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Wednesday, 07 December 2011 18:45

Renunciation - Timid versus Heroic


Written by Web Admin

Swami Vivekananda had said, 'Every-where I go in India, people come and tell me:
"Swami, I want to renounce; I want to surrender everything to God." I just ask
them: "What have you to renounce? What have you to surrender? Neither a strong
body, nor a trained mind, nor any talents, nor money in the pocket or the bank, nor
a well-developed individuality. A Buddha could renounce, he had a kingdom to
renounce and a fine youthful personality; he had a world of achievement ahead in
his grasp to renounce; but what have you?" '

What a beautiful idea! How inspiring and clear-cut! When I first read it as a boy, I
felt inspired by the very idea of atma-vikasa, self-development, as the true scope of
Vedanta. What a positive strengthening message this is for all people in all parts of
the world! Very often most anaemic people resort to the higher dimensions of
religion, without striving to fulfill this its early phase, and they make the whole of
religion a farce, and human life a timid futility without the heroic element in it.
That will not happen if they first resort to a teaching that they can digest, that will
give them strength, that will slowly prepare them to climb the higher peaks, and
even the highest peak, of religion. For religion, Vivekananda has said, is infinite in
scope; it takes in everyone, just as education takes in everyone from wherever it
finds him or her, and helps him or her to grow.

Source: From book 'Divine Grace', by Swami Ranganathananda, Published in 1980


by: Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.

Published in Practical Spirituality

Tagged under Bhagavad Gita Swami Vivekananda Swami Ranganathananda


Renunciation Divine Grace
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Saturday, 23 July 2011 19:30
Urge Towards Perfection
Written by Web Admin

RELIGION IS THE natural expression of man's being. We can no more get rid of
it than we can do away with our very self. In our heart of hearts there is an
inevitable craving for the eternal, the immutable. Man can never rest contented
with the ephemeral. It can delude him for the time being, but it cannot suppress or
subvert his inherent longing for the Truth. So long as there are changes in the
world, so long as death and decay are the necessary conditions of life, this
instinctive desire for the Real will force itself up time and again and set men on the
quest of religion. Science, philosophy, and art have the same impulse behind them
to discover the Truth. But while science, philosophy, and poetry end in a reasoned
perception, a conceptual knowledge or an aesthetic apprehension of the Reality,
religion leads to its immediate vision.

Through religion alone we come in direct contact with the Reality and feel our
kinship and become one with it. It penetrates all the layers of our being and
manifests itself in the whole range of life. We live the Truth. Man's eternal relation
with the divine and his union with it have been the keywords of all religions. In the
storm and stress of life, these have been man's only hope, solace, and inspiration.
This is why religion has been the strongest cementing force, the highest motive
power, the greatest comforter, and the supreme illuminator of life. In all ages and
all countries man has paid the greatest homage to religion. Saints and seers have
commanded the highest veneration of mankind. The greatest sages were men with
spiritual vision. Religion has proved the greatest cultural force. The best literature,
architecture, music, and poetry have grown out of religious fervour. ...

An urge towards perfection is the motive power behind all human aspirations and
activities. Why should man feel a natural attraction for the Reality that is beyond
phenomena? Why can he not remain satisfied with the finite and the evanescent?
He is not contented even to grasp the Reality through intellect or aesthetic
imagination; he wants to see it face to face, to touch it. Nay, he seeks to be united
with it, to lose himself in it.

This feeling of affinity with the Real, the eternal, the divine, is the first blossoming
of religious consciousness. Man longs for the eternal and the infinite and at the
same time feels his littleness, weakness, and imperfection. This creates a sense of
awea blended feeling of attraction and repulsion. It is not fear; for fear always
repels, never attracts. Like attracts like. The human self is eternally related to the
divine. Divinity is in its nature. The innate purity, eternity, luminosity, and
blissfulness of the self have been acknowledged directly or indirectly by all great
religions of the world. But in no other religion has this fact been given such
prominence as in the Vedanta. . . .

