Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda - Vol-9
THE MUNDAKA UPANISHAD
(New Discoveries, Vol. 3, pp. 557-68)
[A Jnâna-Yoga class delivered in New York, January 29, 1896, and recorded by Mr. Josiah J. Goodwin]
In the last Jnana-Yoga (Vide Complete Works, II.) lecture, we read one of the Upanishads; we will read another [the Mundaka Upanishad]. Brahmâ was the first of the Devas, the Lord of this cycle and its protector. He gave this knowledge of Brahman, which is the essence of all knowledge, to his son Atharvan. The latter handed it over to his son Angiras, he to his son, Bharadvâja, and so on.
There was a man called Shaunaka, a very rich man, who went to this Angiras as a learner. He approached the teacher and asked him a question. "Tell me, sir, what is that which, being known, everything else is known?"
One [knowledge] is supreme and the other is inferior. The Rig-Veda is the name of one of the different parts of the Vedas. Shikshâ is the name of another part. All different sciences are inferior. What is the supreme science? That is the only science, the supreme science, by which we reach the Unchangeable One. But that cannot be seen, cannot be sensed, cannot be specified. Without colour, without eyes, without ears, without nose, without feet - the Eternal, the Omnipresent, the "Omnipenetrating", the Absolute - He from whom everything comes. The sages see Him, and that is the supreme knowledge.
Just as the Urnanâbhi, a species of spider, creates a thread out of his own body and takes it back, just as the plants grow by their own nature, and all these things are yet separate and apparently different (the heart is, as it were, different from the other parts of a man's body; the plants are different from the earth; the thread is different from the spider - yet they [the earth, the spider and so on] were the causes, and in them these things act), so from this Unchangeable One has come this universe.
First, out of Brahman comes the knowledge of desire and from that comes the manifestation of Creator, or the Golden Womb. From that comes intelligence, from that, matter and all these different worlds.
This is the truth - that for those who want to come to salvation or attain to other enjoyments, various ways are told in the Vedas.
Then it [the Mundaka Upanishad] goes on to say how they will reach these blessings. When they die they will go through the sun's rays to places which are very beautiful, where after death they will go to heaven and live for some time, but from there they will again fall.
Here are two words - Ishtam and Purtam. Sacrificial and other rituals are called Ishtam, and Purtam is making roads, building hospitals and so on. "Fools are they who think that rituals and doing good work are high and that there is nothing higher." They get what they desire and go to heaven, but every enjoyment and every sorrow must have an end. And so that ends, and they fall back and back and become men again, or still lower. Those that give up the world and learn to control the senses live in a forest. Through the rays of the sun they reach that immortality where lives He who is the Absolute.
Thus the sage, examining all desires of good or evil works, throws away all duties and wants to know that, getting which there is no more return, no more change. And to know that, he goes to the Guru, the teacher, with fuel in his hand.
There is a myth in our country about going to the Guru with fuel in one's hands as a sign of helping him in making sacrifices, as he will not take presents.
Who is a teacher? He who knows the secrets of the scriptures, he whose soul has gone unto Brahman, who does not care for works or going to heaven or all these things.
Unto such a disciple, who has controlled his mind, has become peaceful and calm, has given up all this tremendous wave that rises in the mind by desire ("I will do this and that" and all those desires which are at best only disturbing, such as name and fame, which impel mankind to do all sorts of things) - to that disciple in whom all these vexatious desires have been calmed down, the teacher teaches the way which is the science of Brahman, by which he can know that One who never changes and who is the Truth.
Then comes what he [Angiras] taught:
This is the truth, O gentle one, as from a mass of burning flame myriads of sparks come out of the same nature as the fire, even so from this Unchangeable One all these forms, all these ideas, all this creation, come out; and unto Him it [the creation] goes back.
But the Eternal One is everlasting, formless, without beginning, inside and outside of every being - beyond all life, beyond all mind, the Pure One, beyond even the unchangeable, beyond everything.
From Him is born the vital principle. From Him comes the mind. From Him come all organs of the senses. From Him are air, light, water and this earth which holds all beings. These heavens are, as it were, His head; His eyes, the sun and moon. The cardinal points are, as it were, His ears. The eternal knowledge of the Vedas is, as it were, His manifested speech. His life is the air. His heart is this universe; His feet, this world. He is the Eternal Self of every being.
From Him have come the different Vedas. From Him have come the gods of the Sâdhyas. The latter are superior men, much higher than ordinary men and very much like the gods.
From Him are all men. From Him are all animals. From Him is all life; from Him, all the forces in the mind; from Him all truth, all chastity.
The seven organs are all from Him. The seven objects of perception are from him; the seven actions of perception are from Him.
From Him are the seven worlds in which the life currents flow. From Him are all these seas and oceans. From Him are all rivers that roll into the sea; from Him are all plants and all liquids.
He is the inside. He is the inner Soul of every being. This great Purusha, this great One - He is this universe, He is the work, He is the sacrifice. He is Brahman, and He is the trinity. He who knows Him frees his own soul from the bond of ignorance and becomes free.
He is the bright one. He is inside every human soul. From Him are all name and form; all the animals and men are from Him. He is the one Supreme. He who knows Him becomes free.
How to know Him? Take this bow, which is the Upanishad, the knowledge of the Vedanta; place upon that bow the sharpened rod [arrow] of worship; stretch that bow by what? - by making the mind of the same form as He, by knowing that you are He. Thus strike at it; strike at that Brahman with this rod.
This One is the bow. This human mind is the rod [arrow]. Brahman is the object which we want to hit. This object is to be hit by concentrating the mind. And just when the rod has hit [its mark], the rod penetrates into the object and becomes one with it - a unity. Even so, this soul, the rod, is to be thrown upon the object so that it will become one with It - in Whom are the heavens, this earth and the skies, in Whom are the mind and all that lives.
In the Upanishads there are certain passages which are called the great words, which are always quoted and referred to.
In Him, that One - in Him alone, the Atman - exist all other worlds. What is the use of all other talk? Know Him alone. This is the bridge over this life to reach universality.
He [Angiras] goes on to show a practical way. So far it is very figurative.
Just as all the spokes of a wheel meet at the axle, even so in this body is that place from which all the arteries flow and at which they all meet. There, meditate upon the Om that is in the heart. May thou succeed.
May the gentle one with success attain the goal. May you go beyond all darkness to Him who is omniscient, the All-Knowing. His glory is in heaven, on earth and everywhere.
He who has become the mind, the Prânâ, He who is the leader in the body, He who is established in the food, the energy of life. By supreme knowledge the sages see Him whose nature is bliss, who shines as immortality.(Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.8.) (This is another of the sentences very much quoted.)
There are two words: one is Jnâna, the other Vijnâna. Jnana may be translated as science - this means intellectual [knowledge] only - and Vijnana as realization. God cannot be perceived by intellectual knowledge. He who has realized [the Self] by that supreme knowledge - what will become of that man?
