In this post we’ll make a collection of Swami Vivekananda quotes, opinions and comments on freedom.
Swami Vivekananda on Freedom
Swami Vivekananda told—
- According to our philosophers, freedom is the goal. Knowledge cannot be the goal, because knowledge is a compound. It is a compound of power and freedom, and it is freedom alone that is desirable. That is what men struggle after.[Source]
- All nature is crying through all the atoms for one thing — its perfect freedom.[Source]
- All our struggle is for freedom. We seek neither misery nor happiness, but freedom, freedom alone.
- As soon as we react, we become slaves. A man blames me, and I immediately react in the form of anger. A little vibration which he created made me a slave. So we have to demonstrate our freedom.[Source]
- Everywhere we see this assertion of freedom, this freedom of the soul.[Source]
- Freedom breathes in the throb of the universe.[Source]
- Freedom can never be reached by the weak. Throw away all weakness. Tell your body that it is strong, tell your mind that it is strong, and have unbounded faith and hope in yourself.
- Freedom in all matters, i.e. advance towards Mukti is the worthiest gain of man.[Source]
- Freedom is inseparably connected with immortality. To be free one must be above the laws of nature. Law exists so long as we are ignorant. When knowledge comes, then we find that law nothing but freedom in ourselves.[Source]
- Freedom is never to be reached by the weak. Throw away all weakness.[Source]
- Freedom is not
here,but is only to be found beyond.[Source]
- Freedom is of the nature of the soul, it is its birthright.[Source]
- Freedom is the goal of the universe. “Nor love nor hate nor pleasure nor pain nor death nor life nor religion nor irreligion: not this, not this, not this.”[Source]
- Freedom is the goal towards which we are all moving.[Source]
- Freedom is the test of the higher being.[Source]
- Freedom is to lose all illusions.[Source]
- Freedom means immortality.[Source]
- Freedom means independence of anything outside, and that means that nothing outside itself could work upon it as a cause.[Source]
- “Freedom, O Freedom! Freedom, O Freedom!” is the song of the soul.[Source]
- Freedom of the will — it is as you feel you are free to act. But this freedom is a species of necessity. There is one infinite link before, after, and between the thought and the action, but the latter takes the name of freedom — like a bird flitting through a bright room. We feel the freedom and feel it has no other cause. We cannot go beyond consciousness, therefore we feel we are free. We can trace it no further than consciousness. God alone feels
the realfreedom. Mahapurushas (saints) feel themselvesidentified with God; hence they also feel the real freedom.[Source]
- I disagree with the idea that freedom is obedience to the laws of nature. I do not understand what it means. According to the history of human progress, it is disobedience to nature that has constituted that progress. It may be said that the conquest of lower laws was through the higher. But even there, the conquering mind was only trying to be free; and as soon as it found that the struggle was also through law, it wanted to conquer that also. So the ideal was freedom in every case. The trees never disobey
law. I never saw a cow steal. An oyster never told a lie. Yet they are not greater than man. This life is a tremendous assertion of freedom; and this obedience to law, carried far enough, would make us simply matter—either in society, or in politics, or in religion. Too many laws are a sure sign of death.[Source]
- If you think that you are bound, you remain bound; you make your own bondage. If you know that you are free, you are free this moment. This is knowledge, knowledge of freedom. Freedom is the goal of all nature.[Source]
- In and through all the literature voicing man’s struggle towards freedom, towards universal freedom, again and
againyou find the Indian Vedantic ideals coming out prominently.[Source]
- Let us then be brave and sincere: whatever path we follow with devotion, must take us to freedom.[Source]
Manhas freedom already, but he will have to discover it. He has it, but every moment forgets it. That discovering, consciously or unconsciously, is the whole life of every one. But the difference between the sage and the ignorant man is that one does it consciously and the other unconsciously. Every oneis struggling for freedom—from the atom to the star. The ignorant man is satisfied if he can get freedom within a certain limit—if he can get rid of the bondage of hunger or of being thirsty. But that sage feels that there is a strongerbondage which has to be thrown off. He would not consider the freedom of the Red Indian as freedom at all.[Source]
- Nature with its infinite power is only a machine; freedom alone constitutes sentient life.[Source]
- No freedom without renunciation.[Source]
- Not one atom can rest until it finds its freedom.[Source]
- Oh, to live even for a day in the full light of freedom, to breathe the free air of simplicity! Isn’t that the highest purity?
