What is Ethics?

Written by VHouse Admin. Posted in Life and Works

Source of the Article: Personality Development by Swami Vivekananda

One idea stands out as the centre of all ethical systems, expressed in various forms, namely doing well to others. The guiding motive of mankind should be charity towards men, charity towards all animals. But these are all various expressions of that eternal truth that, “I am the universe; this universe is one.” Or else, where is reason? Why should I do well to my fellowmen? Why should I do well to others? What compels me? It is sympathy, the feeling of sameness everywhere. The hardest hearts feel sympathy for other beings sometimes. Even the man who gets frightened if he is told that this assumed individuality is a delusion, that it is ignoble to try to cling to this apparent individuality, that very man will tell you that extreme self-abnegation is the centre of all morality. And what is perfect self-abnegation? It means the abnegation of this apparent self, the abnegation of all selfishness. This idea of “me and mine” is the result of proper past superstition, and the more this present self passes away, the more the real self becomes manifest. This is true self-abnegation, the centre, the basis, the gist of all moral teaching; and whether a man knows it or not, the whole world is slowly going towards it, practising it more or less. Only, the vast majority of mankind are doing it unconsciously. Let them do it consciously. Let them make the sacrifice, knowing that this “me and mine” is not the real self, but only a limitation. But one glimpse of that infinite reality which is behind – but one spark of that infinite fire that is the All – represents the present man; the infinite is his true nature.

Doing well to others is virtue; injuring others is sin. Strength and manliness are virtue; weakness and cowardice are sin. Independence is virtue; dependence is sin. Loving others is virtue; hating others is sin. Faith in God and one’s own Self is virtue; doubt is sin. Knowledge of oneness is virtue; seeing diversity is sin.

It is the quintessence of all ethics, preached in any language, or in any religion, or by any prophet in the world. “Be thou unselfish”, “Not ‘I’, but ‘thou’” – that is the background of all ethical codes. And what is meant by this is the recognition of non-individuality – that you are a part of me, and I of you; the recognition that in hurting you I hurt myself, and in helping you I help myself; the recognition that there cannot possibly be death for me when you live. When one worm lives in this universe, how can I die? For my life is in the life of that worm. At the same time it will teach us that we cannot leave one of our fellow-beings without helping him that in his good consists my good.

Why should a man be moral and pure? Because this strengthens his will. Everything that strengthens the will by revealing the real nature is moral. Everything that does the reverse is immoral.

Temple for Swami Vivekananda in Belur Math

Written by VHouse Admin. Posted in History and Inspiration, Life and Works

abt_rkm5aThe temple stands on the spot where Swami Vivekananda’s mortal remains were cremated in 1902. Consecrated on 28 January 1924, the temple has in its upper storey an alabaster OM (in Bengali characters). Beside the temple stands a bel (bilva) tree in the place of the original bel tree under which Swami Vivekananda used to sit and near which, according to his wish, his body was cremated.On July 4, 1902 at Belur Math, he taught Vedanta philosophy to some pupils in the morning. He had a walk with Swami Premananda, a brother-disciple, and gave him instructions concerning the future of the Ramakrishna Math. He passed away in the evening after a session of prayer at Belur Math. He was 39.  Vivekananda had fulfilled his own prophecy of not living to be forty-years old.
From the reminiscences of Josephine MacLeod

At Belur Math one day, while Sister Nivedita was distributing prizes for some athletics, I was standing in Swamiji’s bedroom at the Math, at the window, watching, and he said to me, “I shall never see forty.” I, knowing he was thirty-nine, said to him, “But Swami, Buddha did not do his great work until between forty and eighty.” But he said, “I delivered my message and I must go.” I asked, “Why go?” and he said, “The shadow of a big tree will not let the smaller trees grow up. I must go to make room.”…