To believe in the absolute purity of the self and to realize its divinity is the religion
that demands acceptance by the scientific mind of today. Human nature is never
against religion, the religious spirit is ingrained in man's very being. What man
gets disgusted with, is the crystallized form, which, however appealing to the
people of one age, fails to attract the men of a different age. . . .

This age requires a religion which does not depend on outer sanctities, but holds
life and spirit as essentially sacred. It should not be confined in certain rites,
objects, ceremonies, doctrines, or dogmas, but find adequate expression in thought
and conduct. The reorientation of life has been the cry of the age. It is mankind's
outlook on life that the world counts today, and not the particular act or belief
however righteous it may be. The external distinction of the secular and the
spiritual is fast fading away. The stress is laid on a higher conception of reality

which should shape the judgment of values and transform human relationships, in
fact the whole range of life.

Spiritual life, rightly understood, is not a life of isolation. It does not consist in
mere disengagement of the spirit from the contagion of the flesh. The self should
realize its aloofness from the physical and the mental being, and at the same time
guide and restrain them according to its needs and ends. The spiritual
consciousness must be infused into the whole system and expressed in concrete
forms. Belief without conduct has no value. Our thoughts and acts are but
expressions of self-consciousness. It is the greatest creative factor of life. We are
what we believe ourselves to be. He who thinks that he is pure by nature, that
wickedness and vice are foreign to him, pure he will be in no time. He who
considers himself weak, his ideas and deeds will bear the impress of that mentality.
Humanity progresses along the line of self-consciousness. Evolution of life means
the evolution of consciousness. The higher the self-consciousness, the greater the
life.

The more a man knows himself to be pure and perfect by nature, the more glorified
will he be. The more he realizes that weakness, ignorance, and unhappiness are
mere accretions on his ideal self, the greater will be the manifestation of divinity in
him. His thoughts, views, aims, and sentiments will be coloured by that
consciousness. . . The world will appear in him in a new light. As he will feel his
inward goodness and greatness, he will perceive the same in others as well. His
attitude to the world will consist of the highest and the noblest feelings of love,
respect, and service. The consciousness "I am He" must develop its necessary
counterpart "Thou art That." The two views will grow side by side. Never was
humanity so intensely realized as an organic whole as in the present age. . . .

With the knowledge of the self, man's vision of life will be clearer, wider, and
deeper. He will feel that his self is at the same time the selves of others. It is one
Self that exists in all. It is one Spirit that pervades the universe and shapes it from

within. The immanence of a formative principle in the world system is more in


conformity with modern thought than an extracosmic God. . . .

Faith in the self and the realization of the self are the religion of today. We do not
mean thereby that that will be the only existing religion in the future, that other
faiths will be obsolete or prove abortive. We only mean this of all others will come
into prominence, as it will be embraced by the advanced section of humanity.
Different faiths are necessary for different minds, which cannot find inspiration
from a single creed. It is the age of synthesis. The faith of the enlightened must
harmonize all other faiths. The monism of the Vedanta which declares the Atman
to be Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute, is the key to all other religions. It can
receive all into its infinite bosom. All faiths, morals, and theories are according to
it more or less perfect presentations of one Truth.

Source: Article by Swami Ashokananda, Living Wisdom, Published by Sri


Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, 1995.

Published in Practical Spirituality


Tagged under Living Wisdom Swami Ashokananda
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Wednesday, 06 July 2011 15:45
Spirituality Pervades All Human life
Written by WebAdmin

We ask: When shall we begin our spiritual life? The Gita and the Upanishads
answer: When you are young, when your body is strong, when your mind is fresh
and vigorous. But the answer of an other-worldly piety will be quite otherwise; it
will tell you: Begin to think of religion when you are old and jaded! Enjoy sensory

pleasures to the full in your youth and manhood and concern yourself with your
other-worldly prospects when the body becomes unfit for them.

