Swami Vivekananda was a follower and proponent of Vedanta which mentions one God — omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient. On 19 September 1893 Swami Vivekananda delivered a lecture at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Chicago, where he talked about nature of God. He told—He is everywhere, the pure and formless One, the Almighty and the All-merciful. “Thou art our father, Thou art our mother, Thou art our beloved friend, Thou art the source of all strength; give us strength. Thou art He that beareth the burdens of the universe; help me bear the little burden of this life.” Thus sang the Rishis of the Vedas. And how to worship Him? Through love. “He is to be worshipped as the one beloved, dearer than everything in this and the next life.”He also told—[Source]
Who is Ishvara? Janmâdyasya yatah — “From whom is the birth, continuation, and dissolution of the universe,” — He is Ishvara — “the Eternal, the Pure, the Ever-Free, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Merciful, the Teacher of all teachers”; and above all, Sa Ishvarah anirvachaniya-premasvarupah — “He the Lord is, of His own nature, inexpressible Love.”
In this article we’ll make a list of Swami Vivekananda‘s quotes and comments on God.
Swami Vivekananda’s Quotes on God
Swami Vivekananda told—(quotes arranged in alphabetical order)
- A changeable God would be no God.[Source]
- A God known is no more God; He has become finite like one of us. He cannot be known He is always the Unknowable One.[Source]
- After so much austerity, I have understood this as the real truth— God is present in every jiva; there is no other God besides that, ‘Who serves jiva, serves God indeed.[Source]
- All human knowledge proceeds out of experience; we cannot know anything except by experience. All our reasoning is based upon generalised experience, all our knowledge is but harmonised experience.[Source]
- All loves and all passions of the human heart must go to God. He is the Beloved. Whom else can this heart love? He is the most beautiful, the most sublime, He is beauty itself, sublimity itself. Who in this universe is more beautiful than He?[Source]
- All roads lead to God.[Source]
- All that is real in me is God; all that is real in God is I. The gulf between God and me is thus bridged. Thus by knowing God, we find that the kingdom of heaven is within us.
- All the scriptures preach that we come from God and go back to God.[Source]
- All this is not, God alone is![Source]
- As body, mind, or soul, you are a dream; you really are Being, Consciousness, Bliss (satchidananda). You are the God of this universe.
- As different streams having different sources all mingle their waters in the sea, so different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to God.
- As I am the soul of nature, so is God the soul of my soul.[Source]
- As long as we believe ourselves to be even the least different from God, fear remains with us; but when we know ourselves to be the One, fear goes; of what can we be afraid?
- Be brave and be sincere; then follow any path with devotion, and you must reach the Whole. Once lay hold of one link of the chain, and the whole chain must come by degrees. Water the roots of the tree (that is, reach the Lord), and the whole tree is watered; getting the Lord, we get all.[Source]
- Be perfectly resigned, perfectly unconcerned; then alone can you do any true work. No eyes can see the real forces; we can only see the results. Put out self, forget it; just let God work, it is His business.
- Blessed is the man who is mad after God.[Source]
- Can you see your own eyes? God is like that. He is as close as your own eyes. He is your own, even though you can’t see Him.[Source]
- Cease not, brother, to send up petitions day and night, cease not to say day and night — THY WILL BE DONE.[Source]
- Come out into the universe of Light. Everything in the universe is yours, stretch out your arms and embrace it with love. If you every felt you wanted to do that, you have felt God.
- Deny everything that is not God. Assert everything that is God. Mentally assert this, day and night.[Source]
- Do not lose heart, do not lose faith in your Guru, do not lose faith in God.[Source]
- … Do not say “God”. Do not say “Thou”. Say “I”. The language of [dualism] says, “God, Thou, my Father.” The language of [non-dualism] says, “Dearer unto me than I am myself. I would have no name for Thee. The nearest I can use is I….[Source]
- Dualism recognises God and nature to be eternally separate: the universe and nature eternally dependent upon God. The extreme monists make no such distinction. In the last analysis, they claim, all is God: the universe becomes lost in God; God is the eternal life of the universe.[Source]
- Every man must develop according to his own nature. as every science has its methods, so has every religion. The methods of attaining the end of religions are called yoga by us, and the different forms of yoga we teach, are adapted to the different natures and temperaments of men. We classify them in the following way, under four heads:
- Karma-Yoga— The manner in which a man realises his own divinity through works and duty.
- Bhakti-Yoga— The realisation of the divinity through works and duty.
- Raja-Yoga— The realisation of the divinity through the control of the mind.
- Jnana-Yoga— The realisation of a man;s own divinity through knowledge.
- Everything in this world, whether good or bad, belongs to God.[Source]
- Everything is the living God, the living Christ; see it as such.[Source]
- Everywhere is the same God, the All-Love.[Source]
- Faith, faith, faith in ourselves, faith, faith in God, this is the secret of greatness.If you have faith in all the three hundred and thirty millions of your mythological Gods, and in all the Gods which foreigners have now and again introduced into your midst, and still have no faith in yourselves, there is no salvation for you.
