There is a further consideration: We are living in a new age, and it has only just begun. This age will, I believe, continue for many, many centuries, and in the course of it a great deal will have to be done by man unto man. You see, this is the age of Man and not of God. Don’t be frightened; the Hindu conception of mankind is not something divorced from God. But, if you are accustomed to thinking of man as separate and different from God, then I say the preoccupation of this age is Man not God. I am not thinking here of the solitary few who always go counter to the currents of the times; no, I am saying that the major movement of the human mind in this age is towards the upliftment and glorification of mankind. That’s the thing.
Swami Vivekananda, who was a man with authority to speak of such matters he was the soul of this age said again and again: This is the age of the worship of the Virat, the visible God.’2 Who is the visible God? 77lis is the visible God, this which you see. The reality that you see, that which is real to you, this is God. This vast universe that you see spread before you, which you are perceiving every moment of your existence, this is God boundless, boundless. This is called the Virat in Sanskrit, which means the vast one’. Well,’ you might say, shouting will not make it God; it is mostly just matter, with a little sprinkling of life and a little sprinkling of consciousness. How can you say that this is God?’ I say this is God! Rub your eyes and see clearly! You are seeing things, as it were, with eyes closed in slumber. You are rarely able to open your eyes. Rub your eyes and try to open them; get your eyes accustomed to the light, and then you will find that what you thought to be the material world is not really material, but the actual Being of God present before you. And of this Being, Swami Vivekananda used to say men and women, human beings, are the highest expression.
Now, you should not confuse the Swami’s concept of the worship of man with social service or with doing good to others. All those things are included in it; but it is something more. Swami Vivekananda never forgot that man is continually reaching towards divinity. Whatever a human being is doing here, even stealing, even murdering, he is actually reaching towards God. He wrote in one of his Bengali poems that when the thief steals or the murderer kills he is really reaching towards God in love, though he does not know it. Of course we say, Well, that’s going a bit too far’. But then we don’t know much. It is only an expert who knows. In medical matters you will admit your ignorance and will accept a doctor’s word. But when it comes to studying the human mind and the movements of the human soul, we think we know everything, we don’t need an expert. Experts, however, see rightly: they see that all beings are furiously moving towards the realization of their own divinity that is all they are doing. Swami Vivekananda never forgot that. Never did he tell anyone that the only thing to do is social service. He never said that. Of course, you will find many Indian writers praising Swami Vivekananda, or his monastic order, for having instituted social service in India. Those who say that they don’t know much. One cannot know a soul such as Vivekananda until one has given years and years of deep, meditative thought. Do you think you can grasp the movements of the mind of a Christ or a Buddha or a Vivekananda with just a little irritation of your brain cells? You should never think you can. Don’t cheapen anything, because that is self-degradation.
One thing in the present age which I find most tragic is that human beings have forgotten their ability to be great. They have brought everything down to the level of a common mind. It is said the common mind is one per cent intelligent, and everything is being studied and interpreted with this one per cent of intelligence. That is condemning the human soul. Man has proved his greatness in past ages, if not also in the present age. But all these evidences of the greatness of the human being and of his profound depths are just brushed aside, and human history has been reduced to a recital of meagre achievements.^” No wonder, therefore, that there are millions and millions of average men who are becoming more and more dull. Very soon they will not have any brain left. No! We are great. Every single one of us is destined to realize the highest truth. Everything that we do is a movement towards that realization. In the Bhagavad-Gita Sri Krishna said: mama vartma-nuvartante manusyahpartha sarvasah3 Everything that man does in every way is really a movement towards Me, progress towards Me.’ Swami Vivekananda recognized that same truth.
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