Swami Vivekananda advised to follow the suggestion of the Bhagavad Gita, that asks to work “incessantly”. He told—
One of the greatest lessons I have learnt in my life is to pay as much attention to the means of work as to its end. He was a great man from whom I learnt it, and his own life was a practical demonstration of this great principle I have been always learning great lessons from that one principle, and it appears to me that all the secret of success is there; to pay as much attention to the means as to the end.
Our great defect in life is that we are so much drawn to the ideal, the goal is so much more enchanting, so much more alluring, so much bigger in our mental horizon, that we lose sight of the details altogether.
But whenever failure comes, if we analyse it critically, in ninety-nine per cent of cases we shall find that it was because we did not pay attention to the means. Proper attention to the finishing, strengthening, of the means is what we need. With the means all right, the end must come. We forget that it is the cause that produces the effect; the effect cannot come by itself; and unless the causes are exact, proper, and powerful, the effect will not be produced. Once the ideal is chosen and the means determined, we may almost let go the ideal, because we are sure it will be there, when the means are perfected. When the cause is there, there is no more difficulty about the effect, the effect is bound to come. If we take care of the cause, the effect will take care of itself. The realisation of the ideal is the effect. The means are the cause: attention to the means, therefore, is the great secret of life. We also read this in the Gita and learn that we have to work, constantly work with all our power; to put our whole mind in the work, whatever it be, that we are doing. At the same time, we must not be attached. That is to say, we must not be drawn away from the work by anything else; still, we must be able to quit the work whenever we like.[Source]
Swami Vivekananda on how to become successful in life or work
- To succeed, you must have tremendous perseverance, tremendous will. “I will drink the ocean,” says the persevering soul, “at my will mountains will crumble up.” Have that sort of energy, that sort of will, work hard, and you will reach the goal.
- 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.
- Never think there is anything impossible for the soul. It is the greatest heresy to think so. If there is sin, this is the only sin— to say that you are weak, or others are weak.
- Are great things ever done smoothly? Time, patience, and indomitable will must show. I could have told you many things that would have made your heart leap, but I will not. I want iron wills and hearts that do not know how to quake. Hold on.
- No need of looking behind. FORWARD! We want infinite energy, infinite zeal, infinite courage, and infinite patience, then only will great things be achieved.
- Do not figure out big plans at first, but begin slowly, feel your ground, and proceed up and up.
- Never mind the struggles, the mistakes. I never heard a cow tell a lie, but it is only a cow— never a man. So never mind these failures, these little backslidings; hold the ideal thousand times, and if you fail a thousand times, make the attempt once more.
- Struggle hard and then if you do not succeed, you are not to blame. [Source]
- Be not in despair, the way is very difficult, like walking on the edge of a razor; yet despair not, arise, awake,and find the ideal, the goal.
- Do not wait for anybody or anything. Do whatever you can. Build your hope on none.[Source]
- The moment you fear, you are nobody. It is fear that is the great cause of misery in the world. It is fear that is the greatest of all superstitions. It is fear that is the greatest of all superstitions. It is the fear that is the cause of our woes, and it is fearlessness that brings heaven even in a moment. Therefore ‘Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.’
- Be cheerful. . . . Hold on to your own ideal. . . . Above all, never attempt to guide or rule others, or, as the Yankees say, “boss” others. Be the servant of 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.
- Each work has to pass through these stages—ridicule, opposition, and then acceptance. Those who think ahead of their time are sure to be misunderstood.
- Go on bravely. Do not expect success in a day or a year. Always hold on to the highest. Be steady. Avoid jealousy and selfishness. Be obedient and eternally faithful to the causes of truth, humanity, and your country, and you will move the world. Remember it is the person, the life, which is the secret of power— nothing else.
- 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.[Source]
- Go on bravely — never mind about designs and other details at present — “With the horse will come the reins”. Work unto death — I am with you, and when I am gone, my spirit will work with you. This life comes and goes — wealth, fame, enjoyments are only of a few days. It is better, far better to die on the field of duty, preaching the truth, than to die like a worldly worm. Advance![Source]
- Let people say whatever they like, stick to your own convictions, and rest assured, the world will be at your feet. They say, “Have faith in this fellow or that fellow”, but I say, “Have faith in yourself first”, that’s the way. Have faith in yourself—all power is in you—be conscious and bring it out. Say, “I can do everything.”[Source]
- Every work has got to pass through hundreds of difficulties before succeeding. Those that persevere will see the light, sooner or later.[Source]
- Neither numbers nor powers nor wealth nor learning nor anything else will prevail, but purity, living the lief, in one word, anubhuti, realisation. Let there be a dozen such lion-souls in each country, lions who have broken their own bonds, who have touched the infinite, whose whole soul is gone to Brahman, who care neither for wealth nor power nor fame, and these will be enough to shake the world.