- Faith, sympathy— fiery faith and fiery sympathy! Life is nothing, death is nothing, hunger nothing, cold nothing. Glory unto the Lord— march on, the Lord is our General. Do not look back to see who falls— forward— onward! Thus and thus we shall go on, brethren. One falls, and another takes up the work.
- Follow God and you shall have whatever you desire. [Source]
- Go the other way, think of God; let the mind not think of any physical or mental enjoyment, but of God alone.[Source]
- Go to God directly. No theories, no doctrines. Then alone will all doubts vanish. Then alone will all crookedness be made straight.[Source]
- God alone is eternal, everything else is transitory. Everything dies; the angels die, men die, animals die, earths die, sun, moon, and stars, all die; everything undergoes constant change. The mountains of today were the oceans of yesterday and will be oceans tomorrow. Everything is in a state of flux. The whole universe is a mass of change. But there is One who never changes, and that is God; and the nearer we get to Him, the less will be the change for us, the less will nature be able to work on us; and when we reach Him, and stand with Him, we shall conquer nature, we shall be masters of phenomena of nature, and they will have no effect on us.[Source]
- God alone is our goal. Failing to reach God, we die.[Source]
- God and soul are the only realities, infinitely more real than this world.[Source]
- God can only be known in and through man.[Source]
- God comes to you in the blind, in the halt, in the poor, in the weak, in the diabolical. What a glorious chance for you to worship![Source]
- God does not reason.[Source]
- God exists, nothing else exists, everything else comes and goes.[Source]
- God has become man; man will become God again.[Source]
- God Himself is your image. “God created man after His own image.” That is wrong. Man creates God after his own image. That is right. Throughout the universe we are creating gods after our own image. We create the god and fall down at his feet and worship him; and when this dream comes, we love it![Source]
- God is a circle with circumference nowhere and centre everywhere. Every point in that circle is living, conscious, active, and equally working.[Source]
- God is a person only apparently, but really He is the Impersonal Being.[Source]
- God is an infinite circle whose circumference is nowhere, but whose centre is everywhere. He works through all hands, sees through all eyes, walks on all feet, breathes through all bodies, lives in all life, speaks through every mouth, and thinks through every brain.[Source]
- 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.[Source]
- God is here, in all these human souls. He is the soul of man.[Source]
- God is in everything, where else shall we go to find Him? He is already in every work, in every thought, in every feeling.[Source]
- God is in every man, whether man knows it or not.[Source]
- God is love, and love is God.[Source]
- God is love, and only he who has known God as love can be a teacher of godliness and God to man.[Source]
- God is love personified. He is apparent in everything. Everybody is being drawn to Him whether he knows it or not.[Source]
- God is life; God is truth… everything else than God is nothing — here today, gone tomorrow. [Source]
- God is man’s very Self. He is that one being whom you can never possibly fear.[Source]
- God is merciful to those whom He sees struggling heart and soul for realisation. But remain idle, without any struggle, and you will see that His grace will never come.
- God is not to be made, but He already exists.[Source]
- God is not to be reached by the weak. Never be weak.[Source]
- God is omnipresent, He is manifesting Himself in every being; but for men, He is only visible, recognisable, in man. When His light, His presence, His spirit, shines through the human face, then and then alone, can man understand Him. Thus, man has been worshipping God through men all the time, and must do so as long as he is a man. He may cry against it, struggle against it, but as soon as he attempts to realise God, he will find the constitutional necessity of thinking of God as a man.[Source]
- God is only love. The loving worshipper does not care what God is, because he wants nothing from Him.[Source]
- God is perfect; He has no wants.[Source]
- God is self-evident, impersonal, omniscient, the Knower and the Master of nature, the Lord of all. He is behind all worship and it is being done according to Him, whether we know it or not.
