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Sayings Of Swami Vivekananda

A collection of sayings of Swami Vivekananda. The source is the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda.

Great convictions are the mothers of great deeds.

Religion does not depend on our intellectual assent or dissent. You say there is a soul. Have you seen the soul? How is it we all have souls and do not see them? You have to answer the question and find out the way to see the soul. If not, it is useless to talk of religion. If any religion is true, it must be able to show us the soul and show us God and the truth in ourselves.

It is impossible to formulate any system of education without having a definite conception of the nature, the inner potentialities of the being we want to educate and train.

What we say a man ‘knows’, should, in strict psychological language, be what he ‘discovers’ or ‘unveils’; what a man ‘learns’ is really what he ‘discovers’, by taking the cover off his own soul, which is a mine of infinite knowledge.

Whatever we do, we want a return. We are all traders. We are traders in life, we are traders in virtue, we are traders in religion. We are also traders in love.

If you come to trade, if it is a question of give-and-take, if it is a question of buy-and-sell, abide by the laws of buying and selling. There is a bad time and there is a good time; there is a rise and a fall in prices: always expect the blow to come…We get caught. How?

Not by what we give, but by what we expect. We get misery in return for our love; not from the fact that we want love in return.

There is no misery where there is no want. Desire is the father of all misery. Desires are bound by the laws of success and failure.

The great secret of true success, of true happiness, then, is this: the man who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish man, is the most successful.


We pray for material things. To attain some end we worship God with shop keeping worship. Go on and pray for food and clothes! Worship is good. Something is always better than nothing.

A very rich young man becomes ill, and then to get rid of his disease he begins to give to the poor. That is good, but it is not religion yet, not spiritual religion. It is all on the material plane.

What is material, and what is not? When the world is the end and God the means to attain that end, that is material. When God is the end and the world is only the means to attain that end, spirituality has begun.

Material science can only give worldly prosperity, whilst spiritual science is for eternal life. If there be no eternal life, still the enjoyment of spiritual thoughts as ideas is keener and makes a man happier, whilst the foolery of materialism leads to competition and undue ambition and ultimate death, individual and national.

The infinite library of the universe is in your mind.

Teach yourselves, teach everyone his/her real nature, call upon the sleeping soul and see how it awakes. Power will come, glory will come, goodness will come, purity will come, and everything that is excellent will come, when this sleeping soul is roused to self conscious activity.

Everything is in ourselves, and the external world and the external worship are the forms, the suggestions that call it out. When they become strong, the Lord within awakens. The external teacher is but the suggestion. When faith in the external teacher is strong, then the Teacher of all teachers within speaks; eternal wisdom speaks in the heart of that man. He need not go any more to any books or any men or any higher beings; he need not run after supernatural or preternatural beings for instruction. The Lord Himself becomes his instructor.

Man is master of his destiny.

Have faith in yourselves, and stand up on that faith and be strong that is what we need.

In this external world, which is full of finite things, it is impossible to see and find the infinite. The infinite must be sought in that alone which is infinite, and the only thing infinite about us is that which is within us our own soul.

The majority of us cannot see beyond a few years, just as some animals cannot see beyond a few steps. Just a littler narrow circle – that is our world. We have not the patience to look beyond, and thus become immoral and wicked. This is our weakness, our powerlessness.

We must have these four sorts of ideas. We must have friendship for all; we must be merciful towards those that are in misery; when people are happy, we ought to be happy; and to the wicked we must be indifferent.

If the subject is a good one, we shall feel friendly towards it; if the subject of thought is one that is miserable, we must be merciful towards it. If it is good, we must be glad; if it is evil, we must be indifferent.

These attitudes of the mind towards the different subjects that come before it will make the mind peaceful.

Most of our difficulties in our daily lives come from being unable to hold our minds in this way. For instance, if a man does evil to us, instantly we want to react to evil, and every reaction of evil shows that are not able to hold the Chitta down; it comes out in waves towards the object, and we lose our power.

Every reaction in the form of hatred or evil is so much loss to the mind.

Intellect has been cultured; result, hundreds of sciences have been discovered, and their effect has been that the few have made slaves of the many – that is all the good that has been done.

Artificial wants have been created; and every poor man, whether he has money or not, desires to have those wants satisfied and when he cannot, he struggles and dies in the struggle. This is the result.

Through the intellect is not the way to solve the problem of misery but through the heart.

If all this vast amount of effort had been spent in making men purer, gentler and more forbearing, this world would have a thousand fold more happiness than it has today.

There is a joy which is absolute, which never changes.

In the Absolute, there is neither time, space, nor causation; It is all One.

Attachment comes only where we expect a return.

All misery and pain come from attachment.

As long as we require someone else to make us happy, we are slaves.

Come out into the broad open light of day, come out from the little narrow paths, for how can the infinite soul rest content to live and die in small ruts? Come out into the universe of Light. Everything in the universe is your, stretch out your arms and embrace it with love. If you ever felt you wanted to do that, you have felt God.

