Thursday, 21 September 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Sister Christine : 70

IMPRISONMENT IN FLESH

...In 1902, I saw him at Belur, a very different Vivekananda from the one whom I had known in America. Here I saw the lion in his natural surroundings. Here it was not necessary to wear the mask of conventions, nor to conform to man-made rules. He had a serenity here which was sometimes lacking in foreign countries. He was among his own. He could be himself and it was an even greater self than we had seen before. He was surrounded by young devotees and brother-disciples, those sons of Sri Ramakrishna, who were now gathered in after long years of wandering. Much of his work was finished. He had given his message in America, in England, and to a lesser degree in Germany and France. In India the roar of the lion was heard from Colombo to Almora. Through the devotion of his young English disciple Goodwin, his message was put into permanent form. He had acquired the plot of land on the Ganges of which he had dreamed in America, and built a shrine for the worship of Sri Ramakrishna and a monastery which was to shelter the children of Sri Ramakrishna — his fellow disciples. He had organized teaching centres, educational institutions, orphanages, famine and flood relief. He was only thirty-nine, and he knew that his release was near. It came July 4.1902.

He shared the Hindu belief in the saying of the Gita that, "Whenever virtue subsides and vice prevails, then do I manifest Myself. For the protection of the good and the destruction of the evil and for the preservation of righteousness, I am born anew in every age." (Bhagavad-Gita,. IV, 7-8).

Whenever spirituality is at a low ebb and the need of the world is great, God comes in human form. With the advent of the Avatar a great spiritual force comes into the world, a force which protects the good, destroys evil, preserves the Dharma, revivifies religion, draws thousands into the current of living spirituality, and brings new life. This influence is felt not only on the spiritual plane, but on the intellectual and physical planes as well. In the realm of intellect, it expresses itself as a revival of art, literature and music, of learning in every field. Men of genius appear and become famous in these realms. There is new life. In the physical world the power is not so intense, but more widespread and apparent. It manifests itself in a greater prosperity, in a renewed love of freedom, and in a more virile national consciousness. The nation enters upon a Renaissance. This power according to Swami Vivekananda continues in force for nearly six hundred years, gradually expending itself until the world again sinks into a state in which its only hope is another manifestation of God — another Avatar. While these are not all of equal rank, each brings an influx of spiritual power, revivifies life on all planes and moves the world. A few instances may illustrate this theory.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Sister Christine : 69

IMPRISONMENT IN FLESH

Up and down, up and down ceaselessly. "He (Swamiji) is restless, so restless," some would say. But it was not the restlessness of the man who does not know what is urging him on, what it is he wants. Only too well did he understand what was actuating him. He could have explained it lucidly, logically. A great free soul, conscious of the reality of his being, of his divinity, felt himself imprisoned in a cage of flesh. The bondage of the body was torture. The lion brought from the jungle, where he roamed at will, never forgets the glory of freedom. Restlessly he paces the short distance allowed by his bars. Here was a mighty free soul caged in flesh. The imprisoned glory struggled to escape. True, we are all caught in this bondage, but there is hardly a human being who knows it. We cling to our captivity. We would not give it up. Few even understand that "shades of the prison house begin to close upon the growing Boy".

But here before our eyes we saw one who was fully conscious, who realized the Great Freedom beyond, to whom the bondage was torture, who was ceaselessly struggling to break through. For us who witnessed this struggle, no words were necessary. Without any teaching whatever, our eyes were opened. "I am not the body, I am not the mind." "So that is what it means," we thought "I am beyond the body with its disabilities, beyond the mind with its limitations, for I am That, I am That."


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Sister Christine : 68

THE GURU

...Again, "each has an individual path which is known to the guru'; and his tendencies indicate whether he should take the path of devotion or worship, or of psychic control, or the path of knowledge of the Real, or of unselfish work. All paths lead to the goal, but one of these will present fewer obstacles to the aspirant. Having set the disciple on the path, the guru, like a loving mother, warns him of dangers, explains experiences that might otherwise alarm or dismay. He is the Guardian of the Threshold, not to forbid entrance, but to protect the neophyte against groundless fears. To him the disciple goes for courage. To him the disciple pours out his confidences and tells his experiences. He must tell them to no one else. His mantram, his ishtam, his experiences, must be, as Swamiji said, "not secret, but sacred." There must be the utmost devotion and unquestioning faith in the guru. "Would you jump out of window if I asked you to?" he once asked. He wanted a few disciples who had that kind of devotion. He needed that quality for his work. Again and again, he told the story of Guru Nanak (Govind Singh) who, putting his disciples to the supreme test, asked who would trust him even unto death. One came forward. He look him into his tent and in a few minutes the great leader came out, his sword dripping with blood. Again he put their faith in-him to test, and again one went into the tent with him and did not come out again. This was repeated until five had gone into the tent not to return. Then he threw open the tent-flap, and they saw their companions unharmed in the tent, and with them a goat which the Guru had killed. Is it to be wondered at that with disciples whose devotion was unto death it was possible for Guru Nanak (Govind Singh) to accomplish the great work he did? For, as Swamiji so often said:

"'The guru must be wonderful and the disciple must also be wonderful.'"*

"Worship your guru as God. He will take you to the other shore. Trust him through everything. 'Though my guru should visit the tavern and still, my guru is holy Nityananda still.' * — Have that kind of faith in him."

"'Only those who go through the Sushumna (the path of Yogis) reach the Atman.'"

"They must go to a guru to learn."

"The guru is the vehicle by which the spiritual influence is brought to you."

Great as he himself was, one never felt inferior in his presence. In some indefinable way he made all who came into contact with him feel great. Was this because he had trained himself to see only the best in others and to make nothing of their faults and weaknesses? It was probably even deeper than that. Realizing himself as the Atman, it was his constant effort to see that Divine Self in others. Little faults can drop away, but That remains and shines forth. He knew us better than we knew ourselves. How constantly he voiced the highest truth as: "The greatest sin is to think yourself weak. No one is greater; realize you are Brahman. Nothing has power except as you bestow it. We are beyond the sun, the stars, the universe."