“The Guru is the means of realisation (V 323.7)
The Guru must be worshipped as God. He is God, he is nothing less than that. (IV. 224.4)
He who can understand and speak to you of your past and future can be recognised as your Guru. (RS V 323.5)
The real Guru is he who leads you beyond this Mâyâ of endless birth and death… (VI 471.4)
The real Guru is he… who graciously destroys all the griefs and maladies of the soul (VI 471-472)
A real Guru is one who is born from time to time as a repository of spiritual force which he transmits to future generations.. (V 257.3)
…the Guru is the sine qua non of progress in the path of spirituality. (III 4522)
He (the Guru) is the channel through which the spiritual current flows to us, the link which joins us to the whole spiritual world. (VII 86.2)
Why, he (the Guru) is God Himself, nothing less than that! (VII 116.2)
…all Gurus are one and are fragments and radiations of God, the Universal Guru. (VI 234.2).”
“In studying the fundamental ideas about religion that Sri Ramakrishna has left for us, the first that we come across is that God can be seen and talked to, just as we talk to each other. We have to believe this.
Secondly, if we are to reach God, we must establish a relationship with Him, be it that of father or of friend or some other relationship that can root deeply in our nature. And we must work at that relationship with single-minded devotion.
There are, of course, other more abstract concepts of the Godhead, but most people need form and symbol and cannot follow the impersonal path to its logical conclusion.
Sincerity and wholehearted devotion to God are the determining factors in sadhana and in life.
The greatest obstacle in our way to God is the ego. As long as there is the ‘I’, God is far from us. The ‘I’ must be completely merged in the ‘Thou’. We must resign ourselves completely at the feet of the Lord; then only can we realize the Truth.
Believe in any form, in any personality, and establish any type of kinship with him, but surrender completely to him, make him the only thought of your life and actions, become wholly absorbed in Him, and then only will you be blessed.”
– Excerpt from Glimpses of A Great Soul
“…we hear of toleration in religion and all that, but very little of it is there yet in the world; take my experience for that. Ninety-nine per cent do not even think of it.
There is tremendous religious persecution yet in every country in which I have been, and the same old objections are raised against learning anything new. The little toleration that is in the world, the little sympathy that is yet in the world for religious thought, is practically here in the land of the Aryan, and nowhere else. It is here that Indians build temples for Mohammedans and Christians; nowhere else. If you go to other countries and ask Mohammedans or people of other religions to build a temple for you, see how they will help. They will instead try to break down your temple and you too if they can.
The one great lesson, therefore, that the world wants most, that the world has yet to learn from India, is the idea not only of toleration, but of sympathy. Well has it been said in the Mahimnah-stotra: “As the different rivers, taking their start from different mountains, running straight or crooked, at last come unto the ocean, so, O Shiva, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead unto Thee.” Though they may take various roads, all are on the ways. Some may run a little crooked, others may run straight, but at last they will all come unto the Lord, the One.”
(CW Vol3. Lectures from Colombo to Almora)
“When I fight, I fight with girded loins — that much I fully understand; and I also understand that man, that hero, that god, who says, “Don’t care, be fearless. O brave one, here I am by your side!” To such a man-god I offer a million salutations. Their presence purifies the world, they are the saviours of the world. And the others who always wail, “Oh, don’t go forward, there is this danger, there is that danger” — those dyspeptics — they always tremble with fear. But through the grace of the Divine Mother my mind is so strong that even the most terrible dyspepsia shall not make me a coward.
To cowards what advice shall I offer? — nothing whatsoever have I to say. But this I desire, that I should find shelter at the feet of those brave souls who dared to do great deeds even though they failed to succeed, of those heroes who never quailed nor shirked, of those fighters who never disobeyed orders through fear or pride. I am the child of the Divine Mother, the source of all power and strength. To me, cringing, fawning, whining, degrading inertia and hell are one and the same thing. O Mother of the Universe, O my Gurudeva, who would constantly say, “This is a hero!” — I pray that I may not have to die a coward. (CW Vol8. CXI)”
– Excerpt from The Complete works of Swami Vivekananda
“Inactivity should be avoided by all means. Activity always means resistance.