The philosophy of Vedanta bridges the gulf between action and contemplation,
work and worship, the secular and the sacred. This was the philosophy that Swami
Vivekananda preached in East and West alike at the end of the last century.
Highlighting its unifying vision, Sister Nivedita {Miss Margaret Noble) writes
('Introduction: Our Master and His Message', Complete Works of Swami
Vivekananda, Vol. 1, p. xv):

'The many and the One are the same Reality, perceived by the mind at different
times and in different attitudes.

It is this which adds its crowning significance to our Master's life, for here he
becomes the meeting-point, not only of East and West, but also of past and future.
If the many and the One be indeed the same Reality, then it is not all modes of
worship alone, but equally all modes of work, all modes of struggle, all modes of
creation, which are paths of realization. No distinction, henceforth, between sacred
and secular. To labour is to pray. To conquer is to renounce. Life is itself religion.
To have and to hold is as stern a trust as to quit and to avoid.

This is the realization which makes Vivekananda the great preacher of karma
(detached action), not as divorced from, but as expressing, jnana (Self-knowledge)
and bkakti (love of God). To him, the workshop, the study, the farmyard, and the
field are as true and fit scenes for the meeting of God with man as the cell of the
monk or the door of the temple. To him, there is no difference between service of
man and worship of God, between manliness and faith, between true righteousness
and spirituality.

Pointing out what such a unifying philosophy means to the emerging world and to
all modern men and women theists or atheists, believers or agnostics I cannot
do anything better than quote a moving passage, almost prophetic in spirit, from a
lecture of Swami Vivekananda on The Necessity of Religion delivered in London
in 1896 (Complete Works, Vol. II, Tenth Edition, pp. 67-68):

'As the human mind broadens, its spiritual steps broaden too. The time has
already come when a man cannot record a thought without its reaching to all
corners of the earth; by merely physical means, we have come into touch with the
whole world; so the future religions of the world have to become as universal, as
wide.

'The religious ideals of the future must embrace all that exists in the world and is
good and great, and, at the same time, have infinite scope for future development.
All that was good in the past must be preserved and the doors kept open for future
addition to the already existing store. Religions must also be inclusive and not look
down with contempt upon one another because their particular ideas of God are
different. In my life I have seen a great many spiritual men, a great many sensible
persons, Who did not believe in God at all, that is to say, not in our sense of the
word. Perhaps they understood God better than we can ever do. The Personal idea
of God or the Impersonal, the Infinite, the Moral Law, or the Ideal Manthese all
have to come under the definition of religion. And when religions have become
thus broadened, their power for good will have increased a hundredfold. Religions
having tremendous power in them have often done more injury to the world than
good, simply on account of their narrowness and limitations.

'...Religious ideas will have to become universal, vast, and infinite, and then alone
we shall have the fullest play of religion, for the power of religion has only just
begun to manifest in the world. It is sometimes said that religions are dying out,
that spiritual ideas are dying out of the world. To me it seems that they have just
begun to grow. The power of religion, broadened and purified, is going to

penetrate every part of human life. So long as religion was in the hands of a chosen
few or of a body of priests, it was in temples, churches, books, dogmas,
ceremonials, forms, and rituals. But when we come to the real, spiritual, universal
concept, then and then alone religion will become real and living; it will come into
our very nature, live in our every movement, penetrate every pore of our society,
and be infinitely more a power for good than it has ever been before.

Spiritual life, according to Vedanta, thus covers the whole range of man's life,
including its so called worldly stage, when man is the sole and supreme agent of
his life with no partner called God.

Source: Divine Grace, by Swami Ranganathananda, Published in 1980 by: Sri


Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.

Published in Practical Spirituality


Tagged under vedanta Swami Ranganathananda Givine Grace Spiritual Life
Be the first to comment! Read more...