All the knots of the heart will be cut asunder. All darkness will vanish forever when you have seen the Truth.
How can you doubt? How foolish and childish you will think these fights and quarrels of different sciences and different philosophies and all this. You will smile at them. All doubts will vanish, and all work will go away. All work will vanish.
Beyond, the golden sheath is there - without any impurity, without parts [indivisible] - He, the Brahman. His is the brightness, the Light of all light - the knowers of the Atman realize Him as such. And when you have done that, the sun cannot illumine, nor the moon, nor the stars. A flash of lightning cannot illumine the place; it is mental - away, deep in the mind. He shining, everything else shines; when He shines within, the whole man shines. This universe shines through His light.
Take such passages [for memorizing] later on, when studying the Upanishads.
The difference between the Hindu mind and the European mind is that whereas in the West truths are arrived at by examining the particular, the Hindu takes the opposite course. There is no [such] metaphysical sublimity as in the Upanishads.
It [the Mundaka Upanishad] leads you on, beyond the senses - infinitely more sublime than the suns and stars. First Angiras tried to describe God by sense sublimities - that His feet are the earth, His head the heavens. But that did not express what he wanted to say. It was in a sense sublime. He first gave that idea to the student and then slowly took him beyond, until he gave him the highest idea - the negative - too high to describe.
He is immortal, He is before us, He is behind us, He is on the right side, He is on the left, He is above, He is beneath. Upon the same tree there are two birds with most beautiful wings, and the two birds always go together - always live together. Of these, one is eating the fruits of the tree; the other, without eating, is looking on. So in this body are the two birds always going together. Both have the same form and beautiful wings. One is the human soul, eating the fruits; the other is God Himself, of the same nature. He is also in this body, the Soul of our soul. He eats neither good nor evil fruits, but stands and looks on.
But the lower bird knows that he is weak and small and humble, and tells all sorts of lies. He says he is a woman, or he is a man or a boy. He says he will do good or do bad; he will go to heaven and will do a hundred sorts of things. In delirium he talks and works, and the central idea of his delirium is that he is weak.
Thus he gets all the misery because he thinks he is nobody. He is a created little being. He is a slave to somebody; he is governed by some god or gods, and so is unhappy.
But when he becomes joined with God, when he becomes a Yogi, he sees that the other bird, the Lord, is his own glory. "Why, it was my own glory whom I called God, and this little "I", this misery, was all hallucination; it never existed. I was never a woman, never a man, never any one of these things." Then he gives up all his sorrow.
When this Golden One, who is to be seen, is seen - the Creator, the Lord, the Purusha, the God of this universe - then the sage has washed off all stains of good and bad deeds. (Good deeds are as much stains as bad deeds.) Then he attains to total sameness with the Pure One.
The sage knows that He who is the Soul of all souls - this Atman - shines through all.
He is the man, the woman, the cow, the dog - in all animals, in the sin and in the sinner. He is the Sannyâsin, He is in the ruler, He is everywhere.
Knowing this the sage speaks not. (He gives up criticizing anyone, scolding anyone, thinking evil of anyone.) His desires have gone into the Atman. This is the sign of the greatest knowers of Brahman - that they see nothing else but Him.
He is playing through all these things. Various forms - from the highest gods to the lowest worms - are all He. The ideas want to be illustrated.
First of all the writer showed us the idea that if we want to get to heaven and all these places, we will get there. That is to say, in the language of the Vedas, whatever one desires that he sees.
As I have told you in previous lectures, the Atman neither comes nor goes. It has neither birth nor death. You are all omnipresent, you are the Atman. You are at this moment in heaven and in the darkest places too. You are everywhere. Where are you not? Therefore how can you go anywhere? These comings and goings are all fictions - the Atman can never come nor go.
These visions change. When the mind is in a particular condition it sees a certain vision, dreams a certain dream. So in this condition, we are all seeing this world and man and animals and all these things. But in this very place, this condition will change. And the very thing we are seeing as earth, we shall see as heaven, or we may see it as the opposite place or as any place we like.
All this depends on our desires. But this dream cannot be permanent, just as we know that any dream in the night must break. Not one of these dreams will be permanent. We dream that which we think we will do. So these people who are always thinking in this life of going to heaven and meeting their friends, will have that as soon as their dream of this life is ended. And they will be compelled by their desires of this life to see these other dreams. And those who are superstitious and are frightened into all such ideas as hell will dream that they are in the hot place. Those whose ideas in this life are brutal - when they die, will become pigs and hogs and all these things. With each one, what he desires he finds.
This book starts by telling us that those who know nothing better than a little road-making or hospital-building and such good works will have a good dream when they die. They will dream that they are in a place where they will have god-bodies and can eat anything they like, jump about, go through walls and so on, and sometimes come down and startle someone.
In our mythology there are the Devas, who live in heaven, and the Devakas, who are very much the same but a little more wicked. The Devas are like your angels, only some of them from time to time become wicked and find that the daughters of men are good. Our deities are celebrated for this sort of thing. What can you expect of them? They are here - simply hospital-makers - and have no more knowledge than other men. They do some good work with the result that they become Devas. They do their good work for fame or name or some reward and get this reward, dreaming that they are in heaven and doing all these things. Then there are demons who have done evil in this life. But our books say that these dreams will not last very long, and then they will either come back and take the old dream again as human beings, or still worse. Therefore, according to these books, it behooves every sensible, right-thinking man, once and for all, to brush aside all such foolish ideas as heavens and hells.
Two things exist in the world - dream and reality. What we call life is a succession of dreams - dream within dream. One dream is called heaven, another earth, another hell, and so on. One dream is called the human body, another the animal body, and so on - all are dreams. The reality is what is called Brahman, that Being who is Existence, Knowledge, Bliss.
He is the Guru - the sage who wants to get rid of all these dreams, to stand aside and know his own nature - who wants to go beyond this self-hypnotism.
When we desire, we are hypnotizing ourselves. Just as I desire "I will go to heaven", that hypnotizes me, and I begin to find I am in heaven directly I die, and will see angels and all sorts of things. I have seen about fifty people who have come from death's door, and they all have told me stories about being in heaven. These are the mythologies of our country, and it shows that it is all hypnotism.
Where Western people make a great mistake is here. So far as you have these ideas of heaven and hell, we agree with you. But you say this earth is real. That cannot be. If this is real, heavens and hells are real, because the proof of each of these is the same. If one is a hypnotic condition, the whole of it must be so.
Vedantists say that not only are heavens hypnotic, but so is this life and everything here. Some people want to go from one hypnotic condition to another, and these are what we call the fools of the world - the Samsârins, the travellers who go from dream to dream, from one hypnotic trance to another. For fifty years they are under the idea that they are men and women.
