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We Need To Realize Our Inherent Divinity

From The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, (Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama, 2013), 1.336–37. - We Need To Realize Our Inherent Divinity 

Many years ago, I visited a great sage, a very holy man. We talked of our revealed book, the Vedas… and of revealed books in general. At the close of our talk, this good man asked me to go to the table and take up a book; it was a book which, among other things, contained a forecast of the rainfall during the year. The sage said, ‘Read that.’ And I read out the quantity of rain that was to fall. He said, ‘Now take the book and squeeze it.’ I did so and he said, ‘Why, my boy, not a drop of water comes out. Until the water comes out, it is all book, book. So until your religion makes you realize God, it is useless. He who only studies book for religion reminds one of the fable of the ass which carried a heavy load of sugar on its back, but did not know the sweetness of it.’

Shall we advise men to kneel down and cry, ‘O miserable sinners that we are!’ No, rather let us remind them of their divine nature. I will tell you a story.

A lioness in search of prey came upon a flock of sheep, and as she jumped at one of them, she gave birth to a cub and died on the spot. The young lion was brought up in the flock, ate grass, and bleated like a sheep, and it never knew that it was a lion. One day a lion came across the flock and was astonished to see in it a huge lion eating grass and bleating like a sheep. At his sight the flock fled and the lion-sheep with them.

But the lion watched his opportunity and one day found the lion-sheep asleep. He woke him up and said, ‘You are a lion.’ The other said, ‘No,’ and began to bleat like a sheep. But the stranger lion took him to a lake and asked him to look in the water at his own image and see if it did not resemble him, the stranger lion. He looked and acknowledged that it did. Then the stranger lion began to roar and asked him to do the same. The lion sheep tried his voice and was soon roaring as grandly as the other. And he was a sheep no longer.

My friends, I would like to tell you all that you are mighty as lions. If the room is dark, do you go about beating your chest and crying, ‘It is dark, dark, dark!’ No, the only way to get the light is to strike a light, and the darkness goes. The only way to realize the light above you is to strike the spiritual light within you, and the darkness of sin and impurity will flee away. Think of your higher self, not of your lower.”

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