Friday, July 31, 2020

Dare to Practise Truth

Stand up, men and women, in this spirit, dare to believe in the Truth, dare to practice the Truth! The world requires a few hundred bold men and women. Practise that boldness which dares know the Truth, which dares show the Truth in life, which does not quake before death, nay, welcomes death, makes a man know that he, is the Spirit, that, in the whole universe, nothing can kill him. Then you will be free. Then you will know your real soul. (II, 85)
Our freedom becomes complete only when we know our real nature. This “Atman is first to be heard then thought about and then meditated upon”. This knowledge of Self should cover every aspect of our life. Only then can we distinguish between Truth and untruth.

The present generation is losing its thinking power. One way to regain that power is to hear about spiritual subjects and contemplate upon them. The first step in this direction is satsanga. We waste so much time in front of visual media which has immense potential to rob us of our thinking faculty. 

Elders must teach the children to use the media with discrimination.If children are taught lessons in meditation, concentration, tolerance, etc. thinking capacity will be enhanced in them.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

He realises in his soul that he is God Himself

 ‘I and My Father are One’

In the New Testament it is taught, “Our Father who art in heaven” — God living in the heavens separated from men. We are living on earth and He is living in heaven. Further on we find the teaching that He is a God immanent in nature; He is not only God in heaven, but on earth too. He is the God in us. In the Hindu philosophy we find a stage of the same proximity of God to us. 

        But we do not stop there. There is the non-dualistic stage, in which man realises that the God he has been worshiping is not only the Father in heaven, and on earth, but that “I and my Father are one.” He realises in his soul that he is God Himself, only a lower expression of Him. All that is real in me is He; all that is real in Him is I. The gulf between God and man is thus bridged. Thus we find how, by knowing God, we find the kingdom of heaven within us. (I, 323)

This observation is found in Swamiji’s talk on ‘ Soul, God and Religion’. Realization of God is directly related to purity of heart. Purity and perfection are the net result of various spiritual efforts.  In this lecture Swamiji mentions that “the different stages of growth are absolutely necessary to attainment of purity and perfection. The varying systems of religion are at bottom founded on the same ideas. Jesus says, the kingdom of heaven is within you. Again he says “Our father who art in Heaven”….

     He was talking to the uneducated masses when he said the latter, the masses who were uneducated in religion. It was necessary to speak to them in their own language…..Thus we see that the apparent contradictions and perplexities in every religion mark but different stages of growth. And as such we have no right to blame anyone for his religion.” 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Out of the Fullness of Heart, the Mouth Speaketh’

“This Self is first to be heard, then to be thought upon, and then meditated upon.” Everyone can see the sky, even the very worm crawling upon the earth sees the blue sky, but how very far away it is! So it is with our ideal. It is far away, no doubt, but at the same time, we know that we must have it. We must even have the highest ideal. Unfortunately in this life, the vast majority of persons are groping through this dark life without any ideal at all. If a man with an ideal makes a thousand mistakes, I am sure that the man without an ideal makes fifty thousand.

Therefore, it is better to have an ideal. And this ideal we must hear about as much as we can, till it enters into our hearts, into our brains, into our very veins, until it tingles in every drop of our blood and permeates every pore in our body. We must meditate upon it. “Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaketh,” and out of the fullness of the heart the hand works too.

It is thought which is the propelling force in us. Fill the mind with the highest thoughts, hear them day after day, think them month after month. Never mind failures; they are quite natural, they are the beauty of life, these failures. What would life be without them? It would not be worth having if it were not for struggles. Where would be the poetry of life? Never mind the struggles, the mistakes. (II,152)

A compassionate guru that he was, we find Swamiji’s advices and admonitions are also filled with nourishing thoughts and ideas which take away all our strain from reading otherwise heavy vedantic literature.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Ocean of Life and Bliss

When a kettle of water is coming to the boil, if you watch the phenomenon, you find first one bubble rising, and then another and so on, until at last they all join, and a tremendous commotion takes place. This world is very similar. Each individual is like a bubble, and the nations, resemble many bubbles. Gradually these nations are joining, and I am sure the day will come when separation will vanish and that Oneness to which we are all going will become manifest. 

