“Meditation is about becoming conscious of who you are, becoming happy, relaxing, slowing down, chilling out and learning to smile. It's also about very profound things that are hard to express in words - about beauty, about being most excellent at everything, finding the perfect part of yourself, overcoming your self-destructive tendencies, overcoming depression, anxiety, nervousness, fears of all types and descriptions. It's about being happy, being conscious, being free, and most of all about being who you really are, which is something that most people don't have any consistent consciousness of.” ~Rama
Rama was an enlightened Buddhist monk who devoted his life to Dharma, or Truth. He spent his youth in self discovery adventures. He was born in San Diego, California, where his mother's parents owned a sailboat. He went often with them and developed a love for the sea. At the age of two and a half , his family moved back to Connecticut. He loved to garden with his mother, go sailing with his grandparents, and enjoyed all winter sports including skiing. He grew up curious and open, engaging adults in conversations beyond his years from an early age. When his mother died, he was 15, and it created a shock-wave of pain, sadness and longing for the truth. Although he had always excelled in school, he found it tedious and dull, and as soon as he graduated, he left Connecticut for the west. He was inspired by the youth counter culture movement.
He arrived and joined in the festivities, all the while seeking something true, something meaningful. He learned yoga, attended rock concerts, and got high with all the kids of the movement. At one point he was arrested for possession of marijuana. He was put into a detention camp for three months. During this time, he made friends with many of the men in prison, and soon learned that some of them were illiterate. He began to teach them how to read and this changed his life. The joy of watching them become victorious over a handicap, the satisfaction of seeing them learn and grow, convinced him - He wanted to devote himself to teaching. He traveled through the world and learned how to meditate. He was guided to find a meditation teacher and go back to school. He moved back to Connecticut and found a meditation teacher and devoted thousands of hours to meditating, yoga, and within years, to teaching informal meditation classes at his college.
He excelled again in school, only now he loved it. He made it an intrinsic part of his yoga, which further excelled his inner development and gave him a greater and greater capacity for strong, high meditations. He made friends with many of his college meditation cohorts. After completing his bachelors, then his masters, he then attained his Ph.D. in Literature from State University of New York, Stonybrook. He continued teaching meditation and going very high. He was becoming absorbed in the supra-conscious states of the highest meditation - Samadhi. He wrote his first book, Lifetimes - True Accounts of Reincarnation, which was a best seller and offered him many opportunities to meet new seekers. He was also invited as a guest on T.V. shows such as the Phil Donahue show. With a group of meditation friends, he moved from New York to San Diego, CA and started a meditation center there.
He continued offering meditation workshops while writing his second best seller - Total Relaxation. This was a book ahead of its time, giving practical ways to stay balanced and in your own truth in a harried world. He was again offered many opportunities to lecture on campuses and as a guest on TV talk shows. But his life's calling was meditating and teaching. After continuing to go into Samadhi day after day, his experience of the highest meditations began filtrating to the students who were joining him. It became clear to him that his Dharma - his own truth, was to be a meditation teacher. He opened a center called Lakshmi and began looking for students. They started coming, in the hundreds. His first center was in San Diego, and he started centers in LA and San Francisco soon thereafter. The experience people were having was outrageous and radical in relation to what was out there in the world, but when people sat with him to meditate, the lift in consciousness was so smooth, so perfect, that it "seemed" the most normal thing. People's own inner awareness during meditation was much deeper and more profound than they could ever achieve on their own. People with a little bit of sensitivity who sat to with him to meditate would experience a sublime, light-filled silence. This spurred tremendous transformation in the students who came and wanted truth.
Rama taught students for years, how to overcome fears, limitations, ego, out of control thoughts and emotions. He wouldn't allow himself to be worshipped on a pedestal. Instead, he was adamant that people bring self effort to their path and work hard, as he had always done, for their own enlightenment. He believed in the enlightenment of his students and treated them with dignity, respect and humor. He ran his centers in a university style, so that there were no special students paying for everything, and asking for special favors. He wanted everyone to pull their own weight, and to gain the satisfaction of living for their own Dharma - living for their own Truth. For this reason, his centers were very clean. Each person took the empowerments and teachings into their own lives, figured out who they were, what they should do and how they should live. Rama didn't get involved on that level. He encouraged strength and independence. And, it was obvious if people were applying the principles he was teaching because their lives would show it. They would be using their career as yoga and would therefore be able to pay their tuition. If they couldn't, that meant they weren't applying the teachings to their own lives, and were instead "riding the energy" - expecting Rama to do everything for them. When this was the case, he didn't have to ask them to leave. They simply couldn't pay their tuition so it was a self weeding out process.
After years of teaching, Rama became involved in producing music. He felt that music was very beneficial to assist meditators, in the same way that focusing on breathing or a yantra, was helpful. He found beautiful electronic music that enhanced the meditation experience. As time went on, he realized he could make his own meditation music with a few of his students who were talented, world class musicians. He formed the band Zazen, and together they composed over twenty albums for students to meditate to. The music was a fantastic media for him to intertwine enlightened states of mind through, and it gave new seekers a way to move quickly into planes of light and silent consciousness. It was a near perfect tool for helping people to go beyond thought so they could have crystalline meditations.
As time went on, Rama encouraged students to engage in computer science because it was conducive to high meditations, strong physical lives, and was well paying enough to give students independence and mobility. Most students did this, and those who did experienced profound boosts to their meditations. Since Rama's students were now making enough money to have fun, he started taking them on trips all over the world: Hawaii, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Tahoe, Vermont, Aspen, Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Fiji and the deserts of the southwest. It was a rollicking time of spiritual adventures. As the students grew up, it made sense to start having fun with career. He worked with many students on developing software applications, starting with Math and Reading software for children, and graduating to system software for running corporate technology, methodology software for running projects, analytic applications for finding trends and patterns in retail, insurance, banking and finance, and eventually, project management software for managing multiple enterprise projects. All of these software products were successful to varying degrees, some of the product companies selling for multiple millions.
Rama was a believer in the adage, Samsara is Nirvana - meaning, enlightenment is within - enlightenment is in everything - in all parts of life. He encouraged his students to experiment with finding their own highest truth - however that manifested for them individually. There was no party line, and he discouraged people from comparing themselves to anyone else. We were all supposed to find what made us high, individually, and discover our own Dharma - that is unique to each of us. There were no rules, except to bring etiquette to each other, meaning, to not judge, to be inwardly respectful of each person, no matter what they were going through because chances were, you would eventually go through something similar. He never allowed dependence on himself, but instead encouraged each student to work out their own enlightenment, giving them boosts, empowerments, tremendous vision and large doses of laughter along the way.
In his last years, he wrote two more best selling books, Surfing the Himalayas and Snowboarding to Nirvana. Both were translated into many languages and continue to provide inspiration to seekers worldwide, and the belief that each individual has the potential to reach enlightenment in this life.
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