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Swami Ranganathananda Teachings

Swami Ranganathananda (December 15, 1908 – April 25, 2005) of Ramakrishna Mission – 13th president of Ramakrishna Mission. This is a collection of teachings of Swami Ranganathananda.

What is the need for all types of showy religion and worship? True religion and worship is such a simple thing in which the whole life can become a dedication to the Divine. We can live in Him. He will live in us. This is what we can do. There you have pure spirituality. This is a wonderful development. When people understand the nature of bhakti, more and more of such people will appear in our society, reducing the current noisy, showy, costly worship. The whole of life becomes religion, as Vivekananda said, as quoted by Sister Nivedita in her Introduction to the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda: 'Life itself is religion'."

But a man is always active in one form or the other… Something pulls us out into action. That is our own nature within. That nature finds expression in making us do this work, that work, something or the other. So, this is the first lesson we must understand.

Efficiency and energy comes from emotion, not from intellectual knowledge, which can only direct that emotional energy. But the real impulse comes from emotion. It makes you work at your best.

The perfect man is the truly free man.

It is a tragedy the more advanced as a state the more insecure and unhappy are its people.
You have money. Have it and enjoy it, but remember there are others who must also be made to share in that joy.

It is the search for reality which is beyond the determinism of cause and effect, beyond the relativity of virtue and vice and of time and space. In that alone is true life, freedom, and happiness. The finite, the relative, and the conditioned cannot be the limit of man’s search for knowledge and happiness.

A young person must be asked to work hard. Go into the world; achieve something. . .Let the person go out, work, satisfy his or her desires, make achievements the goal of one's life at that stage. The same person, after achievement is over, must begin to think of other higher things. Then he or she slowly withdraws one's mind from action and achievement. There is something I have missed, my own true nature. Let me try to realize this truth.

How can we find joy in work? By working for oneself? No; it is not possible to find that continuous joy in work through selfish motivations. Frustration and ennui are the end of all selfish motivations. Frustrations and nervous breakdowns are the end of a self-centered life.

It is from the human mind itself that both good and evil come. So, a little attention as to how the mind is behaving, in the context of work, is absolutely essential for all people today. Otherwise, collective life will become difficult, group life will become difficult; life between husband and wife will become difficult, because both, or either of them, has not looked into the mind at all; they have been looking outside all the time.

The Upanishads do not disclose any details as to the personal histories of their thinkers; but they provide us with a glimpse of the working of their minds; we can study in this literature the graceful conflict of thought with thought, the emergence of newer and newer thought more satisfactory to reason and more in accord with experience at deeper levels, and the rejection of the less adequate ones without a tear.

The Upanishads reveal an age characterized by a remarkable ferment, intellectual
and spiritual. It is one of those rare ages in human history which have registered distinct breakthroughs in man’s quest for truth and meaning and which have held far reaching consequences for all subsequent ages.

The mental climate of the Upanishads is saturated with a passion for truth and a similar passion for human happiness and welfare. Their thinkers were undisturbed by the thought of there being a public to please or critics to appease, as Max Müller puts it.

They considered no sacrifice too heavy in their quest for truth, including not only earthly pleasures and heavenly delights, but also what is most difficult to achieve and what every truth seeker is called upon to achieve, namely, the sacrificing of pet opinions and pleasing prejudices.

The profound message of Advaita, the great contribution of the Upanishads: ‘Ekam-evādvitīya brahma; Brahman is one only, and not two.’ The whole universe—with all beings within it—is an expression of that one Brahman. That means: we are all one. Separatist ideas are due to ignorance. That is the great teaching of the Upanishads. The profoundest ideas that were ever promulgated by the human mind—they are the Upanishads.

All the activities going on in the world are witnessed by the pure Consciousness. That Consciousness is present in the bodies of all beings, from Brahma to the ant below.

Do not be frightened by the words, spiritual and spirituality. It is a significant term dealing with the higher levels of human growth, beyond man's genetic limitation.