What nonsense is [this - ] a man or a woman in the soul? It is terrible hypnotism. How can the soul have any sex? It is self-hypnotism. You have hypnotized yourself and think you are men and women. If we are fools, we will again hypnotize ourselves and want to go to heaven, and hear all this trash of gods and goddesses and all sorts of humbug, and will kneel down and pray, and have god-bodies by the millions to worship on thrones. At the end, we have to hypnotize ourselves again.
We are all in the same boat here, and all who are in the same boat see each other. Stand aside - free, beyond dream and hypnotism. Some fools have hypnotized themselves that they have bodies and wives and all these things. I also am a fool and have hypnotized myself that I have senses and all these things. So we are all in the same boat and see each other. Millions of people may be here whom we do not see, touch or feel. Just as in hypnotism there may be three books before you, but you are hypnotized and are told that one of them does not exist. And you may live for a year in that condition and never see it. Suppose thirty men are under the same hypnotic influence and are told that this book does not exist. Those who are in this condition will all fail to see the book. Men, women, animals are all hypnotized, and all see this dream because they are all in the same boat.
The Vedanta philosophy says that this whole universe - mental, physical, moral - is hypnotic. Who is the cause of this hypnotism? You yourself are to blame. This weeping and wailing and knocking your heads into corners [against brick walls, as it were] will not do you the least good.
However, knocking everything [that is hypnotic] on the head [leads to] what is called non-attachment; and clinging to more and more hypnotism is attachment. That is why in all religions you will find they wanted to give up the world, although many of them do not understand it. These fellows used to starve themselves in a forest and see the devil coming to them. You have heard those wonderful stories of India - of how those magicians can make a man see a rope rise from the ground to the skies. I have not seen any of them. One of the Mogul emperors, Jahangir, mentions it. He says, "Allah, what do these devils do? They take a rope or a chain, and the chain is thrown up and up until it becomes firm - as if it were stuck to something. Then they let a cat go up the chain - then a dog, then a wolf, then a tiger, then a lion. All walk up the chain and vanish. Sometimes they will send men up the chain. Two men will go up and begin to fight, and then both of them vanish. And after a while you hear a noise of fighting - and [then] a head, a hand, and a foot fall. And, mind you, there are two or three thousand people present. The fellow showing it has only a loincloth on". They say this is hypnotism - throwing a net over the audience.
That is what they call their science. It exists within a certain limit. But if you go beyond this limit or come within it, you do not see it. The man who is playing does not see anything. So if you stand near him, you do not see anything. Such is the hypnotism here.
So we have first to get beyond the circle (Jnana) or stand within the circle of the hypnotism (Bhakti) with God, the great Player who is playing all these things - the whole universe He projects.
Chapter after chapter comes and goes. This is called Mâyâ, the power which creates all these tremendous things. He who is the ruler of this Maya, is God; and he who is ruled by Maya [is the soul]. Just as in the case of that chain - so the man who was standing in the centre had the power and was not deluded, but all that audience was governed by Maya. So that portion of Atman which rules Maya is called God, and the little bits of the Atman deluded by it are called souls - you and I.
The Bhakta says, Crawl nearer and nearer to the hypnotist, and when you get to the centre you do not see anything. You get clear of it.
The Jnâni does not care to undergo all this trouble - it is a dangerous way. Unless a man becomes a lunatic, when he finds himself covered with mud, will he take more mud to wash himself? So why increase the hypnotism? Get out of the circle; cut it off and be free. When you are free you will be able to play, even without being caught yourself. Now you are caught, then you will catch - that will be all the difference.
Therefore in the first part of this book, we are told that we must give up all this idea of heaven and of birth and death and so on. It is all nonsense; no man was ever born or ever died. They are all in hypnotism. So is eternal life and all this nonsense. Heaven is hypnotism and so is earth. It is not as materialists say: that heaven is a superstition and God is a superstition, but he himself is not a superstition. If one is superstition - if one link is nonexistent - the whole chain is nonexistent. The existence of the whole chain depends on the existence of one link - and that of one link, on the whole.
If there is no heaven, there is no earth; and if there is no God, there is no man. You are under this hypnotism; and as long as you are under it, you will have to see God and nature and the soul. And when you are beyond this hypnotism, God will vanish - so will nature, and so will the soul.
Therefore, first of all, we will have to give up all these ideas of God and heaven and enjoying the fruits of these; and all that going to heaven will be one more dream. Next, after showing these things, the book goes on to tell us how to get out of this hypnotism. And the one idea that is brought out through all these ideas is to be one with that Universal Being. The thing manifested - the Universal Being - is not anything of these; these are all nonsense - Maya. [The Swami has been discussing the two aspects of Maya. On the previous page, (a few paragraphs earlier) he described Maya as the power of Brahman; here he is referring to Maya as the world-appearance.] But that upon which all these things are being played - the background upon which all this picture is written - [is we ourselves]; we are one with Him [that Universal Being]. You know you are one with Him, only you must realize it.
He gave us two words: one is intellectual knowledge, and the other is realization. That is to say, intellectual assent is within this realization, and realization is beyond it. Therefore intellectual assent is not sufficient.
Every man can say this theory is right, but that is not realization; he must realize it. We can all say we understand that this is hypnotism, but that is not realization. That will be when the hypnotism will break - even for a moment. It will come in a flash; it must come. If you struggle it will come. When it does vanish, all idea of body will go along with it - that you have sex or body - just as a lamp blows out. Then what will become of you? If some part of your Karma remains, this world will come back again - but not with the same force. You have known that it is what it is; you will know no more bondage. So long as you have eyes you will have to see; or ears [you will have to] hear - but not with the same force.
I had read all sorts of things about the mirage, but had never seen it before until about four years ago when I was travelling in western India. Of course, as a Sannyasin I was travelling on foot, making my slow marches. So it took me about a month to travel through that country. Every day I saw such beautiful lakes and the shadows of trees on the shores of those lakes, and the whole thing was quivering in the breeze - and birds flying, and animals. Every day I saw this and thought what a beautiful country it was. But when I reached some village, I found it was all sand. I said, How is it?
One day I was very thirsty and thought I would drink a little water at the lake. But when I approached, it disappeared, and with a flash [the thought] came into my mind: "This is the mirage about which I read all my life". But the strange thing is that I was travelling for a month and could never recognize that it was a mirage - and in one moment it vanished. I was very glad to know this was the mirage about which I had read all my life.
Next morning I saw the lake again, and along with it came the idea: "That is the mirage". All that month I had been seeing the mirage and could not distinguish between reality and mirage. But in that one moment I caught the idea.
From that time, when I see a mirage, I will say, "That is a mirage", and never feel it. Such will it be with this world when the whole thing will vanish once; and after that, if you have to live out your past work, you will not be deceived.
