Indian Hindu Monk, Religious Leader and Philosopher credited with raising interfaith awareness
Vivekananda, fully Sri or Swami Vivekananda, born Narendra Nath Datta
Indian Hindu Monk, Religious Leader and Philosopher credited with raising interfaith awareness
Then arises the question, how can all these varieties be true? If one thing is true, its negation is false. How can contradictory opinions be true at the same time? This is the question I intend to answer. But I will first ask you: Are all the religions in the world really contradictory? I do not mean the external forms in which great thoughts are clad. I do not mean the different buildings, languages, rituals, books, etc., employed in various religions, but I mean the internal soul of every religion. Every religion has a soul behind it, and that soul may differ from the soul of another religion; but are they contradictory? Do they contradict or supplement each other---that is the question. I took up the question when I was quite a boy, and have been studying it all my life. Thinking that my conclusion may be of some help to you, I place it before you. I believe that they are not contradictory; they are supplementary. Each religion, as it were, takes up one part of the great universal truth, and spends its whole force in embodying and typifying that part of the great truth. It is therefore addition, not exclusion. That is the idea. Systems after system arises, each one embodying a great idea, and ideals must be added to ideals. And this is the march of humanity. Man never progresses from error to truth, but from truth to truth, from lesser truth to higher truth---but it is never from error to truth.
There is to be found in every religion the manifestation of this struggle towards freedom. It is the groundwork of all morality, of unselfishness, which means getting rid of the idea that men are the same as their little body. When we see a man doing good work, helping others, it means that he cannot be confined within the limited circle of me and mine. There is no limit to this getting out of selfishness. All the great systems of ethics preach absolute unselfishness as the goal.
This faith in themselves was in the hearts of our ancestors, this faith in themselves was the motive power that pushed them forward and forward in the march of civilisation, and if there has been degeneration, if there has been defect, mark my words, you will find that degeneration to have started on the day our people lost faith in themselves.
This life is short, the vanities of the world are transient, but they alone live who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive.
Though our castes and institutions are apparently linked with our religion, they are not so. These institutions have been necessary to protect us as a nation, and when this necessity for self-preservation will no more exist, they will die a natural death. But the older I grow, the better I seem to think of these time-honored institutions of India. There was a time when I used to think that many of them were useless and worthless; but the older I grew, the more I seem to feel a diffidence in cursing any one of them, for each one of them is the embodiment of the experience of centuries. A child of but yesterday, destined to die the day after tomorrow, comes to me and asks me to change all my plans; and if I hear the advice of that baby and change all my surroundings according to his ideas, I myself should be a fool, and no one else. Much of the advice that is coming to us from different countries is similar to this. Tell these wiseacres: I will hear you when you have made a society yourselves. You cannot hold on to one idea for two days, you quarrel and fail; you are born like moths in the spring and die like them in five minutes. You come up like bubbles and burst like bubbles too. First form a stable society like ours. First make laws and institutions that remain undiminished in their power through scores of centuries. Then will be the time to talk on the subject with you, but till then, my friend, you are only a giddy child.
To me the very essence of education is concentration of mind, not the collecting of facts. If I had to do my education over again, and had any voice in the matter, I would not study facts at all. I would develop the power of concentration and detachment, and then with a perfect instrument I could collect facts at will.
Truth, purity and unselfishness---wherever these are present, there is no power below or above the sun to crush the possessor thereof. Equipped with these, one individual is able to face the whole universe in opposition.
Watch people do their most common actions; these are indeed the things that will tell you the real character of a great person.
We came to enjoy; we are being enjoyed. We came to rule; we are being ruled. We came to work; we are being worked. All the time, we find that. And this comes into every detail of our life.
We have to sense God to be convinced that there is a God. We must sense the facts of religion to know that they are facts. Nothing else, and no amount of reasoning, but our own perceptions can make these things real to us, can make my belief firm as a rock.
We see that the apparent contradictions and perplexities in every RELIGION mark but different stages of growth. The end of all religions is the realizing of God in the soul . That is the one universal religion.
What is the use of fighting and complaining? That will not help us to better things. He who grumbles at the little thing that has fallen to his lot to do will grumble at everything. Always grumbling, he will lead a miserable life, and everything will be a failure. But that man who does his duty as he goes, putting his shoulder to the wheel, will see the light, and higher and higher duties will fall to his share.
When an idea exclusively occupies the mind, it is transformed into an actual physical or mental state.
When you are doing any work, do not think of anything beyond. Do it as worship, as the highest worship, and devote your whole life to it for the time being.
Why should you not try to hit the mark? We become wiser through failures. Time is infinite. … It is better to do something; never mind even if it proves to be wrong; it is better than doing nothing. … Do something!
You are pure already. If you think you are free, free you are this moment; and if you think you are bound, bound you will be. This is a very bold statement...It may frighten you now, but when you think over it, and realize it in your own life, then you will come to know that what I say is true.
You must retain great strength in your mind and words. I am low, I am low, repeating these ideas in the mind man belittles and degrades himself. Therefore the Shastras say, He who thinks himself free, free he becomes; he who thinks himself bound, bound he remains ---this popular saying As one thinks, so one becomes is true. He alone who is always awake to the idea of freedom, becomes free; he who thinks he is bound, endures life after life in the state of bondage.
The only religion that ought to be taught is the religion of fearlessness. Either in this world or in the world of religion, it is true that fear is the sure cause of degradation and sin. It is fear that brings misery, fear that brings death, fear that breeds evil. And what causes fear? Ignorance of our own nature.
The remedy for weakness is not brooding over weakness, but thinking of strength. Teach men of the strength that is already within them.
The tender plant of spirituality will die if exposed too early to the action of a constant change of ideas and ideals. Many people, in the name of what may be called religious liberalism, may be seen feeding their idle curiosity with a continuous succession of different ideals. With them, hearing new things grows into a kind of disease, a sort of religious drink-mania. They want to hear new things just by way of getting a temporary nervous excitement, and when one such exciting influence has had its effect on them, they are ready for another. Religion is with these people a sort of intellectual opium-eating, and there it ends.
The weak, the fearful, the ignorant will never reach the Atman. You cannot undo what you have done; the effect must come. Face it, but be careful never to do the same thing again. Give up the burden of all deeds to God. Give all, both good and bad. God helps those who do not help themselves.
There are four general types of men — the rational, the emotional, the mystical, and the worker. For each of these we must provide suitable forms of worship. There comes the rational man, who says, I care not for this form of worship. Give me the philosophical, the rational — that I can appreciate. So for the rational man is the rational philosophic worship.
There never was my religion or yours, my national religion or your national religion; there never existed many religions, there is only the one. One Infinite Religion existed all through eternity and will ever exist, and this Religion is expressing itself in various countries, in various ways.
This freedom is attained by the threefold means of work, worship, and knowledge. (a) Work -- constant, unceasing effort to help others and love other. (b) Worship -- consists in prayer, praise and meditation. (c) Knowledge -- that follows meditation.
This little separate self must die. Then we shall find that we are in the Real, and that Real is God, and He is our own true nature, and He is always in us and with us. Let us live in Him and stand in Him. It is the only joyful state of existence. Life on the plane of the Spirit is the only life, and let us all try to attain to this realization.