Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda - Vol-6
RELIGION IS REALISATION
The greatest name man ever gave to God is Truth. Truth is the fruit of realisation; therefore seek it within the soul. Get away from all books and forms and let your soul see its Self. "We are deluded and maddened by books", Shri Krishna declares. Be beyond the dualities of nature. The moment you think creed and form and ceremony the "be-all" and "end-all", then you are in bondage. Take part in them to help others, but take care they do not become a bondage. Religion is one, but its application must be various. Let each one, therefore, give his message; but find not the defects in other religions. You must come out from all form if you would see the Light. Drink deep of the nectar of the knowledge of God. The man who realises. "I am He", though clad in rags, is happy. Go forth into the Eternal and come back with eternal energy. The slave goes out to search for truth; he comes back free.
RELIGION IS SELF-ABNEGATION
One cannot divide the rights of the universe. To talk of "right" implies limitation. It is not "right" but "responsibility". Each is responsible for the evil anywhere in the world. No one can separate himself from his brother. All that unites with the universal is virtue; all that separates is sin. You are a part of the Infinite. This is your nature. Hence you are your brother's keeper.
The first end of life is knowledge; the second end of life is happiness. Knowledge and happiness lead to freedom. But not one can attain liberty until every being (ant or dog) has liberty. Not one can be happy until all are happy. When you hurt anyone you hurt yourself, for you and your brother are one. He is indeed a Yogi who sees himself in the whole universe and the whole universe in himself. Self-sacrifice, not self-assertion, is the law of the highest universe. The world is so evil because Jesus' teaching, "Resist not evil", has never been tried. Selflessness alone will solve the problem. Religion comes with intense self-sacrifice. Desire nothing for yourself. Do all for others. This is to live and move and have your being in God.
UNSELFISH WORK IS TRUE RENUNCIATION
This world is not for cowards. Do not try to fly. Look not for success or failure. Join yourself to the perfectly unselfish will and work on. Know that the mind which is born to succeed joins itself to a determined will and perseveres. You have the right to work, but do not become so degenerate as to look for results. Work incessantly, but see something behind the work. Even good deeds can find a man in great bondage. Therefore be not bound by good deeds or by desire for name and fame. Those who know this secret pass beyond this round of birth and death and become immortal.
The ordinary Sannyâsin gives up the world, goes out, and thinks of God. The real Sannyâsin lives in the world, but is not of it. Those who deny themselves, live in the forest, and chew the cud of unsatisfied desires are not true renouncers. Live in the midst of the battle of life. Anyone can keep calm in a cave or when asleep. Stand in the whirl and madness of action and reach the Centre. If you have found the Centre, you cannot be moved.
FREEDOM OF THE SELF
As we cannot know except through effects that we have eyes, so we cannot see the Self except by Its effects. It cannot be brought down to the low plane of sense-perception. It is the condition of everything in the universe, though Itself unconditioned. When we know that we are the Self, then we are free. The Self can never change. It cannot be acted on by a cause, because It is Itself the cause. It is self-caused. If we can find in ourself something that is not acted on by any cause, then we have known the Self.
Freedom is inseparably connected with immortality. To be free one must be above the laws of nature. Law exists so long as we are ignorant. When knowledge comes, then we find that law nothing but freedom in ourselves. The will can never be free, because it is the slave of cause and effect. But the "I" behind the will is free; and this is the Self. "I am free" - that is the basis on which to build and live. And freedom means immortality.
NOTES ON VEDANTA
The cardinal features of the Hindu religion are founded on the meditative and speculative philosophy and on the ethical teachings contained in the various books of the Vedas, which assert that the universe is infinite in space and eternal in duration. It never had a beginning and it never will have an end. Innumerable have been the manifestations of the power of the Spirit in the realm of matter, of the force or the Infinite in the domain of the finite, but the Infinite Itself is self-existent, eternal, and unchangeable. The passage of time makes no mark whatever on the dial of eternity. In its super sensuous region, which cannot be comprehended at all by the human understanding, there is no past and there is no future.
The Vedas teach that the soul of man is immortal. The body is subject to the law of growth and decay what grows must of necessity decay. But the indwelling spirit is related to the infinite and eternal life; it never had a beginning, and it will never have an end. One of the chief distinctions between the Vedic and the Christian religion is that the Christian religion teaches that each human soul had its beginning at its birth into this world; whereas the Vedic religion asserts that the spirit of man is an emanation of the Eternal Being and had no more a beginning than God Himself. Innumerable have been and will be its manifestations in its passage from one personality to another, subject to the great law of spiritual evolution, until it reaches perfection, when there is no more change.
HINDU AND GREEK
Three mountains stand as typical of progress - the Himalayas of Indo-Aryan, Sinai of Hebrew, and Olympus of Greek civilisation. When the Aryans reached India, they found the climate so hot that they would not work incessantly, so they began to think; thus they became introspective and developed religion. They discovered that there was no limit to the power of mind; they therefore sought to master that; and through it they learnt that there was something infinite coiled up in the frame we call man, which was seeking to become kinetic. To evolve this became their chief aim. Another branch of the Aryans went into the smaller and more picturesque country of Greece, where the climate and natural conditions were more favourable; so their activity turned outwards, and they developed the external arts and outward liberty. The Greek sought political liberty. The Hindu has always sought spiritual liberty. Both are one-sided. The Indian cares not enough for national protection or patriotism, he will defend only his religion; while with the Greek and in Europe (where the Greek civilisation finds its continuation) the country comes first. To care only for spiritual liberty and not for social liberty is a defect, but the opposite is a still greater defect. Liberty of both soul and body is to be striven for.
THOUGHTS ON THE VEDAS AND THE UPANISHADS
The Vedic sacrificial altar was the origin of Geometry.
The invocation of the Devas, or bright ones, was the basis of worship. The idea is that one invoked is helped and helps.
Hymns are not only words of praise but words of power, being pronounced with the right attitude of mind.
Heavens are only other states of existence with added senses and heightened powers.
All higher bodies also are subject to disintegration as is the physical. Death comes to all forms of bodies in this and other lives. Devas are also mortal and can only give enjoyment.
Behind all Devas there is the Unit Being - God, as behind this body there is something higher that feels and sees.
The powers of creation, preservation, and destruction of the Universe, and the attributes, such as omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence, make God of gods.
"Hear ye children of Immortality! Hear ye Devas who live in higher spheres!" (Shvetâshvatara, II. 5). "I have found out a ray beyond all darkness, beyond all doubt. I have found the Ancient One" (ibid. III. 8). The way to this is contained in the Upanishads.
On earth we die. In heaven we die. In the highest heaven we die. It is only when we reach God that we attain life and become immortal.
The Upanishads treat of this alone. The path of the Upanishads is the pure path. Many manners, customs, and local allusions cannot be understood today. Through them, however, truth becomes clear. Heavens and Earth are all thrown off in order to come to Light.
The Upanishads declare:
"He the Lord has interpenetrated the universe. It is all His."
"He the Omnipresent, the One without a second, the One without a body, pure, the great poet of the universe, whose metre is the suns and stars, is giving to each what he deserves" (Isha Upanishad, 8, adapted).
