· Because your thirst for spirituality has not come, therefore you are sitting idle.
· The very idea of life implies death and the very idea of pleasure implies pain. The lamp is constantly burning out, and that is its life. If you want to have life, you have to die for it every moment. Life and death are only different expressions of the same thing looked at from different standpoints. They are the falling and rising of the same wave, and the two form one whole. One looks at the "fall" side and becomes a pessimist, another looks at the "rise" side and becomes an optimist.
· When a boy is going to school and his father and mother are taking care of him, everything seems blessed to him; his wants are simple, he is a great optimist. But the old man, with his varied experience, becomes calmer, and is sure to have his warmth considerably cooled down. So, old nations, with signs of decay all around them, are apt to be less hopeful than new nations. There is a proverb in
· How can we all be equal here on earth? This impossible kind of equality implies total death. What makes the world what it is? Lost balance. In the primal state, which is called chaos, there is perfect balance. How do all the formative forces of the universe come by then? By struggling, competition, conflict. ... Inequality is the very basis of creation. At the same time, the forces struggling to obtain equality are as much a necessity of creation as those which destroy it.
· Absolute equality, that which means a perfect balance of all the struggling forces in all the planes, can never be in this world. Before you attain that state, the world will have become quite unfit for any kind of life, and no one will be there. We find, therefore, that all these ideas of the millennium and of absolute equality not only are impossible but also that, if we try to carry them out, they will lead us surely enough to the day of destruction.
· So long as this world lasts, differentiation there will and must be, and the millennium of perfect equality will come only when a cycle of creation comes to its end. Before that, equality cannot be. Yet this idea of realizing the millennium is a great motive power. Just as inequality is necessary for creation itself, so the struggle to limit it is also necessary. If there were no struggle to become free and get back to God, there would be no creation either. It is the difference between these two forces that determines the nature of people's motives. There will always be these motive to work, some tending towards bondage and others towards freedom.
· The methods of spiritual realization have the generic name, "yoga" (to join, to join ourselves to our reality). These yogas, though divided into various groups, can principally be classed into four; and as each is only a method of leading indirectly to the realization of the Absolute, they are suited to different temperaments.
· My name should not be made prominent; it is my ideas that I want to see realized. The disciples of all the prophets have always inextricably mixed up the ideas of the Master with the person, and at last killed the ideas for the person. The disciples of Sri Ramakrishna must guard against doing the same thing. Work for the idea, not the person.
- Do not fly away from the wheels of the world-machine, but stand inside it and learn the secret of work. Through proper work done inside, it is possible to come out. Through this machinery itself is the way out.
- The whole scope of all systems of yoga (and each religion represents one) is to remove ignorance and allow the Ātman to restore its own nature. The chief helps in this liberation are abhyāsa and vairāgya. Vairāgya is non-attachment to life, because it is the will to enjoy that brings all this bondage in its train; and abhyāsa is constant practice of any one of the yogas.
- Karma Yoga is a method of purifying the mind through work. ... All fear and all desire to enjoy here or hereafter must be banished for ever by the Karma Yogi. The karma without desire of return will destroy the selfishness, which is the root of all bondage. The watchword of the Karma Yogi is "not I, but Thou," and no amount of self-sacrifice is too much for such a person.
- Coming and going is all pure delusion. The soul never comes nor goes. Where is the place to which it shall go when all space is in the soul? When shall be the time for the entering and departing when all time is in the soul?
- For those who procrastinate regarding renunciation, saying, "Oh, not so soon! I shall do it when the time comes," Self-realization is very far off. "Let me realize the Truth this moment! In this very life!"--these are the words of a hero.
- Work is a part of nature's foundation, and work always goes on. Those who believe in God understand this better, because they know that God is not such an incapable being as will need our help. Although this universe will go on always, our goal is freedom, our goal is unselfishness. According to Karma Yoga, that goal is to be reached through work.
- God is very merciful to a person whom He sees struggling heart and soul for realization. But remain idle, without any struggle, and you will see that His grace will never come.
- Truth can be stated in a thousand different ways, yet each one can be true.
- Every man must begin where he stands, must learn how to control the things that are nearest to him.
· All ideas of making the world perfectly happy may be good as motive powers for fanatics, but we must know that fanaticism brings forth as much evil as good. The Karma Yogi asks why you require any motive for work other than the inborn love of freedom. Be beyond the common worldly motives.
· A mass of reading does not make men, those who were real men were made so by personal contact.
· He who adjusts himself best lives the longest.
· We point everything with ourselves.
· Know it for certain that there is no greater Tirtha (holy spot) than the body of man.
· There is no end to the power a man can obtain.
· He is the best ruler who can serve well.
· The whole universe must become prophets.
· He who knows how to serve knows how to rule.
