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1. When there is a conflict between the heart and the brain, let the heart be followed.
2. A man of intellect can turn into a devil, but never a man of heart.
3. Religion is not a theoretical need but a practical necessity.
4. Renunciation does not mean simply dispassion for the world. It means dispassion for the world and also longing for God.
5. There is no misery where there is no want.
6. The secret of life is not enjoyment, but education through experience.
7. Every new thought must create opposition.
8. Renunciation is the withdrawal of mind from other things and concentrating it on God.
9. Every man who thinks ahead of his time is sure to be misunderstood.
10. In this short life there is no time for the exchange of compliments.
11. Do not wait to cross the river when the water has all run down.
12. The greatest sin is fear.
13. Better the scolding of the wise than the adulation of the fools.
14. If you love God's creation more than God, you will be disillusioned.
15. Everything can be sacrificed for truth, but truth can't be sacrificed for anything.
16. God has become man, man will become god again.
17. If it is impossible to attain perfection here and now, there is no proof that we can attain perfection in any other life.
18. That part of the Vedas which agrees with reason is the Vedas, and nothing else.
19. If you want to do anything evil, do it before the eyes of your superiors.
20. Happiness presents itself before man, wearing the crown of sorrow on its head.
21. If one is a slave to his passions and desires, one cannot feel the pure joy of real freedom.
22. If you can't attain salvation in this life, what proof is there that you can attain it in the life or lives to come?
23. Never mind if your contribution is only a mite, your help only a little, blades of grass united into a rope will hold in confinement the maddest of elephants.
24. The cow never tells a lie, and the stone never steals, but, nevertheless, the cow remains a cow and the stone remains a stone. Man steals and man tells a lie, and again it is man that becomes the god.
25. When even man never hears the cries of the fool, do you think God will?
26. Strength is life, weakness is death.
27. Never are the wants of a beggar fulfilled.
28. We want the education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one's own feet.
29. Let the heart be opened first, and all else will follow of itself.
30. Tell the man his defaults directly but praise his virtues before others.
31. Activity is life and inactivity is death.
32. Salvation is not achieved by inactivity but by spiritual activities.
33. Even the least work done for others awakens the power within.
34. New things have to be learned, have to be introduced and worked out, but is that to be done by sweeping away all that is old, just because it is old?
35. The man who says he has nothing more to learn is already at his last grasp
36. As long as I live, so do I learn.
37. No one can save a person who hires a carriage to go from one street to another, and then complain of diabetes.
38. By the control of the subconscious mind you get control over the conscious.
39. It is the constant struggle against nature that constitutes human progress, not conformity with it.
40. The very essence of education is concentration of mind, not the collecting of facts.
41. As we get further and further away from sense-pleasures, “knowledge for the sake of knowledge” becomes the supreme pleasure of mind.
42. It is through the many that we reach the one.
43. The soul is the circle of which the circumference is nowhere, but the center is the body. God is a circle whose circumference is nowhere, but whose center is everywhere.
44. The body itself is the biggest disease.
45. If any one of you believes what I teach, I will be sorry. I will only be too glad if I can excite in you
the power of thinking for yourselves.
46. When the world is the end and God the means to attain that end, that is material. When God is the end and the world is only the means to attain that end, spirituality has begun.
47. The fear of God is the beginning of religion, but the love of God is the end of religion.
48. Do not give up anything! Things will give you up.
49. The sage is often ignorant of physical science, because he reads the wrong book- the book within; and the scientist is too often ignorant of religion, because he reads the wrong book- the book without.
50. Experience is the only source of knowledge.
51. Do one thing at a time and while doing it put your whole soul into it to the exclusion of all else.
52. Where there is life, there will be death; so get away from life if you want to get rid of death.
53. 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.
