February 10, 2010

Swami Vivekananda 1.2.3

  • We Help Ourselves, Not the World
    • There are three aspects of religion: philosophy (essence of every religion), mythology (explains and illustrates through stories and fables) and ritual (gives the philosophy a more concrete form.) 
    • In one sense, nothing cannot be looked as symbol and in another, everything in the universe is a symbol. Every symbol in religion or anywhere to be found had existed before than that period. Idea cannot be corresponded without word or word cannot be corresponded without idea. This is the Sanskrit philosophy of Nama-Rupa or name and form.
    • Study and practice of material object to represent and worship is part of Karma Yoga. Word is so powerful as well as thought to resemble creation which had to be thought before it was made as word plays important role in one of our senses. Power of word includes changing the tone of one's emotions.
    • Duty of men is to help the world that is currently beautiful and very good. The world is a mass of misery and happiness, and young are optimist and the elder are pessimist. They are equally wrong as can be seen by fire which alone is neither good or bad. Thus the world is perfect too, even without the help of ours. 
    • Doing good to the world by developing hospitals, roads and such would all be gone in one storm. When we help the poor, it gives us power from charity and thus it would be entirely wrong to think of what we are owed and never think of anything in return from duty and if we are unattached, the world will continue to go without misery.
    • A poor man heard that if he could get hold of a ghost, he would get everything that he wanted. He went to sage, to whom he begged for a ghost and the sage gave him the charm and warned him that if the ghost if without duty, he will eat you. The man did not fear as he thought how he would use the ghost at different positions but everything he asked for was given in minutes and he had nothing more to ask for. The ghost then wanted to eat the man and the man ran to the sage who told him to cut a dog's tail and the ghost was told to straighten it out. The ghost went on for days and failed and wanted a compromise to let him go as he would let the poor man keep all his belongings that the ghost had given him and he will not harm the man.
    • The dog's tail is the world and even with ideas of hate and anger, we will never be able to take it out. When we say we would help the world, we help ourselves.
    • The points of the lecture are summarized: First, we have to bear in mind that we are all
      debtors to the world and the world does not owe us anything. It is a great privilege for all of us
      to be allowed to do anything for the world. In helping the world we really help ourselves. The
      second point is that there is a God in this universe. It is not true that this universe is drifting
      and stands in need of help from you and me. God is ever present therein, He is undying and
      eternally active and infinitely watchful. When the whole universe sleeps, He sleeps not; He is
      working incessantly; all the changes and manifestations of the world are His. Thirdly, we
      ought not to hate anyone. This world will always continue to be a mixture of good and evil.
      Our duty is to sympathize with the weak and to love even the wrongdoer. The world is a grand
      moral gymnasium wherein we have all to take exercise so as to become stronger and stronger
      spiritually. Fourthly, we ought not to be fanatics of any kind, because fanaticism is opposed to love. You hear fanatics glibly saying, "I do not hate the sinner. I hate the sin," but I am
      prepared to go any distance to see the face of that man who can really make a distinction
      between the sin and the sinner. It is easy to say so. If we can distinguish well between quality
      and substance, we may become perfect men. It is not easy to do this. And further, the calmer
      we are and the less disturbed our nerves, the more shall we love and the better will our work

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