Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Peaceful Spread of Ideas out of India

Civilisations have arisen in other parts of the world. 
In ancient times and in modern times, great ideas have emanated from strong and great races. In ancient and in modern times, wonderful ideas have been carried forward from one race to another. In ancient and in modern times, seeds of great truth and power have been cast abroad by the advancing tides of national life; but mark you, my friends, it has been always with the blast of war trumpets and with the march of embattled cohorts. 
Each idea had to be soaked in a deluge of blood. 
Each idea had to wade through the blood of millions of our fellow - beings. Each word of power had to be followed by the groans of millions, by the wails of orphans, by the tears of widows.

This, in the main, other nations have taught; but India has for thousands of years peacefully existed. Here activity prevailed when even Greece did not exist, when Rome was not thought of, when the very fathers of the modern Europeans lived in the forests and painted themselves blue. 
Even earlier, when history has no record, and tradition dares not peer into the gloom of that intense past, even from then until now, ideas after ideas have marched out from her, but every word has been spoken with a blessing behind it and peace before it.

We, of all nations of the world, have never been a conquering race, and that blessing is on our head, and therefore we live.

- Swami Vivekananda, Address at Colombo,
   Lectures From Colombo to Almora

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Perception and Knowledge Depend on Unity

… this sameness, this unity, this perfection -- as we may call it -- is not to be made, it already exists, and is here. 
We have only to recognise it, to understand it. 
Whether we know it or not, whether we can express it in clear language or not, whether this perception assumes the force and clearness of a sense-perception or not, it is there. 
For we are bound by the logical necessity of our minds to confess that it is there, else, the perception of the finite would not be.  …

… Knowledge would be impossible without that unity. Without the idea of sameness there would be neither perception nor knowledge. So both run side by side.

- Swami Vivekananda, Talk in London

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Ignorance of Masses

The vast mass of mankind are never thinkers. Even if they try to think, the [effect of the] vast mass of superstitions on them is terrible. The moment they weaken, one blow comes, and the backbone breaks into twenty pieces. 

They can only be moved by lures and threats. They can never move of their own accord. They must be frightened, horrified, or terrorised, and they are your slaves for ever. 
They have nothing else to do but to pay and obey. 
Everything else is done by the priest. ... 

How much easier religion becomes! You see, you have nothing to do. Go home and sit quietly. 
Somebody is doing the whole thing for you. 
 Poor, poor animals!

 - Swami Vivekananda, Talk in San Francisco

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Unity in spite of Variation

The work of ethics has been, and will be in the future, not the destruction of variation and the establishment of sameness in the external world -- which is impossible for it would bring death and annihilation -- but to recognize the unity in spite of all these variations, to recognize the God within, in spite of everything that frightens us, to recognize that infinite strength as the property of everyone in spite of all apparent weakness, and to recognize the eternal, infinite, essential purity of the soul in spite of everything to the contrary that appears on the surface. This we have to recognize.

Swami Vivekananda, Talk in London

Monday, October 23, 2017

Variation Vs Unity

Metaphysics and metaphysical knowledge, religion and religious knowledge, reached their culmination five thousand years ago, and we are merely reiterating the same truths in different languages, only enriching them sometimes by the accession of fresh illustrations. 

So this is the fight, even today. 

One side wants us to keep to the phenomenal, to all this variation, and points out, with great show of argument, that variation has to remain, for when that stops, everything is gone. What we mean by life has been caused by variation.
The other side, at the same time, valiantly points to unity. 

                 - Swami Vivekananda, Talk in London

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Irony of Life

Man is guided by the stomach. He walks and the stomach goes first and the head afterwards. Have you not seen that? 
It will take ages for the head to go first. 

By the time a man is sixty years of age, he is called out of [the world]. The whole of life is one delusion, and just when you begin to see things the way they are, you are snatched off. 
So long as the stomach went first you were all right. 
When children's dreams begin to vanish and you begin to look at things the way they are, the head goes. 

              - Swami Vivekananda, Talk in San Francisco

Friday, October 20, 2017

What is Meant by Vedas

The Vedas are simply words that have the mystical power to produce effects if the sound intonation is right. If one sound is wrong it will not do. Each one must be perfect. 
[Thus] what in other religions is called prayer disappeared and the Vedas became the gods. So you see the tremendous importance that was attached to the words of the Vedas. 

These are the eternal words out of which the whole universe has been produced. 
There cannot be any thought without the word. Thus whatever there is in this world is the manifestation of thought, and thought can only manifest itself through words. 

This mass of words by which the unmanifested thought becomes manifest, that is what is meant by the Vedas. 

          - Swami Vivekananda, Talk in San Francisco

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Heart Takes You Beyond

It is one of the evils of your Western civilization that you are after intellectual education alone, and take no care of the heart. It only makes men ten times more selfish, and that will be your destruction. 
When there is conflict between the heart and the brain, let the heart be followed, because intellect has only one state, reason, and within that, intellect works, and cannot get beyond. 

It is the heart which takes one to the highest plane, which intellect can never reach; it goes beyond intellect, and reaches to what is called inspiration. 

Intellect can never become inspired; only the heart when it is enlightened, becomes inspired. 

     - Swami Vivekananda, Class-Talk in New York

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Time - A Drop in Infinite Ocean

To everyone of us there must come a time when the whole universe will be found to have been a mere dream, when we shall find that the soul is infinitely better than its surroundings. 

