Recognising old friends

Recently, I was staying in the outskirts of Paris in an old French château owned by the Ramakrishna Centre. Whilst there, I read a leaflet about Swami Vivekananda’s travels in Paris in 1900, shortly before he left the body.

Swami-vivekanandaVivekananda would give lectures on spirituality to spread his message of Vedanta. At the end of one particular lecture, Vivekananda went up to a stranger in the audience and politely asked if he could stay with him.

The audience member (M. Jules Bois) was both honoured and surprised. He replied to Swamiji that he would be greatly honoured, but he was a poor writer , and he could offer him only very basic accommodation. Vivekananda replied I am a renunciant, and am ready to sleep on the floor – which reminds me of this story of Vivekananda at Sri Chinmoy Library “The Sannyasin in America“.

This French writer had the joy of two weeks with Vivekananda staying in his apartment. He was in Heaven – being able to talk in the evenings and see Vivekananda meditate. Vivekananda later told him, he recognised him in the audience as being an old friend from a previous incarnation, and knew they would get on very well – which was very true.

A letter from Vivekananda whilst in Paris

October, 1900.
“I have been very happy and content here. I am having the best of times after many years. I find life here with Mr. Bois very satisfactory — the books, the calm, and the absence of everything that usually troubles me.” (1)


Sometimes, we feel affinity with certain people, but I can’t say I would have the confidence to go alone to a foreign city and hope to meet someone in the audience that I would have full confidence to invite myself into their home.

They say in some parts of Tibet, you can borrow money from incarnation to incarnation. I’ll borrow from you and pay it back in a future life. So you might get people coming up to you to ask – “Do you remember that £2,000 I lent you in a previous incarnation?

I tried this once with a friend, but funnily enough he seemed to remember it the other way around!


This was inspired by a post Mahirhua mentioned about Sri Chinmoy competing at the Master’s Games in Puerto Rico, where he competed and met different athletes.


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