Reproduced from New Discoveries, Vol. 1, pp. 484-86.
[The story of the first meeting of Swami Vivekananda and Madame Emma Calvé, as told in Calvé’s autobiography, My Life] . . .
[Swami Vivekananda] was lecturing in Chicago one year when I was there; and as I was at that time greatly depressed in mind and body, I decided to go to him. . . . Before going I had been told not to speak until he addressed me. When I entered the room, I stood before him in silence for a moment. He was seated in a noble attitude of meditation, his robe of saffron yellow falling in straight lines to the floor, his head swathed in a turban bent forward, his eyes on the ground. After a pause he spoke without looking up.
“My child”, he said, “what a troubled atmosphere you have about you. Be calm. It is essential”. Then in a quiet voice, untroubled and aloof, this man who did not even know my name talked to me of my secret problems and anxieties. He spoke of things that I thought were unknown even to my nearest friends. It seemed miraculous, supernatural.
“How do you know all this?” I asked at last. “Who has talked of me to you?” He looked at me with his quiet smile as though I were a child who had asked a foolish question. “No one has talked to me”, he answered gently. “Do you think that it is necessary? I read in you as in an open book.” Finally it was time for me to leave.
“You must forget”, he said as I rose. “Become gay and happy again. Build up your health. Do not dwell in silence upon your sorrows. Transmute your emotions into some form of external expression. Your spiritual health requires it. Your art demands it.” I left him deeply impressed by his words and his personality. He seemed to have emptied my brain of all its feverish complexities and placed there instead his clear and calming thoughts. I became once again vivacious and cheerful, thanks to the effect of his powerful will. He did not use any of the hypnotic or mesmeric influences. It was the strength of his character, the purity and intensity of his purpose that carried conviction. It seemed to me, when I came to know him better, that he lulled one’s chaotic thoughts into a state of peaceful acquiescence, so that one could give complete and undivided attention to his words.