From ‘Epistles – Fourth Series’-chapter -V of Volume 8 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda.

To Marie Halboister


25th July, 1897.


I have time, will, and opportunity now to clear my promise. So my letter begins. I have been very weak for some time, and with that and other things my visit to England this Jubilee season had to be postponed.

I was very sorry at first not to be able to meet my nice and very dear friends once more, but Karma cannot be avoided, and I had to rest contented with my Himalayas. It is a sorry exchange, after all; for the beauty of the living spirit shining through the human face is far more pleasurable than any amount of material beauty.

Is not the soul the Light of the world?

The work in London had to go slow — for various reasons, and last though not the least was l’argent, mon amie! When I am there l’argent comes in somehow, to keep the mare going. Now everybody shrugs his shoulder. I must come again and try my best to revive the work.

I am having a good deal of riding and exercise, but I had to drink a lot of skimmed milk per prescription of the doctors, with the result that I am more to the front than back! I am always a forward man though — but do not want to be too prominent just now, and I have given up drinking milk.

I am glad to learn that you are eating your meals with good appetite.

Do you know Miss Margaret Noble of Wimbledon? She is working hard for me. Do correspond with her if you can, and you help me a good deal there. Her address is, Brantwood, Worple Road, Wimbledon.

So you saw my little friend Miss Orchard and you liked her too — good. I have great hopes for her. And how I should like to be retired from life’s activities entirely when I am very old, and hear the world ringing with the names of my dear, dear young friends like yourself and Miss Orchard etc.!

By and by, I am glad to find that I am aging fast, my hair is turning grey. “Silver threads among the gold” — I mean black — are coming in fast.

It is bad for a preacher to be young, don’t you think so? I do, as I did all my life. People have more confidence in an old man, and it looks more venerable. Yet the old rogues are the worst rogues in the world, isn’t it?

The world has its code of judgment which, alas, is very different from that of truth’s.

So your “Universal Religion” has been rejected by the Revue de deux Mondes. Never mind, try again some other paper. Once the ice is broken, you get in at a quick rate, I am sure. And I am so glad that you love the work: it will make its way, I have no doubt of it. Our ideas have a future, ma chere Marie — and it will be realised soon.

I think this letter will meet you in Paris — your beautiful Paris — and I hope you will write me lots about French journalism and the coming “World’s Fair” there.

I am so glad that you have been helped by Vedanta and Yoga. I am unfortunately sometimes like the circus clown who makes others laugh, himself miserable!

You are naturally of a buoyant temperament. Nothing seems to touch you. And you are moreover a very prudent girl, inasmuch as you have scrupulously kept yourself away from “love” and all its nonsense. So you see you have made your good Karma and planted the seed of your lifelong well-being. Our difficulty in life is that we are guided by the present and not by the future. What gives us a little pleasure now drags us on to follow it, with the result that we always buy a mass of pain in the future for a little pleasure in the present.

I wish I had nobody to love, and I were an orphan in my childhood. The greatest misery in my life has been my own people — my brothers and sisters and mother etc. Relatives are like deadly clogs to one’s progress, and is it not a wonder that people will still go on to find new ones by marriage!!!

He who is alone is happy. Do good to all, like everyone, but do not love anyone. It is a bondage, and bondage brings only misery. Live alone in your mind — that is happiness. To have nobody to care for and never minding who cares for one is the way to be free.

I envy so much your frame of mind — quiet, gentle, light, yet deep and free. You are already free, Marie, free already — you are Jivanmukta. I am more of a woman than a man, you are more of a man than woman. I am always dragging other’s pain into me — for nothing, without being able to do any good to anybody — just as women, if they have no children, bestow all their love upon a cat!!!

Do you think this has any spirituality in it? Nonsense, it is all material nervous bondage — that is what it is. O! to get rid of the thraldom of the flesh!

Your friend Mrs. Martin very kindly sends me copies of her magazine every month — but Sturdy’s thermometer is now below zero, it seems. He seems to be greatly disappointed with my non-arrival in England this summer. What could I do?

We have started two Maths (monasteries) here, one in Calcutta, the other in Madras. The Calcutta Math (a wretched rented house) was awfully shaken in the late earthquake.

We have got in a number of boys, and they are in training; also we have opened famine relief in several places and the work is going on apace. We will try to start similar centres in different places in India.

In a few days I am going down to the plains and from thence go to the Western parts of the mountains. When it is cooler in the plains, I will make a lecture tour all over and see what work can be done.

Here I cannot find any more time to write — so many people are waiting — so here I stop, dear Marie, wishing you all joy and happiness.

May you never be lured by flesh is the constant prayer of —

Ever yours in the Lord,