Words of Nectar

Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda the first eastern teacher to open the gates of Vedanta treasure for entire world himself writes to Sister Nivedita, 'My ideal indeed can be put into a few words and that is: to preach unto mankind their divinity, and how to make it manifest in every movement of life.' Being Self-Realized master himself, he worked throughout his life for the all-round spiritual growth of humanity. The 'Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda' contain all the lectures, talks, letters, addresses, writings, conversations by the great Swami. In the present age, a set of these nine volumes is an excellent source to understand Vedanta. In these books, every possible human and social situation is dealt from the 'Pure-Consciousness-Bliss Reality' point of view. In the words of Swami Ranganathananda,'To the earnest, seeking, storm-tossed souls of the modern world, a study of Swami Vivekananda's Vedanta has been, and is bound to be, like a bath in the Ganga for a weary pilgrim, a refreshing experience, a spiritual re-birth.'

The 'Complete Works' set is pulished by Advaita Ashrama, a branch of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission and can be purchased from Advaita Ashrama or Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai or Vedanta Society of Northern California or Vedanta Books. These volumes are also available online at Belur Math and at Advaita Ashrama.

Following are few quotations from Swami Vivekananda's 'Complete Works'; relevant volume number/page number is mentioned below each quotation.

Teach yourselves, teach every one his real nature, call upon the sleeping soul and see how it awakes. Power will come, glory will come, goodness will come, purity will come, and everything that is excellent will come when this sleeping soul is roused to self-conscious activity.
-Vol III P193

Birth, life and death are but old superstitions. None was ever born, none will ever die, one changes ones position thats all. This is first fact of consciousness-I am.
-Vol II P31,32

That is the secret: To think that I am the spirit and not the body and that the whole of this universe with all its relations, with all its good and all its evil is but as a series of paintings-scenes on a canvas-of which I am the witness.
-Vol II p37

I am He, whatever mind does, I am not touched. The sun is not touched by shining on filthy places. I am existence.
-Vol I P502

No excuse for you! So much the worse for you that you know all the philosophies and at the same time think you are the body! Religion is the realization of spirit as spirit.
-Vol I P469

This I say,

Remember pray,

That God is true, all else is nothing!

The world is a dream,

Though true it seem.

The only truth is He the living!

The real me is none but He, the real me is none but He

And never never the matter changing!
-Vol VIII P166

And tell the world --

Awake, arise, and dream no more!

This is the land of dreams, where Karma

Weaves unthreaded garlands with our thoughts

Of flowers sweet or noxious, and none

Has root or stem, being born in naught, which

The softest breath of Truth drives back to

Primal nothingness. Be bold, and face

The Truth! Be one with it! Let visions cease,

Or, if you cannot, dream but truer dreams,

Which are Eternal Love and Service Free.
-Vol IV P388-89

Attach yourself to the Lord and nothing else, because everything else is unreal. Attachment to the unreal will bring misery.
-Vol I P442

I do not believe in humility. I believe in Samadarshitva same state of mind with regard to all. The duty of the ordinary man is to obey the commands of his "God", society; but the children of light never do so. This is an eternal law. The accommodating man finds a path of roses; the non-accommodating, one of thorns. But the worshippers of "Vox populi" go to annihilation in a moment; the children of truth live for ever.
-Vol V P70

until we are ready to sacrifice everything else to one idea and to the one alone, we never, never will see the light.
-Vol VI P301,302

The body is not the Real Man, neither is the mind, for the mind waxes and wanes. It is the spirit which alone can live for ever....
... These are old delusions, however comfortable they are, to think that we are little limited beings, constantly changing.
-Vol II P79

Assert it, manifest it. Not to become pure, you are pure already, you are not to be perfect, you are that already.
-Vol II P82

Talk not of impurity, but say that we are pure, we have hypnotized ourselves into this thought that we are little, that we are born, and that we are going to die, and into a constant state of fear.
-Vol II P86

infinite strength of the world is yours. Drive out the superstition that has covered your minds. Let us be brave. Know the Truth and practice the Truth. The goal may be distant, but arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached.
-Vol II P87

Maya - it is a simple statement of facts - what we are and what we see around us.
what does the statement of existence of the world mean then? It means that it has no absolute existence. It exists only in relation to my mind, to your mind and to the mind of everyone else. we have to work in and through it. It is a mixture of existence and non-existence. there is neither how nor why in fact; we only know it is and that we can not help it. the very basis of our being is contradiction.
-Vol II P89-104

