1. "To work you have the right, but not to the fruits thereof" (Gita, 2.47). We can train ourselves to know and to practice that, says the Karma Yogi. When the idea of doing good becomes a part of our very being, then we will not seek for any motive outside.
Class on Karma Yoga.
2. We have wept long enough; no more weeping, but stand on your feet and be men. It is a man-making religion that we want. It is man-making theories that we want. It is man-making education all around that we want. And here is the test of truth-anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually and spiritually, reject as poison; there is no life in it, it cannot be true. Truth is strengthening. Truth is purity, Truth is all knowledge. Truth must be strengthening, must be enlightening, must be invigorating.
- All morality can be divided into the positive and the negative elements. It says either "Do this" or "Do not do this." When it says, "Do not," it is evident that it is a check to a certain desire which would make us slaves. When it says, "Do," its scope is to show the way to freedom and to the breaking down of a certain degradation which has already seized the human heart.
- We cannot add happiness to the world. Similarly, we cannot add pain to it either. The sum total of the energies of pleasure and pain displayed here on earth will be the same throughout. We just push it from this side to the other side, and from that side to this, but it will remain the same, because to remain so is its very nature. This ebb and flow, this rising and falling, is in the world's very nature; it would be as logical to hold otherwise as to say that we may have life without death.
5. You have not caught my fire yet--you do not understand me! You run in the old ruts of sloth and enjoyments. Down with all sloth, down with all enjoyments here or hereafter. Plunge into the fire and bring the people towards the Lord. That you may catch my fire, that you may be intensely sincere, that you may die the heroes' death on the field of battle--is the constant prayer of Vivekananda.
6. The Highest Form of the Worship of God
Every duty is holy, and devotion to duty is the highest form of the worship of God.
7. From all of you I want this that you must discard for ever self-aggrandisement, faction-mongering, and jealousy. You must be all-forbearing like Mother Earth. If you can achieve this, the world will be at your feet.
- This universe is simply a gymnasium in which the soul is taking exercise; and after these exercise we become GODS. So the value of everything is to be decided by how far it is a manifestation of God. Civilisation is the manifestation of that divinity in
- What we want is to see the man who is harmoniously developed.....................great in heart, great in mind,(great in deed)......................We want the man whose heart feels intensely the miseries and sorrows of the world..........................And(we want)the man who not only can feel but can find the meaning of things, who delves deeply into the heart of nature and understanding.(We want)the man who will not even stop there,(but)who wants to work out(the feeling and meaning by actual deeds).Such a combination of head, heart, and hand is what we want.
- Now, a good deal of our physical evil we can get rid of, if we have control over the fine parts; a good many worries we can throw off, if we have control over the fine movements; a good many failures can be averted, if we have control over these fine powers.
- Now freedom is only possible when no external power can exert any influence, produce any change. Freedom is only possible to the being who is beyond all conditions, all laws, all bondages of cause and effect. In other words, the unchangeable alone can be free and therefore, immortal. This Being, this Atman, this real Self of man, the free, the unchangeable is beyond all conditions, and as such, it has neither birth nor death.
- Pleasure is not the goal of man, but knowledge. Pleasure and happiness come to an end. It is a mistake to suppose that pleasure is the goal. The cause of all the miseries we have in the world is that men foolishly think pleasure to be the ideal to strive for. After a time man finds that it is not happiness, but knowledge, towards which he is going, and that both pleasure and pain are great teachers, and that he learns as much from evil as from good.......................Good and evil have an equal share in moulding character, and in some instances misery is a greater teacher than happiness. In studying the great characters the world has produced, I dare say, in the vast majority of cases, it would be found that it was misery that taught more than happiness, it was poverty that taught more than wealth, it was blows that brought out their inner fire more than praise.
- 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
: "A thousand years a city, and a thousand years a forest." This change of city into forest and visa versa is going on everywhere, and it makes people optimists or pessimists according to the side they see of it. India
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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 motives to work, some tending towards bondage and others towards freedom.
19. 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.
20. 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.
30. 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.
