Sunday 9 July 2017

Swami Vivekananda - Sister Christine : 6


.....There was nothing set or formed about these nights on the upper veranda. He sat in his large chair at the end, near his door. Sometimes he went into a deep meditation. At such times we too meditated or sat in profound silence. Often it lasted for hours and one after the other slipped away. For we knew that after this he would not feel inclined to speak. Or again the meditation would be short, and he would encourage us to ask questions afterwards, often calling on one of us to answer. No matter how far wrong these answers were, he let us flounder about until we were near the truth, and then in a few words, he would clear up the difficulty. This was his invariable method in teaching. He knew how to stimulate the mind of the learner and make it do its own thinking. Did we go to him for confirmation of a new idea or point of view and begin, "I see it is thus and so", his "Yes?" with an upper inflection always sent us back for further thought. Again we would come with a more clarified understanding, and again the "Yes?" stimulated us to further thought. Perhaps after the third time, when the capacity for further thought along that particular line was reached, he would point out the error — an error usually due to something in our Western mode of thought.

And so he trained us with such patience, such benignity. It was like a benediction. Later, after his return to India, he hoped to have a place in the Himalayas for further training of Eastern and Western disciples together.

It was a strange group — these people whom he had gathered around him that summer at Thousand Islands. No wonder the shopkeeper, to whom we went for direction upon our arrival, said, "Yes, there are some queer people living up on the hill, among whom is a foreign-looking gentleman." There were three friends who had come to the Swami's New York classes together — Miss S.E. Waldo. Miss Ruth Ellis, and Doctor Wight. For thirty years, they had attended every lecture on philosophy that they had heard of, but had never found anything that even remotely approached this. So Doctor Wight gravely assured us, the new-comers. Miss Waldo had during these long years of attendance at lectures acquired the gift of summarizing a whole lecture in a few words. It is to her that we owe Inspired Talks. When Swami Vivekananda went to England that same year, he gave her charge of some of the classes, and on his return she made herself invaluable. It was to her that he dictated his commentary on the Patanjali's Aphorisms. She assisted too in bringing out the different books Karma-Yoga, Raja-Yoga, Jnana-Yoga, Bhakti-Yoga. Her logical, trained mind and her complete devotion made her an ideal assistant. Ruth Ellis was on the staff of one of the New York newspapers. She was gentle and retiring and seldom spoke, yet one knew that her love and devotion were unbounded. She was like a daughter to "little old Docky Wight", as we all called him. He was well over seventy but as enthusiastic and full of interest as a boy. At the end of each class there was usually a pause, and the little old "Docky" would sloop down and rub his bald head and say, with the most pronounced nasal twang, "Well, Swami, then it all amounts to this, 'I am the Absolute!' "We always waited for that, and Swamiji would smile his most fatherly smile and agree. At times like this. the Swami's thirty years in the presence of seventy seemed older by countless years — ancient but not aged, rather ageless and wise with the wisdom of all times. Sometimes be said, "I feel three hundred years old." This, with a sigh

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

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