SWAMI VIVEKANANDA AT THE
LOS ANGELES HOME
(New Discoveries, Vol. 5, pp. 218-20.)
[Unity, February (?) 1900]
. . . . . .
. . . We had eight lectures at the Home by the Swami (This newspaper report is an overview of eight class lectures delivered at the Home of Truth in December 1899 and January 1900, of which there is only one verbatim transcript, “Hints on Practical Spirituality”, published in Complete Works, II: 24-37 .) and all were intensely interesting, though a few malcontents complained because he did not give some short cuts into the King dom [of Heaven] and show an easy way to the attainment of mental powers; instead he would say,
Go home and promise yourself that you will not worry for a whole month even though the maid breaks all your best china.
There is combined in the Swami Vivekananda the learning of a university president, the dignity of an archbishop, with the grace and winsomeness of a free natural child. Getting on the platform without a moment’s preparation he would soon be in the midst of his subject, sometimes becoming almost tragic as his mind would wander from deep metaphysics to the prevailing condition in Christian countries today who go and seek to reform Filipinos with the swords in one hand and the Bible in the other, or in South Africa allow children of the same father to cut each other to pieces. To contrast this condition of things he described what took place during the last famine in India where men would die of starvation beside their cattle rather than stretch forth a hand to kill. (Will Unity readers remember the fifty million Hindoos who are starving today and send them a blessing?)
Instead of trying to give much of what we heard from the Swami direct, I will append a few of the sayings of his master, Ramakrishna, that will better indicate the nature of his teaching. His chief aim seems to be to encourage people in living simple, quiet wholesome lives — that the life shall be the religion, not something separate and apart.
To the true mother he gives the highest place, counting her as more to be esteemed than those who simply run around teaching. “Anyone can talk,” he said,
but if I had to look after a baby, I could not endure existence for more than three days.
Frequently he would speak of the “mother” as we speak of the “father,” and would say “the mother will take care of us,” or “the mother will look after things.”
We had a lecture on Christmas day from the Swami entitled, “Christ’s Mission to the World,” and a better one on this subject I never heard. No Christian minister could have presented Jesus as a character worthy (of) the greatest reverence more eloquently or more powerfully than did this learned Hindoo, who told us that in this country on account of his dark skin he has been refused admission to hotels, and even barbers have sometimes objected to shave him. Is it any wonder that our “heathen” brethren never fail to make mention of this fact that even “our” Master was an Oriental?