54. We may read all the Bibles of the world, but that will not give us religion.
55. The brave alone can afford to be sincere.
56. The balance is so nice that if you disturb the equilibrium of one atom, the whole world will come to an end.
57. Save the spiritual store in your body by observing continence.
58. The wicked see in God wickedness. The virtuous see in Him virtue.
59. When good nectar is unattainable, it is no reason why we should eat poison.
60. Love to enemies is not possible for ordinary men.
61. Everything that comes from India take as true, until you cogent reasons for disbelieving it. Everything that comes from Europe take as false, until you find cogent reasons for believing it.
62. The benefit of Yoga is that we learn to control instead of being controlled.
63. Never talk about the faults of others, no matter how bad they may be.
64. All quarrels and disputations concerning religion simply show that religion is not present.
65. You must not criticize others, you must criticize yourself.
66. What you have inside you is what you see in others.
67. Our business is to verify not to swallow.
68. How can that be loveless which causes love in me?
69. You cannot judge a man by his faults.
70. You must believe in yourself and then you will believe in God.
71. If you are pure, if you are strong, you, one man, is equal to the whole world.
72. Mother represents colorless love that knows no barter, love that never dies.
73. We trust the man in the street, but there is one being in the universe we never trust and that is God.
74. My motto is to learn whatever good things I may come across anywhere.
75. The secret of religion lies not in theories but in practice.
76. Seek for the highest, aim at the highest, and you shall reach the highest.
77. There is an ocean of difference between idleness and renunciation.
78. The self-seeking man who is looking after personal comforts and leading a lazy life, there is no room for him even in hell.
79. Hope is the greatest of all miseries, the highest bliss lies in giving up hope.
80. No one ever succeeded in keeping society in good humor and at the same time did great works.
81. Know that talking ill of others in private is a sin.
82. This Atman is not to be attained by one who is weak.
83. Whatever fosters materiality is no work.
84. Why look up to men for approbation, look up to God.
85. He who knows how to obey knows how to command.
86. Want of sympathy and lack of energy are at the root of all misery.
87. India is the only place where, with all its faults, the soul finds its freedom, its God.
88. It is the heart that conquers, not the brain.
89. All the strength is in you, have faith in it.
90. The body must go no mistake about that. It is better to wear out than to rust out.
91. In every attempt there are many obstacles to cope with, but gradually the path becomes smooth.
92. One must raise oneself by one's own exertions.
93. Both attachment and detachment perfectly developed make a man great and happy.
94. Where there is struggle, where there is rebellion, there is a sign of life, there consciousness is manifested.
95. Isn't it man that makes money? Where did you ever hear of money making man?
96. He who always speculates as to what awaits him in future, accomplishes nothing whatsoever.
97. Fear is one of the worst enemies.
98. If one intends to really find truth, one must not cling to comfort.
99. We manufacture our own heaven and can make a heaven even in hell.
100. The satisfaction of desire only increases it, as oil poured on fire makes it burn more fiercely.
101. Both happiness and misery are chains, the one golden, the other iron; but both are equally strong to bind us.
102. The world is neither true nor untrue, it is a shadow of truth.
103. Let us get rid of the little 'I' and let only the great 'I' live in us.
104. Concentration of the mind is the source of all knowledge.
105. Keep your thoughts on virtue; what we think we become.
106. What we are, we see outside, for the world is our mirror.
107. Resist not evil. Face it! You are higher than evil.
108. Anything we do ourselves, that is the only thing we do. -----
109. Be cautious now and do not bow, however sweet to chains.
110. Anything that brings spiritual, mental or physical weakness, touch it not with the toes of your feet.
111. Everything that has selfishness for its basis, competition as its right hand, and enjoyment as its goal, must die sooner or later.
112. This is a battlefield, fight your way out. Make your life a manifestation of will strengthened by renunciation.
113. Be the witness, never learn to react.
114. The Hindus believe that a man is a soul and has a body, while Western people believe he is a body and possesses a soul.
115. Of all the scriptures of the world, it is the Vedas alone which declare that the study of the Vedas is secondary.
116. I find that whenever I have made a mistake in my life, it has always been because self entered into the calculation.