- God is Spirit and should be worshipped in spirit and in truth.[Source]
- God is Spirit, is infinite; man is Spirit and, therefore, infinite, and the Infinite alone can worship the Infinite.[Source]
- God is the centre of attraction for every soul.[Source]
- God is the infinite, impersonal being — ever existent, unchanging, immortal, fearless; and you are all His incarnations, His embodiments.[Source]
- God is the magnet and human soul is the needle.[Source]
- God is the only dispenser of results; leave it to Him to do all that. What have you got to do with on working.[Source]
- “God is the inexplicable, inexpressible essence of love”, to be known, but never defined.[Source]
- God is the only one who is free. God and freedom are one and the same.[Source]
- God is the Soul of all souls and of the whole of nature.[Source]
- God is the Teacher of all teachers, because these teachers, however great they may have been — gods or angels — were all bound and limited by time, while God is not.[Source]
- God is this ideal, through which man may see all.[Source]
- God is true, all else is nothing.[Source]
- God is true, and the world is not true.[Source]
- “God is true. The universe is a dream. Blessed am I that I know this moment that I [have been and] shall be free all eternity; … that I know that I am worshipping only myself; that no nature, no delusion, had any hold on me. Vanish nature from me, vanish [these] gods; vanish worship; … vanish superstitions, for I know myself. I am the Infinite. All these — Mrs. So-and-so, Mr. So-and-so, responsibility, happiness, misery — have vanished. I am the Infinite. How can there be death for me, or birth? Whom shall I fear? I am the One. Shall I be afraid of myself? Who is to be afraid of [whom]? I am the one Existence. Nothing else exists. I am everything.”[Source]
- God manifests Himself to you in man.[Source]
- God was your own reflection cast upon the screen of Maya. The real God [is the Self]. He [whom man] ignorantly worships is that reflection. [They say that] the Father in heaven is God. Why God? [It is because He is] your own reflection that [He] is God. Do you see how you are seeing God all the time? As you unfold yourself, the reflection grows [clearer].[Source]
- He is always in us and with us.[Source]
- He is an atheist who does not believe in himself. The old religions said that he was an atheist who did not believe in God. The new religion says that he is the atheist who does not believe in himself.[Source]
- He is in everything, He is everything. Every man and woman is the palpable, blissful, living God.[Source]
- He is neither evil nor good; He is the best.[Source]
- He is the all in all; He is all and in all.[Source]
- He is in the heart of man, the Soul of our souls, the Reality in us.[Source]
- He is in the heart of our hearts.[Source]
- He is not a God outside, but He is inside.[Source]
- He is the Essence of all this, tie Soul of my soul.[Source]
- He is the Oneness, the Unity of all, the Reality of all life and all existence.[Source]
- He is the only object to be loved; my nature is to love Him, and therefore I love. I do not pray for anything; I do not ask for anything. Let Him place me wherever He likes. I must love Him for love’s sake. I cannot trade in love.[Source]
- He is the Witness, the eternal Witness of all knowledge.[Source]
- He knows where the bark will reach the shore. . . .[Source]
- He who desires God will get Love, unto him God gives Himself.[Source]
- How does that mercy act? He reveals Himself to the pure heart; the pure and the stainless see God, yea, even in this life; then and then only all the crookedness of the heart is made straight.[Source]
- I am to create a new order of humanity here who are sincere believers in God and care nothing for the world.[Source]
- I have been asked many times, “Why do you use that old word, God? ” Because it is the best word for our purpose; you cannot find a better word than that, because all the hopes, aspirations, and happiness of humanity have been centred in that word. It is impossible now to change the word. Words like these were first coined by great saints who realised their import and understood their meaning. But as they become current in society, ignorant people take these words, and the result is that they lose their spirit and glory. The word God has been used from time immemorial, and the idea of this cosmic intelligence, and all that is great and holy, is associated with it. Do you mean to say that because some fool says it is not all right, we should throw it away? Another man may come and say, “Take my word,” and another again, “Take my word.” So there will be no end to foolish words. Use the old word, only use it in the true spirit, cleanse it of superstition, and realise fully what this great ancient word means. If you understand the power of the laws of association, you will know that these words are associated with innumerable majestic and powerful ideas; they have been used and worshipped by millions of human souls and associated by them with all that is highest and best, all that is rational, all that is lovable, and all that is great and grand in human nature. And they come as suggestions of these associations, and cannot be given up.[Source]
- I see God, therefore He exists.[Source]
- I shall call you religious from the day you begin to see God in men and women.[Source]
- If I am God, then my soul is a temple of the Highest, and my every motion should be a worship — love for love’s sake, duty for duty’s sake, without hope of reward or fear of punishment. Thus my religion means expansion, and expansion means realisation and perception in the highest sense — no mumbling words or genuflections. Man is to become divine, realising the divine more and more from day to day in an endless progress.[Source]
- If no God, what is the use of life?[Source]
- If the mother is pleased, and the father, God is pleased with the man.[Source]
- If I may be allowed to use a simile, creation and creator are two lines, without beginning and without end. beginning and without end, running parallel to each other.
- If you are not God, there never was any God, and never will be.[Source]
- It is feeling that is the life, the strength, the vitality, without which no amount of intellectual activity can reach God.