"They are groping in utter darkness who try to reach the Light by ceremonials. And they who think this nature is all are in darkness. They who wish to come out of nature through this thought are groping in still deeper darkness" (Isha, 9).
Are then ceremonials bad? No, they will benefit those who are coming on.
In one of the Upanishads (i.e. Katha) this question is asked by Nachiketâ, a youth: "Some say of a dead man, he is gone; others, he is still living. You are Yama, Death. You know the truth; do answer me." Yama replies, "Even the Devas, many of them, know not - much less men. Boy, do not ask of me this answer." But Nachiketa persists. Yama again replies, "The enjoyments of the gods, even these I offer you. Do not insist upon your query." But Nachiketa was firm as a rock. Then the god of death said, "My boy, you have declined, for the third time, wealth, power, long life, fame, family. You are brave enough to ask the highest truth. I will teach you. There are two ways, one of truth; one of enjoyment. You have chosen the former."
Now note here the conditions of imparting the truth. First, the purity - a boy, a pure, unclouded soul, asking the secret of the universe. Second, that he must take truth for truth's sake alone.
Until the truth has come through one who has had realisation, from one who has perceived it himself, it cannot become fruitful. Books cannot give it, argument cannot establish it. Truth comes unto him who knows the secret of it.
After you have received it, be quiet. Be not ruffled by vain argument. Come to your own realization. You alone can do it.
Neither happiness nor misery, vice nor virtue, knowledge nor non-knowledge is it. You must realise it. How can I describe it to you?
He who cries out with his whole heart, "O Lord, I want but Thee" - to him the Lord reveals Himself. Be pure, be calm; the mind when ruffled cannot reflect the Lord.
"He whom the Vedas declare, He, to reach whom, we serve with prayer and sacrifice, Om is the sacred name of that indescribable One. This word is the holiest of all words. He who knows the secret of this word receives that which he desires." Take refuge in this word. Whoso takes refuge in this word, to him the way opens.
The first stage of Yoga is Yama.
To master Yama five things are necessary:
(1) Non-injuring any being by thought, word, and deed.
(2) Speaking the truth in thought, word, and deed
(3) Non-covetousness in thought, word, and deed.
(4) Perfect chastity in thought, word, and deed.
(5) Perfect sinlessness in thought, word, and deed.
Holiness is the greatest power. Everything else quails before it.
Then come Âsana, or posture, of a devotee. The seat must be firm, the head, ribs, and body in a straight line, erect. Say to yourself that you are firmly seated, and that nothing can move you. Then mention the perfection of the body, bit by bit, from head to foot. Think of it as being dear as crystal, and as a perfect vessel to sail over the sea of life.
Pray to God and to all the prophets and saviours of the world and holy spirits in the universe to help you.
Then for half an hour practice Prânâyama or the suspending, restraining, and controlling of the breath, mentally repeating the word Om as you inhale and exhale the breath. Words charged with spirit have wonderful power.
The other stages of Yoga are: (1) Pratyâhâra or the restraint of the organs of sense from all outward things, and directing them entirely to mental impressions; (2) Dhâranâ or steadfast concentration; (3) Dhyâna or meditation; (4) Samâdhi or abstract meditation. It is the highest and last stage of Yoga. Samadhi is perfect absorption of thought into the Supreme Spirit, when one realises. "I and my Father are one."
Do one thing at a time and while doing it put your whole soul into it to the exclusion of all else.
Bhakti-Yoga is the path of systematised devotion for the attainment of union with the Absolute. It is the easiest and surest path to religion or realisation.
Love to God is the one essential to be perfect in this path.
There are five stages of love.
First, man wants help and has a little fear.
Second, when God is seen as Father.
Third, when God is seen as Mother. Then all women are looked upon as reflections of the Mother-God. With the idea of Mother-God real love begins.
Fourth, love for love's sake. Love for love's sake transcends all qualities.
Fifth, love in Divine-union. It leads to oneness or super consciousness.
God is both Personal and Impersonal as we are personal and impersonal.
Prayer and praise are the first means of growth. Repeating the names of God has wonderful power.
Mantra is a special word, or sacred text, or name of God chosen by the Guru for repetition and reflection by the disciple. The disciple must concentrate on a personality for prayer and praise, and that is his Ishta.
These words (Mantras) are not sounds of words but God Himself, and we have them within us. Think of Him, speak of Him. No desire for the world! Buddha's Sermon on the Mount was, "As thou thinkest, so art thou."
After attaining super consciousness the Bhakta descends again to love and worship.
Pure love has no motive. It has nothing to gain.
After prayer and praise comes meditation. Then comes reflection on the name and on the Ishta of the individual.
Pray that that manifestation which is our Father, our Mother, may cut our bonds.
Pray, "Take us by the hand as a father takes his sons and leave us not."
Pray, "I do not want wealth or beauty, this world or another, but Thee, O God! Lord! I have become weary. Oh, take me by the hand, Lord, I take shelter with Thee Make me Thy servant. Be Thou my refuge."
Pray, "Thou our Father, our Mother, our dearest Friend! Thou who bearest this universe, help us to bear the little burden of this our life. Leave us not. Let us never be separated from Thee. Let us always dwell in Thee."
When love to God is revealed and is all, this world appears like a drop.
Pass from non-existence to existence, from darkness to light.
First, meditation should be of a negative nature. Think away everything. Analyse everything that comes in the mind by the sheer action of the will.
Next, assert what we really are - existence, knowledge and bliss - being, knowing, and loving.
Meditation is the means of unification of the subject and object. Meditate:
Above, it is full of me; below, it is full of me; in the middle, it is full of me. I am in all beings, and all beings are in me. Om Tat Sat, I am It. I am existence above mind. I am the one Spirit of the universe. I am neither pleasure nor pain.
The body drinks, eats, and so on. I am not the body. I am not mind. I am He.
I am the witness. I look on. When health comes I am the witness When disease comes I am the witness.
I am Existence, Knowledge, Bliss.
I am the essence and nectar of knowledge. Through eternity I change not. I am calm, resplendent, and unchanging.
THE REALITY AND SHADOW
That which differentiates one thing from another is time, space, and causation.
The differentiation is in the form, not in the substance.
You may destroy the form and it disappears forever; but the substance remains the same. You can never destroy the substance.
Evolution is in nature, not in the soul - evolution of nature, manifestation of the soul.
Maya is not illusion as it is popularly interpreted. Maya is real, yet it is not real. It is real in that the Real is behind it and gives it its appearance of reality. That which is real in Maya is the Reality in and through Maya. Yet the Reality is never seen; and hence that which is seen is unreal, and its has no real independent existence of itself, but is dependent upon the Real for its existence.
Maya then is a paradox - real, yet not real, an illusion, yet not an illusion.
He who knows the Real sees in Maya not illusion, but reality. He who knows not the Real sees in Maya illusion and thinks it real.
HOW TO BECOME FREE
All things in nature work according to law. Nothing is exempted. The mind as well as everything in external nature is governed and controlled by law.
Internal and external nature, mind and matter, are in time and space, and are bound by the law of causation.
The freedom of the mind is a delusion. How can the mind be free when it is controlled and bound by law?
The law of Karma is the law of causation.
We must become free. We are free; the work is to know it. We must give up all slavery, all bondage of whatever kind. We must not only give up our bondage to earth and everything and everybody on earth, but also to all ideas of heaven and happiness.