Take a carriage with two wheels. Suppose I cut one of the wheels from the axle. The other wheel will run for some time by its past momentum and will then fall. The body is one wheel, and the soul another; and they are joined by the axle of delusion. Knowledge is the axe which will cut the axle, and the soul will stop immediately - will give up all these vain dreams. But upon the body is that past momentum, and it will run a little, doing this and that, and then it will fall down. But only good momentum will be left, and that body can only do good. This is to warn you not to mistake a rascal for a free man. It will be impossible for that [free] man to do evil. So you must not be cheated.
When you become free the whole hypnotism has vanished and you know the distinction between the reality and the mirage. [The mirage] will no more be a bondage. The most terrible things will not be able to daunt you. A mountain [could] fall upon you, but you will not care. You will know it for a mirage.
HISTORY OF THE ARYAN RACE
[A Jnâna-Yoga class delivered in London, England, on Thursday morning, May 7, 1896, and recorded by Mr. Josiah J. Goodwin]
I have told you how I would divide the subject into four Yogas, but, as the bearing of all these various Yogas is the same - the goal they want to arrive at is the same - I had better begin with the philosophical portion: the Jnana-Yoga. Jnâna means knowledge, and, before going into the principles of the Vedanta philosophy, I think it is necessary to sketch in a few words the origin and the beginning and the development - the historical portion of that system. Most of you are now familiar with the words Arya and Aryan, and many things have been written on these words.
About a century ago there was an English judge in Bengal, Sir William Jones. In India, you know, there are Mohammedans and Hindus. The Hindus were the original people, and the Mohammedans came and conquered them and ruled over them for seven hundred years. There have been many other conquests in India; and whenever there is a new conquest, the criminal laws of the country are changed. The criminal law is always the law of the conquering nation, but the civil law remains the same. So when the English conquered India, they changed the criminal law; but the civil law remained. The judges, however, were Englishmen and did not know the language of the country in which the civil laws were written, and so they had to take the help of interpreters, lawyers of India, and so on. And when any question about Indian law arose, these scholars would be referred to. One of these judges, Sir William Jones, was a very ripe scholar, and he wanted to go to the fountain-head himself, to take up the language himself and study it, instead of relying upon these interpreters who, for instance, might be bribed to give any verdict. So he began to study the law of the Gentoos, as the Hindus were called. Gentoo is probably a form of the word gentile, used by the Portuguese and Spaniards - or "heathen", as you call it now. When the judge began to translate some of the books into English, he found that it was very hard to translate them correctly into English at first hand. What was his surprise when he found that if he translated them first into Latin, and next into English, it was much easier. Then he found in translating that a large number of Sanskrit words were almost the same as in Latin. It was he who introduced the study of Sanskrit to the Europeans. Then as the Germans were rising in scholarship - as well as the French - they took up the language and began to study it.
With their tremendous power of analysis, the Germans found that there was a similarity between Sanskrit and all the European languages. Among the ancient languages, Greek was the nearest to it in resemblance. Later, it was found that there was a language called Lithuanian, spoken somewhere on the shores of the Baltic - an independent kingdom at that time and unconnected with Russia. The language of the Lithuanians is strikingly similar to Sanskrit. Some of the Lithuanian sentences are less changed from Sanskrit forms than the northern Indian languages. Thus it was found that there is an intimate connection between all the various languages spoken in Europe and the two Asiatic languages - Persian and Sanskrit. Many theories are built upon it as to how this connection came. Theories were built up every day, and every day smashed. There is no knowing where it is going to stop. Then came the theory that there was one race in ancient times who called themselves Aryans. They found in Sanskrit literature that there was a people who spoke Sanskrit and called themselves Aryans, and this is mentioned also in Persian literature. Thus they founded the theory that there was in ancient times a nation [of people] who called themselves Aryans and who spoke Sanskrit and lived in Central Asia. This nation, they said, broke into several branches and migrated to Europe and Persia; and wherever they went, they took their own languages. German, Greek and French are but remnants of an old tongue, and Sanskrit is the most highly developed of these languages.
These are theories and have not been proved yet; they are mere conjectures and guesses. Many difficulties come in the way - for instance, how the Indians are dark and the Europeans are fair. Even within the same nations speaking these languages - in England itself - there are many with yellow hair and many with black. Thus there are many questions which have not yet been settled. But this is certain, that all the nations of Europe except the Basques, the Hungarians, the Tartars and the [Finns?] (Vide Complete Works, VIII.) - Excepting these, all the Europeans, all the northern Indians and the Persians speak branches of the same language. Vast masses of literature are existing in all these Aryan tongues: in Greek, in Latin, in modern European languages - German, English, French - in ancient Persian, in modern Persian and in Sanskrit.
But in the first place, Sanskrit literature alone is a very big mass. Although, perhaps, three-fourths of it has been destroyed and lost through successive invasions, yet, I think, the sum total of the amount of literature in Sanskrit would outbalance any three or four European languages taken together, in number of books. No one knows how many books are there yet and where they are, because it is the most ancient of all these Aryan languages. And that branch of the Aryan race which spoke the Sanskrit language was the first to become civilized and the first to begin to write books and literature. So they went on for thousands of years. How many thousands of years they wrote no one knows. There are various guesses - from 3000 B.C. to 8000 B.C. - but all of these dates are more or less uncertain. Each man in writing about these ancient books and dates is first of all prejudiced by his earlier education, then by his religion, then by his nationality. If a Mohammedan writes about the Hindus, anything that does not glorify his own religion he very scrupulously pushes to one side. So with the Christians - you can see that with your own writers. In the last ten years your literature has become more respectable. So long as they [the Christians] had full play, they wrote in English and were safe from Hindu criticism. But, within the last twenty years, the Hindus have begun writing in English, so they are more careful. And you will find that the tone has quite changed within the last ten or twenty years.
Another curiosity about the Sanskrit literature is that it, like any other language, has undergone many changes. Taking all the literature in these various Aryan languages - the Greek or the Latin or all these others - we find that all the European branches were of very recent date. The Greek came much later - a mere child in comparison with the Egyptian or the Babylonian.
The Egyptians and the Babylonians, of course, are not Aryans. They are separate races, and their civilizations antedate all the European civilization. But with the exception of the ancient Egyptians, they were almost coeval [with the Aryans]; in some accounts, they were even earlier. Yet in Egyptian literature, there are certain things to be accounted for - the introduction of the Indian lotus on old temples, the lotus Gangetic. It is well known that this only grows in India. Then there are the references to the land of Punt. Although very great attempts have been made to fix that land of Punt on the Arabs, it is very uncertain. And then there are the references to the monkeys and sandalwood of southern India - only to be found there.
The Jews were of a much later date than the Greek Aryans. Only one branch of the Semitic race of Babylon and this nondescript, unknowable race - the Egyptians - were much older than the Aryans, except the Hindus.