In this struggle through what we call our environments, there will come a time when we shall find that these environments were almost zero in comparison with the power of the soul. 

It is only a question of time, and time is nothing in the Infinite. It is a drop in the ocean. 
   We can afford to wait and be calm.
Swami Vivekananda, Talk in London

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Extremes of Optimism and Pessimism

There are two extremes into which men are running; 
one is extreme optimism, when everything is rosy and nice and good; 
the other, extreme pessimism, when everything seems to be against them. 

The majority of men have more or less undeveloped brains. 
One in a million we see with a well-developed brain; the rest either have peculiar idiosyncrasies, or are monomaniacs. 

            - Swami Vivekananda, Class-Talk in New York

Thursday, October 12, 2017

No Privileges in Vedanta

None can be Vedantists, and at the same time admit of privilege to anyone, either mental, physical, or spiritual; absolutely no privilege for anyone. 
The same power is in every man, the one manifesting more, the other less; the same potentiality is in everyone. 
Where is the claim to privilege? 

All knowledge is in every soul, even in the most ignorant; he has not manifested it, but, perhaps, he has not had the opportunity, the environments were not, perhaps, suitable to him. When he gets the opportunity, he will manifest it. 

The idea that one man is born superior to another has no meaning in the Vedanta; that between two nations one is superior and the other inferior has no meaning whatsoever. Put them in the same circumstances, and see whether the same intelligence comes out or not. Before that you have no right to say that one nation is superior to another.

Swami Vivekananda, 
Talk in London

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Kapila's Idea of God

I must here tell you that some of our best psychologists do not believe in God in the sense in which you believe in Him. 
The father of our psychology, Kapila, denies the existence of God. His idea is that a Personal God is quite unnecessary; nature itself is sufficient to work out the whole of creation. 

What is called the Design Theory, he knocked on the head, and said that a more childish theory was never advanced. 
But he admits a peculiar kind of God. He says we are all struggling to get free; and when we become free, we can, as it were, melt away into nature, only to come out at the beginning of the next cycle and be its ruler. 

We come out omniscient and omnipotent beings. In that sense we can be called Gods: you and I and the humblest beings can be Gods in different cycles. He says such a God will be temporal; but an eternal God, eternally omnipotent and ruler of the universe, cannot be. 

                 - Swami Vivekananda, Talk in New York

Thursday, October 5, 2017

India - The Land of Tolerance and Sympathy

एकं सद्विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति  "That which exists is One; sages call It by various names." Above all others, my countrymen, this is the one grand truth that we have to teach to the world. Even the most educated people of other countries turn up their noses at an angle of forty-five degrees and call our religion idolatry. I have seen that; and they never stopped to think what a mass of superstition there was in their own heads.

 It is still so everywhere, this tremendous sectarianism, the low narrowness of the mind. The thing which a man has is the only thing worth having; the only life worth living is his little life of dollar-worship and mammon-worship; the only little possession worth having is his own property, and nothing else. If he can manufacture a little clay nonsense or invent a machine, that is to be admired beyond the greatest possessions. 

That is the case over the whole world in spite of education and learning. 

But education has yet to be in the world, and civilization -- civilization has begun nowhere yet. Ninety-nine decimal nine per cent of the human race are more or less savages even now. We may read of these things in books, and we hear of toleration in religion and all that, but very little of it is there yet in the world; take my experience for that. Ninety-nine per cent do not even think of it. There is tremendous religious persecution yet in every country in which I have been, and the same old objections are raised against learning anything new. 

The little toleration that is in the world, the little sympathy that is yet in the world for religious thought, is practically here in the land of the Aryas, and nowhere else. It is here that Indians build temples for Mohammedans and Christians; nowhere else. If you go to other countries and ask Mohammedans or people of other religions to build a temple for you, see how they will help. They will instead try to break down your temple and you too if they can. The one great lesson, therefore, that the world wants most, that the world has yet to learn from India, is the idea not only of toleration, but of sympathy. 

Well has it been said in the Mahimnah-stotra: "As the different rivers, taking their start from different mountains, running straight or crooked, at last come unto the ocean, so, O Shiva, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead unto Thee." Though they may take various roads, all are on the way.  

                    - Swami Vivekananda, Address at Colombo
                    Lectures From Colombo to Almora

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

One Who Never Dies

Everything dies; the angels die, men die, animals die, earths die, sun, moon, and stars, all die; everything undergoes constant change. The mountains of today were the oceans of yesterday and will be oceans tomorrow. 
Everything is in a state of flux. The whole universe is a mass of change. 

But there is One who never changes, and that is God; and the nearer we get to Him, the less will be the change for us, the less will nature be able to work on us; and when we reach Him, and stand with Him, we shall conquer nature, we shall be masters of these phenomena of nature, and they will have no effect on us.

Swami Vivekananda, Class-Talk in New York

Monday, October 2, 2017

We Are Ever-Free

The theory of the Vedanta, therefore, comes to this, that you and I and everything in the universe are that Absolute, not parts, but the whole. 
You are the whole of that Absolute, and so are all others, because the idea of part cannot come into it. These divisions, these limitations, are only apparent, not in the thing itself. 

I am complete and perfect, and I was never bound, boldly preaches the Vedanta. 

If you think you are bound, bound you will remain; if you know that you are free, free you are. 

Thus the end and aim of this philosophy is to let us know that we have been free always, and shall remain free for ever. 
We never change, we never die, and we are never born. 

                       - Swami Vivekananda, Talk in London