Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Vivekananda, fully Sri or Swami Vivekananda, born Narendra Nath Datta NULL

Indian Hindu Monk, Religious Leader and Philosopher credited with raising interfaith awareness

"I do not believe in a religion that cannot wipe out the widow’s tears or bring a piece of bread to the orphan’s mouth."

"Do not believe a thing because you read it in a book! Do not believe a thing because another has said it so! Find out the truth for yourself."

"All that unites with the universal is virtue. All that separates is sin."

"Duty becomes a disease with us; it drags us ever forward... This duty, this idea of duty is the midday summer sun which scorches the innermost soul of mankind... The only true duty is to be unattached and to work as free beings, to give up all work unto God."

"First bread, and then religion. We stuff them too much with religion, when the poor fellows have been starving. No dogmas will satisfy the cravings of hunger."

"The goal of all religions is the same, but the language of the teachers differs. The goal is to kill the false “I” so that the real “I,” the Lord, will reign."

"The life of the five senses, life in the material world, is not all; it is only a small portion, and merely superficial. Behind and beyond is the Infinite."

"The old religions said that he was an atheist who did not believe in God. The new religion says that he is the atheist who does not believe in himself."

"Material civilization, nay, even luxury, is necessary to create work for the poor."

"Our first duty is not to hate ourselves; because to advance we must have faith in ourselves first and then in God. He who has no faith in himself can never have faith in God."

"You are a part of the Infinite. This is your nature. Hence you are your brother’s keeper."

"Time, space, and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen… In the Absolute there is neither time, space, nor causation."

"I do not understand how people declare themselves to be believers in God, and at the same time think that God has handed over to a little body of man all truth, and that they are guardians of the rest of humanity."

"There is only one such Self, and that one self is you. Standing behind this little nature is what we call the Soul… He is the Soul of your soul… You are one with Him."

"The mother's heart, the hero's will The sweetness of the southern breeze, The sacred charm and strength that dwell On Aryan altars, flaming, free; All these be yours and many more No ancient soul could dream before- Be thou to India's future son The mistress, servant, friend in one." "

"When I Asked God for Strength He Gave Me Difficult Situations to Face When I Asked God for Brain & Brown He Gave Me Puzzles in Life to Solve When I Asked God for Happiness He Showed Me Some Unhappy People When I Asked God for Wealth He Showed Me How to Work Hard When I Asked God for Favors He Showed Me Opportunities to Work Hard When I Asked God for Peace He Showed Me How to Help Others God Gave Me Nothing I Wanted He Gave Me Everything I Needed."

"From the highest Brahman to the yonder worm. And to the very minutest atom, Everywhere is the same God, the All-Love; Friend, offer mind, soul, body, at their feet. These are His manifold forms before thee, Rejecting them, where seekest thou for God? Who loves all beings, without distinction, He indeed is worshipping best his God. "

"A child teaches itself. But you can help it to go forward in its own way. What you can do, is not of the positive nature, but of the negative. You can take away the obstacles, but knowledge comes out of its own nature. Loosen the soil a little, so that it may come out easily. Put a hedge round it; see that it is not killed by anything, and there your work stops. You cannot do anything else. The rest is manifestation from within its own nature."

"A carriage with four horses may rush down a hill unrestrained, or the coachman may curb the horses. Which is the greater manifestation of power, to let them go or to hold them? A canon-ball flying through the air goes a long distance and falls. Another is cut short in its flight by striking against a wall, and the impact generates intense heat. All outgoing energy following a selfish motive is frittered away; it will not cause power to return to you; but if restrained, it will result in development of power. This self-control will tend to produce a mighty will, a character which makes a Christ or a Buddha."

"A few heart-whole, sincere, and energetic men and women can do more in a year than a mob in a century."

"A man comes; you know he is very learned, his language is beautiful, and he speaks to you by the hour; but he does not make any impression. Another man comes, and he speaks a few words, not well arranged, ungrammatical perhaps; all the same he makes an immense impression. Many of you have seen that. So it is evident that words alone cannot produce an impression. Words, even thoughts, contribute only one-third of the influence in making an impression, the man, two-thirds. What you call the personal magnetism of the man---that is what goes out and impresses you."

"A good practice carried to an extreme and worked in accordance with the letter of the law becomes a positive evil."

"A tremendous stream is flowing toward 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."

"A man plays a tune on a piano, he places each finger on each key consciously. He repeats this process till the movement of the fingers becomes a habit. He then plays a tune without having to pay special attention to each particular key. Similarly we find in regard to ourselves that our tendencies are the result of past conscious actions..."

"A man may be the greatest philosopher in the world but a child in RELIGION. When a man has developed a high state of spirituality he can understand that the kingdom of heaven is within him."

"A nation is not to be judged by its weaklings called the wicked, as they are only the weeds which lag behind, but by the good, the noble, and the pure, who indicate the national life current flowing clear and vigorous."

"Above all, beware of compromises. I do not mean that you are to get into antagonism with anybody, but you have to hold on to your own principles in weal or woe and never adjust them to others fads thought the greed of getting supporters."