117. Never forget that a man is made great and perfect as much by his faults as by his virtues.
118. If a bad time comes, what of it? The pendulum must swing back to the other side. But that is no better. The thing to do is to stop it.
119. This world is our friend when we are its slaves and no more.
120. Whatever others think or do, lower not your standard of purity, morality, and love of God.
121. The road to the Good is the roughest and steepest in the universe. Character has to be established through a thousand stumbles.
122. Eating, drinking, dressing, and society nonsense are not things to throw a life upon.
123. He who is always afraid of loss always loses.
124. Any amount of theoretical knowledge one may have; but unless one does the thing actually, nothing is learnt.
125. Don't yield to sorrow; everything is in God's hands.
126. In our moments of anguish, gates barred for ever seem to open and let in many a flood of light.
127. Every bit of pleasure will bring its quota of pain, if not with compound interest.
128. If one gets one blow, one must return ten with redoubled fury, then only one is a man.
129. Don't let egoism to enter your minds, and let love never depart from your hearts.
130. It is a land of dreams; it does not matter whether one enjoys or weeps; they are but dreams, and as such, must break sooner or later.
131. He whose joy is only in himself, whose desires are only in himself, he has learned his lessons.
132. I have worked for this world, Mary, all my life, and it does not give me a piece of bread without taking a pound of flesh.
133. Devotion to the mother is the root of all welfare.
134. It is religion, the inquiry into the beyond, that makes the difference between man and animal.
135. Dare to be free, dare to go as far as your thought leads, and dare to carry that out in your life.
136. Every idea that strengthens you must be taken up and every thought that weakens you must be rejected.
137. The same fire that cooks a meal for us may burn a child, and it is no fault of the fire if it does so; the difference lies in the way in which it is used.
138. Whatever you think, that you will be.
139. The moment you quarrel, you are not going God ward, you are going backward, towards the brutes.
140. First learn to obey, the command will come by itself.
141. If there is any sin in the world, it is weakness; avoid all weakness, for weakness is sin, weakness is death.
142. In other countries great priests try to trace their descent to some king, but here the greatest kings would trace their descent to some ancient priest.
143. We, as Vedantists, know for certain that there is no power in the universe to injure us unless we first injure ourselves.
144. Faith, faith, faith in ourselves, faith, faith in God – this is the secret of greatness.
145. To have the ideal is one thing, and to apply it practically to the details of daily life is quite another thing.
146. One ounce of practice is worth twenty thousand tons of big talk.
147. Let not your work produce results for you, and at the same time may you be never without work.
148. Religion is not in books, nor in theories, nor in dogmas, nor in talking, not even in reasoning. It is being and becoming.
149. This Atman is not to be reached by too much talk, no, not even by the highest intellect, no, not even by the study of Vedas themselves.
150. Whoever has dared to touch our literature has felt the bondage, and is there bound for ever.
151. If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart a whole library.
152. No good comes out of the man who day and night thinks he is nobody.
153. Follies there are, weakness there must be, but remember your real nature always – that is the only way to cure the weakness, that is the only way to cure the follies.
154. Everything in this life is fraught with fear. It is renunciation alone that makes one fearless.
155. The true man is he who is strong as strength itself and possesses a woman's heart.
156. Verily, these three are rare to obtain and come only through the grace of God - human birth, desire to obtain Moksha, and the company of the great-souled ones.
157. Why should you feel ashamed to take the name of Hindu, which is your greatest and most glorious possession.
158. This religion is so great that even a little of it brings a great amount of good.
159. Don't believe what others say unless you yourselves know it to be true.
160. Rise at the expense of another? I did not come to earth for that.
161. Show your power by suffering.
162. Our misery comes, not from work, but by our getting attached to something.
163. The man who can't believe in himself, how can you expect him to believe in anything else?
164. It is better to do something; never mind if it proves to be wrong; it is better than doing nothing.
165. If we can't follow the ideal, let us confess our weakness, but not degrade it; let not any try to pull it down.
166. If a man possesses everything that is under the sun and does not possess spirituality, what avails it?
167. First form character, first earn spirituality and results will come of themselves.
168. If we sit down and lament over the imperfection of our bodies and minds, we profit nothing; it is the heroic endeavor to subdue adverse circumstances that carries our spirit upwards.
