i went to the vedanta society this morning, for the first time in a very long time indeed. swamiji’s talk was on the utility of being a fool, which is a talk that i am sure i have heard before, but it was probably before my injury, because i don’t remember exactly when. it is full of relevant quotes from everyone from socrates, who, after his wife poured a bucket of water on him during an argument, said “it is very common that after a blustering wind, you get rain” to swamiji, himself, who said “politicians are like toilets in your home: it’s impossible to get on without them, but they are difficult to keep clean and require frequent flushing”.
what i took away from it is that it is far easier, and far more fun to say that you know nothing than it is to claim to know it all, even if you do know it all… which nobody does, because knowledge is infinite.
ramakrishna said “i am the worst of the fools (nirakshara = unlettered), but i know akshara (the infinite)”.
the chapel is exactly as i remember it from years ago, down to the pattern in the brocade cover on the lectern… i suspect that even the fake flowers in the sconces on the walls are the same as they were 40 years ago. the guy who was greeting people at the front door chuckled and said that he hadn’t seen me in a while…
my recollection is that the last time i went to the vedanta society was shortly after my injury, when we were still living in renton… and before that was probably while we were living on beacon hill.
but as familiar as it was, and as nice as it was to be there, i wasn’t overwhelmed with a desire to be a part of that community, as i was 40 years ago. it was really good to hear swamiji speak — he hasn’t changed a bit, which is somewhat surprising considering how long it has been — but, after the talk he said “haven’t i seen you before?”… yeah, you’ve seen me before: i was a student of yours for 15 years, i asked you to officiate my wedding, and i’ve been coming here since the mid-’70s… i was just thinking about it this morning: i have been coming to the vedanta society since shortly after someone planted a bomb near the front door and tried to burn the place down. i started coming while they were still in the process of rebuilding. i’m not particularly surprised that he didn’t remember me, though, because he sees thousands of people in a month, and he interacts with them far more than he has with me for the past 20 years or so… and it is a 45 minute drive to get there now…
the way i feel now is that if i’m going to drive 45 minutes to go somewhere, i’m going to choose places that challenge me to learn new things, and, to be honest, i’ve heard all of swamiji’s talks several times over. it is nothing against swamiji, or the vedanta society, but if i’m gonna drive 45 minutes, that early in the morning, i would get a lot more out of it if i were going busking. 😎