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Swami Turiyananda Quotes - A Collection of Teachings and Thoughts of Swami Turiyananda - Direct Disciple of Sri Ramakrishna

Swami Turiyananda (1863–1922) was a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. This is a collection of quotes, teachings and thoughts of Swami Turiyananda from various sources including the magazines published by various Ramakrishna mission and books.

Troubles exist as long as we live in the domain of thought. There is no peace until we transcend thought itself. When one kills the mind, the senses come under control. What does it mean to kill the mind? It is to detach it from sense objects. The enlightened person has their senses under perfect control. ‘The tortoise can draw in his legs: the seer can draw in his senses. I call him illumined.’

Even a mind that knows the path can be dragged from the path; the senses are so unruly. But one who is wise controls the senses; the person recollects the mind and fixes it on Me. I call such a person illumined.


As long as one expects happiness, one stays restless. But the enlightened soul knows bliss in the Atman the Self within and wants nothing else.

Cravings torment the heart; he renounces cravings. I call such a person illumined. Craving for happiness brings suffering in its wake.

The illumined soul keeps himself detached from the mind and intellect and directs them to work, whereas the ordinary person identifies himself with the mind and intellect.

Lust, anger, and avarice—these are but different forms of the same thing. They are the eternal enemies of the jnani, and destroyers of knowledge and wisdom. Join the senses to the Lord. That is the way to teach the senses a lesson.

The illumined soul keeps himself detached from the mind and intellect and directs them to work, whereas the ordinary person identifies himself with the mind and intellect.

Stubbornness is not strength. Stubbornness merely hides one’s weakness. Strong is he who is flexible like steel and does not break. Strong is he who can live in harmony with many people and heed opinions other than his own.

The waves (in the ocean) will never subside. Then how to bathe? He who bathes amidst the waves, he alone takes his bath. In the same manner, he who is able to pray amidst pleasure and pain, disease and sorrow, misery and Poverty — he alone is capable of calling on the Lord. On the other hand, he who says, ‘Let the proper time come; then I shall pray’— he will never do it. Very few people have everything just as they want it.

It is because men cannot hold to patience that they fail to achieve anything. Else there is no other reason for failure.

God is not partial. His grace is on all, the good and the evil, just as rains fall equally on all places. Whoever tills the land reaps the harvest.

Man is too often afraid to surrender. He thinks he will lose something; but one never loses when he gives himself absolutely to God.

One must have the inner conviction that whatever happens in this world happens by His will. Success and failure come by His will. The achievements of so many clever people in this world have come to naught! Everything is His will.

Repression is bad. Let the mind wander wherever it pleases. Let it experience. At long last it will tire and return to God. If you repress it, its cravings will grow strong. But keep watch over your mind and intellect. Try to unite them with the Lord.

That which is good and pure in you is God. That which is evil in you is your ego. The more you think of him, the more he will increase and you will decrease. Some people are secretive. They raise a wall around themselves. That is bad. Without being sincere and open-hearted nobody can find God.

He is the doer, I am His instrument. The more you become established in this idea and renounce the thought of ‘me’ and ‘mine,’ the greater will be your attainment of peace.

Ordinarily we know only the surface waves of our mind. But through Yoga practice we learn to go deeper.

By watching and studying our own minds we dive below the surface consciousness, and observe what is going on there. Many Samskaras—latent desires and tendencies—are stored up there, waiting for an opportunity to express themselves. These we can discover before they rise to the surfaces. . . The seed is easily getting destroyed, but when it has germinated and grown into a big strong tree, it requires great strength and effort to hew it down. So we must crush our desires in their early, undeveloped stages. Yogis can do this. They keep down undesirable thoughts in the germ state by smothering them beneath thoughts of an opposite nature. Thus they conquer all evil tendencies—hatred with love, anger with kindness and so on.

Man is trying hard to make himself happy. But nothing succeeds unless He wills it. Freedom can be realized in two ways, by identifying oneself with Him and by living in eternal self-surrender to Him. There can be no freedom of will away from Him.