We are bound to earth by desire and also to God, heaven, and the angels. A slave is a slave whether to man, to God, or to angels.
The idea of heaven must pass away. The idea of heaven after death where the good live a life of eternal happiness is a vain dream, without a particle of meaning or sense in it. Wherever there is happiness there must follow unhappiness sometime. Wherever there is pleasure there must be pain. This is absolutely certain, every action has its reaction somehow.
The idea of freedom is the only true idea of salvation - freedom from everything, the senses, whether of pleasure or pain, from good as well as evil.
More than this even, we must be free from death and to be free from death, we must be free from life. Life is but a dream of death. Where there is life, there will be death; so get away from life if you would be rid of death.
We are ever free if we would only believe it, only have faith enough. You are the soul, free and eternal, ever free ever blessed. Have faith enough and you will be free in a minute.
Everything in time, space, and causation is bound. The soul is beyond all time, all space, all causation. That which is bound is nature, not the soul.
Therefore proclaim your freedom and be what you are - ever free, ever blessed.
Time, space, and causation we call Maya.
SOUL AND GOD
Anything that is in space has form. Space itself has form. Either you are in space, or space is in you. The soul is beyond all space. Space is in the soul, not the soul in space.
Form is confined to time and space and is bound by the law of causation. All time is in us, we are not in time. As the soul is not in time and space, all time and space are within the soul. The soul is therefore omnipresent.
Our idea of God is the reflection of ourselves.
Old Persian and Sanskrit have affinities.
The primitive idea of God was identifying God with different forms of nature - nature-worship. The next stage was the tribal God. The next stage, the worship of kings.
The idea of God in heaven is predominant in all nations except in India. The idea is very crude.
The idea of the continuity of life is foolish. We can never get rid of death until we get rid of life.
Dualism recognises God and nature to be eternally separate: the universe and nature eternally dependent upon God.
The extreme monists make no such distinction. In the last analysis, they claim, all is God: the universe becomes lost in God; God is the eternal life of the universe.
With them infinite and finite are mere terms. The universe, nature, etc. exist by virtue of differentiation. Nature is itself differentiation.
Such questions as, "Why did God create the universe?" "Why did the All-perfect create the imperfect?" etc., can never be answered, because such questions are logical absurdities. Reason exists in nature; beyond nature it has no existence. God is omnipotent, hence to ask why He did so and so is to limit Him; for it implies that there is a purpose in His creating the universe. If He has a purpose, it must be a means to an end, and this would mean that He could not have the end without the means. The questions, why and wherefore, can only be asked of something which depends upon something else.
ON PROOF OF RELIGION
The great question about religion is: What makes it so unscientific? If religion is a science, why is it not as certain as other sciences? All beliefs in God, heaven, etc., are mere conjectures, mere beliefs. There seems to be nothing certain about it. Our ideas concerning religion are changing all the time. The mind is in a constant state of flux.
Is man a soul, an unchanging substance, or is he a constantly changing quantity? All religions, except primitive Buddhism, believe that man is a soul, an identity, a unit that never dies but is immortal.
The primitive Buddhists believe that man is a constantly changing quantity, and that his consciousness consists in an almost infinite succession of incalculably rapid changes, each change, as it were, being unconnected with the others, standing alone, thus precluding the theory of the law of sequence or causation.
If there is a unit, there is a substance. A unit is always simple. A simple is not a compound of anything. It does not depend on anything else. It stands alone and is immortal.
Primitive Buddhists contend that everything is unconnected; nothing is a unit; and that the theory of man being a unit is a mere belief and cannot be proved.
Now the great question is: Is man a unit, or is he a constantly changing mass?
There is but one way to prove this, to answer this question. Stop the gyrations of the mind, and the theory that a man is a unit, a simple, will be demonstrated. All changes are in me, in the Chitta, the mind-substance. I am not the changes. If I were, I could not stop them.
Everyone is trying to make himself and everybody else believe that this world is all very fine, that he is perfectly happy. But when man stops to question his motives in life, he will see that the reason he is struggling after this and that is because he cannot help himself. He must move on. He cannot stop, so he tries to make himself believe that he really wants this and that. The one who actually succeeds in making himself believe that he is having a good time is the man of splendid physical health. This man responds to his desires instantly, without question. He acts in response to that power within him, urging him on without a thought, as though he acted because he wanted to. But when he has been knocked about a good deal by nature, when he has received a good many wounds and bruises, he begins to question the meaning of all this; and as he gets hurt more and thinks more, he sees that he is urged on by a power beyond his control and that he acts simply because he must. Then he begins to rebel, and the battle begins.
Now if there is a way out of all this trouble, it is within ourselves. We are always trying to realise the Reality. Instinctively we are always trying to do that. It is creation in the human soul that covers up God; that is why there is so much difference in God-ideals. Only when creation stops can we find the Absolute. The Absolute is in the soul, not in creation. So by stopping creation, we come to know the Absolute. When we think of ourselves, we think of the body; and when we think of God, we think of Him as body. To stop the gyrations of the mind, so that the soul may become manifested, is the work. Training begins with the body. Breathing trains the body, gets it into a harmonious condition. The object of the breathing exercises is to attain meditation and concentration. If you can get absolutely still for just one moment, you have reached the goal. The mind may go on working after that; but it will never be the same mind again. You will know yourself as you are - your true Self. Still the mind but for one moment, and the truth of your real nature will flash upon you, and freedom is at hand: no more bondage after that. This follows from the theory that if you can know an instant of time, you know all time, as the whole is the rapid succession of one. Master the one know thoroughly one instant - and freedom is reached.
All religions believe in God and the soul except the primitive Buddhist. The modern Buddhists believe in God and the soul. Among the primitive Buddhists are the Burmese, Siamese, Chinese, etc.
Arnold's book, The Light of Asia, represents more of Vedantism than Buddhism.
THE DESIGN THEORY
The idea that nature in all her orderly arrangements shows design on the part of the Creator of the universe is good as a kindergarten teaching to show the beauty, power, and glory of God, in order to lead children in religion up to a philosophical conception of God; but apart from that, it is not good, and perfectly illogical. As a philosophical idea, it is entirely without foundation, if God is taken to be omnipotent.
If nature shows the power of God in creating the universe, (then) to have a design in so doing also shows His weakness. If God is omnipotent, He needs no design, no scheme, to do anything. He has but to will it, and it is done. No question, no scheme, no plan, of God in nature.
The material universe is the result of the limited consciousness of man. When man becomes conscious of his divinity, all matter, all nature, as we know it, will cease to exist.
The material world, as such, has no place in the consciousness of the All-Presence as a necessity of any end. If it had, God would be limited by the universe. To say that nature exists by His permission is not to say that it exists as a necessity for Him to make man perfect, or for any other reason.
It is a creation for man's necessity, not God's. There, is no scheme of God in the plan of the universe. How could there be any if He is omnipotent? Why should He have need of a plan, or a scheme, or a reason to do anything? To say that He has is to limit Him and to rob Him of His character of omnipotence.