Good and bad are never two different things, they are one and the same; the difference is not one of kind, but of degree.
-Vol II P127

conquest of evil comes by the change in the subjective alone. That is how the Adviata system gets its whole force, on the subjective side of man. To talk of evil and misery is non-sense, because they do not exist outside.
-Vol II P137

hold the ideal a thousand times, and if you fail a thousand times, make the attempt once more. The ideal of man is to see God in everything.
-Vol II P152

You are pure already, you are free already. If you think you are free, free you are this moment, and if you think you are bound, bound you will be.
-Vol II P195

I have neither death nor fear, I have neither caste nor creed, I have neither father nor mother nor brother, neither friend nor foe, for I am Existence, Knowledge and Bliss absolute; I am the blissful one, I am the blissful one. I am not bound either by virtue or vice, by happiness or misery. Pilgrimages and books and ceremonials can never bind me. I have neither hunger nor thirst; the body is not mine, nor I am subject to the superstitions and decay that come to the body, I am Existence, Knowledge and Bliss absolute; I am the Blissful One, I am the Blissful One.
This says Vedanta is the only prayer that we should have.
-Vol II P202

There is no I nor you; it is all one. It is either all I or all you. This idea of duality, of two, is entirely false, and the whole universe, as we ordinarily know it, is the result of this false knowledge. When discrimination comes and man finds there are not two but one, he finds that he is himself this universe. "It is I who am this universe as it now exists, a continuous mass of change. It is I who am beyond all changes, beyond all qualities, the eternally perfect, the eternally blessed." There is, therefore, but one Atman, one Self, eternally pure, eternally perfect, unchangeable, unchanged; it has never changed; all these various changes in the universe are but appearances in that one Self.
-Vol II P275

and the greatest of all lies is that we are bodies, which we never were nor ever can be.
-Vol II P279

This Atman is first to be heard of. Hear day and night that you are that soul. Repeat it to yourselves day & night till it enters into your very veins, till it tingles in every drop of blood, till it is in your flesh & bone. Let the whole body be full of that one ideal, I am the birth-less, the deathless, the blissful, the omniscient, the omnipotent ever-glorious soul.
-Vol II P302

You are that Impersonal Being; that God for whom you have been searching all over the universe is all the time yourself - yourself not in the personal sense but in the Impersonal. The man we know now, the manifested, is personalized, but reality of this is Impersonal.
-Vol II P334

We have to go beyond the body, and beyond thought too, says the Advaita. Perfection is not to be attained, it is already within us.
-Vol II P350

This is therefore, true knowledge: that the Soul of our souls, the Reality that is within us is that which is unchangeable, eternal, ever-blessed, ever-free. This is the only solid ground for us to stand upon.
-Vol II P402

I am neither the body, nor the organs, nor am I the mind; I am Existence, Knowledge and Bliss absolute; I am He. This is true knowledge; all reason and intellect and everything else is ignorance. Where is knowledge for me, for I am knowledge itself!
-Vol II P462

I am One, alone, through all eternity. Whom shall I fear? It is all my self. This is continuously to be meditated upon. Through that comes realization.
-Vol II P472

All these ideas that I am imperfect, I am a man, or a woman, or a sinner, or I am the mind. I have thought, I will think all are hallucinations; you never think, you never had a body; you never were imperfect.
-Vol III P9

Let things come and go, what is that to me, I am not the body.
-Vol III P18

When you look at the unchanging Existence from outside, you call it God; and when you look at it from the inside, you call it yourself. It is but One. There is no God separate from you, no God higher than you, the real you.
-Vol III P24

I am He, I am He Day and night say, I am He. It is greatest strength; it is religion.
-Vol III P26

If you know that you are positively other than your body, you have then none to fight with or struggle against; you are dead to all ideas of selfishness. So the Bhakta declares that we have to hold ourselves as if we are altogether dead to all the things of the world; and that is indeed self-surrender. Let things come as they may. This is the meaning of Thy Will be done.
-Vol III P84

The world is just a playground, and we are here having good fun, having a game, and God is with us playing all the while, and we are with Him playing.
-Vol III P94

What does Vedanta teach us? In the first place, it teaches that you need not even go out of yourself to know the truth. All the past and all the future are here in the present. No man ever saw the past. Did any one of you see the past? When you think you are knowing the past, you only imagine the past in the present moment. To see the future, you would have to bring it down to the present, which is the only reality the rest is imagination. This present is all that is. There is only One. All is here right now. One moment in Infinite time is quite as complete and all inclusive as every other moment. All that is and was and will be is here in the present. Let anybody try to imagine anything outside of it he will not succeed.
-Vol VIII P128