- If there is a God, He is in our own hearts.[Source]
- In our miseries and struggles the world seems to us a very dreadful place. But just as when we watch two puppies playing and biting we do not concern ourselves at all, realising that it is only fun and that even a sharp nip now and then will do no actual harm, so all our struggles are but play in God’s eyes. This world is all for play and only amuses God; nothing in it can make God angry.[Source]
- In this world nothing is permanent except God.[Source]
- In worshipping God we have been always worshipping our own hidden Self.[Source]
- Infinite strength is religion and God.[Source]
- It is creation in the human soul that covers up God; that is why there is so much difference in God-ideals. Only when creation stops can we find the Absolute. The Absolute is in the soul, not in creation. So by stopping creation, we come to know the Absolute. When we think of ourselves, we think of the body; and when we think of God, we think of Him as body. To stop the gyrations of the mind, so that the soul may become manifested, is the work. Training begins with the body. Breathing trains the body, gets it into a harmonious condition. The object of the breathing exercises is to attain meditation and concentration. If you can get absolutely still for just one moment, you have reached the goal. The mind may go on working after that; but it will never be the same mind again. You will know yourself as you are—your true Self. Still the mind but for one moment, and the truth of your real nature will flash upon you, and freedom is at hand: no more bondage after that. This follows from the theory that if you can know an instant of time, you know all time, as the whole is the rapid succession of one. Master the one, know thoroughly one instant—and freedom is reached.[Source]
- It is He who is in the child, in the wife, and in the husband; it is He who is in the good and in the bad; He is in the sin and in the sinner; He is in life and in death.[Source]
- It is not at all necessary to be educated or learned to get to God.[Source]
- Life is not real. The real is God.[Source]
- Look upon every man, woman, and everyone as God. You cannot help anyone, you can only serve: serve the children of the Lord, serve the Lord Himself, if you have the privilege.
- “Lord, they build high temples in Your name; they make large gifts in Your name; I am poor; I have nothing; so I take this body of mine and place it at Your feet. Do not give me up, O Lord.” Such is the prayer proceeding out of the depths of the Bhakta’s heart. To him who has experienced it, this eternal sacrifice of the self unto the Beloved Lord is higher by far than all wealth and power, than even all soaring thoughts of renown and enjoyment. The peace of the Bhakta’s calm resignation is a peace that passeth all understanding and is of incomparable value. His Apratikulya is a state of the mind in which it has no interests and naturally knows nothing that is opposed to it. In this state of sublime resignation everything in the shape of attachment goes away completely, except that one all-absorbing love to Him in whom all things live and move and have their being. This attachment of love to God is indeed one that does not bind the soul but effectively breaks all its bondages.[Source]
- Losing faith in one’s self means losing faith in God.[Source]
- Love of God cannot be reached by the weak; therefore, be not weak, either physically, mentally, morally or spiritually.[Source]
- Man can become like God and acquire control over the whole universe if he multiplies infinitely his centre of self-consciousness.[Source]
- Man does not manufacture God out of his own brain; but he can only see God in the light of his own capacity, and he attributes to Him the best of all he knows. Each attribute is the whole of God, and this signifying the whole by one quality is the metaphysical explanation of the personal God. Ishvara is without form yet has all forms, is without qualities yet has all qualities. As human beings, we have to see the trinity of existence — God, man, nature; and we cannot do otherwise.[Source]
- Matter can never be your God; body can never be your God.[Source]
- My son, I believe in God, and I believe in man. I believe in helping the miserable. I believe in going even to hell to save others.[Source]
- No authority can save us, no beliefs. If there is a God, all can find Him. No one needs to be told it is warm; all can discover it for themselves. So it should be with God. He should be a fact in the consciousness of every person.
- No book ever created God, but God inspired all the great books.[Source]
- No man can really see God except through these human manifestations. If we try to see God otherwise, we make for ourselves a hideous caricature of Him and believe the caricature to be no worse than the original. There is a story of an ignorant man who was asked to make an image of the God Shiva, and who, after days of hard struggle, manufactured only the image of a monkey. So whenever we try to think of God as He is in His absolute perfection, we invariably meet with the most miserable failure, because as long as we are men, we cannot conceive Him as anything higher than man.[Source]
- No study has taken so much of human energy, whether in times past or present, as the study of the soul, of God, and of human destiny.[Source]
- Nowadays it is asserted that man is infinitely progressing, forward and forward, and there is no goal of perfection to attain to. Ever approaching, never attaining, whatever that may mean and however wonderful it may be, it is absurd on the face of it. Is there any motion in a straight line? A straight line infinitely projected becomes a circle, it returns to the starting point. You must end where you begin; and as you began in God, you must go back to God.[Source]
- Seeing God is the aim and goal of all human life.[Source]
- Stand as a rock; you are indestructible. You are the Self (atman), the God of the universe.