31. A mass of reading does not make men, those who were real men were made so by personal contact.
32. He who adjusts himself best lives the longest.
33. We point everything with ourselves.
34. Know it for certain that there is no greater Tirtha (holy spot) than the body of man.
35. There is no end to the power a man can obtain.
36. He is the best ruler who can serve well.
37. The whole universe must become prophets.
38. He who knows how to serve knows how to rule.
39. No man was ever born who could stop his body one moment from changing.
40. Man is very short-sighted and impatient.
41. But bold we must be. Hiding facts is not the way to find a remedy.
42. A man must follow the tendencies peculiar to himself.
43. The highest kind of men slightly collect true and noble ideas.
44. We have either to progress or to degenerate.
45. An intellect, heartless man never becomes an inspired man.
46. Our difficulty in life is that we are guided by the present and not by the future.
47. The greatest men in the world have passed away unknown.
48. It is our own mental attitude which makes the world what it is for us.
49. There is, however one great danger in human nature, viz, that man never examines himself.
50. No man is ever satisfied.
51. Man is a compound of animality, humanity and divinity.
52. The animal man lives in the senses.
53. It is a peculiar fact in human nature that it judges others according to its own standard of activity.
54. No man ought to take a hasty step.
55. We are all born savages and gradually civilise ourselves.
56. 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
57. 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.
58. Persevere---- Never mined 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.
59. The will is not free--it is a phenomenon caused by cause and effect--but there is something behind the will which is free.
60. 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.
61. 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.
62. Drink deep of the nectar of the knowledge of God.
63. 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.
64. I am a Sannyasin, as such I consider myself as a servant, not as a Master in the world.
65. 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.
66. The greatness of little things, that is what the Gita teaches, bless the old book!
67. It is man that makes everything, what can money do?
68. 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.
69. It is indeed very difficult to have an equal love for all, but without it there is no Mukti.
70. I am a fighter and shall die in the battle-field.
71. 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.
72. That man has reached immortality who is disturbed by nothing material.
73. Stand on your own feet, and assimilate what you can; learn from every nation, take what is of use to you.
74. Send a good thought for every being in the three worlds.
75. Search truth for yourself; realise it yourself. Then if you find it beneficial to one and many, give it to people.
76. 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
77. Have something to say for yourself, else how can you have any idea of what others have said?
78. 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.
79. 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.
80. Those institutions should be encouraged by which men advance in the path of freedom.
81. 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.
82. We have lost ourselves and then think the world is lost.
83. Pain has its uses.
84. Reasoning is limiting something by our own mind.
85. The Masses will always have the ‘person’, the higher ones, the ‘principle’. We want both. But principles are universal, not persons.
86. Society has to pay homage to Truth or die.
87. Learn good knowledge with all devotion from the lowest caste.
88. Dream no more! Oh, dream no more, my soul! In one word, I have a message to give, I have no time to be sweet to the world, and every attempt at sweetness makes me a hypocrite. I will die a thousand deaths rather than lead a jellyfish existence and yield to every requirement of this foolish world--my own country or a foreign country.
Letter to Miss Mary Hale. From
89. Our heroes must be spiritual.
90. His love never fails.
91. Let distinctions of sex, caste, wealth, learning and the whole host of them which are so many gateways to hell, be confined to the world alone. If such distinctions persists in holy places of pilgrimage, where then lies the difference between them and hell itself?
92. If we can bring ourselves down by our Karma, surely it is in our power to raise ourselves by it.
93. We learn, through smiles and tears we learn.
94. To believe that mind is all, that thought is all, is only a higher materialism.
95. You are mistaken, utterly mistaken, if you think I have a work--I have no work under or beyond the sun. I have a message, and I will give it after my own fashion. I will neither Hinduize my message, nor Christianize it, nor make it any "ize" in the world. I will only my-ize it and that is all.
Letter to Miss Mary Hale. From
Complete Works, 5:72.
96. The greatness of a teacher consists in the simplicity of his language.
97. Deepen your own power of thought and love.
98. Give up the so-called boast of your narrow orthodox life.
99. I can secure my own good only by doing you good.
100. Test everything, try everything, and then believe it, and if you find it for the good of many, give it to all.