169. Truth, purity and unselfishness – wherever these are present, there is no power below or above the sun to crush the possessor thereof.
170. No claim is made by the doer of great deeds, only by lazy worthless fools.
171. To know God is to become God.
172. Bring in the light; the darkness will vanish of itself.
173. Ours not to question why, ours but to do and die.
174. Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man. Religion is the manifestation of the divinity already in man.
175. Conscious efforts lead the way to super-conscious illumination.
176. Who commits mistakes, the path of truth is attainable by him only.
177. He, the brave alone, can deny the self.
178. And if this Maya is so beautiful, think of the wondrous beauty of the Reality behind it.
179. For one thing we may be grateful; this life is not eternal.
180. When the mind tries to think of anything else, give it a hard blow, so that it may turn around and think of God.
181. If I am impure, that is also of my own making, and that very thing shows that I can be pure if I will.
182. Stand and die in your own strength; if there is any sin in the world, it is weakness; avoid all weakness, for weakness is sin, weakness is death.
183. I do not know whether I succeed or not, but it is a great thing to take up a grand ideal in life and then give up one's whole life to it.
184. In the west, they are trying to solve the problem how much a man can possess, and we are trying here to solve the problem on how little a man can live.
185. It is the change of the soul itself for the better that alone will cure the evils of the world.
186. Teach yourself, teach every one his real nature, call upon the sleeping soul and see how it awakes.
187. Power will come, glory will come, goodness will come, purity will come, and everything that is excellent will come, when this sleeping soul is roused to self conscious activity.
188. You have done well; only try to do better.
189. Work out the salvation of this land and of the whole world, each of you thinking that the entire burden is on your shoulders.
190. Let not the fire die out.
191. Is it such a bad choice in this world to think, not of matter but of spirit, not of man but of God?
192. If you attempt to get the secular knowledge without religion, I tell you plainly, vain is your attempt.
193. Anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually, and spiritually, reject as poison; there is no life in it; it cannot be true.
194. Love opens the most impossible gates; love is the gate to all the secrets of the universe.
195. Never let curses rise on your lips.
196. Feel that you are great and you become great.
197. You can't help anyone, you can only serve: serve the children of the Lord, serve the Lord himself, if you have the privilege.
198. The moment you fear you are nobody. It is fear that is the great cause of misery in the world.
199. Struggle for that Grace.
200. If a man goes towards what is false; it is because he can't get what is true.
201. Knowledge is the finding of unity in diversity, and the highest point in every science is reached when it finds the underlying unity in all variety.
202. Obey the scriptures until you are not strong enough to do without them.
203. Help, if you can; if you can't fold your hands and stand by and see things go on.
204. Until a man becomes a prophet, religion is a mockery.
205. Be not in despair; the way is very difficult, like walking on the blade of a razor. Yet despair not; arise, awake, and find the ideal, the goal.
206. Death is better than a vegetating ignorant life; it is better to die on the battlefield than to live a life of defeat.
207. When you find yourselves suffering, blame yourselves, and try to do better.
208. The highest direction is that which takes us to God; every other direction is lower.
209. Understand my words in their true spirit and apply yourselves to work in their light.
210. I want the why of everything. I leave the how to children.
1)All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.
2)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.
3)As different streams having different sources all mingle their waters in the sea, so different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to God.
4)Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way.
5)External nature is only internal nature writ large.
6)GOD is the ever-active providence, by whose power systems after systems are being evolved out of chaos, made to run for a time and again destroyed.
7)GOD is to be worshipped as the one beloved, dearer than everything in this and next life.