- . . . Work on, my brave boys. We shall see the light some day. . . Let things slowly grow. Rome was not built in a day.[Source]
- Persevere on, my brave lads. We have only just begun. Never despond! Never say enough!
- Work on, brave hearts, fail not — no saying nay; work on — the Lord is behind the work. Mahâshakti is with you.[Source]
- Work on! Hold on! Be brave! Dare anything and everything![Source]
- Money all all will come of themselves, we want men, not money, It is man that makes everything, what can money do?
- One of the greatest lessons I have learnt in my life is to pay as much attention to the means of work as to its end…. and it appears to me that all the secret of success is there; to pay as much attention to the means as to the end.[Source]
- Let us work without desire for name or fame or rule over the others. Let us be free from the triple bonds of lust, greed of gain, and anger. And the truth is with us.
- Our great defect in life is that we are so much drawn to the ideal, the goal is so much more enchanting, so much more alluring, so much bigger in our mental horizon, that we lose sight of the details altogether… One of the greatest lessons I have learnt in my life is to pay as much attention to the means of work as to its end. He was a great man from whom I learnt it, and his own life was a practical demonstration of this great principle I have been always learning great lessons from that one principle, and it appears to me that all the secret of success is there; to pay as much attention to the means as to the end.[Source]
- The man who says that he will work when the world has become all good and then he will enjoy bliss is as likely to succeed as the man who sits beside the Ganga and says, “I will ford the river when all the water has run into the ocean.”
- Be moral. Be brave. Be a heart-whole man. Strictly moral, brave unto desperation.
- Be of good cheer and believe that we are selected by the Lord to do great things, and we will do them.
- We would do nothing ourselves and would scoff at others who try to do something— this is the bane that has brought our downfall as a nation. Want of sympathy and lack of energy are at the root of all misery, and you must therefore give these two up. Who but the Lord knows what potentialities there are in particular individuals— let all have opportunities, and leave the rest to the Lord. It is indeed very difficult to have an equal love for all, but without it there is nomukti.
- Say, “This misery that I am suffering is of my own doing, and that very thing proves that it will have to be undone by me alone.” That which I created, I can demolish… Therefore stand up, be bold, be strong, Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders, and know that you are the creator of your destiny. All the strength and succour you want is within yourself.
- No great work can be achieved by humbug. It is through love, a passion for truth, and tremendous energy, that all undertakings are accomplished.[Source]
- The brave alone do great things, not the cowards. Know once for all, you faithless ones, that I am in the hands of the Lord. So long as I am pure and His servant, not a hair of my head will be touched. . . . Do something for the nation, then they will help you, then the nation will be with you. Be brave, be brave! Man dies but once. My disciples must not be cowards.[Source]
- Take courage and work on. Patience and steady work— this is the only way.
- Work hard. Be holy and pure and the fire will come.[Source]
- Purity, patience, and perseverance overcome all obstacles. All great things must of necessity be slow.
- When you feel gloomy, think what has been done within the last year. How, rising from nothing.[Source]
- I want each one of my children to be a hundred times greater than I could ever be. Everyone of you must be a giant—must, that is my word. Obedience, readiness, and love for the cause— if you have these three, nothing can hold you back.
- My blessings on you all, my brave, steadfast, and loving souls.[Source]
- Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.
An old story
In a letter written to Alasinga Perumal 1894, Swami Vivekananda wrote this story—[Source]
Listen to an old story. A lazy tramp sauntering along the road saw an old man sitting at the door of his house and stopped to inquire of him the whereabouts of a certain place. “How far is such and such a village?” he asked. The old man remained silent. The man repeated his query several times. Still there was no answer. Disgusted at this, the traveller turned to go away. The old man then stood up and said, “The village of — is only a mile from here.” “What!” said the tramp, “Why did you not speak when I asked you before?” “Because then”, said the old man, “you seemed so halting and careless about proceeding, but now you are starting off in good earnest, and you have a right to an answer.”
Will you remember this story, my son? Go to work, the rest will come: “Whosoever not trusting in anything else but Me, rests on Me, I supply him with everything he needs” (Gitâ, IX. 22). This is no dream.