If matter is powerful, thought is omnipotent. Bring this thought to bear upon your life, fill yourself with the thought of your almightiness, your majesty and your glory.
-Vol II P302

It is the same question in connection with this world; it has no existence in the past, present, or future. If we have known the Atman as It is, if we have known that there is nothing else but this Atman, that everything else is but a dream, with no existence in reality, then this world with its poverties, its miseries, its wickedness, and its goodness will cease to disturb you.
-Vol III P11

True freedom can not exist in the midst of this delusion, this hallucination, this nonsense of the world, this universe of the sense, body and mind. All these dreams, without beginning or end, uncontrolled and uncontrollable, ill-adjusted, broken, inharmonious form our idea of this universe.
-Vol III P15

This world is a delusion of two days. The present life is of five minutes. Beyond is the infinite, beyond this world of delusion; let us seek that.
-Vol III P148

You must bear this in mind; it is not that there is a soul in man, although I had to take that for granted in order to explain it at first; but that there is only One Existence, and that One the Atman, the Self; and when this is perceived through sense-imageries, It is called body. When It is perceived through thought, It is called the mind. When It is perceived in Its own nature, It is Atman, the One Only Existence. So it is not that there are three things in one, the body and the mind and the Self, although that was a convenient way of putting it in the course of explanation; but all is that Atman, and that One Being is sometimes called the body, sometimes the world, and sometimes the Self, according to different vision.
-Vol III P20

Did Buddha teach that the many was real and the ego unreal, while orthodox Hinduism regards the One as the real, and the many as unreal? the Swami was asked. Yes, answered the Swami, And what Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and I have added to this is, that the many and the One are the same Reality, perceived by the same mind at different times and in different attitudes.
-Vol VIII P261

Swamiji: What fear is there? Always discriminate your body, your house, these Jivas and the world are all absolutely unreal like a dream. Always think that this body is only an inert instrument. And the self-contained Purusha within is your real nature. The adjunct of mind is His first and subtle covering, then there is this body which is His gross, outer covering. The indivisible, changeless, self-effulgent Purusha is lying hidden under these delusive veils therefore your real nature is unknown to you. The direction of the mind which always runs after the senses has to be turned within. The mind has to be killed. The body is but gross it dies and dissolves into the five elements. But the bundle of mental impressions, which is the mind, does not die soon. It remains for some time in seed form and then sprouts and grows in the form of a tree it takes on another physical body and goes the round of birth and death, until Self-knowledge arises. Therefore I say, by meditation and concentration and by the power of philosophical discrimination plunge this mind in the ocean of Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute. When the mind dies, all limiting adjuncts vanish and you are established in Brahman.
-Vol VII P94-95

The Atman is Knowledge, the Atman is Intelligence, the Atman is Sachchidananda. It is through the inscrutable power of Maya, which can not be indicated as either existent or non-existent, that the relative consciousness has come upon the Jiva who is none other than Brahman. This is generally known as the conscious state. And the state in which this duality of relative existence becomes one in the pure Brahman is called in the scriptures the super-conscious state and described in such words as स्तिमितसलिलराशिप्रख्यमाख्याविहीनम् It is like an ocean perfectly at rest and without a name (Vivekachudamani 410).
-Vol VII P196

Only the path of Jnana is of quick fruition and the rational of all other creeds; hence it is equally esteemed in all countries and all ages. But even in the path of discrimination there is the chance of the mind getting stuck in the interminable net of vain argumentation. Therefore along with it, meditation should be practiced. By means of discrimination and meditation, the goal or Brahman has to be reached. One is sure to reach the goal by practicing in this way. This, in my opinion, is the easy path ensuring quick success.
-Vol VII P198

The fact being that the Lord is in us, we are He, the eternal subject, the real ego, never to be objectified, and that all this objectifying process is mere waste of time and talent. When the soul becomes aware of this, it gives up objectifying and falls back more and more upon the subjective. This is the evolution, less and less in the body and more and more in the mind -- man the highest form, meaning in Sanskrit manas, thought -- the animal that thinks and not the animal that "senses" only. This is what in theology is called "renunciation".
-Vol VI P378

To manifest the Infinite through the finite is impossible, and sooner or later, man learns to give up the attempt to express the Infinite through the finite. This giving up, this renunciation of the attempt, is the background of ethics. Renunciation is the very basis upon which ethics stands. There never was an ethical code preached which had not renunciation for its basis. Infinite will never find expression upon the material plane, nor is it possible or thinkable.
-Vol II P62

