Many questions were answered in these classes. Also, for those who arrived before class time, there was a little opportunity for getting acquainted personally with the Swami. We were invited into the dining room, where we enjoyed some informal talks. He would make fun of our habit of rushing here and there. He never hurried. That majestic calmness never left him. It amused him to see someone run for a street car. "Won't there be another one?" he would ask. It did not trouble him at all if he was late in beginning a class or a lecture, and there was no set time for its ending. He would continue until he finished his subject, even if it took more than double the allotted time. These early morning visits previous to the class were completely informal. Swamiji would wear a gray flannel robe, sit cross-legged in an arm-chair, smoke, answer questions, and tell jokes. When it was time for the class, he would appear two minutes later in the living room, clad in his ochre robe, his hair smooth, and the pipe missing. But the jokes continued to be interspersed among the serious subjects.
The same was true in his public lectures. He playfully ridiculed the question: What becomes of one's individuality when one realizes his oneness with God? "You people in this country are so afraid of losing your individuality!" he would exclaim. "Why, you are not individuals yet. When you realize your whole nature, you will attain your true individuality, not before. In knowing God you cannot lose anything. There is another thing I am constantly hearing in this country, and that is that we should live in harmony with nature. Don't you know that all the progress ever made in the world was made by conquering nature? We are to resist nature at every point if we are to make any progress."
He encouraged questions at the end of each lecture, and once when someone suggested that they were tiring him with too many questions, he said, "Ask all the questions you like, the more the better. That is what I am here for and I won't leave you until you understand. In India they tell me, I ought not to teach Advaita (monistic) Vedanta to the people at large, but I say I can make even a child understand it. You cannot begin too early to teach the highest spiritual truths."
Speaking of spiritual training for the mind, he said,"The, less you read, the better. Read the Gita and other good works on Vedanta. That is all you need. The present system of education is all wrong. The mind is crammed with facts before it knows how to think. Control of the mind should be taught first. If I had my education to get over again and had any voice in the matter, I would learn to master my mind first, and then gather facts if I wanted them. It takes people a long time to learn things because they can't concentrate their minds at will. It took me three readings to memorize Macaulay's History of England, while my mother memorized any sacred book she wanted to in one reading. People are always suffering because they can't control their minds. To give an illustration, though rather a crude one, a man has trouble with his wife. She leaves him and goes off with another. She's a terror! But the poor fellow cannot take his mind away from her even so, and so he suffers."
( Vedanta and the West, May-June 1954 Courtesy: Partha Sinha )
The main theme of my life is to take the message of Sanatana Dharma to every home and pave the way for launching, in a big way, the man-making programme preached and envisaged by great seers like Swami Vivekananda. - Mananeeya Eknathji
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