Resist all evils, mental and physical; and when you have succeeded in resisting, then will calmness come. It is very easy to say, “Hate nobody, resist not evil,” but we know what that kind of thing generally means in practice. When the eyes of society are turned towards us, we may make a show of non-resistance, but in our hearts it is canker all the time. We feel the utter want of the calm of non-resistance; we feel that it would be better for us to resist.
If you desire wealth, and know at the same time that the whole world regards him who aims at wealth as a very wicked man, you, perhaps, will not dare to plunge into the struggle for wealth, yet your mind will be running day and night after money. This is hypocrisy and will serve no purpose.
Plunge into the world, and then, after a time, when you have suffered and enjoyed all that is in it, will renunciation come; then will calmness come. So fulfil your desire for power and everything else, and after you have fulfilled the desire, will come the time when you will know that they are all very little things; but until you have fulfilled this desire, until you have passed through that activity, it is impossible for you to come to the state of calmness, serenity, and self-surrender.
These ideas of serenity and renunciation have been preached for thousands of years; everybody has heard of them from childhood, and yet we see very few in the world who have really reached that stage. I do not know if I have seen twenty persons in my life who are really calm and non-resisting, and I have travelled over half the world. (CW Vol1, Ch2)”
– Excerpt from The Call to the Nation
“This misery that I am suffering is of my own doing, and that very thing proves that it will have to be undone by me alone.” That which I created, I can demolish; that which is created by some one else I shall never be able to destroy.
Therefore, stand up, be bold, be strong. Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders, and know that you are the creator of your own destiny. All the strength and succour you want is within yourselves. (II.225)
– Excerpt from The Call to the Nation
“Let us calmly and in a manly fashion go to work, instead of dissipating our energy in unnecessary frettings and fumings.
I, for one, thoroughly believe that no power in the universe can withhold from anyone anything he really deserves. The past was great no doubt, but I sincerely believe that the future will be more glorious still.. (IV.366)”
– Serve Man as God (Call to the Nation)
“Our duty to others means helping others; doing good to the world. Why should we do good to the world? Apparently to help the world, but really to help ourselves. …Do not stand on a high pedestal and take five cents in your hand and say, “Here, my poor man,” but be grateful that the poor man is there, so that by making a gift to him you are able to help yourself. It is not the receiver that is blessed, but it is the giver. Be thankful that you are allowed to exercise your power of benevolence and mercy in the world, and thus become pure and perfect. (1.75.76)
Great work requires great and persistent effort for a long time. Neither need we trouble ourselves if a few fail. It is in the nature of things that many should fall, that troubles should come, that tremendous difficulties should arise, that selfishness and all the other devils in the human heart should struggle hard when they are about to be driven out by the fire of spirituality. (I.82)
The watchword of all well-being, of all moral good is not “I” but “thou”. Who cares whether there is a heaven or a hell, who cares if there is a soul or not, who cares if there is an unchangeable or not? Here is the world, and it is full of misery. Go out into it as Buddha did, and struggle to lessen it or die in the attempt. Forget yourselves; this is the first lesson to be learnt, whether you are a theist or an atheist, whether you are an agnostic or a Vedantist, a Christian or a Mohammedan. The one lesson obvious to all is the destruction of the little self and the building up of the Real Self. (II.53)
This is the gist of all worship — to be pure and to do good to others. He who sees Shiva in the poor, in the weak, and in the diseased, really worships Shiva; and if he sees Shiva only in the image, his worship is but preliminary. (III.141.42)“
“A devotee thinks of God as he sees Him. In reality there is no confusion about God. God explains all this to the devotee if the devotee only realizes Him somehow. You haven’t set your foot in that direction. How can you expect to know all about God?