On the second of July, Sister Nivedita saw him for the last time. She went to inquire whether she should teach a certain science in her school. Swami answered, “Perhaps you are right, but my mind is given to other things. I am preparing for death.” So she thought he was indifferent. Then he said, “But you must have a meal.” Sister Nivedita always ate with her fingers, a la Hindu; and after she had eaten, Swami poured water over her hands. She said, very much the disciple, “I cannot bear you to do this.” He answered, “Jesus Christ washed the feet of his disciples.” Sister Nivedita had it on the tip of her tongue to say, “But that was the last time they ever met.” It was the last time she ever saw him. That last day he spoke to her of me and of many people, but when he spoke of me he said, “She is pure as purity, loving as love itself.” So I always took that as Swamiji’s last message to me. In two days he died having said, “The spiritual impact that has come here to Belur will last fifteen hundred years – and this will be a great university. Do not think I imagine it, I see it.”

Temple of Swami Vivekananda with other Temples - View from the GangaA few months before his passing away, Swami Vivekananda said:

“How often does a man ruin his disciples by remaining always with them! When men are once trained, it is essential that their leader leaves them; for without his absence they cannot develop themselves!” (CW 1: 260)

A few days before his passing away, the Swami said:

“I am making ready for death. A great Tapasyâ and meditation has come upon me, and I am making ready for death.” (CW 1: 261-62)

In Kashmir after an illness, Swami Vivekananda said as he lifted a couple of pebbles:

Whenever death approaches me, all weakness vanishes. I have neither fear, nor doubt, nor thought of the external. I simply busy myself making ready to die. I am as hard as that [the pebbles struck one another in his hand] — for I have touched the feet of God!

(CW 1: 262)

 

Source: http://vimokshananda.com/2008/01/25/temple-for-swami-vivekananda-in-belur-math/

Unselfishness Brings Success

Written by VHouse Admin. Posted in Life and Works

Source of the Article: Personality Development by Swami Vivekananda

All outgoing energy following a selfish motive is frittered away; it will not cause power to return to you; but if restrained, it will result in development of power. This self control will tend to produce mighty will, a character which makes a Christ or a Buddha. Foolish men do not know this secret; they nevertheless want to rule mankind. Even a fool may rule the world if he works and waits. Let him wait a few years, restrain the foolish idea of governing; and when that idea is wholly gone, he will be a power in the world. The majority of us cannot see beyond a few steps. Just a little narrow circle – that is our world. We have not the patience to look beyond, and thus become immoral and wicked. This is our weakness, our powerlessness.

Selfishness is the chief sin, thinking of ourselves first. He who thinks, “I will eat first, I will have more money than others, and I will possess everything”, he who thinks, “I will get to heaven before others” is the selfish man. The unselfish man says, “I will be the last, I do not care to go to heaven, I will even go to hell if by doing do I can help my brother.” This unselfishness is the test of religion. He who has more of this unselfishness is more spiritual and nearer to God. Whether he is learned or ignorant, he is nearer to God than anybody else, whether he knows it or not. And if a man is selfish, even though he has visited all the temples, seen all the places of pilgrimage, and painted himself like a leopard, he is still further off from God.

Every successful man must have behind him somewhere tremendous integrity, tremendous sincerity, and that is the cause of his signal success in life.

He may not have been perfectly unselfish; yet he was tending towards it. If he had been perfectly unselfish, his would have been as great a success as that of the Buddha or of the Christ. The degree of unselfishness marks the degree of success everywhere.

Life is ever expanding, contraction is death. The self-seeking man who is looking after his personal comforts and leading a lazy life – there is no room for him even in hell.

It’s Love that pays

Nothing else is necessary but these three – love, sincerity and patience. What is life but growth, i.e. expansion, i.e. love? Therefore all love is life and the only law of life; all selfishness is death, and this is true here or hereafter. It is life to do well, it is death not to do well to others. Ninety percent of the human brutes you see are dead, are ghosts – for none lives, my friend, but he who loves. Feel, feel for the poor, the ignorant, the downtrodden; feel till the heart stops and the brain reels and you think you will go mad – then pour the soul at the feet of the Lord, and then will come power, help, and indomitable energy. Be not afraid. Look not up in that attitude of fear towards that infinite starry vault as if it would crush you. Wait! In a few hours more, the whole of it will be under your feet. Wait, money does not pay, nor learning. It is love that pays; it is character that cleaves its way through adamantine wall of difficulties.