For instance, if you came to a very wide river, so wide that you could not get across it except by building a bridge, the very fact that you would have to build the bridge to get across the river would show your limitation, would show your weakness, even if the ability to build the bridge did show your strength. If you were not limited but could just fly or jump across, you would not be under the necessity of building the bridge; and to build the bridge just to exhibit your power to do so would show your weakness again by showing your vanity, more than it would show anything else.
Monism and dualism are essentially the same. The difference consists in the expression. As the dualists hold the Father and Son to be two, the monists hold them to be really one. Dualism is in nature, in manifestation, and monism is pure spirituality in the essence.
The idea of renunciation and sacrifice is in all religions as a means to reach God.
SPIRIT AND NATURE
Religion is the realisation of Spirit as Spirit; not Spirit as matter.
Religion is a growth. Each one must experience it himself. The Christians believe that Jesus Christ died to save man. With you it is belief in a doctrine, and this belief constitutes your salvation. With us doctrine has nothing whatever to do with salvation. Each one may believe in whatever doctrine he likes; or in no doctrine. What difference does it make to you whether Jesus Christ lived at a certain time or not? What has it to do with you that Moses saw God in the burning bush? The fact that Moses saw God in the burning bush does not constitute your seeing Him, does it? If it does, then the fact that Moses ate is enough for you; you ought to stop eating. One is just as sensible as the other. Records of great spiritual men of the past do us no good whatever except that they urge us onward to do the same, to experience religion ourselves. Whatever Christ or Moses or anybody else did does not help us in the least, except to urge us on.
Each one has a special nature peculiar to himself which he must follow and through which he will find his way to freedom. Your teacher should be able to tell you what your particular path in nature is and to put you in it. He should know by your face where you belong and should be able to indicate it to you. You should never try to follow another's path, for that is his way, not yours. When that path is found, you have nothing to do but fold your arms, and the tide will carry you to freedom. Therefore when you find it, never swerve from it. Your way is the best for you, but that is no sign that it is the best for others.
The truly spiritual see Spirit as Spirit, not as matter. It is Spirit that makes nature move; It is the reality in nature. So action is in nature; not in the Spirit. Spirit is always the same, changeless, eternal. Spirit and matter are in reality the same; but Spirit, as such, never becomes matter; and matter, as such, never becomes Spirit.
The Spirit never acts. Why should it? It merely is, and that is sufficient. It is pure existence absolute and has no need of action.
You are not bound by law. That is in your nature. The mind is in nature and is bound by law. 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 for ever; and that will end his trouble with nature.
Governments, societies, etc. are comparative evils. All societies are based on bad generalization. The moment you form yourselves into an organization, you begin to hate everybody outside of that organization. When you join an organisation, you are putting bounds upon yourself, you are limiting your own freedom. The greatest goodness is the highest freedom. Our aim should be to allow the individual to move towards this freedom. More of goodness, less of artificial laws. Such laws are not laws at all. If it were a law, it could not be broken. The fact that these so-called laws are broken, shows clearly that they are not laws. A law is that which cannot be broken.
Whenever you suppress a thought, it is simply pressed down out of sight, in a coil like a spring, only to spring out again at a moment's notice, with all the pent-up force resulting from the suppression, and do in a few moments what it would have done in a much longer period.
Every ounce of pleasure brings its pound of pain. It is the same energy that at one time manifests itself as pleasure, at another time as pain. As soon as one set of sensations stops, another begins. But in some cases, in more advanced persons, one may have two, yea, even a hundred different thoughts entering into active operation at the same time.
Mind is action of its own nature. Mind-activity means creation. The thought is followed by the word, and the word by the form. All of this creating will have to stop, both mental and physical, before the mind can reflect the soul.
THE PRACTICE OF RELIGION
(At Alameda, Calif., March 18, 1900)
We read many books, but that does not bring us knowledge. We may read all the Bibles in the world, but that will not give us religion. Theoretical religion is easy enough to get, any one may get that. What we want is practical religion.
The Christian idea of a practical religion is in doing good works - worldly utility.
What good is utility? Judged from a utilitarian standpoint, religion is a failure. Every hospital is a prayer that more people may come there. What is meant by charity? Charity is not fundamental. It is really helping on the misery of the world, not eradicating it. One looks for name and fame and covers his efforts to obtain them with the enamel of charity and good works. He is working for himself under the pretext of working for others. Every so-called charity is an encouragement of the very evil it claims to operate against.
Men and women go to balls and dance all night in honour of some hospital or other charitable institution then go home, behave like beasts, and bring devils into the world to fill jails, insane asylums, and hospitals. So it goes on, and it is called good works - building hospital etc. The ideal of good works is to lessen, or eradicate, the misery of the world. The Yogi says, all misery comes from not being able to control the mind. The Yogi's ideal is freedom from nature. Conquest of nature is his standard of work. The Yogi says that all power is in the soul, and by the controlling of the mind and body one conquers nature by the power of the soul.
Every ounce of muscle in excess of what is beyond the needs of one's physical work is that much less of brain. Do not exercise too hard; it is injurious. The one who does not work hard will live the longest. Eat less food and work less. Store up brain food.
Household work is enough for women.
Do not make the lamp burn fast; let it burn slowly.
Proper diet means simple diet, not highly spiced.
FRAGMENTARY NOTES ON THE RAMAYANA
Worship Him who alone stands by us, whether we are doing good or are doing evil; who never leaves us even; as love never pulls down, as love knows no barter, no selfishness.
Râma was the soul of the old king; but he was a king, and he could not go back on his word.
"Wherever Rama goes, there go I", says Lakshmana, the younger brother
The wife of the elder brother to us Hindus is just like a mother.
At last he found Sitâ, pale and thin, like a bit of the moon that lies low at the foot of the horizon.
Sita was chastity itself; she would never touch the body of another man except that of her husband.
"Pure? She is chastity itself", says Rama.
Drama and music are by themselves religion; any song, love song or any song, never mind; if one's whole soul is in that song, he attains salvation, just by that; nothing else he has to do; if a man's whole soul is in that, his soul gets salvation. They say it leads to the same goal.
Wife - the co-religionist. Hundreds of ceremonies the Hindu has to perform, and not one can be performed if he has not a wife. You see the priests tie them up together, and they go round temples and make very great pilgrimages tied together.
Rama gave up his body and joined Sita in the other world.
Sita - the pure, the pure, the all-suffering!
Sita is the name in India for everything that is goods pure, and holy; everything that in women we call woman.
Sita - the patient, all-suffering, ever-faithful, ever-pure wife! Through all the suffering she had, there was not one harsh word against Rama.
Sita never returned injury.
NOTES TAKEN DOWN IN MADRAS, 1892-93
The three essentials of Hinduism are belief in God, in the Vedas as revelation, in the doctrine of Karma and transmigration.
If one studies the Vedas between the lines, one sees a religion of harmony.
One point of difference between Hinduism and other religions is that in Hinduism we pass from truth to truth - from a lower truth to a higher truth - and never from error to truth.
The Vedas should be studied through the eye-glass of evolution. They contain the whole history of the progress of religious consciousness, until religion has reached perfection in unity.
The Vedas are Anâdi, eternal. The meaning of the statement is not, as is erroneously supposed by some, that the words of the Vedas are Anadi, but that the spiritual laws inculcated by the Vedas are such. These laws which are immutable and eternal have been discovered at various times by great men or Rishis, though some of them are forgotten now, while others are preserved.