- Silly fools tell you that you are sinners, and you sit down in a corner and weep. It is foolishness, wickedness, downright rascality to say that you are sinners! You are all God. See you not God and call Him man?[Source]
- So long as man thinks of God as a Being sitting above the clouds, with rewards in one hand and punishments in the other, there can be no love. Can you frighten one into love? Does the lamb love the lion? The mouse, the cat? The slave, the master? Slaves sometimes simulate love, but is it love? Where do you ever see love in fear? It is always a sham. With love never comes the idea of fear.[Source]
- Such questions as, “Why did God create the universe?” “Why did the All – perfect create the imperfect?” etc., can never be answered, because such questions are logical absurdities. Reason exists in nature; beyond nature it has no existence. God is omnipotent, hence to ask why He did so and so is to limit Him; for it implies that there is a purpose in His creating the universe. If He has a purpose, it must be a means to an end, and this would mean that He could not have the end without the means. The questions, why and wherefore, can only be asked of something which depends upon something else.[Source]
- Thank God for giving you this world as a moral gymnasium to help your development, but never imagine you can help the world.[Source]
- The Absolute Truth is God alone.[Source]
- The concept of God is a fundamental element in the human constitution.[Source]
- The conception of God, therefore, is as essential and as fundamental a part of mind as is the idea of bondage. Both are the outcome of the idea of freedom. There cannot be life, even in the plant, without the idea of freedom. In the plant or in the worm, life has to rise to the individual concept. It is there, unconsciously working, the plant living its life to preserve the variety, principle, or form, not nature. The idea of nature controlling every step onward overrules the idea of freedom. Onward goes the idea of the material world, onward moves the idea of freedom. Still the fight goes on. We are hearing about all the quarrels of creeds and sects, yet creeds and sects are just and proper, they must be there. The chain is lengthening and naturally the struggle increases, but there need be no quarrels if we only knew that we are all striving to reach the same goal.
- The ego that asserts, “I am the servant of God” is the characteristic of the true devotee. It is the ego of Vidya (knowledge), and is called “ripe” ego.
- The embodiment of freedom, the Master of nature, is what we call God.[Source]
- The essential thing in religion is making the heart pure; the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, but only the pure in heart can see the King. While we think of the world, it is only the world for us; but let us come to it with the feeling that the world is God, and we shall have God.
- The first gods we have to worship are our countrymen.[Source]
- The God in you is the God in all. If you have not known this, you have known nothing.[Source]
- The God of Love is the one thing to be worshipped. So long as we think of Him only as the Creator and Preserver, we can offer Him external worship, but when we get beyond all that and think Him to be Love Incarnate, seeing Him in all things and all things in Him, it is then that supreme Bhakti is attained.[Source]
- The highest ideal of every man is called God. Ignorant or wise, saint or sinner, man or woman, educated or uneducated, cultivated or uncultivated, to every human being the highest ideal is God.[Source]
- The ideal of man is to see God in everything. But if you cannot see Him in everything, see Him in one thing, in that thing which you like best, and then see Him in another. So on you can go.[Source]
- The life of God is infinite.[Source]
- The Lord is the only One who never changes. His love never fails. Wherever we are and whatever we do, He is ever and ever the same merciful, the same loving heart. He never changes, He is never angry, whatever we do. How can God be angry with us? Your babe does many mischievous things: are you angry with that babe? Does not God know what we are going to be? He knows we are all going to be perfect, sooner or later. He has patience, infinite patience. We must love Him, and everyone that lives — only in and through Him. This is the keynote.[Source]
- The moment I have realised God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him—that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.
- The more we come out and do good to others, the more our hearts will be purified, and God will be in them.
- The nearer we approach God, the more do we begin to see that all things are in Him.[Source]
- The only object unchangeable and the only complement of character and aspirations of the human Soul is God.[Source]
- The real happiness is God. Love is God, freedom is God; and everything that is bondage is not God.[Source]
- The Self when it appears behind the universe is called God. The same Self when it appears behind this little universe—the body—is the soul.
- (The) sentient Being which is behind the whole universe is what we call God, and consequently this universe is not different from Him. It is He Himself who has become this universe. He not only is the instrumental cause of this universe, but also the material cause. Cause is never different from effect, the effect is but the cause reproduced in another form.[Source]
- The sum total of this whole universe is God Himself.[Source]
- The ultimate goal of all mankind, the aim and end of all religions, is but one— re-union with God, or, what amounts to the same, with the divinity which is every man’s true nature. But the aim is one, the method of attaining may vary with the different temperaments of men.