Those who are men and yet have no feeling in the heart for man, are such to be counted as men at all?

Duty is seldom sweet. It is only when love greases its wheels that it runs smoothly; it is a continuous friction otherwise. How else could parents do their duties to their children, husbands to their wives, and vice versa? Do we not meet with cases of friction every day in our lives?

Duty is sweet only through love, and love shines in freedom alone. Yet is it freedom to be a slave to the senses, to anger, to jealousies and a hundred other petty things that must occur every day in human life? In all these little roughness that we meet with in life, the highest expression of freedom is to forbear.

Love never fails; today or tomorrow or ages after, truth will conquer. Love shall win the victory. Do you love your fellow-humans? Where should you go to seek God – are not all the poor, the miserable, the weak, Gods? Why not worship them first? Believe in the omnipotent power of love. Have you love? You are omnipotent. Are you perfectly unselfish? If so, you are irresistible. It is character that pays everywhere. It is the Lord that protects its children in the depths of the sea.

The individual’s life is in the life of the whole, the individual’s happiness is in the happiness of the whole; apart from the whole, the individual’s existence is inconceivable – this is an eternal truth and is the bed-rock on which the universe is built. To move slowly towards the infinite whole, bearing a constant feeling of intense sympathy and sameness with it, being happy with its happiness and being distressed in its affliction, is the individual’s sole duty. Not only it is his duty, but in its transgression is its death, while compliance with this great truth leads to life immortal.

If in this hell of a world one can bring a little joy and peace even for a day into the heart of a single person, that much alone is true; all else is mere moonshine.

Doing Good to the world

Written by VHouse Admin. Posted in Life and Works

Source of the Article: Personality Development by Swami Vivekananda

Our duty to others means helping others; doing well to the world. Why should we do well to the world? Apparently to help the world, but really to help ourselves. We should always try to help the world, that should be the highest motive in us; but if we consider well, we find that the world does not require our help at all. This world was not made that you or I should come and help it. I once read a sermon in which it was said, “All this beautiful world is very good, because it gives us time and opportunity to help others.” Apparently, this is a very beautiful sentiment, but is it not a blasphemy to say that the world needs our help? We cannot deny that there is much misery in it; to go out and help others is, therefore, the best thing we can do, although in the long run, we shall find that helping others is only helping ourselves.

Yet we must do well; the desire to do well is the highest motive power we have, if we know all the time that it is a privilege to help others. Do not stand on a high pedestal and take some cash in your hands 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.

We become forgetful of the ego when we think of the body as dedicated to the service of others – the body with which most complacently, we identify the ego. And in the long run comes the consciousness of disembodied-ness. The more intently you think of the well-being of others, the more oblivious of self you become. In this way, as gradually your heart gets purified by work, you will come to feel the truth that your own Self is pervading all beings and all things. Thus it is that doing well to others constitutes a way, a means of revealing one’s own Self or Atman. Know this also to be one of the spiritual practices, a discipline for God realization.

When you give something to a men and expect nothing – do not even expect the man to be grateful – his gratitude will not tell upon you, because you never expected anything, never thought you had any right to anything in the way of return. You gave him what he deserved; his own karma got it for him; your karma made you the carrier thereof. Why should you be proud of having given away something? You are the porter that carried the money or other kind of gift, and the world deserved it by its own Karma. Where is then the reason for pride in you? There is nothing very great in what you give to the world.

The forest is gone, but we get heat in return. This sun is taking up water from the ocean, to return it in showers. You are the machine for taking and giving; you take in order to give. Ask, therefore, nothing in return; but the more you give, the more will come to you. The quicker you can empty the air out of this room, the quicker it will be filled up by the external air; and if you close all the doors and every aperture, that which is within will remain, but that which is outside will never come in, and that which is within will stagnate, degenerate and become poisoned. A river is continually emptying itself to the ocean and is continually filling up again. Bar not the exit into the ocean. The moment you do that, death seizes you.