When a number of people from various angles and distances have a look at the sea, each man sees a portion of it according to his horizon. Though each man may say that what he sees is the real sea, all of them speak the truth, for all of them see portions of the same wide expanse. So the religious scriptures, though they seem to contain varying and conflicting statements, speak the truth, for they are all descriptions of that one infinite Reality.
When one sees a mirage for the first time, he mistakes it for a reality, and after vainly trying to quench his thirst in it, learns that it is a mirage. But whenever he sees such a phenomenon in future, in spite of the apparent reality, the idea that he sees a mirage always presents itself to him. So is the world of Mâyâ to a Jivanmukta (the liberated in life).
Some of the Vedic secrets were known to certain families only, as certain powers naturally exist in some families. With the extinction of these families, those secrets have died away.
Vedic anatomy was no less perfect than the Âyurvedic.
There were many names for many parts of the organs, because they had to cut up animals for sacrifice. The sea is described as full of ships. Sea voyage was prohibited later on, partly because there came the fear that people might thereby become Buddhists.
Buddhism was the rebellion of newly-formed Kshatriyas against Vedic priest craft.
Hinduism threw away Buddhism after taking its sap. The attempt of all the Southern Âchâryas was to effect a reconciliation between the two. Shankarâchârya's teaching shows the influence of Buddhism. His disciples perverted his teaching and carried it to such an extreme point that some of the later reformers were right in calling the Acharya's followers "crypto-Buddhists".
* * *
What is Spencer's unknowable? It is our Maya. Western philosophers are afraid of the unknowable, but our philosophers have taken a big jump into the unknown, and they have conquered.
Western philosophers are like vultures soaring high in the sky, but all the while, with their eye fixed on the carrion beneath. They cannot cross the unknown, and they therefore turn back and worship the almighty dollar.
There have been two lines of progress in this world - political and religious. In the former the Greeks are everything, the modern political institutions being only the development of the Grecian; in the latter the Hindus are everything.
My religion is one of which Christianity is an offshoot and Buddhism a rebel child.
Chemistry ceases to improve when one element is found from which all others are deductible. Physics ceases to progress when one force is found of which all others are manifestations. So religion ceases to progress when unity is reached, which is the case with Hinduism.
There is no new religious idea preached anywhere which is not found in the Vedas.
In everything, there are two kinds of development - analytical and synthetical. In the former the Hindus excel other nations. In the latter they are nil. (Here by the term "synthesis" is meant a scientific generalisation and by the term "analysis" an ontological reduction of facts and objects to their immanent principles. - Ed.)
The Hindus have cultivated the power of analysis and abstraction. No nation has yet produced a grammar like that of Pânini.
Râmânuja's important work is the conversion of Jains and Buddhists to Hinduism. He is a great advocate of image worship. He introduced love and faith as potent means of salvation.
Even in the Bhâgavata, twenty-four Avatâras are mentioned corresponding to the twenty-four Tirthankaras of the Jains, the name of Rishibhadeva being common to both.
The practice of Yoga gives the power of abstraction. The superiority of a Siddha over others consists in his being able to separate attributes from objects and think of them independently, giving them objective reality.
* * *
The opposite extremes always meet and resemble each other. The greatest self-forgotten devotee whose mind is absorbed in the contemplation of the infinite Brahman and the most debased, drunken maniac present the same externals. At times we are surprised with the analogical transition from one to the other.
Extremely nervous men succeed as religious men. They become fervent over whatever they take into their head.
"All are mad in this world; some are mad after gold, others after women, and some are after God; if drowning is to be the fate of man, it is better to be drowned in an ocean of milk than in a pool of dung", a devotee replied who was charged with madness.
The God of Infinite Love and the object of Love sublime and infinite are painted blue. Krishna is painted blue, so also Solomon's (See Old Testament, The Song of Solomon, I. 5, 7, 14.) God of Love. It is a natural law that anything sublime and infinite is associated with blue colour. Take a handful of water, it is absolutely colourless. But look at the deep wide ocean; it is as blue as anything. Examine the space near you; it is colourless. But look at the infinite expanse of the sky; it is blue.
That the Hindus, absorbed in the ideal, lacked in realistic observation is evident from this. Take painting and sculpture. What do you see in the Hindu paintings? All sorts of grotesque and unnatural figures. What do you see in a Hindu temple? A Chaturbhanga (Lit. bent at four places or joints of the body.) Nârâyana or some such thing. But take into consideration any Italian picture or Grecian statue - what a study of nature you find in them! A gentleman for twenty years sat burning a candle in his hand, in order to paint a lady carrying a candle in her hand.
The Hindus progressed in the subjective sciences.
There are as many different conducts taught in the Vedas as there are differences in human nature. What is taught to an adult cannot be taught to a child.
A Guru should be a doctor of men. He should understand the nature of his disciple and teach him the method which suits him best.
There are infinite ways of practicing Yoga. Certain methods have produced successful result with certain men. But two are of general importance with all: (1) Reaching the reality by negating every known experience, (2) Thinking that you are everything, the whole universe. The second method, though it leads to the goal sooner than the first, is not the safest one. It is generally attended with great dangers which may lead a man astray and deter him from obtaining his aim.
There is this difference between the love taught by Christianity and that taught by Hinduism: Christianity teaches us to love our neighbours as we should wish them to love us; Hinduism asks us to love them as ourselves, in fact to see ourselves in them.
A mongoose is generally kept in a glass-case with a long chain attached to it, so that it may go about freely. When it scents danger as it wanders about, with one jump it goes into the glass-case. So is a Yogi in this world.
* * *
The whole universe is one chain of existence, of which matter forms one pole and God the other; the doctrine of Vishishtâdvaitism may be explained by some such ideas.
The Vedas are full of passages which prove the existence of a Personal God. The Rishis, who through long devotion saw God, had a peep into the unknown and threw their challenge to the world. It is only presumptuous men, who have not walked in the path described by the Rishis and who have not followed their teachings, that criticise them and oppose them. No man has yet come forward who would dare to say that he has properly followed their directions and has not seen anything and that these men are liars. There are men who have been under trial at various times and have felt that they have not been forsaken by God. The world is such that if faith in God does not offer us any consolation, it is better to commit suicide.
A pious missionary went out on business. All of a sudden his three sons died of cholera. His wife covered the three dead bodies of her beloved children with a sheet and was awaiting her husband at the gate. When he returned, she detained him at the gate and put him the question, "My dear husband, someone entrusts something to you and in your absence suddenly takes it back. Will you feel sorry?" He replied, "Certainly I would not". Then she took him in, removed the sheet and showed the three corpses. He bore this calmly and buried the bodies. Such is the strength of mind of those who hold firm faith in the existence of an all-merciful God who disposes of everything in the universe.
The Absolute can never be thought of. We can have no idea of a thing unless it is finite. God the infinite can only be conceived and worshipped as the finite.
John the Baptist was an Essene - a sect of Buddhists. The Christian cross is nothing but the Shivalinga converted into two across. Remnants of Buddhist worship are still to be found among the relics of ancient Rome.