Eating, sleeping, fear, copulation these are the common characteristics of man and beast. We differ from the beasts in that we can discriminate between right and wrong. If one lives on a low plane of consciousness, one finds pleasure in the senses. With spiritual growth, one experiences happiness in subtler things. Then the person no longer finds enjoyment in the gross. Most people live the lives of beasts — drinking, hunting, running after a mate. If one cannot rise to a higher plane of consciousness, human birth is wasted.

Meditate! Meditate! Be absorbed in His consciousness! If you can think single mindedly of the Master for five years, you will achieve everything. Then it does not matter where you live. East and West will be the same to you. Know that God alone is real. Nothing else matters.

There is the ocean of infinite existence, infinite consciousness, and infinite bliss, seemingly divided by the stick of an ego which lies upon it. This ego is the first begotten son of desire. Our cravings alone keep us separated from God.

Sometime or other we must be freed from them. Root out all desires and call on Him! If He wills that the body should die, let it die while chanting His name!

An enlightened being, who has seen God and been freed from cravings, again engages in work for the good of others. You also may work, under the direction of illumined souls, because selfless work will help you grow spiritually. Actions performed in the spirit of nonattachment do not create bondage. They stop the
wheel of karma.

One should be consistent in thought and words. It won’t do to let the lips utter something which the mind does not approve. What the mind thinks, the lips too should express, and vice versa. What has once come out of the lips must be carried out at all cost. One who acts thus finds everything getting favorable to him.

Control of the senses is not to be brought about by violent effort. Only by realizing Him it is perfectly achieved. But at first one must struggle for this end. Afterwards it becomes quite natural. Still one should never be over-confident. Just as an intelligent hunter catches a deer and ties it up, so after succeeding in controlling the organs one should be alert, and continue to hold the mind and organs in check.

All trouble is over if the palate and sex impulse are conquered. … When the palate is controlled the sex impulse is also controlled. Unless the senses are brought under control there cannot be any spiritual progress.

The world is neither good nor bad. What I call good, you, perhaps, call bad, and the reverse. What is the standard? The standard is our own attitude towards life. Each one has his own standard. And with increased experience and insight the standard changes. The pity is that we still recognize evil. When we become perfectly good ourselves, the whole world will appear good. We see only the reflection of our own minds. See the Lord always in everything, and you will see no evil.

In matters of opinion swim with the current; in matters of principle stand firm as a rock.

Books on Yoga say that all power is in us. We must control the mind through proper discipline, then only will its powers be manifested. For the accumulation of spiritual power absolute continence is needed.

He is indeed wise whose mind does not react though the objects of enjoyment come before him. This is the test. When your mind has attained to that stage, then only you can be sure that it is all right. 

Lust, anger, and avarice – these are but different forms of the same thing. Join the senses to the Lord. That is the best way to teach the senses a lesson.

A suspicious mind sees evil everywhere, a trusting mind sees only good. … A quarrelsome person constantly finds something to quarrel about; a peaceful person finds no one to quarrel with. I find so many people here with fixed notions. They have one set idea that colors everything. … Some people always want to argue. They often have little brain, cannot see a point, still they must argue. Then there are over-sensitive persons. They are always on the defensive. … All these are causes for evil. But the evil is not in the world, it is in the persons. It is all a matter of misunderstanding. If we understood each other better there would be less evil.

In the Gunatita – beyond name and form – the monks practice the arts of concentration and study Vedanta texts along with other metaphysics. They are in a hurry to find him, so they think of him all the time. When they cannot practice concentration they read the sacred books. Thus they keep themselves – mind and body – consecrated to one subject. The only times they interrupt their work are when they eat their solitary meals and sleep. They do not sleep much either. It is a hard life. But that is the price you pay for giving up the simpler path of name and form.

A man who is a votary of God must accept whatever is hurled at him – a cow dung cake or a lotus flower.

If you love God, and if you have seen him your way, it is in your own interest to urge others to see him through their unique methods.

Let the gem of salvation be set in the heart of every man and woman. For each one of them is here to give you verification of your God by finding him in his way.

