I am 71 years old and live in Sweden. Time passes, it is now around 45 years since I first read the books by Romain Rolland on Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna. They were translated into Swedish in 1931. I didn’t know (when I read these books, about 1975) if Swamiji and Sri Ramakrishna were then long forgotten and if it was possible to get anything more to read, about this new reality for me. This was before internet. In the books I could read that, then in 1931, there were two magazines Prabuddha Bharata and Vedanta Kesari in circulation. I called a newspaper agency wanting to subscribe to these magazines, didn’t expect anything, thinking that they were probably totally unknown. But to my surprise they said that I could get them both. So from then on everything opened.
Having read about the direct disciples I pictured in my mind how Swamiji and Swami Brahmananda looked. There was a picture of them, and I put my hand over the text with their names, trying to guess who was who? I thought: this must be Swami Vivekananda he looks really powerful, and this must be Swami Brahmananda so contemplative and gentle looking. So I lifted my hand and — it was just the reverse.
I am not initiated and have never met any Swami, but I somehow feel like I belong to this wonderful movement.
The opportunity to read so much Vedanta literature and in that way have company with so many totally sincere and focused Swamis is beneficial. Also, very valuable to me, are the teachings:
Freedom — not only free to do this or that, but free from a limited identity.
Purity — to realize that the world of the senses is a limitation of The Real, phenomena is a limitation of noumenon. And trying to attach to The Real instead of to sense objects.
Bliss — the joy is not outside to fetch or buy or get, but is my own nature, my real being. I do not need anything, only the body needs a little. This truth will also make it easier to change a consumer culture, which today must change because of the global heating.
The teachings say to see other people and myself as manifestations of something beyond time and space, and there we are all One. This thinking makes a big difference. Being One with everything. When I think of this Oneness I become a better person, by widening my identity.