Thought I’d share one of my recent reading binges with you. I read a book late spring called American Veda, about how Indian thought has influenced the USA (from Thoreau and Emerson through the Beatles and beyond). In that work, I read a few pages on Christopher Isherwood, a British novelist and pacifist who came to the US in the late 30s (he was best friends with the renowned poet W.H. Auden). He couldn’t stomach NYC so he moved to Los Angeles where, through the acquaintanceship with a couple English expats (one of whom Aldous Huxley, who wrote the dystopian novel, Brave New World, and a spiritual classic, The Perennial Wisdom) he met Swami Prabhavananda, who was a member of the Ramakrishna Order in Calcutta (did I ever recommend The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna? [am i too parenthetical?]).
So I’ve read several of Isherwood’s books and translations with the Swami of some Hindu classics. I offer you the following passages for your perusal and enjoyment.
If I had to use one single word to describe the atmosphere of the Gospel narrative, it would be the word Now. The majority of us spend the greater part of our lives in the future or the past—fearing or desiring what is to come, regretting what is over. M. shows us a being who lives in continuous contact with that which is eternally present. God’s existence has no relation to past or future; it is always as of now. To be with Ramakrishna was to be in the presence of that Now. Isherwood, Ramakrishna and His Disciples, 279
Narendra, who became Swami Vivekananda: Ever since our first meeting, it was the Master alone who always had faith in me—no one else, not even my own mother and brothers. That faith and that love of his have bound me to him forever. The Master was the only one who knew how to love and who really loved. Worldly people only feign love to gratify their own self-interest. Isherwood, Ramakrishna and His Disciples, 216
We spend a very small proportion of our time thinking logical, consecutive thoughts. it is within the reverie that our passions and prejudices—often s terrible in their consequences—build themselves up, almost unnoticed, out of slogans, newspaper headlines, chance-heard words of fear and greed and hate, which have slipped into our consciousness through our unguarded eyes and ears. Our reverie expresses what we are, at any given moment. The mantra, by introducing God into the reverie, must produce profound subliminal changes. These may not be apparent for some time, but, sooner or later, they will inevitably appear—first in the prevailing mood and disposition of the individual; then in a gradual change of character. Isherwood, Ramakrishna and His Disciples, 107