So this Sanskrit has undergone very much change as a matter of course, having been spoken and written through thousands of years. It necessarily follows that in other Aryan languages, as in Greek and Roman, the literature must be of much later date than Sanskrit. Not only so, but there is this peculiarity, that of all regular books that we have in the world, the oldest are in Sanskrit - and that is the mass of literature called the Vedas. There are very ancient pieces in the Babylonian or Egyptian literature, but they cannot be called literature or books, but just a few notes, a short letter, a few words, and so on. But as finished, cultured literature, the Vedas are the oldest.
These Vedas were written in the peculiar archaic Sanskrit, and for a long time - even today - it is thought by many European antiquarians that these Vedas were not written, but were handed down by father to son, learned by rote, and thus preserved. Within the last few years, opinion is veering round, and they are beginning to think that they must have been written in most ancient times.
Of course they have to make theories in this way. Theory after theory will have to be built up and destroyed until we reach truth. This is quite natural. But when the subject is Indian or Egyptian, the Christian philosophers rush in to make theories; while if the subject is nearer home, they think twice first. That is why they fail so much and have to keep on making fresh theories every five years. But this much is true, that this mass of literature, whether written or not, was conveyed and, not only that, but is at the present day conveyed by word of mouth. This is thought to be holy.
You find in every nation when a new idea, a new form, a new discovery or invention comes in, the old things are not brushed aside all at once, but are relegated to the religion of holiness. The ancient Hindus used to write on palm leaves and birch bark; and when paper was invented they did not throw aside all the palm leaves, but used to consider writing on palm leaves and birch bark holy. So with the Jews - they used to write only on parchment, and parchment is now used for writing in their temples. So you find when new customs come in, the old ones become holy. So this form of transmitting the literature of the Vedas from teacher to disciple by word of mouth, although antiquated and almost useless now, has become holy. The student may refresh his memory by books, but has to learn by word of mouth of a teacher. A great many modifications will always gather round such a fact to make its holiness more rational, but this is the law.
These Vedas are a vast mass of literature by themselves. That is to say, in those ancient times, in every country, religion was the first ideal to spring out of the heart of man, and all the secular knowledge that men got was made over to religion. Secondly, people who deal with religion and in later times came to be called priests - being the first thinkers of every nation - not only thought about religious subjects, but secular matters also; and, as such, all knowledge was confined to them. These masses of knowledge - both secular and religious - will always be gathered together and made into a vast mass of literature.
In much later times, this is the case. For instance, in studying the Bible of the Jews, we find the same thing. The Talmud contained a vast mass of information on all subjects and so did the Pentateuch. In the same way, the Vedas give information on various subjects. They have come together and form one book. And in later times, when other subjects were separated from religion - when astronomy and astrology were taken out of religion - these subjects, being connected with the Vedas and being ancient, were considered very holy.
Almost the largest portion of the Vedas has been lost. The priests who carried it down to posterity were divided into so many families; and, accordingly, the Vedas were divided into so many parts. Each part was allotted to a family. The rituals, the ceremonies, the customs, the worship of that family were to be obtained from that [respective] portion of the Vedas. They preserved it and performed all the ceremonies according to that. In course of time, [some of] these families became extinct; and with them, their portion of the Vedas was lost, if these old accounts be true.
Some of you know that the Vedas are divided into four parts. One is called the Rig-Veda, another Yajur-Veda, another Sâma-Veda, and the fourth Atharva-Veda. Each one of these, again, was divided into many branches. For instance, the Sama-Veda had one thousand branches, of which only about five or six remain; the rest are all lost. So with the others. The Rig-Veda had 108, of which only one remains; and the rest are all lost. Then [there were] these various invasions. India has been the one country to which every nation that has become strong wants to go and conquer - it being reputed to be very rich. The wealth of the people had become a fable, even in the most ancient history. [Many foreign invaders] rushed to become wealthy in India and conquered the country. Every one of these invasions destroyed one or more of these families, burned many libraries and houses. And when that was so, much literature was lost. It is only within the last few years that ideas have begun to spring up about the retention of these various religions and books. Before that, mankind had to suffer all this pillaging and breaking down. Most stupendous creations of art were lost forever. Wonderful buildings - where, from a few bits of remnants now in India, it can be imagined how wonderful they were - are completely gone. . . .
[The fanatical belief of many of these invaders into India is] that those who do not belong to their sect have no right to live. They will go to a place where the fire will never be quenched when they die; in this life they are only fit to be made into slaves or murdered; and that they have only the right to live as slaves to "the true believers", but never as free men. So in this way, when these waves burst upon India, everything was submerged. Books and literature and civilization went down.
But there is a vitality in that race which is unique in the history of humanity, and perhaps that vitality comes from non-resistance. Non-resistance is the greatest strength. In meekness and mildness lies the greatest strength. In suffering is greater strength than in doing. In resisting one's own passions is far higher strength than in hurting others. And that has been the watchword of the race through all its difficulties, its misfortunes and its prosperity. It is the only nation that never went beyond its frontiers to cut the throats of its neighbours. It is a glorious thing. It makes me rather patriotic to think I am born a Hindu, a descendant of the only race that never went out to hurt anyone, and whose only action upon humanity has been giving and enlightening and purifying and teaching, but never robbing. Three-quarters of the wealth of the world has come out of India, and does even now. The commerce of India has been the turning point, the pivot, of the history of the world. Whatever nation got it became powerful and civilized. The Greeks got it and became the mighty Greeks; the Romans got it and became the mighty Romans. Even in the days of the Phoenicians it was so. After the fall of Rome, the Genoese and the Venetians got it. And then the Arabs rose and created a wall between Venice and India; and in the struggle to find a new way there, America was discovered. That is how America was discovered; and the original people of America were called Indians, or "Injuns", for that reason. Even the Dutch got it - and the barbarians - and the English and they became the most powerful nation on earth. And the next nation that gets it will immediately be the most powerful.
Think of all this mass of energy that our nation displays - where does it get it? In India, they are the producers and you are the enjoyers, no doubt. They produced this - the patient, toiling millions of Hindus under the whip and slavery of everyone. Even the missionaries, who stand up to curse the millions of India, have been fattened upon the work of these millions, and they do not know how it has been done. Upon their blood the history of the world has been turning since we know history, and will have to turn for thousands of years more. What is the benefit? It gives that nation strength. They are, as it were, an example. They must suffer and stand up through all, fighting for the truths of religion - as a signpost, a beacon - to tell unto mankind that it is much higher not to resist, much higher to suffer, that if life be the goal, as even their conquerors will admit, we are the only race that can be called immortal, that can never be killed. (Vide Complete Works, IV)
Where are the Greeks today - they whose armies marched over the whole world? Gone, thousands of years - nobody knows where. Vanished, as soon as the barbarians of the north came and attacked them. Where are the mighty Romans, whose cohorts came and trampled the face of the earth? Where are they today? Gone - vanished like the morning dew, and left behind in the march.
