You might say here, Well, if that is what we are really doing, then what is wrong with recognized spiritual practices? Let us forget man and everything else. Even to serve somebody with detachment means mingling with other people and living in the world all these things are awfully upsetting. Let us get away from it all and go to a quiet place where nature is in harmony with our aspirations, meditate a little, and grow spiritual. What is the harm?’ This is the harm: What view of yourself do you think you have when you propose yourself as a candidate for solitude? Are you not viewing yourself as a small, isolated being? And as long as you have that idea of yourself, how can you achieve much for yourself or for others?
Implied in Swami Vivekananda’s teaching of karma yoga is a different view of God and man. As most of you know, in the summer of 1895 he and about twelve students spent six or seven weeks in a place called Thousand Island Park on an island in the Saint Lawrence River. And there he used to give most inspiring talks; it was a beautiful time. Some of those talks were recorded in longhand by one of the students and were published under the title Inspired Talks. When I was in high school I became very much enamoured of that book; I cannot tell you the delight I derived from it. It is so terse and condensed that every sentence provides immense scope for thinking and contemplation; there is no end to the depth of those sentences. And in that book there is the sentence Do not seek for Him, just see Him.’ When I came upon that sentence it was as though a great light flashed before me. Do not seek for Him, just see Him. That’s the essence of it. God is everywhere; what is the sense of seeking Him?
God is real. He is the only reality. He is here in this form. All that I have to do is to rub my eyes and see clearly. When we don’t see clearly, then we see men and women; and when we do see clearly, we see God.
You will probably say that I am indulging in fantasy. No. I am telling you the truth, the literal truth. If you attain to that truth, you will find that all forms have become forms of God. Or sometimes forms just vanish away; all that remains is infinite divine substance. Or sometimes, if you are so inclined, you will find all these infinite forms have blended into one divine form. What do you think the form of a Christ or of a Krishna is? As Swami Vivekananda said, This universe is the wreckage of the infinite on the shores of the finite.’ This whole universe is like a jigsaw puzzle, and each form represents one of the fragments; so just as you can put the pieces of a puzzle together and get a complete picture, the mind sometimes sees that all these forms have blended together and have become one divine form the form of a Vishnu, the form of a Krishna, the form of a Christ.
Well, you see, when Swami Vivekananda said Do not seek for Him, just see Him’, that struck me as the very essence of the truth. Why should I seek Him? If I find this world to be real, then it must be God. Of course, if I don’t recognize it as real, if I don’t perceive it at all, or find it shadowlike, then I shall seek for God. But if this world is real, then it must be God. Whatever is real is God; whatever is existent is divine. So it is not a matter of seeking Him, it is a question of just seeing Him clearly. This is the same thing as the Swami’s teaching that this is the age of the worship of the Virat, the visible God. And having said this, he wanted us to continually reach towards God. The finite vision of this world is nothing but a representation of our ignorance; it has no place anywhere. And so there is a continual urge in us to transcend this finitude, this ignorance that is obsessing us, until we come to the clear atmosphere of true vision. That human urge is one thing Swami Vivekananda never forgot. He never forgot, further, that man is vast, he is the infinite Being. Every person is such; therefore all are one. It is this view of man which is behind his doctrine that we should serve God in all these visible forms.
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