Although a man has not studied a single system of philosophy, although he does not believe in any God, and never has believed, although he has not prayed even once in his whole life, if the simple power of good actions has brought him to that state where he is ready to give up his life and all else for others, he has arrived at the same point to which the religious man will come through his prayers and the philosopher through his knowledge; and so you may find that the philosopher, the worker, and the devotee, all meet at one point, that one point being self – abnegation.

Every successful man must have behind him somewhere tremendous integrity, tremendous sincerity, and that is the cause of his success in life. He may not have been perfectly unselfish; yet he was tending towards it.

Inactivity, as we understand it in the sense of passivity, certainly cannot be the goal. Were it so, then the walls around us would be the most intelligent; they are inactive. Clods of earth, stumps of trees, would be the greatest sages in the world; they are inactive. Nor does inactivity become activity when it is combined with passion.

Real activity, which is the goal of Vedanta, is combined with eternal calmness, the calmness which cannot be ruffled, the balance of mind which is never disturbed, whatever happens. And we all know from our experience in life that that is the best attitude for work. . .

The man who gives way to anger, or hatred, or any other passion, cannot work; he only breaks himself to pieces, and does nothing practical. It is the calm, forgiving, equable, well-balanced mind that does the greatest amount of work.

The only true duty is to be unattached and to work as free beings, to give up all work unto God.

Whatever we do, we want a return. We are all traders. We are traders in life, we are traders in virtue, we are traders in religion. We are also traders in love.

If you come to trade, if it is a question of give-and-take, if it is a question of buy-and-sell, abide by the laws of buying and selling. There is a bad time and there is a good time; there is a rise and a fall in prices: always expect the blow to come…We get caught. How?

Not by what we give, but by what we expect. We get misery in return for our love; not from the fact that we want love in return.

The great secret of true success, of true happiness, then, is this: the man who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish man, is the most successful.

My ideal indeed can be put into a few words and that is: to preach unto mankind their divinity and how to make it manifest in every movement of life.

Those who give themselves up to the Lord do more for the world than all the so-called workers. One man who has purified himself thoroughly accomplishes more than a regiment of preachers. Out of purity and silence comes the word of power.

He who has realized the Atman becomes a storehouse of great power. From him as the centre a spiritual force emanates, working within a certain radius; people who come within this circle become inspired with his ideas and are overwhelmed by them. Thus without much religious striving they derive benefit from the spiritual experience of an illumined person. This is called grace.

The elephant passing through the marketplace is always beset by curs (barking dogs), but he cares not. He goes straight on his own way. So it is always, when a great soul appears there will be numbers to bark after him.

Realization of the truth is the essential thing. Whether you bathe in the Ganga for a thousand years or live on vegetable food for a like period, unless it helps towards the manifestation of the Self, know that it is all of no use.

If on the other hand, any one can realize the Atman, without the observance of outward forms, then that very non-observance of forms is the best means.

But even after the realization of Atman, one should observe outward forms to a certain extent for setting an example to the people.

The thing is you must make the mind steadfast on something. If it is steadfast on one object, it attains to concentration, that is, its other modifications die out and there is a uniform flow in one direction.  . . .

The more one has advanced in the realization of the Atman, the less is he dependent on the observances of forms.

Without the “I” there can be no “you” outside. From this some philosophers came to the conclusion that the external world did not exist save in the subject; that the “you” existed only in the “I”.

Others have argued that the “I” can only be known through the “you” and with equal logic. These two views are partial truths, each wrong in part and each right in part. Thought is as much material and as much in nature as body is. Both matter and mind exist in a third, a unity which divides itself into the two. This unity is the Atman, the real Self.

There is being, “x”, which is manifesting itself as both mind and matter. Its movements in the seen are along certain fixed lines called law. As a unity, it is free; as many, it is bound by law. Still, with all this bondage, an idea of freedom is ever present, and this is Nivritti, or the “dragging from attachment”. The materializing forces which through desire lead us to take an active part in worldly
affairs are called Pravritti.

That action is moral which frees us from the bondage of matter and vice versa. This world appears infinite, because everything is in a circle; it returns to whence it came. The circle meets, so there is no rest or peace here in any place. We must get out. Mukti is the one end to be attained.

Swami Vivekananda Sayings On Self Restraint

It is the greatest manifestation of power – this tremendous restraint; self restraint is a manifestation of greater power than all outgoing action.

A carriage with four horses many rush down a hill unrestrained or the coachman may curb the horse. Which is the greater manifestation of power, to let them go or to hold them.

A cannon-ball flying through the air goes a long distance and falls. Another is cut short in its flight by striking against a wall, and the impact generates intense heat.

All outgoing energy following a selfish motive is frittered away; it will not cause power to return to you; but if restrained, it will result in development of power. This self-control will tend to produce a mighty will, a character which makes a Christ or a Buddha.



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