gaze. You are misusing this power.” A knife in the hand of a surgeon is meant to help the patient. But a knife in the hand of a butcher is meant to cut throats.

Getting What We Need Merging Theory Practice Inline - Himalayan Institute

Over and over again, ask yourself, “Why am I practicing?” If you are meditating just to calm your nervous system, or to know some hunches from your psychic level, then you are not truly benefiting. And if you say, “I don’t experience anything in my practice,” then I smile and say, “Thank you, then possibly you are doing meditation.” At least you are not hallucinating! Some of my students come and tell me that they had a great vision. I reply, “Keep quiet, please. Okay, great lady, you had a vision which I didn’t have. Now kindly stop that vision.” Suppose I go to buy some medicine from the market and instead somebody gives me a bag of gold. I got something, but that something is a disturbance and not helpful, because I did not get the medicine I needed. Do not allow these experiences to disturb you, to create obstacles for you, to cause you to deviate from your path. Don’t keep looking around for other things—meditation gives you all that you need.

Source: Awareness of the Reality Within lectures (Honesdale, 1975)

About the Teacher

Swami Rama

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.

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