Wisdom, knowledge, wealth, men, strength, prowess, and whatever else nature gathers and provides us with, all are only for diffusion, when the moment of need is at hand. We often forget this fact, put the stamp of “mine only” upon the entrusted deposits, and we sow the seed of our own ruin!

Personality Development: How to work

Written by VHouse Admin. Posted in Life and Works

Source: This article has been taken from the book Personality Development published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai

Real activity, which is the goal of Vedanta, is combined with eternal calmness, the calmness which cannot be ruffled, the balance of mind which is never disturbed, whatever happens. And we all know from our experience in life that is the best attitude for work.

The calmer we are, the better for us, and the more amount of work we can do. When we let loose our feelings, we waste so much energy, shatter our nerves, disturb our minds, and accomplish very littler work. The energy which ought to have gone out as work is spent as mere feeling, which counts for nothing. It is only when the mind is very calm and collected that the whole of its energy is spent in good work. And if you read the lives of the great workers the world have produced, you will find that they were wonderfully calm men. Nothing could throw them off their balance. That is why the man who becomes angry never does a great amount of work, and the man whom nothing can make angry accomplishes so much. The man who gives way to anger, or hatred, or any other passion, cannot work; he breaks only himself to pieces and does nothing practical. It is the calm, forgiving, equable, well balanced mind that does greatest amount of work.

You will say, “What is the use of learning how to work? Every one works in some way or other in this world.” But there is such a thing as frittering away our energies. With regard to Karma Yoga, the Gita says that it is doing work with cleverness and as a science; by knowing how to work, one can obtain the greatest results. You must remember that all work is simply to bring out the power of the mind which is already there, to wake up the soul. The power is inside every man, so is knowledge; the different works are like blows to bring them out, to cause these giants to wake up.

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, then will calmness come.

He who always speculates as to what awaits him in future, accomplishes nothing whatsoever. What you have understood as true and good, just do that at once. What’s the good of calculating what may or may not befall in future? The span of life is so, so short – and can anything be accomplished in it if you go on forecasting and computing results. God is the only dispenser of results; leave it to him to do all that. What have you got to do with it? Don’t look that way, but go on working.

It is the worker who is attached to the results that grumbles about the nature of the duty which has fallen to his lot; to the unattached worker all the duties are equally good, and form efficient instruments with which selfishness and sensuality may be killed, and the freedom of the soul secured. We are all apt to think too highly of ourselves. Our duties are determined by our deserts to a much larger extent than we are willing to grant. Competition rouses envy, and it kills the kindliness of the heart. To the grumbler all duties are distasteful; nothing will ever satisfy him, and his whole life is doomed to prove a failure. Let us work on, doing as we go whatever happens to be our duty, and being ever ready to put our shoulders to the wheel. Then surely shall we see the Light!

Even the greatest fool can accomplish a task if it be after his heart. But the intelligent man is he who can convert every work into that suits his taste. No work is petty. Everything in this world is like a banyan-seed, which, though appearing tiny as a mustard-seed, has yet the gigantic banyan tree latent within it. He indeed is intelligent who notices this and succeeds in making all work truly great.

Duty of any kind is not to be slighted. A man who does the lower work is not, for that reason only, a lower man than he who does the higher work; a man should not be judged by the nature of his duties, but by the manner in which he does them. His manner of doing them and his power to do them are indeed the test of a man. A shoemaker who can turn out a strong, nice pair of shoes in the shortest possible time is a better man according to his profession and his work, than a professor who talks nonsense every day of his life.

Every duty is holy, and devotion to duty is the highest form of worship of God; it is certainly a source of great help in enlightening and emancipating the deluded and ignorance-encumbered souls of the Baddhas – the bound.

By doing well the duty which is nearest to us, the duty which is in our hands now, we make ourselves stronger; and improving our strength in this manner step by step, we may even reach a state in which it shall be our privilege to do the most coveted and honoured duties in life and in society.