In South India, some of the Râgas (tunes) are sung and remembered as independent Ragas, whereas they are derivations of the six primary ones. In their music, there is very little of Murchhanâ, or oscillating touches of sound. Even the use of the perfect instrument of music is rare. The Vinâ of the South is not the real Vina. We have no martial music, no martial poetry either. Bhavabhuti is a little martial.
* * *
Christ was a Sannyâsin, and his religion is essentially fit for Sannyasins only. His teachings may be summed up as: "Give up"; nothing more - being fit for the favoured few.
"Turn the other cheek also!" - impossible, impracticable! The Westerners know it. It is meant for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who aim at perfection.
"Stand on your rights", is the rule for the ordinary men. One set of moral rules cannot be preached to all - Sâdhus and householders.
All sectarian religions take for granted that all men are equal. This is not warranted by science. There is more difference between minds than between bodies. One fundamental doctrine of Hinduism is that all men are different, there being unity in variety. Even for a drunkard, there are some Mantras - even for a man going to a prostitute!
Morality is a relative term. Is there anything like absolute morality in this world? The idea is a superstition. We have no right to judge every man in every age by the same standard.
Every man, in every age, in every country is under peculiar circumstances. If the circumstances change, ideas also must change. Beef-eating was once moral. The climate was cold, and the cereals were not much known. Meat was the chief food available. So in that age and clime, beef was in a manner indispensable. But beef-eating is held to be immoral now.
The one thing unchangeable is God. Society is moving. Jagat (world) means that which is moving. God is Achala (immovable).
What I say is not, "Reform", but, "Move on". Nothing is too bad to reform. Adaptability is the whole mystery of life - the principle underneath which serves to unfold it. Adjustment or adaptation is the outcome of the Self pitted against external forces tending to suppress It. He who adjusts himself best lives the longest. Even if I do not preach this, society is changing, it must change. It is not Christianity nor science, it is necessity, that is working underneath, the necessity that people must have to live or starve.
* * *
The best scenery in the world can be seen on the sublime heights of the Himalayas. If one lives there for a time, he is sure to have mental calmness, however restless he might have been before.
God is the highest form of generalised law. When once this law is known, all others can be explained as being subordinate to it. God is to religion what Newton's law of gravity is to falling bodies.
Every worship consists of prayer in the highest form. For a man who cannot make Dhyâna or mental worship, Pujâ or ceremonial worship is necessary. He must have the thing concrete.
The brave alone can afford to be sincere. Compare the lion and the fox.
Loving only the good in God and nature - even a child does that. You should love the terrible and the painful as well. A father loves the child, even when he is giving him trouble.
Shri Krishna was God, incarnated to save mankind. Gopi-Lilâ (his disport with the cowherd maids) is the acme of the religion of love in which individuality vanishes and there is communion. It is in this Lila that Shri Krishna shows what he preaches in the Gitâ: "Give up every other tie for me." Go and take shelter under Vrindâvana-Lila to understand Bhakti. On this subject a great number of books is extant. It is the religion of India. The larger number of Hindus follow Shri Krishna.
Shri Krishna is the God of the poor, the beggar, the sinner, the son, the father, the wife and of everyone. He enters intimately into all our human relations and makes everything holy and in the end brings us to salvation. He is the God who hides himself from the philosopher and the learned and reveals himself to the ignorant and the children. He is the God of faith and love and not of learning. With the Gopis, love and God were the same thing - they knew Him to be love incarnate.
In Dwârakâ, Shri Krishna teaches duty; in Vrindavana, love. He allowed his sons to kill each other, they being wicked.
God, according to the Jewish and Mohammedan idea, is a big Sessions Judge. Our God is rigorous on the surface, but loving and merciful at heart.
There are some who do not understand Advaitism and make a travesty of its teachings. They say, "What is Shuddha and Ashuddha (pure and impure) - what is the difference between virtue and vice? It is all human superstition", and observe no moral restraint in their actions. It is downright roguery; and any amount of harm is done by the preaching of such things.
This body is made up of two sorts of Karma consisting of virtue and vice - injurious vice and non-injurious virtue. A thorn is pricking my body, and I take another thorn to take it out and then throw both away. A man desiring to be perfect takes a thorn of virtue and with it takes off the thorn of vice. He still lives, and virtue alone being left, the momentum of action left to him must be of virtue. A bit of holiness is left to the Jivanmukta, and he lives, but everything he does must be holy.
Virtue is that which tends to our improvement, and vice to our degeneration. Man is made up of three qualities - brutal, human, and godly. That which tends to increase the divinity in you is virtue and that which tends to increase brutality in you is vice. You must kill the brutal nature and become human, that is, loving and charitable. You must transcend that too and become pure bliss. Sachchidânanda, fire without burning, wonderfully loving, but without the weakness of human love, without the feeling of misery.
Bhakti is divided into Vaidhi and Râgânugâ Bhakti.
Vaidhi Bhakti is implicit belief in obedience to the teachings of the Vedas.
Raganuga Bhakti is of five kinds:
(1) Shânta as illustrated by the religion of Christ; (2) Dâsya as illustrated by that of Hanumân to Râma; (3) Sakhya as illustrated by that of Arjuna to Shri Krishna; (4) Vâtsalya as illustrated by that of Vasudeva to Shri Krishna; (5) Madhura (that of the husband and wife) in the lives of Shri Krishna and Gopikâs.
Keshab Chandra Sen compared society to an ellipse. God is the central sun. Society is sometimes in the aphelion and sometimes in the perihelion. An Avatâra comes and takes it to the perihelion. Then it goes back again. Why should it be so? I cannot say. What necessity for an Avatara? What necessity was there to create? Why did He not create us all perfect? It is Lilâ (sport), we do not know.
Men can become Brahman but not God. If anybody becomes God, show me his creation. Vishvâmitra's creation is his own imagination. It should have obeyed Vishvamitra's law. If anybody becomes a Creator, there would be an end of the world, on account of the conflict of laws. The balance is so nice that if you disturb the equilibrium of one atom, the whole world will come to an end.
There were great men - so great that no number nor human arithmetic could state the difference between them and us. But compared with God, they were geometrical points. In comparison with the Infinite, everything is nothing. Compared with God, what is Vishvamitra but a human moth?
Patanjali is the father of the theory of evolution, spiritual and physical.
Generally the organism is weaker than the environment. It is struggling to adjust itself. Sometimes it over-adjusts itself. Then the whole body changes into another species. Nandi was a man whose holiness was so great that the human body could not contain it. So those molecules changed into a god-body.
The tremendous engine of competition will destroy everything. If you are to live at all, you must adjust yourself to the times. If we are to live at all, we must be a scientific nation. Intellectual power is the force. You must learn the power of organisation of the Europeans. You must become educated and must educate your women. You must abolish child marriage.
All these ideas are floating over society. You all know it, yet dare not act. Who is to bell the cat? In the fullness of time a wonderful man will come. Then all the rats will be made bold.
Whenever a great man comes, the circumstances are ready under his feet. He is the last straw to break the camel's back. He is the spark of the cannon. There is something in the talking - we are preparing for him.
Was Krishna cunning? No, he was not cunning. He tried his best to prevent the war. It was Duryodhana who forced the war. But, when once in the thing, you should not recede - that is the man of duty. Do not run away, it is cowardice. When in the thing, you must do it. You should not budge an inch - of course not for a wrong thing; this war was a righteous war.
