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You Cannot Know God Through Another Man's Knowledge

From The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, (Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama, 2016), 1.456-57.

You may be the greatest philosopher but as long as you have the idea that you are the body, you are no better than the little worm crawling under your foot! No excuse for you!

So much the worse that you know all the philosophies and at the same time think you are the body! Body-gods, that is what you are! Is that religion? Religion is the realisation of spirit as spirit. What are we doing now? Just the opposite, realising Spirit as matter.

Out of the immortal God we manufacture death and matter, and out of dead dull matter we manufacture spirit. Therefore, Krishna says if your method is better and higher, you have no business to say that another man’s method is bad, however wicked you may think it.

Again, we must consider, religion is a matter of growth, not a mass of foolish words.

No man’s seeing God can help you the least bit except that it may excite you and urge you to do the same thing. That is the whole value of the ancients’ examples. Nothing more, just signposts on the way.

No man’s eating can satisfy another man. No man’s seeing God can save another man.

You have to see God yourself. All these people fighting about what God’s nature is —whether He has three heads in one body or five heads in six bodies. What fools we mortals be! Sure, lunatics! In India it has come down as a tradition that if there is a God, He must be your God and my God. To whom does the sun belong!

If there is a God, you ought to be able to see Him. If not, let Him go. Each one thinks his method is best. Very good! But remember, it may be good for you. One food which is very indigestible to one is very digestible to another. Because it is good for you, do not jump to the conclusion that your method is everybody’s method.