“Listen to a story. Once a man entered a wood and saw a small animal on a tree. He came back and told another man that he had seen a creature of a beautiful red colour on a certain tree. The second man replied: ‘When I went into the wood, I also saw that animal. But why do you call it red? It is green.’ Another man who was present contradicted them both and insisted that it was yellow. Presently others arrived and contended that it was grey, violet, blue, and so forth and so on. At last they started quarrelling among themselves. To settle the dispute they all went to the tree. They saw a man sitting under it. On being asked, he replied: ‘Yes, I live under this tree and I know the animal very well. All your descriptions are true. Sometimes it appears red, sometimes yellow, and at other times blue, violet, grey, and so forth. It is a chameleon. And sometimes it has no colour at all. Now it has a colour, and now it has none.’
“In like manner, one who constantly thinks of God can know His real nature; he alone knows that God reveals Himself to seekers in various forms and aspects. God has attributes; then again He has none. Only the man who lives under the tree knows that the chameleon can appear in various colours, and he knows, further, that the animal at times has no colour at all. It is the others who suffer from the agony of futile argument.”
– Ch 26, Festival at Aadhar’s House
Once Rāma was pleased with the prayer of Nārada and told him to ask for a boon. Nārada prayed for pure love and said further, ‘O Rāma, please grant that I may not be deluded by Thy world-bewitching māyā.’ Rāma said: ‘That is all right. But ask for something else.’ Nārada replied: ‘I don’t want anything else. I pray only for pure love.’
How can a devotee attain such love? First, the company of holy men. That awakens śraddhā, faith in God. Then comes nishtha, single-minded devotion to the Ideal. In that stage the devotee does not like to hear anything but talk about God. He performs only those acts that please God. After nishtha comes bhakti, devotion to God; then comes bhava. Next mahabhava, then prema, and last of all the attainment of God Himself. Only for Isvarakotis, such as the Incarnations, is it possible to have mahabhava or prema.
The knowledge of a worldly person, the knowledge of a devotee, and the Knowledge of an Incarnation are by no means of the same degree. The knowledge of a worldly person is like the light of an oil lamp, which shows only the inside of a room. Through such knowledge he eats and drinks, attends to household duties, protects his body, brings up his children, and so on.
The knowledge of a devotee is like the light of the moon, which illumines objects both inside and outside a room. But such light does not enable him to see a distant or a very minute object.
The Knowledge of an Incarnation of God is like the light of the sun. Through that light the Incarnation sees everything, inside and outside, big and small.
The mind of a worldly person is, no doubt, like muddy water; but it can be made clear by a purifying agent. Discrimination and renunciation are the purifying agent.
– CW 8: Buddha’s message to the world
The life of Buddha has an especial appeal. All my life I have been very fond of Buddha… I have more veneration for that character than for any other — that boldness, that fearlessness, and that tremendous love!
He was born for the good of men. Others may seek God, others may seek truth for themselves; he did not even care to know truth for himself. He sought truth because people were in misery. How to help them, that was his only concern. Throughout his life he never had a thought for himself. How can we ignorant, selfish, narrow-minded human beings ever understand the greatness of this man?
– Swami Saradananda in “Glimpses of a Great Soul”
If you carry on your spiritual practices with implicit faith in the Lord – who is your own – you will understand everything in due time. It will gradually be revealed to you how you can cultivate absolute reliance on God while performing your duties. If you are sincere and have the attitude that it is His work that you are doing, He will show you the way.
Remember two things: (1) An impure person can never be a good worker. (2) A true worker works with skill and efficiency but will at the same time maintian inner peace and tranquility. However arduous his task may be, he will not grumble. He will avoid all misunderstanding and quarrels and be tolerant of other people’s viewpoints. (3) In the midst of all kinds of work you must allot some time for japa and meditation for they are the means to self-knowledge. Jesus Christ said to his disciples: ‘Ye are the salt of the earth.’ It seems to me japa and medittion are, as it were, the salt of work.
– Extract from the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (Chapter 6: The Master with the Brahmo Devotees)
God is realized by following the path of truth. One should always chant His name. Even while one is performing one’s duties, the mind should be left with God. Suppose I have a carbuncle on my back. I perform my duties, but the mind is drawn to the carbuncle.
It is good to repeat the name of Rama. ‘The same Rama who was the son of King Dasaratha has created this world. Again, as Spirit, He pervades all beings. He is very near us; He is both within and without.”
– Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Chapter 23
“The aim of life is the attainment of God. Work is only a preliminary step; it can never be the end. Even unselfish work is only a means; it is not the end.
“Sambhu Mallick once said to me, ‘Please bless me, sir, that I may spend all my money for good purposes, such as building hospitals and dispensaries; making roads, and digging wells.’ I said to him: ‘It will be good if you can do these things in a spirit of detachment. But that is very difficult. Whatever you may do, you must always remember that the aim of this life of yours is the attainment of God and not the building of hospitals and dispensaries. Suppose God appeared before you and said to you, “Accept a boon from Me.” Would you then ask Him, “O God, build me some hospitals and dispensaries”? Or would you not rather pray to Him: “O God, may I have pure love at Your Lotus Feet! May I have Your uninterrupted vision!”? Hospitals, dispensaries, and all such things are unreal. God alone is real and all else unreal. Furthermore, after realizing God one feels that He alone is the Doer and we are but His instruments. Then why should we forget Him and destroy ourselves by being involved in too many activities? After realizing Him, one may, through His grace, become His instrument in building many hospitals and dispensaries.’
“Therefore I say again that work is only the first step. It can never be the goal of life. Devote yourself to spiritual practice and go forward. Through practice you will advance more and more in the path of God. At last you will come to know that God alone is real and all else is illusory, and that the goal of life is the attainment of God.
– Complete Works; Vol2; 294-295
“Thou art That”. This is the essence of Vedanta; after all its ramifications and intellectual gymnastics, you know the human soul to be pure and omniscient, you see that such superstitions as birth and death would be entire nonsense when spoken of in connection with the soul.
The soul was never born and will never die, and all these ideas that we are going to die and are afraid to die are mere superstitions. And all such ideas as that we can do this or cannot do that are superstitions. We can do everything. The Vedanta teaches men to have faith in themselves first.
As certain religions of the world say that a man who does not believe in a Personal God outside of himself is an atheist, so the Vedanta says, a man who does not believe in himself is an atheist. Not believing in the glory of our own soul is what the Vedanta calls atheism. To many this is, no doubt, a terrible idea; and most of us think that this ideal can never be reached; but the Vedanta insists that it can be realised by every one.
There is neither man nor woman or child, nor difference of race or sex, nor anything that stands as a bar to the realisation of the ideal, because Vedanta shows that it is realised already, it is already there.
The Mantra purifies the body. Man becomes pure by repeating the Mantra of God. … It is said, ‘The human teacher utters the Mantra into the ear; but God breathes the spirit into the soul.
A devotee took a tiny banyan seed and said to Mother, “Look, Mother, it is tinier even than the tiniest seed we know. From this will spring a giant tree! How strange!” “Indeed, it will,” Mother replied. “See what a tiny seed is the Name of God. From it in time come divine moods, devotion, love, and spiritual consummation.
Pray to the Lord to make your heart as pure as the star. As a result of sincere and regular japa and meditation you will find that the Lord will speak to you. All your desires will be fulfilled and you will experience pure bliss.
No doubt, you must do your duties. It keeps one’s mind in good condition. But it is also very necessary to practice japa, meditation and prayer. One must practice these disciplines at least in the morning and the evening. Such practice is like the rudder of a boat.
- by Swami Ranganathananda
Eternal Values for a Changing Society, Vol III– Guru Nanank & Spiritual Values; pg.265I
n teachers like Guru Nanak, we find the rare blending of two character-traits which generally exclude each other, namely, strength and gentleness, courage and meekness. Sri Krishna describes this unqiue blending as one of the characteristics of a true devotee of God (GitaXII.15).
Yasmat no dvijat loko, lokat no’dvijate ca yah –
By whom the world is not frightened, and whom the world also does not frighten.
We more often see strength and fearlessness co-existing with violence and ferocity, aggressiveness and exploitation, while we see gentleness and meekness co-existing with fear and weakness, helplessness and dependence. Guru Nanak represents the highest level of psycho-social evolution and spiritual growth, revealing a personality at once strong and gentle, fearless and compassionate, and yielding the character-fruits of universal love and service. When a personality blends in itself strength and gentleness, it becomes a source of fearlessness to others as well.