At birth, we are all genetically limited; but nature has given us the organic capacity to go beyond this genetic limitation. We have the capacity to go beyond ourselves and to love others, to serve others, and to dig our affections in others and allow others to dig their affections in us. This is a unique human capacity, revealing, in human nature, a higher dimension of nature than what is revealed in external physical nature.

It is the expression of this higher dimension that manifests itself as the spiritual growth of the child in response to other individuals in society. We call it moral, ethical, and humanistic values. These values are the by-products of that spiritual growth of man. That is why it is called ‘Vikasita Vyaktitva.’

When our children are able to live in peace with others, work with others, love and serve others, then they have become persons, ‘Vikasita Vyaktis’; till then, they are only individuals, ‘vyaktis’.

This type of spiritual growth from individuality to personality, from vyaktitva to vikasita vyaktitva, must first come to all our teachers—they must strive for it and achieve it, and then help their students also to achieve it. This is the great basic step that we have to take in our education.

It is not enough to say, ‘I believe’. Any fool can say that. But a man who says, ‘I believe such and such to be true’ and carries his life to that truth level has transformed his belief into truth. He possesses Shraddha. It is a capacity to convert belief into truth and conviction.

What does Shraddha mean in physical sciences? It means a faith in the meaningfulness of the universe. A scientist cannot investigate into the mysteries of nature unless he has a prior feeling that nature is worth investigating, that there is some meaning behind all the confusing mass of data before him.

Without that prior faith, he cannot get even the impulse to undertake his scientific inquiry.

That is why in another place Shankara defines Shraddha as astikya buddhih, which, precisely translated, will mean ‘the positive-attitude-oriented reason’. There is tremendous dynamism in such an attitude, which transforms itself into truth and conviction through direct experience.

Belief with most people is simply another name for mental laziness.

Faith in India did not mean a cozy belief in which to find comfort, but a torch by which to set the soul on fire with a longing for spiritual realization.

In the absence of this longing and struggle, the belief of the faithful does not differ from the unbelief of the faithless.

Religious earnestness for many means, especially when organized under a militant church or theocratic state, either the pursuit of aggressive proselytism or jihads and crusades.

They cannot understand the meaning of that earnestness that proceeds from an inner spiritual hunger. No dogma or creed or frenzied acts can satisfy this hunger of a religious heart. Its only bread is spiritual realization.

Religion is a matter of inner experience, a getting in touch with spiritual facts of the supersensory levels of experience, not a matter of belief, dogma or conformity.

No talking is necessary. When talking is necessary, we are at the grossest level. That is why in a civilization where talking keeps up a human relationship, when you cease to talk, friendship breaks. Because we are at a very gross level of human communication.

At a higher level not much talking is necessary. The heart knows the heart. The mind of the mother connects with the baby, not through talk but through mere feeling communication. Very subtle it is. This capacity we are losing in civilization.

That is why chattering is necessary in civilization to keep up human relationship.

Constant chattering. Husband and wife must chatter all the time. Otherwise it will be cruelty, they will say. If you are not talking, you are being cruel to me; finished. Your grossest human relationship is called vaikhari, but you are still on it because you don’t know there is a higher one. There is a mental communication.

The very fact that you are seeking knowledge shows that you are ignorant. Those who do not seek knowledge, they are always wise. Ignorance is wise.

We have forgotten our true nature and therefore, we are in search of it now. In ignorance all these goes on.

Neither creation nor destruction is in itself real from the standpoint of the Advaitin.

To the dreamer, dream is a beginningless experience. When you wake up, then you realise that you were dreaming. Within ignorance there is no beginning. It is called beginningless ignorance, anadi maya. Gaudapada has used that word in the first book.

When the jiva, asleep from the beginning of time, wakes up from that sleep, then he realizes that he was never like this. Not that at this time I am free, even then you were free, but you were asleep at that time. It is beginningless ignorance, but endful.

Ignorance can be beginningless but you can put an end to it, as soon as knowledge comes. A room is dark from the beginning of time. Light a matchstick and immediately the darkness ends. Knowledge destroys darkness immediately.

If you wish to read more teachings of Swami Ranganathananda you can find a collection of his quotes here.