Spirituality Pervades All Human life


Written by WebAdmin
We ask: When shall we begin our spiritual life? The Gita and the Upanishads
answer: When you are young, when your body is strong, when your mind is fresh
and vigorous. But the answer of an other-worldly piety will be quite otherwise; it
will tell you: Begin to think of religion when you are old and jaded! Enjoy sensory
pleasures to the full in your youth and manhood and concern yourself with your
other-worldly prospects when the body becomes unfit for them.

The philosophy of Vedanta bridges the gulf between action and contemplation,
work and worship, the secular and the sacred. This was the philosophy that Swami
Vivekananda preached in East and West alike at the end of the last century.
Highlighting its unifying vision, Sister Nivedita {Miss Margaret Noble) writes
('Introduction: Our Master and His Message', Complete Works of Swami
Vivekananda, Vol. 1, p. xv):

'The many and the One are the same Reality, perceived by the mind at different
times and in different attitudes.

It is this which adds its crowning significance to our Master's life, for here he
becomes the meeting-point, not only of East and West, but also of past and future.
If the many and the One be indeed the same Reality, then it is not all modes of
worship alone, but equally all modes of work, all modes of struggle, all modes of
creation, which are paths of realization. No distinction, henceforth, between sacred
and secular. To labour is to pray. To conquer is to renounce. Life is itself religion.
To have and to hold is as stern a trust as to quit and to avoid.

This is the realization which makes Vivekananda the great preacher of karma
(detached action), not as divorced from, but as expressing, jnana (Self-knowledge)

and bkakti (love of God). To him, the workshop, the study, the farmyard, and the
field are as true and fit scenes for the meeting of God with man as the cell of the
monk or the door of the temple. To him, there is no difference between service of
man and worship of God, between manliness and faith, between true righteousness
and spirituality.

Pointing out what such a unifying philosophy means to the emerging world and to
all modern men and women theists or atheists, believers or agnostics I cannot
do anything better than quote a moving passage, almost prophetic in spirit, from a
lecture of Swami Vivekananda on The Necessity of Religion delivered in London
in 1896 (Complete Works, Vol. II, Tenth Edition, pp. 67-68):

'As the human mind broadens, its spiritual steps broaden too. The time has
already come when a man cannot record a thought without its reaching to all
corners of the earth; by merely physical means, we have come into touch with the
whole world; so the future religions of the world have to become as universal, as
wide.

'The religious ideals of the future must embrace all that exists in the world and is
good and great, and, at the same time, have infinite scope for future development.
All that was good in the past must be preserved and the doors kept open for future
addition to the already existing store. Religions must also be inclusive and not look
down with contempt upon one another because their particular ideas of God are
different. In my life I have seen a great many spiritual men, a great many sensible
persons, Who did not believe in God at all, that is to say, not in our sense of the
word. Perhaps they understood God better than we can ever do. The Personal idea
of God or the Impersonal, the Infinite, the Moral Law, or the Ideal Manthese all
have to come under the definition of religion. And when religions have become
thus broadened, their power for good will have increased a hundredfold. Religions
having tremendous power in them have often done more injury to the world than
good, simply on account of their narrowness and limitations.

'...Religious ideas will have to become universal, vast, and infinite, and then alone
we shall have the fullest play of religion, for the power of religion has only just
begun to manifest in the world. It is sometimes said that religions are dying out,
that spiritual ideas are dying out of the world. To me it seems that they have just
begun to grow. The power of religion, broadened and purified, is going to
penetrate every part of human life. So long as religion was in the hands of a chosen
few or of a body of priests, it was in temples, churches, books, dogmas,
ceremonials, forms, and rituals. But when we come to the real, spiritual, universal
concept, then and then alone religion will become real and living; it will come into
our very nature, live in our every movement, penetrate every pore of our society,
and be infinitely more a power for good than it has ever been before.

Spiritual life, according to Vedanta, thus covers the whole range of man's life,
including its so called worldly stage, when man is the sole and supreme agent of
his life with no partner called God.

Source: Divine Grace, by Swami Ranganathananda, Published in 1980 by: Sri


Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.