What is meant by perfect manifestation? Perfection means infinity and manifestation means limit, and so it means that we shall become unlimited limiteds, which is self-contradictory. Such a theory may please children; but it is poisoning their minds with lies, and is very bad for religion. But we know that this world is a degradation, that man is a degradation of God But we shall never be able entirely to manifest the Infinite here. We shall struggle hard, but there will come a time when we shall find that it is impossible to be perfect here, while we are bound by the senses. And then the march back to our original state of Infinity will be sounded.
-Vol II P173

A good world, a happy world, and social progress, are all terms equally intelligible with hot ice or dark light. If it were good, it would not be the world. The soul foolishly thinks of manifesting the Infinite in finite matter, Intelligence through gross particles; but at last it finds out its error and tries to escape. This going-back is beginning of religion, and its method, destruction of self, that is love. Not love for wife or child or anybody else, but for everything else except this little self.
-Vol VIII P384

This world is all for play; and only amuses God; nothing in it can make God angry.
-Vol VII P5

We go through the world like a man pursued by a policeman and see the barest glimpses of the beauty of it. All this fear that pursues us comes from believing in matter. Matter gets its whole existence from the presence of mind behind it. What we see is God percolating through nature (i.e. matter and mind).
-Vol VII P6

We are confined nowhere; we are not body, the universe is our body. We are now conscious only where the body is, we can use only one brain; but when we reach ultra-consciousness, we know all, we can use all brains.
-Vol VII P7

Know you are the Infinite, then fear must die. Say ever, "I and my Father are one."
-Vol VII P7

Stand upon the Self, then only can we truly love the world. Take a very, very high stand; knowing our universal nature, we must look with perfect calmness upon all the panorama of the world. It is but baby's play, and we know that, so cannot be disturbed by it.
-Vol VII P11

The internal universe, the real, is infinitely greater than the external, which is only a shadowy projection of the true one. This world is neither true nor untrue, it is the shadow of truth.
-Vol VII P11

While we recognise a God, it is really only the Self which we have separated ourselves from and worship as outside of us; but it is our true Self all the time -- the one and only God.
-Vol VII P13

All lives belong to us as leaves to a book; but we are unchanged, the Witness, the Soul, upon whom the impression is made, as when the impression of a circle is made upon the eyes when a firebrand is rapidly whirled round and round.
-Vol VII P18

In thine own heart day and night is singing that Eternal Music -- sachchidananda, soham, soham -- existence-knowledge-bliss Absolute, I am He, I am He.
-Vol VII P20

Materialism says, the voice of freedom is a delusion. Idealism says, the voice that tells of bondage is delusion. Vedanta says, you are free and not free at the same time -- never free on the earthly plane, but ever free on the spiritual.
-Vol VII P32

Relative knowledge is good, because it leads to absolute knowledge; but neither the knowledge of the senses, nor of the mind, nor even of the Vedas is true, since they are all within the realm of relative knowledge. First get rid of the delusion, "I am the body", then only can we want real knowledge. Man's knowledge is only a higher degree of brute knowledge.
-Vol VII P33

God exists, not birth nor death, not pain nor misery, nor murder, nor change, nor good nor evil; all is Brahman.
-Vol VII P34

In one sense Brahman is known to every human being; he knows, "I am"; but man does not know himself as he is. We all know we are, but not how we are. All lower explanations are partial truths; but the flower, the essence of the Vedas, is that the Self in each of us is Brahman. The highest Vedanta is the philosophy of the Beyond.
-Vol VII P34-35

Brahman is without action, Atman is Brahman, and we are Atman; knowledge like this takes off all error. It must be heard, apprehended intellectually, and lastly realised. Cogitating is applying reason and establishing this knowledge in ourselves by reason. Realising is making it a part of our lives by constant thinking of it. This constant thought or Dhyana is as oil that pours in one unbroken line from vessel to vessel; Dhyana rolls the mind in this thought day and night and so helps us to attain to liberation. Think always "Soham, Soham"; this is almost as good as liberation. Say it day and night; realisation will come as the result of this continuous cogitation. This absolute and continuous remembrance of the Lord is what is meant by Bhakti.
-Vol VII P37-38

Get rid of the fundamental superstition that we are obliged to act through the body. We are not. Go into your own room and get the Upanishads out of your own Self.
-Vol VII P71

Be still, my soul! Be alone! and the Lord is with you. Life is nothing! Death is a delusion! All this is not, God alone is! Fear not, my soul! Be alone.
-Vol V P72

