A Dr. Robert Norwood came to see Baba at the Astor' Hotel on November 24th. He held a doctorate in theology and was a devout soul in search of Truth. Norwood had lost hope in organized religion and had no faith whatsoever in any sect, dogma or doctrine. Because of that, he had gone on his own and opened a church.
Baba gave Norwood a long interview and the following is their conversation:
Baba asserted, "Love is the only real religion. People are now tired of theories, doctrines and principles. They want the real thing, which explanations can never give. They must feel Truth, see Truth and experience Truth. Only then can one find harmony with everything and everyone. Only then can one, though remaining in the world, not be of it. I am eternally happy. I see my own Self in everyone and everything."
Norwood asked, "Do you preach any specific precepts or do you belong to any particular creed?"
"None absolutely," Baba answered. "Religions, castes, sects, dogmas and rituals are all hindrances in the path of Truth. Truth is all-pervading and infinite. I do not teach anything. I make the learned forget. I have come not to teach but to awaken."
"Is going to church of any help?" Norwood asked.
"Yes, to a certain extent; not much though. The church that advocates and nourishes sectarianism renders no help. All true churches, temples and mosques are for all. To attain the Truth, no obstacle should be put in anyone's way, such as present-day religions and cults do."
Norwood said, "Yes, it is true. At first, I was active in a Christian church, but because I was in search of a religion of the heart, I left it. Now religion and sectarianism do not appeal to me. I have always been sure that there is something higher than religion."
"Exactly." Baba continued, "I frequently repeat the same thing. I am preparing a way for people so that they will be able to live a life of Truth. There is no religion higher than love. Love is the only way leading to Truth and God-Realization. Mind and intellect provide only superficial understanding; it is dry knowledge. One should try to see God and experience Him. The first thing is Reality, the second is Unity. Love is truly a shortcut in the long path toward achieving God-Realization. It is the quickest way."
"I am glad we agree," said Norwood. "May I ask a few more questions?"
"What do you think of Mahatma Gandhi?"
"A fine man and a very good soul. He has promised to come and stay with me for spiritual progress after he retires from politics."
"That is what Gandhi needs," Norwood concurred. "He has labored hard and suffered much for the Indian people. He is too simple and trustworthy a man for politics.
"What is your opinion of the theosophists, Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater?" Norwood asked.
"They have done some good work, but there is still much to be done. They are somewhat advanced souls; but at a certain stage of advancement without the guidance and help of a Master hostile forces are created, resulting in delusion. It all becomes a jumble and there is confusion," answered Baba.
"They write and speak too much," said Norwood. "But you, Baba, are the epitome of beauty. I feel I am acquiring strength in your presence and ridding myself of emptiness."
A few days later, Baba dictated this message to be sent to Robert Norwood:
You will know me. I have seen many, all of whom were also deeply impressed, but I find you to be one who can do my work to a great extent. Rest assured that I will come back and speak. I am here to make all of mankind realize by actual experience the One Infinite Self Who is in all.
** Robert Norwood died the following year.
(1874–1932), Driftwood, His lady of the sonnets, The witch of Endor, The piper and the reed.
Born at New Ross, Nova Scotia, Robert Winkworth Norwood was educated at Coaticook Academy and Bishop's College in Quebec, at King's College, Windsor, N.S., and at Columbia University, New York. Ordained in the Anglican Church in 1898, he served in Canadian parishes in Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario before moving to the USA in 1917. In Philadelphia and, after 1925, at St Bartholomew's Church in New York City, Norwood became famous as one of the most eloquent metropolitan pulpit orators of his day. He died suddenly in New York upon his return from his summer residence in Nova Scotia.
Encouraged in his verse-writing as a student at King's by his professor, Charles G.D. Roberts, Norwood collaborated with his college roommate Charles W. Vernon in issuing Driftwood, a slim volume of poems privately printed in 1898. Essentially a lyric poet, he nevertheless preferred to objectify his sensibility in dramatic monologues, sonnet sequences, poetic dramas, and narrative verse. His lady of the sonnets (1915) contains, besides the title sonnet sequence, three other sequences of lyric poems that are both unified and diversified by the poet's varied concepts of love; a final section of religious songs and sonnets completes the volume. The witch of Endor (1916) is a five-act closet drama in rhetorical blank verse celebrating the transcendent power of love. Another book of poems, The piper and the reed (1917), continues an almost too-forceful lyric expression of Norwood's muscular Christianity. This was followed by The modernists (1918), a collection of dramatic monologues in which speakers express human ideals in a progression from the cave-man through historic figures to the voice of the twentieth century. The five-act poetic drama The man of Kerioth (1919) explores the motives of Judas in betraying Jesus.
Bill Boram (1921), a narrative poem about the humanity hidden in the heart of a brutish sea-captain, draws on Norwood's experience of the Nova Scotia coast, and his descriptions are therefore more vivid than those in his earlier works, which abound in classical settings. The poems in Mother and son (1925) reflect the sorrow Norwood felt over the death of his son in a hunting accident. ‘The spinner’, a poem in this collection, shows the power of his mature lyricism, with its direct imagery and swiftly varying moods. Issa (1931), an 1800-line meditative poem employing a six-line rhymed stanza, is a highly personal exploration of Issa (or Jesus) as a presence guiding both the poet's flights into contemplation of the Godhead and his descent into communion with the earth, with human things and human beings. It is the work that best justifies Charles G.D. Roberts' high praise of Norwood ‘as a great religious poet’.
Several books of prose, written in the last years of his life, express his liberal view of Christianity. These include The heresy of Antioch (1928), The steep ascent (1928), The man who dared to be God (1929), His glorious body (1930), Increasing Christhood (1932), and The hiding God (1933). A.D. Watson's Robert Norwood (1923) is an appreciation of the poet in the Makers of Canadian Literature series.
In 1899, Mr. Norwood was married to Ethel, a daughter of George McKeen, M.D., of Baddeck, C.B., and their two daughters and a
son–Aileen, Robert and Jean–make glad the rectory, and inspire their poet father to sing new songs.
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