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God and demon went to learn about the Self from a great sage – Story Swami Vivekananda

A god and a demon went to learn about the Self from a great sage.

The sage told them, ‘You yourselves are the Being you are seeking.’

Both of them thought that their bodies were the Self. They went back to their people quite satisfied.

The nature of the demon was ignorant, clouded; so he never inquired any further.

The god had a purer nature. In a few days, he realised that it could not be the meaning of the sage; there must be something higher.

So he came back and asked, ‘Sir, did you teach me that this body was the Self? If so, I see all bodies die; the Self cannot die.’

The sage replied, ‘Find it out; Thou art That.’

Then the god thought that the vital forces were what the sage meant.

But after a time, he found that if he ate, these vital forces remained strong, but, if he starved, they became weak.

The god then went back to the sage and said, ‘Sir, do you mean that the vital forces are the Self?’

The sage replied, ‘Find out for yourself; thou art That.’

The god returned home, thinking that it was the mind, perhaps, that was the Self. But he saw that thoughts were so various, now good, again bad; the mind was too unstable to be the Self.

He went back to the sage and said, ‘Sir, I do not think that the mind is the Self; did you mean that?’

No,’ replied the sage, ‘thou art That; find out for yourself.’

The god went home, and at last found that he was the Self, beyond all thought, one without birth or death, whom the sword cannot pierce or the fire burn, whom the air cannot dry or the water melt, the beginningless and endless, the immovable, the intangible, the omniscient, the omnipotent Being; that It was neither the body nor the mind, but beyond them all.

So he was satisfied; but the poor demon did not get the truth, owing to his fondness for the body.

Source – Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda: 1.138-139