Sayings and Utterances

From Volume 8 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, chapter -IV 1. “Did Buddha teach that the many was real and the ego unreal, while orthodox Hinduism regards the One as the real, and the many as unreal?” the Swami was asked. “Yes”, answered the Swami. “And what Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and I have added to this is, that the Many and the One are the same Reality, perceived by the same mind at different times and in different attitudes.” 2. “Remember!” he said once to a disciple, “Remember! the message of India is always “Not the soul for nature, but nature for the soulĀ !” 3. “What the world wants today is twenty men and women who can dare to stand in the street yonder, and say that they possess nothing but God. Who will go? Why should one fear? If this is true, what else could matter? If it is not true, what do our lives matterĀ !” 4. “Oh, how calm would be the work of one who really understood the divinity of man! For such, there is nothing to do, save to open men’s eyes. All the rest does itself.” 5. “He (Shri Ramakrishna) was contented simply to live that great life and to leave it to others to find the explanation!” 6. “Plans! Plans!” Swami Vivekananda explained in indignation, when one of his disciples had offered him some piece of worldly wisdom. “That is why . . . Western people can never create a religion! If any of you ever did, it was only a few Catholic saints who had no plans. Religion was never preached...

The Essence of Religion

From Volume 8 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, chapter -III, ‘Notes Of Class Talks And Lectures’ Report of a lecture delivered in America In France the “rights of man” was long a watchword of the race; in America the rights of women still beseech the public ear; in India we have concerned ourselves always with the rights of Gods. The Vedanta includes all sects. We have a peculiar idea in India. Suppose I had a child; I should not teach him any religion, but the practice of concentrating his mind; and just one line of prayer — not prayer in your sense, but this: “I meditate on Him who is the Creator of the universe; may He enlighten my mind.” Then, when old enough, he goes about hearing the different philosophies and teachings, till he finds that which seems the truth to him. He then becomes the Shishya or disciple of the Guru (teacher) who is teaching this truth. He may choose to worship Christ or Buddha or Mohammed: we recognise the rights of each of these, and the right of all souls to their own Ishta or chosen way. It is, therefore, quite possible for my son to be a Buddhist, my wife to be a Christian, and myself a Mohammedan at one and the same time with absolute freedom from friction. We are all glad to remember that all roads lead to God; and that the reformation of the world does not depend upon all seeing God through our eyes. Our fundamental idea is that your doctrine cannot be mine, nor mine yours. I am...

The Worship Of The Divine Mother

From Volume 8 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, chapter -III, ‘Notes Of Class Talks And Lectures’ Fragmentary notes taken on a Sunday afternoon in New York in June, 1900 From the tribal or clan – god, man arrives, in every religion, at the sum, the God of gods. Confucius alone has expressed the one eternal idea of ethics. “Manu Deva” was transformed into Ahriman. In India, the mythological expression was suppressed; but the idea remained. In an old Veda is found the Mantra, “I am the empress of all that lives, the power in everything.” Mother – worship is a distinct philosophy in itself. Power is the first of our ideas. It impinges upon man at every step; power felt within is the soul; without, nature. And the battle between the two makes human life. All that we know or feel is but the resultant of these two forces. Man saw that the sun shines on the good and evil alike. Here was a new idea of God, as the Universal Power behind all — the Mother – idea was born. Activity, according to Sankhya, belongs to Prakriti, to nature, not to Purusha or soul. Of all feminine types in India, the mother is pre – eminent. The mother stands by her child through everything. Wife and children may desert a man, but his mother never! Mother, again, is the impartial energy of the universe, because of the colourless love that asks not, desires not, cares not for the evil in her child, but loves him the more. And today Mother – worship is the worship of...

Unity

From Volume 8 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, chapter -III, ‘Notes Of Class Talks And Lectures’ Notes of a lecture delivered at the Vedanta Society, New York, in June, 1900 The different sectarian systems of India all radiate from one central idea of unity or dualism. They are all under Vedanta, all interpreted by it. Their final essence is the teaching of unity. This, which we see as many, is God. We perceive matter, the world, manifold sensation. Yet there is but one existence. These various names mark only differences of degree in the expression of that One. The worm of today is the God of tomorrow. These distinctions which we do love are all parts of one infinite fact, and only differ in the degree of expression. That one infinite fact is the attainment of freedom. However mistaken we may be as to the method, all our struggle is really for freedom. We seek neither misery nor happiness, but freedom. This one aim is the secret of the insatiable thirst of man. Man’s thirst, says the Hindu, man’s thirst, says the Buddhist, is a burning, unquenchable thirst for more and more. You Americans are always looking for more pleasure, more enjoyment. You cannot be satisfied, true; but at bottom what you seek is freedom. This vastness of his desire is really the sign of man’s own infinitude. It is because he is infinite, that he can only be satisfied when his desire is infinite and its fulfilment infinite. What then can satisfy man? Not gold. Not enjoyment. Not beauty. One Infinite alone can satisfy him, and...

I Am That I Am

From Volume 8 of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, chapter -III, ‘Notes Of Class Talks And Lectures’ Notes of a lecture given in San Francisco on March 20, 1900 The subject tonight is man, man in contrast with nature. For a long time the word “nature” was used almost exclusively to denote external phenomena. These phenomena were found to behave methodically; and they often repeated themselves: that which had happened in the past happened again — nothing happened only once. Thus it was concluded that nature was uniform. Uniformity is closely associated with the idea of nature; without it natural phenomena cannot be understood. This uniformity is the basis of what we call law. Gradually the word “nature” and the idea of uniformity came to be applied also to internal phenomena, the phenomena of life and mind. All that is differentiated is nature. Nature is the quality of the plant, the quality of the animal, and the quality of man. Man’s life behaves according to definite methods; so does his mind. Thoughts do not just happen, there is a certain method in their rise, existence and fall. In other words, just as external phenomena are bound by law, internal phenomena, that is to say, the life and mind of man, are also bound by law. When we consider law in relation to man’s mind and existence, it is at once obvious that there can be no such thing as free will and free existence. We know how animal nature is wholly regulated by law. The animal does not appear to exercise any free will. The same is true...