A time must come when every man will be as intensely practical in the scientific world as in the spiritual, and then that Oneness, the harmony of Oneness, will pervade the whole world. The whole of mankind will become Jivanmuktas — free whilst living. We are all struggling towards that one end through our jealousies and hatreds, through our love and co-operation. A tremendous stream is flowing towards the ocean carrying us all along with it; and though like straws and scraps of paper we may at times float aimlessly about, in the long run we are sure to join the Ocean of Life and Bliss. (II, 187 – 188)
‘Each soul is potentially Divine’. Through one’s adherence to the righteous way of life one should be able to absorb the goodness and blessings contained in one’s own life journey. One should also be careful not to criticise  others, but keep our minds open to whatever good others have to offer. Then there will be no tensions in life. These are  primary lessons to learn in life.

Monday, July 27, 2020

‘Chidananda rupaha Shivoham Shivoham’

“This Âtman is first to be heard of.” Hear day and night that you are that Soul. Repeat it to yourselves day and night till it enters into your very veins, till it tingles in every drop of  blood, till it is in your flesh and bone. Let the whole body be full of that one ideal, “I am the birthless, the deathless, the blissful, the omniscient, the omnipotent, ever-glorious Soul.” Think on it day and night; think on it till it becomes part and parcel of your life. Meditate upon it, and out of that will come work. “Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaketh,” and out of the fullness of the heart the hand worketh also. Action will come. Fill yourselves with the ideal; whatever you do, think well on it. All your actions will be magnified, transformed, deified, by the very power of the thought. If matter is powerful, thought is omnipotent. Bring this thought to bear upon your life, fill yourselves with the thought of your almightiness, your majesty, and your glory. (II,302)

We can study ‘Practical Vedanta’as Swamiji’s commentary on Bhagavat Gita. There is no other teacher who has provided us with such strong powerful advices for self unfoldment and practical hints to make these ideals as part of our day to day life. This is what makes Vivekananda literature as an unparalled spiritual Treasure Chest. 

“Vivekananda’s teachings set in motion those forces which could eventually bring in the western civilization the needed qualitative changes. So he preached Vedanta and Yoga. Vedanta conceptualizes reality in terms acceptable to the scientifically minded West and yoga provides the know- how of being free.” (source The Ramakrishna Movement, Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta.) 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Give up the Finite for the Infinite

You remember that passage in the sermon of Buddha, how he sent a thought of love towards the south, the north, the east, and the west, above and below, until the whole universe was filled with this lose, so grand, great, and infinite. When you have that feeling, you have true personality. The whole universe is one person; let go the little things. Give up the small for the Infinite, give up small enjoyments for infinite bliss. It is all yours, for the Impersonal includes the Personal. So God is Personal and Impersonal at the same time. 

And Man, the Infinite, Impersonal Man, is manifesting Himself as person. We the infinite have limited ourselves, as it were, into small parts. The Vedanta says that Infinity is our true nature; it will never vanish, it will abide for ever. But we are limiting ourselves by our Karma, which like a chain round our necks has dragged us into this limitation. Break that chain and be free. Trample law under your feet. There is no law in human nature, there is no destiny, no fate. How can there be law in infinity? Freedom is its watchword. 

Freedom is its nature, its birthright. Be free, and then have any number of personalities you like. Then we will play like the actor who comes upon the stage and plays the part of a beggar. Contrast him with the actual beggar walking in the streets. The scene is, perhaps, the same in both cases, the words are, perhaps, the same, but yet what difference! The one enjoys his beggary while the other is suffering misery from it. And what makes this difference? 