- The universe is—objectified God.[Source]
- The vast majority of men are atheists… Who wants God? That is the question. Do you think that all this mass of people in the world want God, and cannot get Him? That cannot be. What want is there without its object outside? Man wants to breathe, and there is air for him to breathe. Man wants to eat, and there is food to eat… A disciple went to his master and said to him, “Sir, I want religion.” The master looked at the young man, and did not speak, but only smiled. The young man came every day, and insisted that he wanted religion. But the old man knew better than the young man. One day, when it was very hot, he asked the young man to go to the river with him and take a plunge. The young man plunged in, and the old man followed him and held the young man down under the water by force. After the young man had struggled for a while, he let him go and asked him what he wanted most while he was under the water. “A breath of air”, the disciple answered. “Do you want God in that way? If you do, you will get Him in a moment,” said the master. Until you have that thirst, that desire, you cannot get religion, however you may struggle with your intellect, or your books, or your forms. Until that thirst is awakened in you, you are no better than any atheist; only the atheist is sincere, and you are not… A great sage used to say, “Suppose there is a thief in a room, and somehow he comes to know that there is a vast mass of gold in the next room, and that there is only a thin partition between the two rooms What would be the condition of that thief? He would be sleepless, he would not be able to eat or do anything. His whole mind would be on getting that gold. Do you mean to say that, if all these people really believed that the Mine of Happiness, of Blessedness, of Glory were here, they would act as they do in the world, without trying to get God?” As soon as a man begins to believe there is a God, he becomes mad with longing to get to Him. Others may go their way, but as soon as a man is sure that there is a much higher life than that which he is leading here, as soon as he feels sure that the senses are not all, that this limited, material body is as nothing compared with the immortal, eternal, undying bliss of the Self, he becomes mad until he finds out this bliss for himself.[Source]
- The very idea of God is love.[Source]
- The whole universe is a symbol, and God is the essence behind.[Source]
- The way to God is the opposite to that of the world. And to few, very few, are given to have God and mammon at the same time.[Source]
- The whole world is full of God and not of sin. Let us help one another, let us love one another.[Source]
- There are four general types of men— the rational, the emotional, the mystical, and the worker. For each of these we must provide suitable forms of worship. There comes the rational man, who says, “I care not for this form of worship. Give me the philosophical, the rational— that I can appreciate.” So for the rational man is the rational philosophic worship. There comes the worker. He says, “I care not for the worship of the philosopher. Give me work to do for my fellow men.” So for him is provided work as the path of worship. As for the mystical and the emotional, we have their respective modes of devotion. All these men have, in religion, the elements of their faith.
- There is a God, no joke. He is ordering our lives, and although I know a nation of slaves cannot but try to bite at the hand that wants to give them medicine, yet, pray with me, you — one of the few that have real sympathy for everything good, for everything great, one at least whom I know to be a man of true ring, nobility of nature, and a thorough sincerity of head and heart — pray with me: “Lead, kindly Light, amid th’ encircling gloom.”[Source]
- There is no purpose in view with God, because if there were some purpose, He would be nothing better than a man. Why should He need any purpose? If He had any, He would be bound by it. There would be something besides Him which was greater. For instance, the carpet-weaver makes a piece of carpet. The idea was outside of him, something greater. Now where is the idea to which God would adjust Himself? Just as the greatest emperors sometimes play with dolls, so He is playing with this nature.[Source]
- There is not one system in India which does not hold the doctrine that God is within, that Divinity resides within all things.[Source]
- There is nothing beyond God, and the sense enjoyments are simply something through which we are passing now in the hope of getting better things.
- There is only one ruler of the universe, and that is God.[Source]
- This is how we are to love God: “I do not want wealth, nor [friends, nor beauty], nor possessions, nor learning, nor even salvation. If it be Thy will, send me a thousand deaths. Grant me, this—that I may love Thee and that for love’s sake. That love which materialistic persons have for their worldly possessions, may that strong love come into my heart, but only for the Beautiful. Praise to God! Praise to God the Lover!” God is nothing else than that. He does not care for the wonderful things many Yogis can do. Little magicians do little tricks. God is the big magician; He does all the tricks. Who cares how many worlds [there are]? . . .[Source]
- This is no world. It is God Himself. In delusion we call it world.
- This universal intelligence is what we call God.[Source]
- To define God is—grinding the already ground; for He is the only being we know.[Source]
- To know God is to become God.[Source]
- Through soul, therefore, the analysis of the human soul alone, can we understand God.[Source]
- Understanding human nature is the highest knowledge, and only by knowing it can we know God. It is also a fact that the knowledge of God is the highest knowledge, and only by knowing God can we understand human nature.
- Unselfishness is God. One may live on a throne, in a golden palace, and be perfectly unselfish; and then he is in God. Another may live in a hut and wear rags, and have nothing in the world; yet, if he is selfish, he is intensely merged in the world.[Source]
- Vedantism teaches that there is but one existence and one thing real, and that is God.[Source]
- You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.[Source]
- You have to see God yourself.[Source]
- You must learn calm submission to the will of God.[Source]
- You must see God. The spirit must be realised, and that is practical religion.[Source]
Swami Vivekananda’s notes
Excerpts from the notes taken down in Madras, 1892–1893:[Source]
- The three essentials of Hinduism are belief in God, in the Vedas as revelation, in the doctrine of Karma and transmigration.
- Extremely nervous men succeed as religious men. They become fervent over whatever they take into their head. “All are mad in this world; some are mad after gold, others after women, and some are after God; if drowning is to be the fate of man, it is better to be drowned in an ocean of milk than in a pool of dung”, a devotee replied who was charged with madness.
