A story from Sri Chinmoy's 'Garden of the Soul'
Swami Vivekananda, a great Indian hero, and a great spiritual renunciate or sannyasin, came to America to preach spiritual philosophy and to offer India's message to the nation. After addressing the World's Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893, he became famous overnight.
This lofty spiritual figure had many friends and admirers. One day, some of these friends and admirers came to his house to ask him questions about Indian philosophy and spirituality. They were moved by his answers. By the time they departed, it was nearly midnight.
After they had gone, the man thought of India, his poor India, especially Mother Bengal. He said to himself, "I am going to bed. But tonight there are thousands and thousands of people without beds who will be lying in the street, poverty stricken. Here I have got a cozy and most comfortable bed. But once upon a time, I was a renunciate. I used to roam in the street with no food, with nothing. Still, from time to time, I have no food or clothes. I'm in a destitute condition.
God blesses me with riches, and my friends keep me in their homes. They've even given me this beautiful apartment. Indeed, I'm living in great luxury. In a few minutes, I'll go to sleep in a comfortable bed, and yet many of my fellow brothers and sisters in Bengal will be sleeping in the street.
My heart bleeds for them. I have not fulfilled my task. I must help my poor Indian brothers. I must save their lives; I have to enlighten them, to awaken their consciousness. There is so much to do! Alas, what am I doing here? I need rest, but I wont sleep on the couch. I'll sleep on the floor."
He unwrapped his turban and laid it out on the floor for bedding. Early the following morning when the owner of the apartment, who was his friend, came to invite him to breakfast, he saw this great Indian hero lying on the floor. He said, "What is the matter?"
The Indian replied, "Thousands and thousands of my brothers and sisters spend the night in the streets. How can I sleep in a comfortable bed? I can't, unless and until I have done something for them. It is my duty to serve God in the poor and needy. So the life of comfort is not for me. The life of selfless service, the life of dedicated, devoted service, is for me. Service is my goal, service is my perfection in life."
The golden dream of peace,
And unconditionally love.
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