- One may gain political and social independence, but if one is a slave to his passions and desires, one cannot feel the pure joy of real freedom.
- Only freedom can produce true morality.[Source]
- Our aim should be to allow the individual to move towards this freedom.[Source]
- The constitutional belief in freedom is the basis of all reasoning.
- The goal of all nature is freedom, and freedom is to be attained only by perfect unselfishness; every thought, word, or deed that is unselfish takes us towards the goal, and, as such, is called moral.[Source]
- The goal of the soul is freedom.[Source]
- The greatest goodness is the highest freedom.[Source]
- The word freedom which is the watchword of our religion really means freedom physically, mentally, and spiritually.[Source]
- There is no freedom in Maya.[Source]
- There is no freedom until you go beyond Maya.[Source]
- There is no other purpose in life, save to reach this freedom.[Source]
- This life is a tremendous assertion of freedom; and this obedience to
law, carried far enough, would make us simply matter — either in society, or in politics, or in religion. Too many laws are a sure sign of death. Wherever in any societythere are too many laws, it is a sure sign that that society will soon die.
- To advance oneself towards freedom — physical, mental, and spiritual — and help others to do so, is the supreme prize of man.[Source]
- To become pure is the shortest path to freedom.[Source]
- We never get freedom until we are self-contained.[Source]
- We say that it is
freedomthat we are to seek,and that that freedom is God.[Source]
- What are we here for? We are here for freedom, for knowledge.[Source]
- What is the goal? It is freedom.[Source]
- What we want is freedom, not life, nor pleasure, nor good.[Source]
- Wherever there is life, there is this search for freedom and that freedom is the same as God.[Source]
- Within ourselves is this eternal voice speaking of eternal freedom; its music is eternally going on.[Source]
- Work through freedom! Work through love! The word “love” is very difficult to understand; love never comes until there is freedom. There is no true love possible in the slave.[Source]
Freedom is the desire of human soul
Swami Vivekananda told—
There was never a human race which did not have a religion and worship some sort of God or gods. Whether the God or gods existed or not is no question; but what is the analysis of this psychological phenomenon? Why is all the world trying to find, or seeking for, a God? Why? Because in spite of all this bondage, in spite of nature and this tremendous energy of law grinding us down, never allowing us to turn to any side — wherever we go, whatever we want to do, we are thwarted by this law, which is everywhere — in spite of all this, the human soul never forgets its freedom and is ever seeking it. The search for freedom is the search of all religions; whether they know it or not, whether they can formulate it well or ill, the idea is there. Even the lowest man, the most ignorant, seeks for something which has power over nature’s laws. He wants to see a demon, a ghost, a god — somebody who can subdue nature, for whom nature is not almighty, for whom there is no law. “Oh, for somebody who can break the law!” That is the cry coming from the human heart. We are always seeking for someone who breaks the law. The rushing engine speeds along the railway track; the little worm crawls out of its way. We at once say, “The engine is dead matter, a machine; and the worm is alive,” because the worm attempted to break the law. The engine, with all its power and might, can never break the law. It is made to go in any direction man wants, and it cannot do otherwise; but the worm, small and little though it was, attempted to break the law and avoid the danger. It tried to assert itself against law, assert its freedom; and there was the sign of the future God in it.