- The God of Infinite Love and the object of Love sublime and infinite are painted blue. Krishna is painted blue, so also Solomon’s God of Love. It is a natural law that anything sublime and infinite is associated with blue colour. Take a handful of water, it is absolutely colourless. But look at the deep wide ocean; it is as blue as anything. Examine the space near you; it is colourless. But look at the infinite expanse of the sky; it is blue.
- The whole universe is one chain of existence, of which matter forms one pole and God the other; the doctrine of Vishishtadvaitism may be explained by some such ideas.
- A pious missionary went out on business. All of a sudden his three sons died of cholera. His wife covered the three dead bodies of her beloved children with a sheet and was awaiting her husband at the gate. When he returned, she detained him at the gate and put him the question, “My dear husband, some one entrusts something to you and in your absence suddenly takes it back. Will you feel sorry?” He replied, “Certainly I would not”. Then she took him in, removed the sheet and showed the three corpses. He bore this calmly and buried the bodies. Such is the strength of mind of those who hold firm faith in the existence of an all-merciful God who disposes of everything in the universe.
- The Absolute can never be thought of. We can have no idea of a thing unless it is finite. God the infinite can only be conceived and worshipped as the finite.
- The one thing unchangeable is God. Society is moving.
- Jagat (world) means that which is moving. God is Achala (immovable).
- The best scenery in the world can be seen on the sublime heights of the Himalayas. If one lives there for a time, he is sure to have mental calmness, however restless he might have been before. God is the highest form of generalised law. When once this law is known, all others can be explained as being subordinate to it. God is to religion what Newton’s law of gravity is to falling bodies.
- Loving only the good in God and nature—even a child does that. You should love the terrible and the painful as well. A father loves the child, even when he is giving him trouble.
- Virtue is that which tends to our improvement, and vice to our degeneration. Man is made up of three qualities—brutal, human, and godly. That which tends to increase the divinity in you is virtue, and that which tends to increase brutality in you is vice. You must kill the brutal nature and become human, that is, loving and charitable. You must transcend that too and become pure bliss, Sachchidananda, fire without burning, wonderfully loving, but without the weakness of human love, without the feeling of misery.
- Men can become Brahman but not God. If anybody becomes God, show me his creation. Vishvamitra’s creation is his own imagination. It should have obeyed Vishvamitra’s law. If anybody becomes a Creator, there would be an end of the world, on account of the conflict of laws. The balance is so nice that if you disturb the equilibrium of one atom, the whole world will come to an end.
- In God all natures are possible. But we can see Him only through human nature. We can love Him as we love a man—as father, son. The strongest love in the world is that between man and woman, and that also when it is clandestine. This is typified in the love between Krishna and Radha.
- You cannot injure anybody and sit quietly. It is a wonderful machinery—you cannot escape God’s vengeance.
- In the same man the mother sees a son, while the wife at the same time sees differently with different results. The wicked see in God wickedness. The virtuous see in Him virtue. He admits of all forms. He can be moulded according to the imagination of each person. Water assumes various shapes in various vessels. But water is in all of them. Hence all religions are true.
- God is cruel and not cruel. He is all being and not being at the same time. Hence He is all contradictions. Nature also is nothing but a mass of contradictions.
- If you wish to become a saint, you should renounce all kinds of pleasures. Ordinarily, you may enjoy all, but pray to God for guidance, and He will lead you on.
- We cannot imagine anything which is not God. He is all that we can imagine with our five senses, and more. He is like a chameleon; each man, each nation, sees one face of Him and at different times, in different forms. Let each man see and take of God whatever is suitable to him. Compare each animal absorbing from nature whatever food is suitable to it.
- The highest Advaitism cannot be brought down to practical life. Advaitism made practical works from the plane of Vishishtadvaitism. Dvaitism—small circle different from the big circle, only connected by Bhakti; Vishishtadvaitism—small circle within big circle, motion regulated by the big circle; Advaitism—small circle expands and coincides with the big circle. In Advaitism “I” loses itself in God. God is here, God is there, God is “I”.
Why we worship God(s)?
