On this blog, you will have noticed that I write a lot of Paramahansa Yogananda and Swami Vidyadhishananda. I’d like to write about a few other yogis who have come to mean something to me, in a series we’ll call the “Know a Yogi” series. Being that Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birthday is coming on January 12, he is a good one to start with.
Swami Vivekananda was the first Hindu Master to bring dharma to the United States when he made a moving speech at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. He came to America 27 years before Yogananda. Though Vivekananda only lived another nine years after this epic speech, his impact on the West in the way of spiritual awareness and pluralism, has been boundless. Many yogis who followed him may not have found such a receptive audience had Vivekananda not so eloquently delivered his message. And thus, many souls who were looking for something more would have continued grasping at something they didn’t know was there.
I have read a book or two on Vivekananda, and his Guru Ramakrishna. I have to admit that something about Vivekananda’s and Ramakrishna’s message seemed inaccessible to me when I read it. The root of his monastic name, vivika, means “discrimination” (something I will touch on in my next post). I think that there was something about their messages, especially Ramakrishna, that was not easy for me to accept. I think these two Masters wielded viveka like a scalpel, carving out non-truth in the world that my comparatively unenlightened mind did not even recognize, and therefore their conclusions about the world may have seemed counteractive to everything I had ever learned and held dear up to the day I read their works.
I don’t remember exactly what I found so hard to accept, but I believe it had to do with acceptance of the world and it’s people with their various issues, as it and they, are. Being that his name included “viveka” this concept seemed even more perplexing, I suppose.
Now armed with my mantra “yada yada yada” (whatever, wherever, whenever), these teachings may be more palpable to me.
Each time I delve into a book on dharma, I come back up a more full vessel than I had been before, so I know that I have become much more receptive than I was when I first read about these two Masters. Being the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Vivekananda, I think it just may be time for me to revisit his, and Ramakrishna’s teachings.