I consider myself a spiritual person more than a religious person. But spiritualism is a journey, not a destination. We are all spiritual in nature-but at different stages of the journey. This book review is my attempt at sharing some nuggets that resonated with me and I feel inspired enough to share with the world. Before we get into those, here’s a little bit about the author, the organization he belongs to, and his teacher who inspired him to take up this journey.
About Swami Vivekananda: (courtesy: wikipedia)
Swami Vivekananda born Narendra Nath Datta was an Indian Hindu monk and chief disciple of the 19th-century saint Ramakrishna. He was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world and is credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion during the late 19th century.He is perhaps best known for his inspiring speech which began, “Sisters and brothers of America …,” in which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893.
About Vedanta Society: (courtesy: vedanta.org)
Vedanta is one of the world’s most ancient religious philosophies and one of its broadest. Based on the Vedas, the sacred scriptures of India, Vedanta affirms the oneness of existence, the divinity of the soul, and the harmony of religions. Vedanta is the philosophical foundation of Hinduism; but while Hinduism includes aspects of Indian culture, Vedanta is universal in its application and is equally relevant to all countries, all cultures, and all religious backgrounds.
There are numerous Vedanta Societies established all around North America and in other parts of the world. They come under the spiritual leadership of the Ramakrishna Order
of India; Vedanta societies are the Western branches of the Ramakrishna Order.
About Sri Ramakrishna (courtesy: http://www.ramakrishna.org/rmk.htm)
He was born in 1836 and passed away in 1886. His whole life was literally an uninterrupted contemplation of God. He is a figure of recent history and loving legends and doubtful myths has not yet obscured his life and teachings. The greatest contribution of Sri Ramakrishna to the modern world is his message of the harmony of religions. Thus he declared, “As many faiths, so many paths.” Shortly before his death, Ramakrishna encouraged his young disciples to formally renounce the world. He entrusted the care of these young men to his foremost disciple, Swami Vivekananda, who later, in 1897, founded the Ramakrishna Order.
1. The Absolute reflecting through the universe is what we call Nature.
2. The Perfect never becomes imperfect. It is in the darkness but not affected by the darkness.
3. We must find that we are beyond both evil and good. We must study their adjustment and see that they are both necessary.
4. Good is near Truth, but it is not yet Truth. After learning not to be disturbed by evil, we have to learn not to be made happy by good.
5. Evil is the iron chain, good is the gold one: both are chains.
6. Devotion to one’s ideal is the only method for the beginner. Churches, doctrines, forms are the hedges to protect the tender plant, but they must later be broken down so that the plant may become a tree.
7. When all thoughts, all deeds, and all words are given up unto one’s God, then love has begun.
8. This is the highest form of love because therein is no desire for reciprocity, which exists in all human love.
9. We must work on our own problems, the prophets merely show us how to work.
10. Love is beyond time and space, it is absolute.
11. After every happiness comes misery; they may be far apart or near. What we want is neither happiness nor misery. They both make us forget our true nature. These are states and states must change. The nature of the soul is bliss, peace, unchanging.
12. All the joy there is in the true world is a mere reflection of the true bliss.
13. There are three qualities Tamas, Rajas, and Sattvika in everyone. Different ones predominate at different times. Tamas are the ones who depend upon enjoyment. Rajas, talk always about I. They do good work sometimes and may become spiritual. Sattvikas, the introspective are those who live only in the Self.
14. When this world goes, good and evil go. But when we transcend this world, we get rid of both good and evil and have bliss.
15. What we want is freedom, not life; nor pleasure, nor good.
16. When we recognize a God, it is really only the Self, from which we have separated ourselves and worship as outside of us.
17. Be mad with joy even at evil, see the world as a picture and then enjoy its beauty.
18. Words are secondary. Thoughts live, they travel far.
19. The more we go away, the more God comes in.
20. All the means we take to reach God are true. It is only like trying to find the pole star by locating it through the stars that are around it. The various religions of the world are here the various stars surrounding the one pole star.
21. The field of virtue (the battlefield) is this world; the five brothers (representing righteousness) fight the hundred other brothers (all that we love and have to contend against); the most heroic brother, Arjuna (the awakened soul), is the general. We have to fight all sense delights, the things to which we are most attached, to kill them. We have to stand alone; we are Brahman, the other ideas must be merged into this one.
22. Do not say ‘You are bad’; say only ‘You are good, but be better.’
23. Freedom is to lose all illusions.
24. Maya is the energy of the universe, The universe is ours to enjoy, but want nothing. Want makes us beggars.
25. It is easy to strike a blow, but tremendously hard to stay the hand still and say: ‘I take refuge in thee’, and then wait for God to act.
26. All poetry, painting, and music is feeling expressed through words, through color, and through sound.
27. There is only one Power, whether manifesting as evil or good. God and the devil are the same river with the water flowing in opposite directions.
28. The Vedas (Hindu scriptures) cannot show you Brahman, you are That already. They can only help to take away the veil that hides the truth from our eyes.
29. Fearlessness is not possible as long as we have even God above us. We must realize we have God in us and are It.
30. The happiest moments we ever know are when we truly forget ourselves. Work of your own free will, not from a sake of duty.
31. The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you. Depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help you are free.
32. A helpful analogy- the potter is the primal cause, the clay the material cause, and the wheel is the instrumental cause; but the Atman (soul) is all three.
33. Religion takes of obstacles and helps you see your Self. Sickness is the first great obstacle,a healthy body is the best instrument. Melancholy is an almost insuperable barrier. Once we know our Selves (Brahman), never again can we be melancholy. Doubt, not having perseverance, mistaken identities are other obstacles to clear.
34. Meditation is on a series of objects. Concentration is on one object.
35. We only deserve/get things when they have ceased to bind us. When the bondage ceases, really and truly all things come to us.
36. Doing work is not religion, but work done right leads to freedom.
37. Learn not the truth of Self save from one who has realized it.
38. You are the greatest book that ever was or will be, the infinite repository of all that is. Until the inner teacher opens, all outside teaching is in vain.
39. The will can be made stronger in a million ways. Every way is a yoga. The systemized yoga accomplishes this much more efficiently
40. Get rid of the defects within yourself and you will not be able to see any without.
41. There are three great gifts we can have- the human body, the human mind and the help of a noble soul in the form of a teacher. When you have these three, you are sure to obtain freedom.
42. Put God behind every action taken. Make this a habit.
43. Bow down to nothing but your own higher Self.
44. The higher the moral nature, the stronger the perception and the moral will.
45. The will, the consciousness, the senses, the desires, the passions; all these combined make what we call the soul.
46. There is the changeable (mortal), the eternally changeable (nature), the unchangeable (Atman).
47. Freedom and highest love must go together.
48. If you do good at all, you do it to yourself. Feel that the receiver is the higher one.
49. There is a vast difference between saying ‘food food’ and eating it. Similarly saying ‘God God’ will not lead to realization. We have to strive and practice.
50. Break the identification of yourself with the current. Know that you are free.
51. Concentration and meditation and unselfish work are the means of getting away from the net of maya.
52. Be free. Death alone can never free us. Freedom must be attained by our own efforts during life.
53. The idea of help, abstracted is what we call God.
54. Think of God all the time and that will purify you.
55. Ohm Tat Sat.-God is Truth.
It took me many months to read this book and another week to write this piece. I hope if you do come across it and wish to read it, you benefit from any one of these inspired sayings.