Desire is infinite. Its fulfilment is very limited.. There is no end to our desires; but when we go to fulfil them, the difficulty comes. It has been so with the most primitive minds, when their desires were [few]. Even [these] could not be accomplished. Now, with our arts and sciences improved and multiplied, our desires cannot be fulfilled [either]. On the other hand, we are struggling to perfect means for the fulfilment of desires, and the desires are increasing…
The most primitive man naturally wanted help from outside for things which he could not accomplish. …He desired something, and it could not be obtained. He wanted help from other powers. The most ignorant primitive man and the most cultivated man today, each appealing to God and asking for the fulfilment of some desire, are exactly the same. What difference? [Some people] find a great deal of difference. We are always finding much difference in things when there is no difference at all. Both [the primitive man and the cultivated man] plead to the same [power]. You may call it God or Allah or Jehovah. Human beings want something and cannot get it by their own powers, and are after someone who will help them. This is primitive, and it is still present with us.[Source]
Man alone becomes God
In August 1895, ia letter written to Mrs Bull, Vivekananda wrote—[Source]
The older I grow, the more I see behind the idea of the Hindus that man is the greatest of all beings. So say the Mohammedans too. The angels were asked by Allah to bow down to Adam. Iblis did not, and therefore he became Satan. This earth is higher than all heavens; this is the greatest school in the universe; and the Mars or Jupiter people cannot be higher than we, because they cannot communicate with us. The only so-called higher beings are the departed, and these are nothing but men who have taken another body. This is finer, it is true, but still a man-body, with hands and feet, and so on. And they live on this earth in another Âkâsha, without being absolutely invisible. They also think, and have consciousness, and everything else like us. So they also are men, so are the Devas, the angels. But man alone becomes God; and they all have to become men again in order to become God.
Theorising about God will not do. . .
From Inspired Talks—[Source]
Theorising about God will not do; we must love and work. Give up the world and all worldly things, especially while the “plant” is tender. Day and night think of God and think of nothing else as far as possible. The daily necessary thoughts can all be thought through God. Eat to Him, drink to Him, sleep to Him, see Him in all. Talk of God to others; this is most beneficial.
Get the mercy of God and of His greatest children: these are the two chief ways to God. The company of these children of light is very hard to get; five minutes in their company will change a whole life; and if you really want it enough, one will come to you. The presence of those who love God makes a place holy, “such is the glory of the children of the Lord”. They are He; and when they speak, their words are scriptures. The place where they have been becomes filled with their vibrations, and those going there feel them and have a tendency to become holy also.
How should we love God?
The Bhagavad Gita suggests to work incessantly but without any desire. Swami Vivekananda asked to love God for love’s sake. He told—It is good to love God for hope of reward in this or the next world, but it is better to love God for love’s sake, and the prayer goes: “Lord, I do not want wealth, nor children, nor learning. If it be Thy will, I shall go from birth to birth, but grant me this, that I may love Thee without the hope of reward — love unselfishly for love’s sake.” One of the disciples of Krishna, the then Emperor of India, was driven from his kingdom by his enemies and had to take shelter with his queen in a forest in the Himalayas, and there one day the queen asked him how it was that he, the most virtuous of men, should suffer so much misery. Yudhishthira answered, “Behold, my queen, the Himalayas, how grand and beautiful they are; I love them. They do not give me anything, but my nature is to love the grand, the beautiful, therefore I love them. Similarly, I love the Lord. He is the source of all beauty, of all sublimity. He is the only object to be loved; my nature is to love Him, and therefore I love. I do not pray for anything; I do not ask for anything. Let Him place me wherever He likes. I must love Him for love’s sake. I cannot trade in love.”[Source]
Stick to God
In a letter written to Hale Sisters on 31 July 1894, Vivekananda suggested them—Stick to God! Who cares what comes to the body or to anything else! Through the terrors of evil, say — my God, my love! Through the pangs of death, say — my God, my love! Through all the evils under the sun, say — my God, my love! Thou art here, I see Thee. Thou art with me, I feel Thee. I am Thine, take me. I am not of the world’s but Thine, leave not then me. Do not go for glass beads leaving the mine of diamonds! This life is a great chance. What, seekest thou the pleasures of the
world? — He is the fountain of all bliss. Seek for the highest, aim at that highest, and you shall reach the highest.
He who wants to love God…
While discussing the preparation of Bhakti Yoga, Vivekananda told—[Source]He who wants to love God must get rid of extreme desires, desire nothing except God. This world is good so far as it helps one to go to the higher world. The objects of the senses are good so far as they help us to attain higher objects. We always forget that this world is a means to an end, and not an end itself. If this were the end we should be immortal here in our physical body; we should never die. But we see people every moment dying around us, and yet, foolishly, we think we shall never die; and from that conviction we come to think that this life is the goal. That is the case with ninety-nine per cent of us. This notion should be given up at once. This world is good so far as it is a means to perfect ourselves; and as soon as it has ceased to be so, it is evil. So wife, husband, children, money and learning, are good so long as they help us forward; but as soon as they cease to do that, they are nothing but evil. If the wife help us to attain God, she is a good wife; so with a husband or a child. If money help a man to do good to others, it is of some value; but if not, it is simply a mass of evil, and the sooner it is got rid of, the better.
What happens when someone attains perfection?
… what becomes of a man when he attains perfection? He lives a life of bliss infinite. He enjoys infinite and perfect bliss, having obtained the only thing in which man ought to have pleasure, namely God, and enjoys the bliss with God.[Source]