Monday, December 22, 2008

Swami Vivekananda - The saint who shook the world! I.

Ever since I first came to know about him I was at first instantly attracted to his persona, the magnetism which is evident even in his photographs. And when I first got a taste of messages and his writings, I knew I was hooked. His every sentence as if by a magical force shakes up the sleeping consciousness and gives it a direction . 
In this series of posts I present a glimpse of the man in some of his soul stirring lectures. The first one is on discipleship.


What does the disciple need in order to receive the truth? The great sages
say that to attain truth takes but the twinkling of an eye — it is just a question
of knowing — the dream breaks. How long does it take? In a second the dream is
gone. When the illusion vanishes, how long does it take? Just the twinkling of
an eye. When I know the truth, nothing happens except that the falsehood
vanishes away: I took the rope for the snake, and now I see it is the rope. It
is only a question of half a second and the whole thing is done. Thou art That.
Thou art the Reality. How long does it take to know this? If we are God and
always have been so, not to know this is most astonishing. To know this is the
only natural thing. It should not take ages to find out what we have always
been and what we now are.  

It is not easy to be a disciple; great preparations are necessary; many
conditions have to be fulfilled. Four principal conditions are laid down by the
The first condition is that the student who wants to know the truth must
give up all desires for gain in this world or in the life to come. 
What do you gain in heaven? You become gods, drink nectar, and get rheumatism.
There is less misery there than on earth, but also less truth. The very rich
can understand truth much less than the poorer people. "It is easier for a
camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the
kingdom of God." The rich man has no time to think of anything beyond his
wealth and power, his comforts and indulgences. The rich rarely become
Going beyond these things, the disciple should say, "I do not care for
anything in this life nor for all the heavens that have ever existed — I do not
care to go to any of them. I do not want the sense — life in any form — this
identification of myself with the body — as I feel now, 'I am this body-this
huge mass of flesh.' This is what I feel I am. I refuse to believe that."

The second condition is that the disciple must be able to control the
internal and the external senses and must be established in several other
spiritual virtues. 
The external senses are the visible organs situated in different parts of the
body; the internal senses are intangible. We have the external eyes, ears,
nose, and so on; and we have the corresponding internal senses. We are
continually at the beck and call of both these groups of senses. Corresponding
to the senses are sense-objects. If any sense-objects are near by, the senses
compel us to perceive them; we have no choice or independence. There is the big
nose. A little fragrance is there; I have to smell it. If there were a bad
odour, I would say to myself, "Do not smell it"; but nature says,
"Smell", and I smell it. Just think what we have become! We have
bound ourselves. I have eyes. Anything going on, good or bad, I must see. It is
the same with hearing. If anyone speaks unpleasantly to me, I must hear it. My
sense of hearing compels me to do so, and how miserable I feel! Curse or praise
— man has got to hear. I have seen many deaf people who do not usually hear,
but anything about themselves they always hear!  
Next, the mind must be made to quiet down. It is rushing about. Just as I
sit down to meditate, all the vilest subjects in the world come up. The whole
thing is nauseating. Why should the mind think thoughts I do not want it to
think? I am as it were a slave to the mind. No spiritual knowledge is possible
so long as the mind is restless and out of control. The disciple has to learn
to control the mind. Yes, it is the function of the mind to think. But it must
not think if the disciple does not want it to; it must stop thinking when he
commands it to. To qualify as a disciple, this state of the mind is very
The next qualification is that the disciple must have faith in the Guru
(teacher). In the West the teacher simply gives intellectual knowledge; that is
all. The relationship with the teacher is the greatest in life. My dearest and
nearest relative in life is my Guru; next, my mother; then my father. My first
reverence is to the Guru. If my father says, "Do this", and my Guru
says, "Do not do this", I do not do it. The Guru frees my soul. The
father and mother give me this body; but the Guru gives me rebirth in the soul.

We attend lectures and read books, argue and reason about God and soul,
religion and salvation. These are not spirituality, because spirituality does
not exist in books or theories or in philosophies. It is not in learning or
reasoning, but in actual inner growth. Even parrots can learn things by heart
and repeat them. If you become learned, what of it? Asses can carry whole
libraries. So when real light will come, there will be no more of this learning
from books — no book-learning. The man who cannot write even his own name can
be perfectly religious, and the man with all the libraries of the world in his
head may fail to be. Learning is not a condition of spiritual growth;
scholarship is not a condition. The touch of the Guru, the transmittal of
spiritual energy, will quicken your heart. Then will begin the growth. That is
the real baptism by fire. No more stopping. You go on and go on.


Reggie A Pauly said...

I admire his desire for the positive participation of people in the society that they exist in; that their actions should be evidences of their faith in the supreme being; that there should be respect and tolerance for each other's religion and race.
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