The one is free and the other is bound. The actor knows his beggary is not true, but that he has assumed it for play, while the real beggar thinks that it is his too familiar state and that he has to bear it whether he wills it or not. This is the law. So long as we have no knowledge of our real nature, we are beggars, jostled about by every force in nature; and made slaves of by everything in nature; we cry all over the world for help, but help never comes to us; we cry to imaginary beings, and yet it never comes. But still we hope help will come, and thus in weeping, wailing, and hoping, one life is passed, and the same play goes on and on. (II, 324- 325)    

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Aim of Human Life

That seeing God is the aim and goal of all human life. The sonship must come before we become one with the Father. Remember that man lost his purity through his own actions. When we suffer, it is because of our own acts; God is not to be blamed for it……………………………

This idea of reincarnation runs parallel with the other doctrine of the eternity of the human soul. Nothing which ends at one point can be without a beginning and nothing that begins at one point can be without an end. We cannot believe in such a monstrous impossibility as the beginning of the human soul. The doctrine of reincarnation asserts the freedom of the soul. 

Suppose there was an absolute beginning. Then the whole burden of this impurity in man falls upon God. The all-merciful Father responsible for the sins of the world! If sin comes in this way, why should one suffer more than another? Why such partiality, if it comes from an all-merciful God? Why are millions trampled underfoot? Why do people starve who never did anything to cause it? 

Who is responsible? If they had no hand in it, surely, God would be responsible. Therefore the better explanation is that one is responsible for the miseries one suffers. If I set the wheel in motion, I am responsible for the result. And if I can bring misery, I can also stop it. It necessarily follows that we are free. There is no such thing as fate. There is nothing to compel us. What we have done, that we can undo. (I, 319- 320)

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Jeeva and Iswara

Upon the same tree there are two birds, one on the top, the other below. The one on the top is calm, silent, and majestic, immersed in his own glory; the one on the lower branches, eating sweet and bitter fruits by turns, hopping from branch to branch, is becoming happy and miserable by turns. After a time the lower bird eats an exceptionally bitter fruit and gets disgustful and looks up and sees the other bird, that wondrous one of golden plumage, who eats neither sweet nor bitter fruit, who is neither happy nor miserable, but calm, Self-centred, and sees nothing beyond his Self. 

        The lower bird longs for this condition but soon forgets it, and again begins to eat the fruits. In a little while, he eats another exceptionally bitter fruit, which makes him feel miserable, and he again looks up, and tries to get nearer to the upper bird. Once more he forgets and after a time he looks up, and so on he goes again and again, until he comes very near to the beautiful bird and sees the reflection of light from his plumage playing around his own body, and he feels a change and seems to melt away; still nearer he comes, and everything about him melts away, and at last he understands this wonderful change. The lower bird was, as it were, only the substantial-looking shadow, the reflection of the higher; he himself was in essence the upper bird all the time. 

        This eating of fruits, sweet and bitter, this lower, little bird, weeping and happy by turns, was a vain chimera, a dream: all along, the real bird was there above, calm and silent, glorious and majestic, beyond grief, beyond sorrow. The upper bird is God, the Lord of this universe; and the lower bird is the human soul, eating the sweet and bitter fruits of this world. (II – 394-95)

Swamiji often used to quote this classical example from Mundaka Upanishad to illustrate the relation between Jeevatma and Paramatma.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Seek the Jeeva of Jeevas

The whole of nature is worship of God. Wherever there is life, there is this search for freedom and that freedom is the same as God. Necessarily this freedom gives us mastery over all nature and is impossible without knowledge. The more we are knowing, the more we are becoming masters of nature. Mastery alone is making us strong and if there be some being entirely free and master of nature, that being must have a perfect knowledge of nature, must be omnipresent and omniscient. Freedom must go hand in hand with these, and that being alone who has acquired these will be beyond nature.

Blessedness, eternal peace, arising from perfect freedom, is the highest concept of religion underlying all the ideas of God in Vedanta — absolutely free Existence, not bound by anything, no change, no nature, nothing that can produce a change in Him. This same freedom is in you and in me and is the only real freedom.