Everything around us is struggling for freedom
From Karma Yoga, chapter: III, The ideal of Karma Yoga—[Source]
Everything that we perceive around us is struggling towards freedom, from the atom to the man, from the insentient, lifeless particle of matter to the highest existence on earth, the human soul. The whole universe is in fact the result of this struggle for freedom. In all combinations every particle is trying to go on its own way, to fly from the other particles; but the others are holding it in check. Our earth is trying to fly away from the sun, and the moon from the earth. Everything has a tendency to infinite dispersion. All that we see in the universe has for its basis this one struggle towards freedom; it is under the impulse of this tendency that the saint prays and the robber robs. When the line of action taken is not a proper one, we call it evil; and when the manifestation of it is proper and high, we call it good. But the impulse is the same, the struggle towards freedom. The saint is oppressed with the knowledge of his condition of bondage, and he wants to get rid of it; so he worships God. The thief is oppressed with the idea that he does not possess certain things, and he tries to get rid of that want, to obtain freedom from it; so he steals. Freedom is the one goal of all nature, sentient or insentient; and consciously or unconsciously, everything is struggling towards that goal. The freedom which the saint seeks is very different from that which the robber seeks; the freedom loved by the saint leads him to the enjoyment of infinite, unspeakable bliss, while that on which the robber has set his heart only forges other bonds for his soul.
We must become free
According to Swami Vivekananda, the ultimate aim of human life is becoming “free”. He told—[Source]All things in nature work according to law. Nothing is excepted. The mind as well as everything in external nature is governed and controlled by law.
Internal and external nature, mind and matter, are in time and space, and are bound by the law of causation.
The freedom of the mind is a delusion. How can the mind be free when it is controlled and bound by law?
The law of Karma is the law of causation.
We must become free. We are free; the work is to know it. We must give up all slavery, all bondage of whatever kind. We must not only give up our bondage to earth and everything and everybody on earth, but also to all ideas of heaven and happiness.
We are bound to earth by desire and also to God, heaven, and the angels. A slave is a slave whether to man, to God, or to angels.
The idea of heaven must pass away. The idea of heaven after death where the good live a life of eternal happiness is a vain dream, without a particle of meaning or sense in it. Wherever there is happiness there must follow unhappiness sometime. Wherever there is pleasure there must be pain. This is absolutely certain, every action has its reaction somehow.
The idea of freedom is the only true idea of salvation—freedom from everything, the senses, whether of pleasure or pain, from good as well as evil.
More than this even, we must be free from death; and to be free from death, we must be free from life. Life is but a dream of death. Where there is life, there will be death; so get away from life if you would be rid of death.
We are ever free if we would only believe it, only have faith enough. You are the soul, free and eternal, ever free, ever blessed. Have faith enough and you will be free in a minute.
Everything in time, space, and causation is bound. The soul is beyond all time, all space, all causation. That which is bound is nature, not the soul.
Therefore proclaim your freedom and be what you are—ever free, ever blessed.
Time, space, and causation we call Maya.
Bondage and liberty
From Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume I, Lecture: What is Religion?—[Source]
Bondage and liberty, light and shadow, good and evil must be there, but the very fact of the bondage shows also this freedom hidden there. If one is a fact, the other is equally a fact. There must be this idea of freedom. While now we cannot see that this idea of bondage, in uncultivated man, is his struggle for freedom, yet the idea of freedom is there. The bondage of sin and impurity in the uncultivated savage is to his consciousness very small, for his nature is only a little higher than the animal’s. What he struggles against is the bondage of physical nature, the lack of physical gratification, but out of this lower consciousness grows and broadens the higher conception of a mental or moral bondage and a longing for spiritual freedom. Here we see the divine dimly shining through the veil of ignorance. The veil is very dense at first and the light may be almost obscured, but it is there, ever pure and undimmed — the radiant fire of freedom and perfection. Man personifies this as the Ruler of the Universe, the One Free Being. He does not yet know that the universe is all one, that the difference is only in degree, in the concept.
- Freedom from The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda Volume I Karma Yoga Chapter VII
- Law and Freedom from The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda Volume V