The devil comes in many guises - anger in the form of justice - passion in the form of duty. When it first comes, the man knows and then he forgets. Just as your pleaders' conscience; at first they know it is all Badmâshi (roguery), then it is duty to their clients; at last they get hardened.
Yogis live on the banks of the Narmada - the best place for them, because the climate is very even. Bhaktas live in Vrindâvana.
Sipâhis (sepoys) die soon - nature is full of defect - the athletes die soon. The gentlemen class are the strongest, while the poor are the hardiest. Fruit diet may agree with a costive man. Civilised man needs rest for intellectual work. For food he has to take spices and condiments. The savage walks forty or fifty miles a day. He relishes the blandest foods.
Our fruits are all artificial, and the natural mango is a poor affair. Wheat also is artificial.
Save the spiritual store in your body observing continence.
The rule for a householder about the expenditure of his income is, one-fourth of the income for his family, one-fourth for charity, one-fourth to be saved, one-fourth for self.
Unity in variety is the plan of creation, individuality in universality.
Why deny the cause only? Deny the effect also. The cause must contain everything that is in the effect.
Christ's public life extended only over eighteen months, and for this he had silently been preparing himself for thirty-two years.
Mohammed was forty years old before he came out.
* * *
It is true that the caste system becomes essential in the ordinary course of nature. Those that have aptitudes for a particular work form a class. But who is to settle the class of a particular individual? If a Brâhmin thinks that he has a special aptitude for spiritual culture, why should he be afraid to meet a Shudra in an open field? Will a horse be afraid of running a race with a jade?
Refer to the life of the author of Krishna-karnâmrita, Vilvamangala - a devotee who plucked his eyes out because he could not see God. His life illustrates the principle that even misdirected love leads in the end to love proper.
Too early religious advancement of the Hindus and that super fineness in everything which made them cling to higher alternatives, have reduced them to what they are. The Hindus have to learn a little bit of materialism from the West and teach them a little bit of spirituality.
Educate your women first and leave them to themselves; then they will tell you what reforms are necessary for them. In matters concerning them, who are you?
Who reduced the Bhângis and the Pariahs to their present degraded condition? Heartlessness in our behaviour and at the same time preaching wonderful Advaitism - is it not adding insult to injury?
Form and formless are intertwined in this world. The formless can only be expressed in form and form can only be thought with the formless. The world is a form of our thoughts. The idol is the expression of religion.
In God all natures are possible. But we can see Him only through human nature. We can love Him as we love a man - as father, son. The strongest love in the world is that between man and woman, and that also when it is clandestine. This is typified in the love between Krishna and Râdhâ.
Nowhere is it said in the Vedas that man is born a sinner. To say so is a great libel on human nature.
It is not an easy task to reach the state of seeing the Reality face to face. The other day one could not find the hidden cat in a whole picture, though it occupied the major portion of the picture.
* * *
You cannot injure anybody and sit quietly. It is a wonderful machinery - you cannot escape God's vengeance.
Kâma (lust) is blind and leads to hell. Prema is love, it leads to heaven.
There is no idea of lust or sympathy in the love of Krishna and Radha. Radha says to Krishna. "If you place your feet on my heart, all lust will vanish."
When abstraction is reached lust dies and there is only love.
A poet loved a washerwoman. Hot Dâl fell upon the feet of the woman and the feet of the poet were scalded.
Shiva is the sublime aspect of God, Krishna the beautiful aspect of God. Love crystallises into blueness. Blue colour is expressive of intense love. Solomon saw "Krishna". Here Krishna came to be seen by all.
Even now, when you get love, you see Radha. Become Radha and be saved. There is no other way, Christians do not understand Solomon's song. They call it prophecy symbolising Christ's love for the Church. They think it nonsense and father some story upon it.
Hindus believe Buddha to be an Avatara.
Hindus believe in God positively. Buddhism does not try to know whether He is or not.
Buddha came to whip us into practice. Be good, destroy the passions. Then you will know for yourself whether Dvaita or Advaita philosophy is true - whether there is one or there are more than one.
Buddha was a reformer of Hinduism.
In the same man the mother sees a son, while the wife at the same time sees differently with different results. The wicked see in God wickedness. The virtuous see in Him virtue. He admits of all forms. He can be moulded according to the imagination of each person. Water assumes various shapes in various vessels. But water is in all of them. Hence all religions are true.
God is cruel and not cruel. He is all being and not being at the same time. Hence He is all contradictions. Nature also is nothing but a mass of contradictions.
* * *
Freedom of the will - it is as you feel you are free to act. But this freedom is a species of necessity. There is one infinite link before, after, and between the thought and the action but the latter takes the name of freedom - like a bird flitting through a bright room. We feel the freedom and feel it has no other cause. We cannot go beyond consciousness; therefore we feel we are free. We can trace it no further than consciousness. God alone feels the real freedom. Mahâpurushas (saints) feel themselves identified with God; hence they also feel the real freedom.
You may stop the water flowing out of the fountain by closing that part of the stream and gathering it all in the fountain; you have no liberty beyond it. But the source remains unchanged. Everything is predestination - and a part of that predestination is that you shall have such feeling - the feeling of freedom. I am shaping my own action. Responsibility is the feeling of reaction. There is no absolute power. Power here is the conscious feeling of exercising any faculty which is created by necessity. Man has the feeling "I act"; what he means by power of freedom is the feeling. The power is attended with responsibility. Whatever may be done through us by predestination, we feel the reaction. A ball thrown by one, itself feels the reaction.
But this innate necessity which comes to us as our freedom does not affect also the conscious relations we form with our surroundings. The relativity is not changed. Either everybody is free or everybody is under necessity. That would not matter. The relations would be the same. Vice and virtue would be the same. If a thief pleads that he was under the necessity of stealing, the magistrate would say that he was under the necessity to punish. We are seated in a room, and the whole room is moving - the relation between us is unchanged. To get out of this infinite chain of causation is Mukti (freedom). Muktas (free souls) are not actuated by necessity, they are like god. They begin the chain of cause and effect. God is the only free being - the first source of their will - and is always experienced by them as such.
The feeling of want is the real prayer, not the words. But you must have patience to wait and see if your prayers are answered.
You should cultivate a noble nature by doing your duty. By doing our duty we get rid of the idea of duty; and then and then only we feel everything is done by God. We are but machines in His hand. This body is opaque, God is the lamp. Whatever is going out of the body is God's. You do not feel it. You feel "I". This is delusion. You must learn calm submission to the will of God. Duty is the best school for it. This duty is morality. Drill yourself to be thoroughly submissive. Get rid of the "I". No humbuggism. Then you can get rid of the idea of duty; for all is His. Then you go on naturally, forgiving, forgetting, etc.
Our religion always presents different gradations of duty and religion to different people.
Light is everywhere visible only in the men of holiness. A Mahapurusha is like crystal glass - full rays of God passing and re-passing through. Why not worship a Jivanmukta?
Contact with holy men is good. If you go near holy men, you will field holiness overflowing unconsciously in everything there.
Resist not evil done to yourself, but you may resist evil done to others.
If you wish to become a saint, you should renounce all kinds of pleasures. Ordinarily, you may enjoy all, but pray to God for guidance, and He will lead you on.