God is still, established upon His own majestic changeless Self. You and I try to be one with Him, but plant ourselves upon nature, upon the trifles of daily life, on money, on fame, on human love, and all these changing forms in nature which make for bondage. When nature shines, upon what depends the shining? Upon God and not upon the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars. Wherever anything shines, whether it is the light in the sun or in our own consciousness, it is He. He shining, all shines after Him. (I, 337)

…………When we try to understand God in this way we would discover His power behind everything we do. Everything happens according to His will and pleasure. Our life is dependent on the Self within. Till we learn to find God in everything, evil will surround us. One must learn to love and worship Him even in grief and sin. One way to hold on to oneness is to practise same–sightedness.
First and foremost learn to give up inferiority complex. 
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        Then learn to see Him in everybody–in the hands that work, in the feet that walk, through the mouths that eat. Cultivate the feeling that  He is your nearest and closest. This is true religious belief. It is this feeling of oneness wth the universe that makes us immortal. Modern physics emphasises this oneness. When belittling thoughts and feelings disappear from the mind we become conscious that we are essentially universal. All religions lead us towards this ultimate goal though the language of the teachers may be different. By using language only as an instrument to seek Truth, all differences and barriers disappear

Changing Nature, Unchanging Soul

The earth moves, causing the illusion of the movement of the sun; but the sun does not move. So Prakriti, or Maya, or Nature, is moving, changing, unfolding veil after veil, turning over leaf after leaf of this grand book — while the witnessing soul drinks in knowledge, unmoved, unchanged. All souls that ever have been, are, or shall be, are all in the present tense and — to use a material simile — are all standing at one geometrical point. Because the idea of space does occur in the soul, therefore all that were ours, are ours, and will be ours,are always with us, were always with us, and will be always with us. We are in them. They are in us. Take these cells. 

        Though each separate, they are all nevertheless inseparably joined at A B. There they are one. Each is an individual, yet all are one at the axis A B. None can escape from that axis, and however broken or torn the circumference, yet by standing at the axis, we may enter any one of the chambers. This axis is the Lord. There we are one with Him, all in all, and all in God.

Each soul is a star, and all stars are set in that infinite azure, that eternal sky, the Lord. There is the root, the reality, the real individuality of each and all. Religion began with the search after some of these stars that had passed beyond our horizon, and ended in finding them all in God, and ourselves in the same place. The whole secret is, then, that your father has given up the old garment he was wearing and is standing where he was through all eternity (V, 68 - 69)

Swamiji used to call Mrs. Ole Bull as Dhira Mata. The above quoted consoling lines are from the letter he wrote to her after her father’s death.   

Monday, July 20, 2020

Renunciation - the Royal Path to Truth

“Comfort” is no test of truth; on the contrary, truth is often far from being “comfortable”. If one intends to really find truth, one must not cling to comfort. It is hard to let all go, but the Jnâni must do it. He must become pure, kill out all desires and cease to identify himself with the body. Then and then only, the higher truth can shine in his soul.

Sacrifice is necessary, and this immolation of the lower self is the underlying truth that has made sacrifice a part of all religions. All the propitiatory offerings to the gods were but dimly understood types of the only sacrifice that is of any real value, the surrender of the apparent self, through which alone we can realise the higher Self, the Âtman. 

The Jnani must not try to preserve the body, nor even wish to do so. He must be strong and follow truth, though the universe fall. Those who follow “fads” can never do this. It is a life-work, nay, the work of a hundred lives! 