But here are the Hindus - three hundred million strong. And think of the fertility of the race! They can increase more than the whole world can kill them. This is the vitality of the race. Although not belonging very much to our subject, I wanted to bring these things before you. Generally the uneducated minds, the vulgar minds of every nation, like the vulgar mobs in every big city, cannot grasp, cannot see, cannot understand, any fine movement. The causes, the real movements in this world of ours, are very fine; it is only the effects that are gross and muscular. The mind is the real cause of this body, the fine movements behind. The body is the gross, the external. But everyone sees the body; very few see the mind. So with everything; the masses, the brutal, ignorant masses of every race, see a triumphant procession, stampeding horses, arms and cannonades, and these they understand. But those fine, gentle workings that are going on behind - it is only the philosopher, the highly cultivated man or woman, that can understand.
To return to our Vedanta, I have said that the Sanskrit in which the Vedas were written is not the same Sanskrit in which books were written about a thousand years later than the Vedas - the books that you read in your translations of poets and other classical writers of India. The Sanskrit of the Vedas was very simple, archaic in its composition, and possibly it was a spoken language. But the Sanskrit that we have now was never a spoken language, at least for the last three thousand years. Curiously enough, the vast mass of literature was written in a language which was dead, covering a period of three thousand years. Dramas and novels were written in this dead language. And all the time it was not spoken in the homes; it was only the language of the learned.
Even in the time of Buddha, which was about 560 years before the Christian era, we find that Sanskrit had ceased to be a spoken language. Some of his disciples wanted to teach in Sanskrit, but the master studiously refused. He wanted to teach in the language [of the people], because he said he was the prophet of the people. And that is how it has come about that the Buddhistic literature is in Pali, which was the vernacular of that time. This vast mass of literature - the Vedas - we find in three groups. The first group is the Samhitâs, a collection of hymns. The second group is called the Brâhmanas, or the [group dealing with different kinds of] sacrifice. The word Brahmana [by usage] means [what is achieved by means of] the sacrifice. And the other group is called the Upanishads (sittings, lectures, philosophic books). Again, the first two parts together - the hymns and the rituals - are called the Karmakânda, the work portion; and the second, or philosophic portion (the Upanishads), is called the Jnânakânda, the knowledge portion. This is the same word as your English word knowledge and the Greek word gnos - just as you have the word in agnostic, and so on.
The first portion is a collection of hymns in praise of certain gods, as Agni, fire; Mitra, the sun; and so forth. They are praised and oblations are offered to them. I have said these hymns are to the gods. I have used the word gods until I make you familiar with the Sanskrit word Deva, because the word gods is very misleading. These Devas mean the "bright ones", and gods in India are less persons than positions. For instance, Indra and Agni are not names of particular persons, but particular posts in this universe. There is the post of President, the presiding post over certain elements, the presiding post over certain worlds, and so forth. According to these theologians, you and I - most of us - probably have been some of these gods several times. It is only temporarily that a soul can fill one of these positions. And after his time is over, he gives way; another soul is raised from this world by good works and takes that position - he becomes [for example] Agni. In reading Sanskrit philosophy or theology, people always get bothered by the changing of these gods. But this is the theory - that they are names of positions, that all souls will have to fill them again and again; and these gods, when the soul has attained to that position, can help mankind. So gifts and praise are offered to them. How this idea came to the Aryans we do not know, but in the earliest portion of the Rig-Veda we find this idea perfected and completed.
Behind and beyond all these Devas and men and animals and worlds is the Ruler of this universe, Ishvara - somewhat similar to what in the New Testament is called God the Creator, Preserver, the Ruler of this universe. These Devas are not to be confused with Ishvara at all, but in the English language you have the same word for both. You use the word God in the singular and the plural. But the gods are the bright ones - the Devas - and God is Ishvara. This we find even in the oldest portions of the Vedas. Another peculiarity is that this Ishvara, this God, is manifesting Himself in all these various forms of bright ones. This idea - that the same God manifests Himself in various forms - is a very rudimentary idea of the Vedas, even in the oldest portions. There was a time when a sort of monotheistic idea entered the Vedas, but it was very quickly rejected. As we go on, perhaps you will agree with me that it was very good that it was rejected.
So we find in these oldest portions of the Samhitas that there were these various Devas - [being praised as] the manifestations of someone very much higher than they [had left] behind, so that sometimes each one of them was taken up and adjectives piled on it and at last it was said, "You are the God of the universe". Then such passages as this occurred: "I am God, worshipped as the fire", and so forth. "It is the One; sages call Him variously." "He is that one existence; the sages call Him by various names." This I ask you to remember, because this is the turning point, the key-note of all thought that India has produced - "He is that One Being; sages call Him variously." All Hindu philosophy - either theistic or atheistic or monotheistic, dualistic or non-dualistic - has that as the core, the centre. And by thousands of years of culture in the race, it is impossible for the Hindu race to go [away from] that idea.
That germ became a big tree; and that is why there was never a religious persecution in India, at least by the Hindus. That explains their liberality and welcome to any religion from any part of the world which came to settle there. That is how, even at the present day, Indian Rajas go and perform Mohammedan ceremonies and enter Mohammedan mosques, although [some] Mohammedans took the first opportunity to kill a number of "the heathens".
"He is the One Being; sages call Him variously."
There have been two theories advanced in modern times with regard to the growth of religions. The one is the tribal theory; the other is the spirit theory. The tribal theory is that humanity in its savage state remains divided into many small tribes. Each tribe has a god of its own - or sometimes the same god divided into many forms, as the god of this city came to that city, and so on; Jehovah of this city and of such-and-such mountain [came to such-and-such city or mountain]. When the tribes came together, one of them became strong. Take the case of the Jews. They were divided into so many tribes, and each tribe had a god called either Baal or Moloch, which in your Old Testament is translated as "the Lord". There was the Moloch of this state and that state, of this mountain and that mountain, and there was the Moloch of the chest, who used to live in a chest. This latter tribe became strong and conquered the surrounding tribes and became triumphant. So that Moloch was proclaimed the greatest of all Molochs. "Thou art the Java [?] of the Molochs. Thou art the ruler of all the Baals and Molochs." Yet the chest remained. So this idea was obtained from tribal gods.
There is the other theory of Spiritualism - that religion begins with the worship of ancestors. Ancestor worship was among the Egyptians, among the Babylonians, among many other races - the Hindus, the Christians. There is not one form of religion among which there has not been this ancestor worship in some form or other.