Ishwara is the sum total of individuals; yet He Himself also is an individual in the same way as the human body is a unit, of which each cell is an individual. Samashti or the Collective is God. Vyashti or the component is the soul of Jiva. Jiva, and Ishwara are co - existent beings. Again, since in all the higher spheres, except on our earth, the amount of good is vastly in excess of the amount of bad, the sum total or Ishwara may be said to be All - good, Almighty, and Omniscient.
-Vol VIII P385

From the highest to the lowest and most wicked man, in the greatest of human beings and the lowest of crawling worms under our feet, is the soul, pure and perfect, infinite and ever-blessed. In the worm that soul is manifesting only an infinitesimal part of its power and purity, and in the greatest man it is manifesting most of it. The difference consists in the degree of manifestation, but not in the essence. Through all beings exist the same pure and perfect soul.
-Vol VI P24

There is a soul which is unchanging, and what we call feelings and perceptions, nay, even the body, are the very soul, seen from another point of view. We have got into the habit of thinking that we have bodies and souls and so forth, but really speaking, there is only one. When I think of myself as the body, I am only a body; it is meaningless to say I am something else. And when I think of myself as the soul, the body vanishes, and the perception of the body does not remain. None can get the perception of the Self without his perception of the body having vanished, none can get perception of the substance without his perception of the qualities having vanished.
-Vol II P344

Anyone and everyone cannot be an Acharya (teacher of mankind); but many may become Mukta (liberated). The whole world seems like a dream to the liberated, but the Acharya has to take up his stand between the two states. He must have the knowledge that the world is true, or else why should he teach? Again, if he has not realised the world as a dream, then he is no better than an ordinary man, and what could he teach? The Guru has to bear the disciple's burden of sin; and that is the reason why diseases and other ailments appear even in the bodies of powerful Acharyas. But if he be imperfect, they attack his mind also, and he falls. So it is a difficult thing to be an Acharya.
-Vol V P268

the rousing of the Kundalini is the one and only way to attaining Divine Wisdom, superconscious perception, realisation of the spirit. The rousing may come in various ways, through love for God, through the mercy of perfected sages, or through the power of the analytic will of the philosopher.
-Vol I P165

The Self within is always shining forth resplendent. Turning away from that people say "I", "I", "I", with their attention held up by this material body, this queer cage of flesh and bones. This is the root of all weakness. From that habit only, the relative outlook on life has emerged in this world. The absolute Truth lies beyond that duality.
Disciple: Well, is then all this relative experience not true?
Swamiji: As long as the idea of "I" remains, it is true. And the instant the realisation of "I" as the Atman comes, this world of relative existence becomes false.
-Vol VI P474

Say "Soham, Soham" whatever comes. Tell yourself this even in eating, walking, suffering; tell the mind this incessantly -- that what we see never existed, that there is only "I". Flash -- the dream will break! Think day and night, this universe is zero, only God is. Have intense desire to get free.
-Vol VII P92

The soul is a circle whose circumference is nowhere (limitless), but whose center is in some body. Death is but a change of center. God is a circle whose circumference is nowhere, and whose center is everywhere. When we can get out of the limited center of body, we shall realize God, our true Self.
-Vol V P271

There is really no difference between matter, mind, and Spirit. They are only different phases of experiencing the One. This very world is seen by the five senses as matter, by the very wicked as hell, by the good as heaven, and by the perfect as God.
-Vol V P272

The theory of incarnation is the first link in the chain of ideas leading to the recognition of the oneness of God and man. God appearing first in one human form, then re-appearing at different times in other human forms, is at last recognized as being in every human form, or in all men. Monistic is the highest stage, monotheistic is a lower stage.
-Vol VII P100

There is only One Being, One Existence, the ever-blessed, the omnipresent, the omniscient, the birthless, the deathless. Wherever there are two, there is fear, there is danger, there is conflict, there is strife. When it is all One, who is there to hate, who is there to struggle with? When it is all He, with whom can you fight? This explains the true nature of life; this explains the true nature of being. This is perfection, and this is God. As long as you see the many, you are under delusion. Therefore know that thou art He; thou art the God of this universe, "Tat Tvam Asi" (That thou art). All these various ideas that I am a man or a woman, or sick or healthy, or strong or weak, or that I hate or I love, or have a little power, are but hallucinations. Away with them!
-Vol II P236

Avoid not and seek not -- wait for what the Lord sends", is my motto
-Vol VI P343

Never yet was there a great soul who had not to reject sense-pleasures and enjoyments to acquire his greatness.
-Vol I P247

(For more quotations from Swami Vivekananda please visit Spiritual Prophet of Modern Times.)