Religion is a record of our experience of God, not at theory of our own belief in God.

Man is merely an instrument, and the Lord is the operator. Blessed is he through whom the Lord gets his work done.

Everyone has to work in this world; no one can escape from it. But he who works for his own selfish ends, his work, instead of liberating him from the trap of maya, binds him.

On the other hand, the wise man, working for the Lord, cuts the fetters of work. ‘Not I, but the Lord is the doer’- this knowledge severs the bonds. This is a gospel truth. The notion that ‘I am the doer’ is merely a delusion, because it is difficult to trace who this ‘I’ is. If one carefully analyzes this ‘I,’ the real ‘I’ dissolves in God.

Our identification with the body, mind, intellect, and so on, is simply a delusion created by ignorance. Do they last long? Discrimination puts an end to them all. They all vanish, and there only remains the One Reality—from whom everything evolves, in whom all rest, and wherein they merge at the end. That Reality is the Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute, or Brahman, the witness of the ego-consciousness; and again it is the Omnipresent Lord, who is creating, preserving, and dissolving the universe, and is yet untouched by it all.

Everyone wants to exhibit his good side and conceal his defects. Whoever can speak out his own faults frankly, will get rid of them. It is not easy to confess one’s weaknesses. If anyone can, know that he has worth in him.

If accidentally the teeth bite the tongue, hurt and cut it, do people take a piece of stone and break the teeth? No because the teeth belong to the same person to whom the tongue belongs. Since the one God who is in me also resides in others. It is improper to find fault with them.

Where there is true devotion, the result is good. Devotion purifies the mind. We must try to see Mother in everything. That will make us spiritual.

Swami Turiyananda Thoughts on Freedom

There is no freedom, no respite until you have done your duties. That which you have given up without performing, will be waiting for you—only to appear again. Face the brute! You can’t save yourself by flight.

You may love all the beings in the world and be not at all under bondage, but the moment you allow your love to be centered on any special object you are bound. If you can get rid of these loads, then only can you attain to peace and liberation.

Bondage and freedom are both in the mind. Atman is beyond mind.

Brahman alone is real, everything else is unreal and the human soul is that Brahman. The lion shut up in a bullrush cage thinks he is caught, and escape impossible. He does not know that one blow from his mighty paw would demolish the cage and set him free. We are bound by the delusion of ignorance. Tear away the delusion and be free.

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To realize one’s true nature is to attain liberation. Certainly this realization also comes to the devotees of the personal aspect of God whenever they wish to erase their sense of individuality. However, although they realize their union with the Chosen Ideal, they usually prefer to keep a sense of separation and live as servants of the Lord in order to taste his bliss. God reveals himself to his devotees both as personal and impersonal.  Look at our Master (Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa). He attained everything by worshipping God as personal. He used to say, ‘He who has perfected himself by worshipping the Lord in one aspect knows all his aspects.’

You must struggle to meditate and to become deeply absorbed in Him. Try to develop intense devotion to God throughout your life.

You have to admit this truth: As long as you have physical consciousness, the Lord is the master and you are his servant. When you think of yourself as an individual soul, you are a part of Him. And when you realize that you are the Atman, the Self, you are He. In that state there is no sense of ego.
You have to ascend to the highest peak of renunciation in order to realize the Atman.

“Is it easy to guard the mind from distracting thoughts? It demands heroic effort. Distractions constantly try to enter your mind and to take possession of you. Layers upon layers of rubbish are in the mind. What good is it merely to close eyes and ears?”

“Sri Ramakrishna used to say: ‘I cannot stand anyone calling me guru. It irritates me. Who is the guru? Satchidananda [God] alone is the guru.’ the external guru shows the path; the inner guru quickens the spirit. Ordinary men who pose as gurus do not know this and ruin themselves by feeding their egos.”

Never let egotism control you. It ruins a man. He loses all discrimination — just like a drunkard.

Source – Conversations With Swami Turiyananda Witnessed and recorded by Swami Raghavananda.