The universe fills only a small portion of the heart which craves for something beyond and above the world.
Selfishness is the devil incarnate in every man. Every bit of self, bit by bit, is devil. Take off self by one side and God enters by the other. When the self is got rid of, only God remains. Light and darkness cannot remain together.
Forgetting the little "I" is a sign of healthy and pure mind. A healthy child forgets its body.
Sitâ - to say that she was pure is a blasphemy. She was purity itself embodied - the most beautiful character that ever lived on earth.
A Bhakta should be like Sita before Râma. He might be thrown into all kinds of difficulties. Sita did not mind her sufferings; she centred herself in Rama.
* * *
Buddhism proves nothing about the Absolute Entity. In a stream the water is changing; we have no right to call the stream one. Buddhists deny the one, and say, it is many. We say it is one and deny the many. What they call Karma is what we call the soul. According to Buddhism, man is a series of waves. Every wave dies, but somehow the first wave causes the second. That the second wave is identical with the first is illusion. To get rid of illusion good Karma is necessary. Buddhists do not postulate anything beyond the world. We say, beyond the relative there is the Absolute. Buddhism accepts that there is misery, and sufficient it is that we can get rid of this Dukkha (misery); whether we get Sukha (happiness) or not, we do not know. Buddha preached not the soul preached by others. According to the Hindus, soul is an entity or substance, and God is absolute. Both agree in this, that they destroy the relative. But Buddhists duo not give what is the effect of that destruction of the relative.
Present-day Hinduism and Buddhism were growths from the same branch. Buddhism degenerated, and Shankara lopped it off!
Buddha is said to have denied the Vedas because there is so much Himsâ (killing) and other things. Every page of Buddhism is a fight with the Vedas (the ritualistic aspect). But he had no authority to do so.
Buddha is expressly agnostic about God; but God is everywhere preached in our religion. The Vedas teach God - both personal and impersonal. God is everywhere preached in the Gitâ. Hinduism is nothing without God. The Vedas are nothing without Him. That is the only way to salvation. Sannyâsins have to repeat the following, several times: I, wishing for Mukti, take refuge in God, who created the world, who breathed out the Vedas.
Buddha, we may say now, ought to have understood the harmony of religions. He introduced sectarianism.
Modern Hinduism, modern Jainism, and Buddhism branched off at the same time. For some period, each seemed to have wanted to outdo the others in grotesqueness and humbuggism.
* * *
We cannot imagine anything which is not God. He is all that we can imagine with our five senses, and more. He is like a chameleon; each man, each nation, sees one face of Him and at different times, in different forms. Let each man see and take of God whatever is suitable to him. Compare each animal absorbing from nature whatever food is suitable to it.
The fault with all religions like Christianity is that they have one set of rules for all. But Hindu religion is suited to all grades of religious aspiration and progress. It contains all the ideals in their perfect form. For example, the ideal of Shânta or blessedness is to be found in Vasishtha; that of love in Krishna; that of duty in Rama and Sita; and that of intellect in Shukadeva. Study the characters of these and of other ideal men. Adopt one which suits you best.
Follow truth wherever it may lead you; carry ideas to their utmost logical conclusions. Do not be cowardly and hypocritical. You must have a great devotion to your ideal, devotion not of the moment, but calm, persevering, and steady devotion, like that of a Châtaka (a kind of bird) which looks into the sky in the midst of thunder and lightning and would drink no water but from the clouds. Perish in the struggle to be holy; a thousand times welcome death. Be not disheartened. When good nectar is unattainable, it is no reason why we should eat poison. There is no escape. This world is as unknown as the other.
Charity never faileth; devotion to an ideal never fails in sympathy, never becomes weary of sympathising with others. Love to enemies is not possible for ordinary men: they drive out others in order to live themselves. Only a very few men lived in the world who practiced both. King Janaka was one of them. Such a man is superior even to Sannyasins. Shukadeva, who was purity and renunciation embodied, made Janaka his Guru; and Janaka said to him, "You are a born Siddha; whatever you know and your father taught you, is true. I assure you of this."
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Individuality in universality is the plan of creation. Each cell has its part in bringing about consciousness. Man is individual and at the same time universal. It is while realising our individual nature that we realise even our national and universal nature. Each is an infinite circle whose centre is everywhere and circumference nowhere. By practice one can feel universal Selfhood which is the essence of Hinduism. He who sees in every being his own Self is a Pandita (sage).
Rishis are discoverers of spiritual laws.
In Advaitism, there is no Jivâtmâ; it is only a delusion. In Dvaitism, there is Jiva infinitely distinct from God. Both are true. One went to the fountain, another to the tank. Apparently we are all Dvaitists as far as our consciousness goes. But beyond? Beyond that we are Advaitists. In reality, this is the only truth. According to Advaitism, love every man as your own Self and not as your brother as in Christianity. Brotherhood should be superseded by universal Selfhood. Not universal brotherhood, but universal Selfhood is our motto. Advaitism may include also the "greatest happiness" theory.
So'ham - I am He. Repeat the idea constantly, voluntarily at first; then it becomes automatic in practice. It percolates to the nerves. So this idea, by rote, by repetition, should be driven even into the nerves.
Or, first begin with Dvaitism that is in your consciousness; second stage, Vishishtâdvaitism - "I in you, you in me, and all is God." This is the teaching of Christ.
The highest Advaitism cannot be brought down to practical life. Advaitism made practical works from the plane of Vishishtadvaitism. Dvaitism - small circle different from the big circle, only connected by Bhakti; Vishishtadvaitism - small circle within big circle, motion regulated by the big circle; Advaitism - small circle expands and coincides with the big circle. In Advaitism "I" loses itself in God. God is here, God is there, God is "I".
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One way for attaining Bhakti is by repeating the name of God a number of times. Mantras have effect - the mere repetition of words. Jalangiman Chetti's powers are due to the repetition of the Mantra - repetition of certain words with certain ceremonies. The powers of the Astras or Bânas (missiles, arrows, etc.) of ancient war were due to Mantra. This is taken for granted throughout our Shâstras. That we should take all these Shastras to be imagination is superstition.
To obtain Bhakti, seek the company of holy men who have Bhakti, and read books like the Gita and the Imitation of Christ; always think of the attributes of God.
The Vedas contain not only the means how to obtain Bhakti but also the means for obtaining any earthly good or evil. Take whatever you want.
Bengal is a land of Bhakti or Bhaktas. The stone on which Chaitanya used to stand in the temple of Jagannâtha to see the image was worn by his tears of love and devotion. When he took Sannyâsa, he showed his fitness for it to his Guru by keeping sugar on his tongue for some time without its being dissolved. He discovered Vrindavana by the power of insight he had acquired through devotion.
I will tell you something for your guidance in life. Everything that comes from India, take as true, until you find cogent reasons for disbelieving it. Everything that comes from Europe, take as false, until you find cogent reasons for believing it. Do not be carried away by European fooleries. Think for yourselves. Only one thing is lacking: you are slaves; you follow whatever Europeans do. That is simply an impotent state of mind. Society may take up materials from any quarter but should grow in its own way.
To be shocked by a new custom is the father of all Superstition, the first road to hell. It leads to bigotry and fanaticism. Truth is heaven. Bigotry is hell.