Thursday, 24 August 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Sister Christine : 43


...This world is a mud puddle," was received with shocked protest, doubt, and a tinge of resentment. Years after, driving along the Dum Dum Road in the suburb of Calcutta one glorious Sunday morning, I saw some buffaloes wallowing in a pool of mire. The first reaction was a feeling of disgust. It seemed that even buffaloes should find delight in something more beautiful than mire. But now they felt physical pleasure in it. Then suddenly came a memory, "This world is a mud puddle." We are no better than these buffaloes. We wallow in the mire of this mud puddle of a world and we too find pleasure in it. We, who are meant for something better, the heirs of immortal glory.

He refused to solve our problem for us.
Principles he laid down, but we ourselves must find the application. He encouraged no spineless dependence upon him in any form, no bid for sympathy. "Stand upon your own feet. You have the power within you!" he thundered. His whole purpose was — not to make things easy for us, but to reach us how to develop our innate strength. "Strength! Strength!" he cried, "I preach nothing but strength. That is why I preach the Upanishads." From men he demanded manliness and from women the corresponding quality for which there is no word. Whatever it is, it is the opposite of self-pity, the enemy of weakness and indulgence. This attitude had the effect of a tonic. Something long dormant was aroused and with it came strength and freedom.

To be continued.... (Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda by Sister Christine)

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Sister Christine : 42


The training Swamiji gave was individualistic and unique. Unless the desire for discipleship was definitely expressed, and unless he was convinced that the aspirant was ready for the step, he left the personal life of those around him untouched. To some he gave absolute freedom and in that freedom they were caught. When speaking of some of those whom we did not know, he was careful to explain,"He is not a disciple; he is a friend." It was an altogether different relation. Friends might have obvious faults and prejudices. Friends might have a narrow outlook, might be quite conventional, but it was not for him to interfere. It seemed as if even an opinion, where it touched the lives of others, was an unpardonable intrusion upon their privacy. But once having accepted him as their guru, all that was changed. He felt responsible. He deliberately attacked foibles, prejudices, valuations — in fact everything that went to make up the personal self. Did you, in your immature enthusiasm, see the world as beautiful, and believe in the reality of good and the unreality of evil? He was not long in destroying all your fine illusions. If good is real, so is evil. Both are different aspects of the same thing. Both good and evil are in maya. Do not hide your head in the sand and say. "All is good, there is no evil." Worship the terrible even as now you worship the good. Then get beyond both. Say, "God is the only Reality," Shall we have the courage to say that the world is beautiful when disaster comes upon us? Are not others the prey of disaster now? Is not the world full of sorrow? Are not thousands of lives overshadowed by tragedy? Are not disease, old age, and death rampant upon the earth? In the face of all this anyone who lightly says. "The world is beautiful", is either ignorant or indifferent to the sorrows of others — self-centred.

Terrible in its sternness was this teaching. But soon there came glimpses of something beyond, an unchanging Reality. Beyond birth and death is immortality; beyond pleasure and pain is that ananda which is man's true nature; beyond the vicissitudes of life is the changeless. The Self of man remains serene in its own glory. As these great ideas became part of our consciousness, we "saw a new heaven and a new earth". "For him, to whom the Self has become all things, what sorrow, what pain, can there be, once he has beheld that Unity?" Without once saying. "Be sincere, be true, be singleminded", he created in us the most intense desire to attain these qualities. How did he do it? Was it his own sincerity, his own truth, his own straightness which one sensed?

To be continued.... (Reminiscences of Swami Vivekananda by Sister Christine)

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Sister Christine : 41

....We realize that, whether in Arabia, in Palestine, or in India. the children of God speak one language when they are born into the new life. He felt the loneliness of the Prophet who. to the average person, seemed a madman. For years, a mere handful believed in him and his message. Little by little we understood the patience, the compassion, the burden of the mission laid upon this Prophet of Arabia.

"But he advocated polygamy!" protested one with a Puritanical turn of mind. Vivekananda explained that what Mohammed did was to limit a man to four wives: polygamy in a far worse form was already practised in Arabia.

"He taught that women have no souls." said another with an edge to her voice. This called forth an explanation regarding the place of woman in Muhammedanism. The Americans who listened were somewhat chagrined to find that the Moslem woman had certain rights not enjoyed by the so-called free American woman.

From this trivial questioning we were again lifted into an atmosphere of wider sweep and more distant horizons. However limited and ignorant his outlook may seem, it cannot be denied that Mohammed was a world figure, and that the force which he set free has shaken this world and has not yet expended itself.

Did he deliberately found a new religion? It is easier to believe that the movement evolved without conscious thought on his part; that in the beginning he was absorbed in his great experience and burning with the desire to share this precious attainment with others. Was the form which it took during his lifetime in accordance with his wishes? It is certain that the conflicts which soon ensued were no part of his plan. When a great force is let loose, no man can harness it. The Moslem hordes swept over Asia and threatened to overrun Europe. After conquering Spain, they established there great universities which attracted scholars from all parts of the then known world. Here was taught the wisdom of India and the lore of the East. They brought refinement, courtliness, and beauty into the everyday life. They left behind them Saracenic buildings — structures of surpassing beauty — a tradition of learning, and no small part of the culture and wisdom of the East.

To be continued.... (Memoirs of  Sister Christine)