|Vivekananda, front row, 2nd from right|
In 1893, Swami Vivekananda attended Chicago's Parliament of Religions. Judging by the newspaper accounts of the time, he knocked 'em in the aisles. He came as a representative of Hinduism -- a man whose home base was Vedanta and would die at 39 in 1902. He was a prolific writer and, according to my hunching, would have been a Buddhist if he hadn't loved his teacher, Ramakrishna, so much.
From where I sit, Vivekananda really kicked the spiritual can down the road. But it is not so much the volumes he penned or the centers he encouraged to open in his teacher's name. That, from where I sit, is minor stuff compared to his pointing at the moon, so to speak. Yes, there is a blue-haired-ladies contingent in Vedanta. Yes, there is an almost Roman Catholic awe of real estate and gilt statues and incense. That stuff is sometimes necessary.
But it was Vivekananda, 'my father,' who said without lying: "The mind [he meant intellect] is a good servant and a poor master." Intellectually, the words mean squat. But in my heart of hearts ... well, my father did not let me down.
"The mind is a good servant and a poor master." Straighter tracks were never laid.