8)If faith in ourselves had been more extensively taught and practiced, I am sure a very large portion of the evils and miseries that we have would have vanished.
9)If money help a man to do good to others, it is of some value; but if not, it is simply a mass of evil, and the sooner it is got rid of, the better.
10)If you think about disaster, you will get it. Brood about death and you hasten your demise. Think positively and masterfully, with confidence and faith, and life becomes more secure, more fraught with action, richer in achievement and experience.
11)In one word, this ideal is that you are divine.
12)Never think there is anything impossible for the soul. It is the greatest heresy to think so. If there is sin, this is the only sin; to say that you are weak, or others are weak.
13)Our duty is to encourage every one in his struggle to live up to his own highest idea, and strive at the same time to make the ideal as near as possible to the Truth.
14)Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life - think of it, dream of it, live on idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.
15)That man has reached immortality who is disturbed by nothing material.
16)The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves!
17)The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him - that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.
18)The more we come out and do good to others, the more our hearts will be purified, and God will be in them.
19)The Vedanta recognizes no sin it only recognizes error. And the greatest error, says the Vedanta is to say that you are weak, that you are a sinner, a miserable creature, and that you have no power and you cannot do this and that.
20)The will is not free - it is a phenomenon bound by cause and effect - but there is something behind the will which is free.
21)The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.
22)Truth can be stated in a thousand different ways, yet each one can be true.
23)We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.
24)When an idea exclusively occupies the mind, it is transformed into an actual physical or mental state.
25)Where can we go to find God if we cannot see Him in our own hearts and in every living being.
26)You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.
27)You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.
Madame Calve was one of the celebrated singer artiste of Chicago during 1890s. In fact, she was equally famous in both Europe and America. In the year 1893, Swami Vivekananda also had attracted some attention as a spiritual personality in a small but significant section of American elite after his address to the Chicago World Parliament of Religions.
As it happened, one evening Madame Calve, during her performance in the opera, suddenly felt stage fear and anxiety that was almost unknown to her. It was difficult for this talented artist to perform effectively. She almost backed out twice, during each break. But the organizers persuaded her to carry on. Ultimately, she could finish her show in a grand fashion. After the rousing exit, while clapping was still in her ears, she ran to her room only to be told that her beloved daughter was no more; she had died due to burns while Madame Calve was performing her act. Can we say: Her anxiety and stage fright was a form of extrasensory perception - a form of clairvoyance!
Madame Calve fainted. How could she live now? Her success lost its charm for her in this grim tragedy. Thrice she attempted suicide out of grief and depression.
Someone suggested her to seek solace in the company of the Hindu monk - Swami Vivekananda - who could have some spiritual powers to soothe her nerves and calm her mind! But Madame Calve refused, she was not inclined to visit the Swami. After her last unsuccessful suicidal attempt, as the destiny had it, she was brought to the house where the Swami stayed. She unintentionally came, as if in trance, and sat in a chair next to Swamiji's room.
She was in dreamy state, or mental blankness, when she heard a consoling voice coming from the room of Swami Vivekananda: "Come, my child. Don't be afraid." She got up and went to the Swami's room as though hypnotized. Later they became good friends.
In her own words the full story be better told.
Madame Calve wrote:
"It has been my good fortune and my joy to know a man who truly 'walked with God', a noble being, a saint, a philosopher, and a true friend. His influence upon my spiritual life was profound. He opened up new horizons before me, enlarging and unifying my religious ideas and ideals; teaching me a broader understanding of truth. My soul will bear him eternal gratitude."
"... He (Swami Vivekananda) was lecturing in Chicago one year when I was there; and as I was at that time greatly depressed in mind and body, I decided to go to him, having seen how he had helped some of my friends. When I entered the room, I stood before him in silence for a moment. He was seated in a noble attitude of meditation, his eyes on the ground. After a pause he spoke without looking up."