· No man was ever born who could stop his body one moment from changing.
· Man is very short-sighted and impatient.
· But bold we must be. Hiding facts is not the way to find a remedy.
· A man must follow the tendencies peculiar to himself.
· The highest kind of men slightly collect true and noble ideas.
· We have either to progress or to degenerate.
· An intellect, heartless man never becomes an inspired man.
· Our difficulty in life is that we are guided by the present and not by the future.
· The greatest men in the world have passed away unknown.
· It is our own mental attitude which makes the world what it is for us.
· There is, however one great danger in human nature, viz, that man never examines himself.
· No man is ever satisfied.
· Man is a compound of animality, humanity and divinity.
· The animal man lives in the senses.
· It is a peculiar fact in human nature that it judges others according to its own standard of activity.
· No man ought to take a hasty step.
· We are all born savages and gradually civilise ourselves.
· I pray that none may be dragged anywhere by the unseen power of his or her own past actions. I pray that all may be free, that is to say, may know that they are free. And if they are to dream again, let us pray that their dreams be all of peace and bliss.
Letter to Mrs. Ole Bull, on the occasion of the loss of her father. From Brooklyn: January 20, 1895. Complete Works, 5:69-70.
· Let us do good because it is good to do good. Those who do good work even in order to get to heaven bind themselves down, says the Karma Yogi. Any work that is done with any the least selfish motive, instead of making us free, forges one more chain for our feet.
Class on Karma Yoga.
· Persevere---- Never mind the struggles, the mistakes. Never mind these failures, these little backslidings; hold the ideal a thousand times; and if you fail a thousand times make the attempt once more.
· The will is not free--it is a phenomenon caused by cause and effect--but there is something behind the will which is free.
· Differentiation, infinitely contradictory, must remain, but it is not necessary that we should hate each other therefore; it is not necessary therefore that we should fight each other.
· The gift of spirituality and spiritual knowledge is the highest, for it saves from many and many a birth; the next gift is secular knowledge, as it opens the eyes of human beings towards that spiritual knowledge; the next is the saving of life; and fourth is the gift of food.
· Drink deep of the nectar of the knowledge of God.
· Perfect life is a contradiction in terms. Therefore we must always expect to find things not up to our highest ideal. Knowing this we are bound to make the best of everything.
· I am a Sannyasin, as such I consider myself as a servant, not as a Master in the world.
· I want each one of my children to be a hundred times greater than I could ever be. Every one of you must be great--------------must, that is my word.
· The greatness of little things, that is what the Gita teaches, bless the old book!
· It is man that makes everything, what can money do?
· If there is a God we must see Him, if there is a soul we must perceive it; otherwise it is better not to believe.
· It is indeed very difficult to have an equal love for all, but without it there is no Mukti.
· I am a fighter and shall die in the battle-field.
· The disciples of all the prophets have always inextricably mixed up the ideas of the Master with the ‘person’ and at last killed the ideas for the ‘person’. The disciples of Sri Ramakrishna must guard against doing the same thing. Work for the ‘idea’ not the person.
· That man has reached immortality who is disturbed by nothing material.
· Stand on your own feet, and assimilate what you can; learn from every nation, take what is of use to you.
· Send a good thought for every being in the three worlds.
· Search truth for yourself; realise it yourself. Then if you find it beneficial to one and many, give it to people.
· Sister, the way is long, the time is short, evening is approaching. I have to go home soon. I have no time to give my manners a finish. I cannot find time to deliver my message. You are good, you are so kind, I will do anything for you; and do not be angry, I see that you all are mere children.
Letter to Miss Mary Hale. From New York: February 1, 1895. Complete Works, 5:72.
· Have something to say for yourself, else how can you have any idea of what others have said?
· I once met a man in my country whom I had known before as a very stupid, dull person, who knew nothing and had not the desire to know anything, and was living the life of a brute. He asked me what he should do to know God, how he was to get free. "Can you tell a lie?" I asked him. "No," he replied. "Then you must learn to do so. It is better to tell a lie than to be a brute, or a log of wood. You are inactive; you have not certainly reached the highest state, which is beyond all actions, calm and serene; you are too dull even to do something wicked." That was an extreme case, of course, and I was joking with him; but what I meant was that a person must be active in order to pass through activity to perfect calmness.
Class on Karma Yoga.
· When you serve a Jiva with the idea that he is a Jiva, it is Daya (compassion) and not Prema (love); but when you serve him with the idea that he is the Self, that is Prema.
· Those institutions should be encouraged by which men advance in the path of freedom.
· Some people do the best work when ‘led’. Not every one is ‘born to lead’. The best leader, however, is one who ‘leads like the baby’. The baby, though apparently depending on every one, is the king of the house-hold.