Years before Swami Vivekananda came to America for the Parliament of Religions, literate Americans had been made familiar with Indian thought by such writers as Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman. Among these the most thoroughgoing by far was Thoreau. He was a profound reader who went to sources and explored them carefully, not satisfied with extracts and quotations as Emerson often was, and not bluffing his way as Whitman so often did.
I remember seeing in India an interesting notice boldly painted on the side of a building which said BE KIND TO ANIMALS BY NOT EATING THEM. How charmingly naïve! And yet how clearly stated and how forthright an appeal!
We know that all our troubles begin in the mind. Our mind is our friend as well as our enemy. When under control, it is our friend. When it gets the better of us, it is our enemy. Those who have control over their minds are at peace. They are truly happy.
Buddhism, in all its branches, sects, and subsects prevalent in different countries of the world, is a vast subject. This article will therefore be confined to the study of the ideal of service in the early Buddhist scriptures.