'My child,' he said, 'what a troubled atmosphere you have about you: Be calm: It is essential.' Then in a quiet voice, untroubled and aloof, this man who did not even know my name talked to me of my secret problems and anxieties. He spoke of things that I thought were unknown even to my nearest friends. It seemed miraculous, supernatural.
'How do you know all this? I asked at last. 'Who has talked of me to you?'
He looked at me with his quiet smile as though I were a child who has asked a foolish question.
'No one has talked to me,' he answered gently. 'Do you think that it is necessary? I read you as in an open book.'
Finally it was time for me to leave.
'You must forget,' he said as I rose. 'Become gay and happy again. Build up your health. Do not dwell in silence upon your sorrows. Transmute you emotions into some form of external expression. Your spiritual health requires it. Your art demands it.'
"I left him, deeply impressed by his words and his personality. He seemed to have emptied my brain of all its feverish complexities and placed there instead his clean calming thoughts. I became once again vivacious and cheerful, thanks to the effect of his powerful will. He did not use any of the hypnotic or mesmeric influences. It was the strength of his character, the purity and intensity of his purpose that carried conviction. It seemed to me, when I came to know him better, that he lulled one's chaotic thoughts into a state of peaceful acquiescence, so that one could give complete and undivided attention to his word."
Dr. Hans Jacobs says, "There can be no greater inspiration for strength and power than the idea of the Indian Vedanta that the soul is essentially divine... Actually the more we can think of our divine heritage the more divine we become. Error brings about sorrow and that is ultimately the cause of weakness. Consequently remedy is seen in strength, and strength is conveyed by basing oneself not on the individual but universal."
Source: 'Swamiji and Madame Calve', by Swami Tathagatananda, in "Meditation on Swami Vivekananda", The Vedanta Society of New York, 1994.
Vivekananda was a renowned thinker in his own right. One of his most important contributions was to demonstrate how Advaitin thinking is not merely philosophically far-reaching, but how it also has social, even political, consequences. According to Vivekananda, a important lesson he received from Ramakrishna was that "Jiva is Shiva" (each individual is divinity itself). This became his Mantra, and he coined the concept of daridra narayana seva - the service of God in and through (poor) human beings. If there truly is the unity of Brahman underlying all phenomena, then on what basis do we regard ourselves as better or worse, or even as better-off or worse-off, than others? - This was the question he posed to himself. Ultimately, he concluded that these distinctions fade into nothingness in the light of the oneness that the devotee experiences in Moksha. What arises then is compassion for those "individuals" who remain unaware of this oneness and a determination to help them.
Swami Vivekananda belonged to that branch of Vedanta that held that no one can be truly free until all of us are. Even the desire for personal salvation has to be given up, and only tireless work for the salvation of others is the true mark of the enlightened person. He founded the Sri Ramakrishna Math and Mission on the principle of Atmano Mokshartham Jagat-hitaya cha (आत्मनॊ मोक्षार्थम् जगद्धिताय च) (for one's own salvation and for the welfare of the World).Vivekananda made a strict demarcation between the two classes of Hindu scriptures : the Sruti and the Smritis. The Sruti, by which is meant the Vedas, consist of eternally and universally valid spiritual truths. The Smritis on the other hand, are the dos and donts of religions, applicable to society and subject to revision from time to time. Vivekananda felt that existing Hindu smritis had to be revised for modern times. But the Srutis of course are eternal - they may only be re-interpreted.
Vivekananda advised his followers to be holy, unselfish and have shraddha (faith). He encouraged the practice of Brahmacharya (Celibacy). In one of the conversations with his childhood friend Priya Nath Sinha he attributes his physical and mental strengths, eloquence to the practice of Brahmacharya. Vivekananda didn't advocate the emerging area of parapsychology, astrology (one instance can be found in his speech Man the Maker of his Destiny, Complete-Works, Volume 8, Notes of Class Talks and Lectures) saying that this form of curiosity doesn't help in spiritual progress but actually hinders it.