Before that they thought that this body had a double inside it and that when this body dies the double gets out and lives so long as this body exists. The double becomes very hungry or thirsty, wants food or drink, and wants to enjoy the good things of this world. So he [the double] comes to get food; and if he does not get it, he will injure even his own children. So long as the body is preserved the double will live. Naturally the first attempt, as we see, was to preserve the body, mummify the body, so that the body will live forever.
So with the Babylonians was this sort of spirit worship. Later on as the nations advanced, the cruel forms died out and better forms remained. Some place was given to that which is called heaven, and they placed food here so that it might reach the double there. Even now the pious Hindus must, one day a year at least, place food for their ancestors. And the day they leave off [this habit] will be a sorry day for the ancestors. So you also find this ancestor worship to be one cause of religion. There are in modern times philosophers who advance the theory that this has been the root of all religions. There are others who advance the theory that the root of all religions was the tribal assimilation of gods into one. Among the Jews of the Old Testament you do not find any mention of soul. It is only in the Talmud that it is found. They got it from the Alexandrians, and the Alexandrians from the Hindus - just as the Talmud had [developed] later on the idea of transmigration of the soul. But the old Jews had grand ideas of God. The God of the Jews developed into the Great God - the Omnipotent, Omniscient, All-Merciful - and all this came to them from the Hindus, but not through the idea of the soul. So Spiritualism could not have played any part in that, because how could the man who did not believe in any soul after death have anything to do with Spiritualism?
On the other hand, in the oldest portion of the Vedas, there is very little of Spiritualism, if anything at all. These Devas [of the Vedas] were not [related to Spiritualism] - although later on they became so; and this idea of Someone behind them, of whom they were manifestations, is in the oldest parts.
Another idea is that when the body dies, the soul [which] is immortal remains beatified. The very oldest Aryan literature - whether German or Greek - has this idea of soul. The idea of soul has come from the Hindus.
Two people have given all the religion to the world - the Hindus and the Jews. But it is only with the Hindus that the idea of soul comes at first, and that was shared by the Aryan races.
The peculiarity you find is that the Semitic races and the Egyptians try to preserve the dead bodies, while the Aryans try to destroy them. The Greeks, the Germans, the Romans - your ancestors before they became Christians - used to burn the dead. It was only when Charlemagne made you Christians with the sword - and when you refused, [he] cut off a few hundred heads, and the rest jumped into the water - that burying came here. You see at once the metaphysical significance of burning the dead. The burying of the dead (Preserving the dead by the burying of the body.) can only remain when there is no idea of the soul, and the body is all. At best there came the idea later on that this very body will have another lease of life, after so many years - mummies will come out and begin to walk the streets again. But with the Aryans the idea was from the first that the soul is not the body, but would live on. There are some old hymns in the Rig-Veda: when the bodies are burnt they say, "Take him gently, purify him, give him a bright body, take him to the land where the fathers live – where there is no more sorrow and where there is joy forever". (Rig-Veda 10.16.4.)
It is curious that though in modern times many hideous and cruel forms of religion crept into India, there is one peculiar idea that divides the Aryan from all other races of the world: that their religion, in the Hindu form, accepted this Indra as one [with the Ultimate Reality]. Three-quarters of the mythology of the Vedas is the same as that of the Greeks; only the old gods became saints in the new religion. But they were originally the gods of the Samhitas.
One other peculiarity we remark - that it is a cheerful, joyful, at times almost hilarious religion; there is not a bit of pessimism in it. The earth is beautiful, the heavens are beautiful, life is immortal. Even after death they get a still more beautiful body, which has none of the imperfections of this body, and they go to live with the gods and enjoy heaven forever.On the other hand, with the Semitic races, the very first inception of religion was one of horror. A man crouched in his little house for fear. All round his house were those doubles. The family ancestors of the Jews were there, ready to pounce upon anybody and tear him to pieces if bloody sacrifices were not given to them. Even when you find that this [double] idea coagulated into one - "Thou art the Elohim of the Jews, Thou art the Elo[him] of the [Babylonians?]" - Even then the idea of sacrifice remained.
The idea of sacrifice in India was not with this first portion. But in the next portion we find the same idea in India too, in the Brahmanas. The idea of sacrifice was originally simply giving food [to the gods], but gradually it was raised and raised until it became a sacrifice to God. Philosophy came in to mystify it still more and to spin webs of logic round it. Bloody sacrifices came into vogue. Somewhere we read that three hundred bullocks have been roasted, or the gods are smelling the sacrifices and becoming very glad. Then all sorts of mystical notions got about - how the sacrifice was to be made in the form of a tri-angle or a square, a triangle within a square, a pentagon, and all sorts of figures. But the great benefit was the evolution of geometry. When they had to make all these figures - and it was laid down strictly how many bricks should be used, and how they should be laid, and how big they should be - naturally geometry came [into being]. The Egyptians evolved geometry [by] their [irrigation] - [they] made canals to take the Nile water inside their fields - and the Hindus, by their altars.
Now there is another particular difference between the idea of sacrifice in India and [that] of the Jews. The real meaning of sacrifice is worship, a form of worship by oblations. At first it was simply giving food to the bright ones, or the higher beings. They had gross food just as we have. Later on philosophy stepped in and the idea came that they, being higher beings, could not eat the same food as we do. Their bodies are made of finer particles. Our bodies cannot pass through a wall; theirs find no resistance in gross material. As such, they cannot be expected to eat in the same gross way as we do.
[Some parts of the transcription of the remaining portion of this lecture, recorded by Mr. J. J. Goodwin, were found in a severely damaged condition. Hence we have reproduced below only the legible fragments as they appeared in the original.]
. . . "O Indra, I offer you this oblation. O Agni, I offer you this oblation." The answer is that these words have a mystical power in Sanskrit. And when a man, in a certain state of mind, pronounces these words, he sets in motion a set of psychological causes, and these causes produce a certain effect. That is the evolution of thought.
To make it clearer, suppose a man was childless and wanted a son. He worshipped Indra, and if he got a son he said Indra gave him the son. Later on they said Indra did not exist. Who, then, gave him the son? The whole thing is a matter of cause and effect. . . .. . . They said it was not giving the gods food, but simply laying my sins upon the head of another victim. "My sins go upon the goat's head, and, if the goat be killed, my sins are forgiven." That idea of sacrifice of the Jews never entered India, and perhaps that has saved us many a pang, many a trouble.
Human nature is selfish, and the vast majority of men and women weak; and to teach vicarious sacrifice makes us more and more weak. Every child is taught that he is nothing until the poor fellow becomes hypnotized into nothing. He goes in search of somebody to cling onto, and never thinks of clinging to himself. . . . (Vide Complete Works, VIII for similar ideas.)
Notes of Lectures and Classes
Swami Vivekananda delivered scores of lectures and classes during his relatively short ministry. Unfortunately the Swami was not always accompanied by a professional stenographer who could keep pace with the exceptional speed of his extempore deliveries. However, a few students managed to take notes of some lectures and classes, which are today the only available records of works that would otherwise have been lost to the world.