Only the few dare to realise the God within, to renounce heaven and Personal God and all hope of reward. A firm will is needed to do this; to be even vacillating is a sign of tremendous weakness. Man always is perfect, or he never could become so; but he had to realise it. (VIII, 14)

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Truth, Absolute and Material

There are two sorts of truth we find in our Shâstras, one that is based upon the eternal nature of man — the one that deals with the eternal relation of God, soul, and nature; the other, with local circumstances, environments of the time, social institutions of the period, and so forth. The first class of truths is chiefly embodied in our Vedas, our scriptures; the second in the Smritis, the Puranas. etc. We must remember that for all periods the Vedas are the final goal and authority, and if the Purânas differ in any respect from the Vedas, that part of the Puranas is to be rejected without mercy. We find, then, that in all these Smritis the teachings are different. One Smriti says, this is the custom, and this should be the practice of this age. Another one says, this is the practice of this age, and so forth. 

        This is the Âchâra which should be the custom of the Satya Yuga, and this is the Achara which should be the custom of the Kali Yuga, and so forth. Now this is one of the most glorious doctrines that you have, that eternal truths, being based upon the nature of man, will never change so long as man lives; they are for all times, omnipresent, universal virtues. But the Smritis speak generally of local circumstances, of duties arising from different environments, and they change in the course of time. This you have always to remember that because a little social custom is going to be changed you are not going to lose your religion, not at all. Remember these customs have already been changed (III, 173)

In this lecture Swamiji  reminds his listeners that material spiritual co exist harmoniouslyEach one of us will have to believe that everyone else in the world has done his work, and the only work remaining to be done to make the world perfect has to be done by himself. This is the responsibility we have to take upon ourselves”

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Self, the only Eternal True Iswara.

There is no possibility of ever having pleasure without pain, good without evil; for living itself is just the lost equilibrium. What we want is freedom, not life, nor pleasure, nor good. Creation is infinite, without beginning and without end — the ever-moving ripple in an infinite lake. There are yet unreached depths and others where the equilibrium has been regained; but the ripple is always progressing, the struggle to regain the balance is eternal. Life and death are only different names for the same fact, the two sides of the one coin. Both are Maya, the inexplicable state of striving at one time to live, and a moment later to die. Beyond this is the true nature, the Atman. While we recognise a God, it is really only the Self which we have separated ourselves from and worship as outside of us; but it is our true Self all the time — the one and only God.
To regain the balance we must counteract Tamas by Rajas; then conquer Rajas by Sattva, the calm beautiful state that will grow and grow until all else is gone. Give up bondage; become a son, be free, and then you can “see the Father”, as did Jesus. Infinite strength is religion and God. Avoid weakness and slavery. You are only a soul, if you are free; there is immortality for you, if you are free; there is God, if He is free.
“The world for me, not I for the world. Good and evil are our slaves, not we theirs. It is the nature of the brute to remain where he is (not to progress); it is the nature of man to seek good and avoid evil; it is the nature of God to seek neither, but just to be eternally blissful. Let us be God! Make the heart like an ocean, go beyond all the trifles of the world, be mad with joy even at evil; see the world as a picture and then enjoy its beauty, knowing that nothing affects you. Children finding glass beads in a mud puddle, that is the good of the world. Look at it with calm complacency; see good and evil as the same — both are merely “God’s play”; enjoy all”.
Neither seek nor avoid, take what comes. It is liberty to be affected by nothing; do not merely endure, be unattached. Remember the story of the bull. A mosquito sat long on the horn of a certain bull. Then his conscience troubled him, and he said, “Mr. Bull, I have been sitting here a long time, perhaps I annoy you. I am sorry, I will go away.” But the bull replied, “Oh no, not at all! Bring your whole family and live on my horn; what can you do to me?” (VII, 12 – 13)

These wonderful observations were made by Swamiji on 25th June 1895 at Thousand Island Park where he was living in Gurukula style with his twelve disciples. .One of the participants Miss. E Waldo kept regular notes of Swamiji’s conversations which have been made into a volume ‘Inspired Talks’ which is truly a mine of inspiration.

Man - making Education

You cannot make a plant grow in soil unsuited to it. A child teaches itself. But you can help it to go forward in its own way. What you ca...