The first speaker was Prof Leo D Lefebure of Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA and a Catholic priest. He is accredited with writing several books, especially on Buddhist Scriptures like Dhammapada and how it relates to Christianity. He is Vice President of the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies. He first read the opening verses of the Dhammapada and highlighted how enlightening they were and the similarities with certain teachings found in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures.
The second speaker was Revered Hodo Gomoku who follows Zen Buddhism. He brought out some salient points of what Lord Buddha means to the Modern World. There are several teachings such as non-violence, compassion, patience etc. But Rev Hodo considered the most important teaching of Buddha for the Modern World as ‘Mindfulness’; he quoted from the Lalitavistara Sutra, one of the prominent scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism and explained how Buddha overcame the assaults of Mara.
Swami Vimokshananda while appreciating the talks of the two distinguished speakers added how Swami Vivekananda had the greatest adoration to Lord Buddha and how he had darshan of Lord Buddha. Swami Purnananda gave a vote of thanks as well as presented gifts as a token of respects. This was followed by Vesper Service and partaking of prasad.
The incident how Swami Vivekananda had darshan of Lord Buddha is indeed remarkable and good to recollect what he had related to Swami Saradananda and his disciples, Sister Nivedita and Sharat Chandra Chakravarty, on 3 separate occasions. A combined account of this incident in Swamiji’s own words gathered from these 3 sources is presented here:
One day while meditating, “There flowed in my mind a current of serene bliss when I kept it still, devoid of all objects. I felt for a long time even after the end of the meditation, a sort of intoxication under its impulse.
So, I did not feel inclined to leave the seat and get up immediately. While I was sitting in that condition at the end of the meditation, from the southern wall of that room a luminous figure stepped out and stood at a little distance in front of me, filling the room with a divine effulgence.
It was the figure of a Sannyasin (monk) in ochre cloth, absolutely calm, shaven-headed, and staff and Kamandalu (a Sannyasin’s wooden water-bowl) in hand.
The man was tall and largely built. There was a wonderful radiance on his visage, yet there seemed to be no play of emotion on it. In his face was calm so deep and so established, that it seemed as if both pain and pleasure had been forgotten during an infinite time.
He gazed at me for some time and I too gazed at him in speechless wonder. I felt very much drawn towards him. He walked forward towards me with a slow step, with his eyes steadfastly fixed on me, as if he wanted to say something.
But I was seized with fear and could not keep quiet. I got up from my seat, opened the door and walked out of the room with a rapid step. The next moment I thought, ‘Why this foolish fear?’ I made bold and went back into the room to hear the monk, who, alas, was no longer there.
I waited long in vain and felt dejected, repenting that I had been stupid enough to fly away without listening to him. I have seen many monks, but never have I found such an extraordinary expression in any other face. That face has been indelibly imprinted in my heart.
It may be a hallucination, but very often it comes to my mind that I had the good fortune of seeing Lord Buddha that day.”
–Swami Vivekananda relating his vision of Lord Buddha, to Swami Saradananda (Sri Ramakrishna the Great Master, page 1134-1135); Sister Nivedita (The Master as I Saw Him) and Sharat Chandra Chakravarty (Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 7). Courtesy: http://www.spiritualbee.com