In recent history there have been great strides in bridging the
spirituality of East and West. Notable among these was comments made
by Swami Vivekananda at the World Parliament of Religions in 1893.
The World Parliament of Religions was sponsored by the Unitarians and
Universalists of the Free Religious Association, and was a part of
the greater Columbian Exposition held for several months in 1893, in
Chicago, which was attended by over 27 million people.
Swami Vivekananda's talk is a benchmark, in that he was the first
such teacher to visit America, and this was his first talk.
After the welcome address of the opening of the World Parliament of
Religions, Swami Vivekananda spoke, and started with these few
words: "Sisters and Brothers of America." The 7,000 people in
the audience, immediately feeling his sincerity, rose to their feet
and "went into inexplicable rapture with standing ovation and
clapping that lasted for more than three minutes." He went on,
"It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to
the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us
Swami Vivekananda closed by saying, "Sectarianism, bigotry, and
its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this
beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched
it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent
whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons,
human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their
time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this
morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all
fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and
of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the
Most of us in spiritual pursuits know of the many
"coincidences" that seem to come from time to time.
Occasionally, one of these "coincidences" is so strong as to
leave us momentarily speechless. Such a moment came to me as I
realized the current significance of the date of Swami
In the East, the number 108 has been described as having great
significance, as noted here:
The first message of Swami Vivekananda in America, often said to be a
key point of the bridging of Eastern and Western spirituality, and
the coming of yoga to the West, was given on September 11, 1893,
exactly 108 years, to the day, before the date September 11, 2001.
Whether by coincidence or plan, it calls out for a closer reading of
Swami Vivekananda's message and it's appropriateness for our
In loving service,