"Above all, beware of compromises. Hold on to your own principles in weal or woe and never adjust them to others’ fads through the greed of getting supporters. Your Atman is the support of the universe—whose support do you stand in need of?"

"After every happiness comes misery; they may be far apart or near. The more advanced the soul, the more quickly does one follow the other. What we want is neither happiness nor misery. Both make us forget our true nature; both are chains--one iron, one gold; behind both is the Atman, who knows neither happiness nor misery. These are states, and states must ever change; but the nature of the Atman is bliss, peace, unchanging. We have not to get it, we have it; only wash away the dross and see it."

"After so much austerity I have understood this as the real truth--- God is present in every Jiva; there is no other God besides that. Who serves Jiva, serves God indeed."

"Agitate ever so much for your rights and privileges, but remember that so long as we do not truly elevate ourselves by rousing intensely the feeling of self-respect in the nation, so long our hope of gaining rights and privileges is like the day-dream of Alnascar."

"All condemnation of others really condemns ourselves. Adjust the microcosm which is in your power to do and the macrocosm will adjust itself for you."

"All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything."

"All expansion is life, all contraction is death. All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life."

"All beings, great or small, are equally manifestations of God; the difference is only in the manifestation."

"All healthy social changes are the manifestations of the spiritual forces working within, and if these are strong and well adjusted, society will arrange itself accordingly. Each individual has to work out his own salvation; there is no other way, and so also with nations. Again, the great institutions of every nation are the conditions of its very existence and cannot be transformed by the mold of any other race. Until higher institutions have been evolved, any attempt to break the old ones will be disastrous. Growth is always gradual."

"All is the Self or Brahman. The saint, the sinner, the lamb, the tiger, even the murderer, as far as they have any reality, can be nothing else, because there is nothing else."

"All knowledge that the world has ever received comes from the mind; the infinite library of the universe is in your own mind. The external world is simply the suggestion, the occasion, which sets you to study your own mind, but the object of your study is always your own mind."

"All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. Therefore love for love’s sake, because it is law of life, just as you breathe to live."

"All minds are the same, different parts of one Mind. He who knows one lump of clay has known all the clay in the universe. He who knows and controls his own mind, knows the secret of every mind, and has power over every mind."

"All knowledge, secular or spiritual, is in the human mind. In many cases it is not discovered, but remains covered, and when the covering is being slowly taken off we say we are learning, and the advance of knowledge is made by the advance of this process of uncovering."

"All of you have been taught to believe in an omnipresent God. Try to think of it. How few of you can have any idea of what omnipresence means! If you struggle hard, you will get something like the idea of ocean, or of the sky, or of a vast stretch of green earth, or of a desert. All these are material images, and so long as you cannot conceive of the abstract as abstract, of the ideal as the ideal, you will have to resort to these forms, these material images. It does not make much difference whether these images are inside or outside the mind. We are all born idolators, and idolatry is good, because it is in the nature of man. Who can get beyond it? Only the perfect man, the God-man. The rest are all idolators. So long as we see the universe before us, with its forms and shapes, we are all idolators. This is a gigantic symbol we are worshipping. He who says that he is the body, is a born idolator. We are spirit, spirit that has no form or shape, spirit that is infinite, and not matter. Therefore any one who cannot grasp the abstract, who cannot think of himself as he is, except in and through matter, as the body, is an idolator. And yet how people fight among themselves, calling one another idolators! In other words, each says, his idol is right, and the others' are wrong."

"All nature is bound by law, the law of its own action; and this law can never be broken. If you could break a law of nature, all nature would come to an end in an instant. There would be no more nature. He who attains freedom breaks the law of nature, and for him nature fades away and has no more power over him. Each one will break the law but once and forever, and that will end his trouble with nature."

"All power is within you; you can do anything and everything. Believe in that, do not believe that you are weak; do not believe that you are half-crazy lunatics, as most of us do nowadays. You can do any thing and everything, without even the guidance of any one. Stand up and express the divinity within you."

"All that is real in me is God; all that is real in God is I. The gulf between God and me is thus bridged. Thus by knowing God, we find that the kingdom of heaven is within us."

"All that we see in the universe has for its basis this one struggle towards freedom; it is under the impulse of this tendency that the saint prays and the robber robs. When the line of action is not a proper one we call it evil, and when the manifestation of it is proper and high we call it good. But the impulse is the same, the struggle towards freedom."

"All the great systems of ethics preach absolute unselfishness as the goal. Supposing this absolute unselfishness can be reached by a man, what becomes of him? He is no more the little Mr. So-and-so; he has acquired infinite expansion. That little personality which he had before is now lost to him for ever; he has become infinite, and the attainment of this infinite expansion is indeed the goal of all religions and of all moral and philosophical teachings."

"All the actions that we see in this world, all the movements in human society, all the works that we have around us, are simply the display of thought, the manifestation of the will of man."

"All that I am, all that the world itself will some day be, is owing to my Master, Shri Ramakrishna, who incarnated and experienced and taught this wonderful unity which underlies everything, having discovered it alike in Hinduism, in Islam, and in Christianity."

"All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark."