Thursday, 31 August 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Sister Christine : 49


...The summer before he had been at Greenacre, a place on the coast of Maine, where seekers of Truth gathered year after year to hear teachers of all religions and cults. There, under a tree which to this day is called "The Swami's Pine", he expounded the message of the East. Here he came in contact with a new phase of American life. These splendid young people, free and daring, not bound by foolish conventions, yet self-controlled, excited his imagination. He was much struck by the freedom in the relations between the sexes, a freedom with no taint of impurity. "I like their bonne camaraderie," he said. For days at a time his mind would be concerned with this problem. Pacing up and down. every now and then a few words would fall from his lips. He was not addressing anyone but thinking aloud. His soliloquy would take some such form: "Which is better, the social freedom of America, or the social system of India with an its restrictions? The American method is individualistic. It gives an opportunity to the lowest. There can be no growth except in freedom, but it also has obvious dangers. Still, the individual gets experience even through mistakes. Our Indian system is based entirely upon the good of the samaj (society). The individual must fit into the system at any cost. There is no freedom for the individual unless he renounces society and becomes a sannyasin. This system has produced towering individuals, spiritual giants. Has it been at the expense of those less spiritual than themselves? Which is better for the race? Which? The freedom of America gives opportunities to masses of people. It makes for breadth, whilst the intensity of India means depth. How to keep both, that is the problem. How to keep the Indian depth and at the same time add breadth?"

For days he would speak out of the depths of his meditation on this part of the work. In this case, location, buildings, ways and means were all subordinate to the ideal. He was trying to see the woman of the future, the ideal for India. It was not a light task for even his luminous mind, which wrought it slowly, detail by detail. Like a great sculptor standing before a mass of splendid material, he was lost in the effort to bring to life an image, such as no artist had ever conceived before: an image which was to be an expression of the Divine Mother, through which the Light of spirituality shines. We watched fascinated as this perfection slowly took shape. So might some favoured one have watched. Michael Angelo at work with chisel and hammer, bringing into term the concept of power, strength. and majesty, which was to grow into his "Moses!".

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