The original quotation marks of the note-takers have been reproduced.
THE RELIGION OF INDIA
(New Discoveries, Vol. 2, pp. 145-49, 155-56.)
These notes of daily morning classes delivered at Greenacre, Maine, in the summer of 1894 and recorded by Miss Emma Thursby were discovered among Miss Emma Thursby's papers at the New-York Historical Society. They have been lightly edited in order to conform to the style of the Complete Works.
Notes taken miscellaneously from discourses given by Swami Vivekananda under the "Pine" at Greenacre in July and August 1894.
The name of Swami's master was Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. The signification of Vivekananda is conscious bliss.
Meditation is a sort of prayer and prayer is meditation. The highest meditation is to think of nothing. If you can remain one moment without thought, great power will come. The whole secret of knowledge is concentration. Soul best develops itself by loving God with all the heart. Soul is the thinking principle in man, of which mind is a function. Soul is only the conduit from Spirit to mind.
All souls are playing, some consciously, some unconsciously. Religion is learning to play consciously.
The Guru is your own higher Self.
Seek the highest, always the highest, for in the highest is eternal bliss. If I am to hunt, I will hunt the rhinoceros. If I am to rob, I will rob the treasury of the king. Seek the highest.
[Some of the following passages are the Swami's free translations from Indian scriptures, including the Avadhuta-Gitâ of Dattâtreya.]
If you know you are bound [you are bound]; if you know you are free, you are free. My mind was never bound by yearnings of this world; for like the eternal blue sky, I am the essence of Knowledge, of Existence and of Bliss. Why weepest thou, Brother? Neither death nor disease for thee. Why weepest thou, Brother? Neither misery nor misfortune for thee. Why weepest thou, Brother? Neither change nor death was predicated of thee. Thou Art Existence Absolute.
I know what God is; I cannot speak [of] Him to you. I know not [what] God is; how can I speak [of] Him to you? But seest not thou, my brother, that thou wert He, thou wert He? Why go seeking God here and there? Seek not, and that is God. Be your own Self - One that cannot be confessed or described, One that can be perceived in our heart of hearts. One beyond all compare, beyond limit, unchangeable like the blue sky. Oh! learn the All Holy One. Seek for nothing else.
Where changes of nature cannot reach, thought beyond all thought, unchangeable, immovable, whom all books declare, all sages worship, O Holy One! Seek for nothing else.
Beyond compare, Infinite Oneness - no comparison is possible. Water above, water beneath, water on the right, water on the left. No wave on that water, no ripple. All silence, all eternal bliss. Such will come to thy heart. Seek for nothing else. Thou art our father, our mother, our dear friend. Thou bearest the burden of this world. Help us to bear the burden of our lives. Thou art our friend, our lover, our husband. Thou art ourselves.
Four sorts of people worship Me. Some want the delights of the physical world. Some want money, some want religion. Some worship Me because they love Me.
Real love is love for love's sake. I do not ask health or money or life or salvation. Send me to a thousand hells, but let me love Thee for love's sake. Mirâ Bâi, the great queen, taught the doctrine of love for love's sake.
Our present consciousness is only a little bit of an infinite sea of mind. Do not be limited to this consciousness.
Three great things [are] to be desired to develop the soul: First, human birth; second, thirst for the highest; third, to find one who has reached the highest - a Mahâtmâ, one whose mind, word and deed are full of the nectar of virtue, whose only pleasure is in doing good to the universe, who looks upon others' virtues, be they only as a mustard seed, even as though they were a mountain, thus expanding his own self and helping others to expand. Thus is the Mahatma.
The word Yoga is the root of which our word yoke is a derivation - meaning "to join" - and Yoga means "joining ourselves with God" - joining me with my real Self.
All actions now involuntary or automatic were once voluntary, and our first step is to gain a knowledge of the automatic actions - the real idea being to revivify and make voluntary all automatic actions, to bring them into consciousness. Many Yogis can control the actions of their hearts.
To go back into consciousness and bring out things we have forgotten is ordinary power, but this can be heightened. All knowledge - all that - can be brought out of the inner consciousness, and to do this is Yoga. The majority of actions and thoughts is automatic, or acting behind consciousness. The seat of automatic action is in the medulla oblongata and down the spinal cord.
The question is, how to find our way back to our inner consciousness. We have come out through spirit, soul, mind, and body, and now we must go back from body to spirit. First, get hold of the air [breath], then the nervous system, then the mind, then the Atman, or spirit. But in this effort we must be perfectly sincere in desiring the highest.
The law of laws is concentration. First, concentrate all the nerve energies and all power lodged in the cells of the body into one force and direct it at will. Then bring the mind, which is thinner matter, into one center. The mind has layer after layer. When the nerve force concentrated is made to pass through the spinal column, one layer of the mind is open. When it is concentrated in one bone [plexus, or "lotus"], another part of the world is open. So from world to world it goes until it touches the pineal gland in the center of the brain. This is the seat of conservation of potential energy, the source of both activity and passivity.
Start with the idea that we can finish all experience in this world, in this incarnation. We must aim to become perfect in this life, this very moment. Success only comes to that life amongst men who wants to do this, this very moment. It is acquired by him who says, "Faith, I wait upon faith come what may". Therefore, go on knowing you are to finish this very moment. Struggle hard and then if you do not succeed, you are not to blame. Let the world praise or blame you. Let all the wealth of the earth come to your feet, or let you be made the poorest on earth. Let death come this moment or hundreds of years hence. Swerve not from the path you have taken. All good thoughts are immortal and go to make Buddhas and Christs.
Law is simply a means of [your] expression [of] various phenomena brought into your mind. Law is your method of grasping material phenomena and bringing them into unity. All law is finding unity in variety. The only method of knowledge is concentration on the physical, mental, and spiritual planes; and concentrating the powers of the mind to discover one in many, is what is called knowledge.
Everything that makes for unity is moral, everything that makes for diversity is immoral. Know the One without a second, that is perfection. The One who manifests in all is the basis of the universe; and all religion, all knowledge, must come to this point.
[The following are some of the disconnected notes taken by Miss Emma Thursby during the last of the Swami's Greenacre classes, delivered Sunday morning, August 12, 1894.]
I am Existence Absolute Kundalini
Bliss Absolute Circle mother
I am He, Shivoham
I am He, Shivoham
He is the learned man who sees that every man's property is nothing. Every woman his Mother.
Shanti - peace -
We meditate on the Glory of Hrim (A Bija Mantra, or seed word, for the Divine Mother.)
Mother Buddhistic Prayer
I bow to all the saint[s] on Earth
I bow down to the founders of Religion
to all holy men and women
Prophets of Religion
who have been on Earth
I meditate on the Glory of the producer of this Universe
may He enlighten our minds.