Thursday, 20 July 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Sister Christine : 17

TEACHING AT THOUSAND ISLAND PARK

...For the first time we understood why all religions begin with ethics. For without truth, non-injury, continence, non-stealing, cleanliness, austerity, there can be no spirituality. For many of us in the West ethics and religion are almost synonymous. It is the one concrete thing we are taught to practise and there it generally ends. We were like the young man who went to Jesus and asked. "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said, "Thou hast read the prophets. Do not kill. Do not steal, do not commit adultery." The young man said. "Lord, all these have I kept from my youth up." Now we wanted to hear about yoga, samadhi, and other mysteries. This emphasis upon things which were by no means new to us was something of a surprise. But soon we found it was not quite the same, for it was carried to an unthought-of length. The ideal must be truth in thought, word, and deed. If this can be practised for twelve years, then every word that is said becomes true. If one perfect in this way says. "Be thou healed", healing comes instantaneously. Be blessed, he is blessed. Be freed, he is released. Stories were told of those who had this power, and who could not recall the word once spoken. To the father of Shri Ramakrishna this power had come. Would that explain why such a son was born to him? Then there was the life of Shri Ramakrishna himself. "Come again Monday," he said to a young man. "I cannot come on Monday. I have some work to do; may I come Tuesday?" "No," answered the Master, "these lips have said 'Monday'; they cannot say anything else now." "How can truth come unless the mind is perfected by the practice of truth? Truth comes to the true. Truth attracts truth. Every word, thought, and deed rebounds. Truth cannot come through untruth." In our time we have an instance in the case of Mahatma Gandhi, regarded by some as the greatest man in the world, of how far the practice of truth and non-injury will take a man. If he is not the greatest man in the world today, he is certainly one of the greatest characters.

Non-injury in word, thought and deed. There are sects in India which apply this mainly to the taking of life, Not only are they vegetarians, but they try not to injure still lower forms of life. They put a cloth over their mouth to keep out microscopic creatures and sweep the path before them so as not to injure whatever life may be underfoot. But that does not go far, even so there remain infinitesimal forms of life which it is impossible to avoid injuring. Nor does it go far enough. Before one has attained perfection in non-injury he has lost the power to injure. "From me no danger be to aught that lives" becomes true for him, a living truth, reality. Before such a one the lion and the lamb lie down together. Pity and compassion have fulfilled the law and transcended it.

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