By Anubhav Srivastava (Register for his Confidence Building Workshop Here!)
In this post I will share with you 10 of the best Swami Vivekananda Quotes along with a detailed explanation or interpretation of them by me (Anubhav Srivastava).
Swami Vivekananda was an Indian Monk who gained great prominence in the late 19th and early 20th century all across the world. He played a pivotal role in introducing Indian Philosophy and Yoga to the West. Swami Vivekananda also wrote several books which had in them wisdom which was incredibly profound. Even though he died at an early age and it has been over 100 years since he died, he is considered a great saint and one of the world’s most popular spiritual teachers even today. So read these quotes and their explanation, learn how to achieve success with a healthy mindset and live life in peace and harmony.
1)”He is an atheist who does not believe in himself.”
Generally an atheist is defined as a person who does not believe in God. However this Swami Vivekananda Quote implies that faith in ourselves is even more important than faith in God. God will never come down to help you in person. It is you, your belief in yourself and your own abilities that will carry you forward through the various problems that life throws at you. If you believe in God but don’t believe in yourself you will keep waiting for a boat to rescue you which may or may not happen. But If you believe in yourself, you will build your own boat and rescue yourself.
2) “Face the brutes. That is a lesson for all life — face the terrible, face it boldly. Like the monkeys, the hardships of life fall back when we cease to flee before them.”
As a young man, Swami Vivekananda, then known as Narendra was walking back home from a temple in Varanasi, India when a group of large monkeys started chasing him and harassing him. He got scared and started running but the more he tried to run the more they leapt at him and even tried to bite him. Suddenly a stranger who was observing the incident shouted out ” Stop!, Don’t Run! Face the brutes.” Despite being greatly scared, Vivekananda turned around and faced the monkeys and started running towards them. The monkeys became confused and scared when he did that and quickly scampered away.
This Swami Vivekananda Quote teaches us that All our bullies whether they are imaginary (phobias) or whether they exist in real life do so because we have avoided confronting them. We have allowed them to control our lives. When we avoid something we teach ourselves that the bully is superior, we also tell the bully the same thing. But when we fight back or face our fears with courage we teach ourself that nobody can control us except our own will. If the bully is a real person we also teach the bully a lesson so that he or she can never try their tactics on another person they think are weak. So stop running away from what you fear, face it with courage and and reclaim your life.
Quote 3) “The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.”
Eastern Philosophy does not believe in YOLO (You Only Live Once!) Eastern Philosophy believes that the Soul existed before your current birth and will continue to exist after your death. The soul has taken thousands of births before and it will continue to take thousands of births after the current one until it becomes evolved enough to attain Nirvana or enlightenment.
This Swami Vivekananda Quote teaches us that the reason we are born in this world is to learn lessons. The lessons maybe joyful or they maybe terribly hard but the point of each birth is go through experiences that help evolve your soul. Just like each visit to the gym makes you stronger and stronger, each birth can make you learn more, develop mental strength and help your soul reach closer to enlightenment. The point of our human life is to love and learn and evolve, if all we do is spend it away only on 100 percent pleasure based pursuits, it is like visiting a gym and eating a pizza in there. In other words it is an an absolute waste.
Quote 4) “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 through history, anyone who has ever to do something different from the norm was never accepted immediately. If you want to do something innovative and revolutionary, understand that you will go through some extremely tough times and ridicule. The Wright Brothers were ridiculed before they built their plane. Gandhi was ridiculed when he talked about the philosophy of non violence, even Swami Vivekananda himself was ridiculed initially when he wanted to spread Indian Philosophy to the west. No matter who the person, if they wanted to do something different, they were ridiculed or made fun of in the beginning.
Once they got past the ridicule stage and people around them began to see that those people were actually doing something seriously, they were then met with opposition, especially if those things went against the established order and threatened those in power. Finally it is only with grit, determination and a never say attitude that the person kept pushing on and finally gained acceptance. If you are someone with a revolutionary or innovative idea, remember you will go through the same but if you are courageous and right, eventually you will win.
Quote 5) “Be determined not to curse anything outside, not to lay the blame upon anyone outside, but stand up, lay the blame on yourself. Get hold of yourself.”
This Swami Vivekananda Quote is all about taking personal responsibility. Most of the times when things do not go the way as we want, we tend to blame everyone around us for it. We think the world is being unfair with us or that we are unlucky. We also think that our relatives and friends are not doing enough for us. Ironically when we get things that we want we think all of it happened because of OUR efforts alone and nobody else should be allowed to take the credit for it! The truth is somewhere in between and yes things are sometimes out of your control but the number one factor that will decide whether or not you will get what you desire is your own will to succeed.
When you lay blame on someone else, regardless of whether that accusation is true, you are showing your own weakness. Forget about others or circumstances not under your control, focus on what you can do. The more you can shift your approach from the philosophy of “Circumstances dictate my fate” to ” I dictate my fate” the higher your chances are of achieving what you want.
Quote 6) “Astrology and all these mystical things are generally signs of a weak mind. Therefore as soon as they are becoming prominent in our minds, we should see a physician, take good food, and rest.”
This Swami Vivekananda quote is all about crushing superstition. People who believe in astrology or fortune telling have basically resigned themselves to the idea that they are not in control of their future. What is worse is that they think someone else somehow knows their future. Well if a fortune teller was really accurate at predicting the future, he would make all his money winning lotteries, wouldn’t he? But he knows his predictions are not logically grounded, so he does the next best thing which is to sell predictions to gullible minds.
Remember, that regardless of whether or not we control our fate completely, believing that we do will still put us in a much better position to have a good future. Because when you believe everything depends on you, you will take actions that will shape your future. Thus, as a consequence, your future will turn out to be much better than the complacent people who only kept praying to god or paying fortune tellers.
Quote 7) “It is our own mental attitude which makes the world what it is for us. Our thought make things beautiful, our thoughts make things ugly. The whole world is in our own minds. Learn to see things in the proper light.”
This Swami Vivekananda quote is all about perspective. It says the world around you becomes the way you see it. If you think everything in the world is out to cheat you, to scam you or the entire world is evil, well that becomes your reality. If you think the world is evil, your actions towards the world will be less than generous and extremely suspicious. As a result of your actions, people around you will not like you either and thus their actions towards you will be considerably negative. When that happens, you will automatically assume that the world is evil because people are showing their negative side to you, while conveniently forgetting it is your behaviour that brought upon that negative side in the first place!
The good news is that just as assuming the worst makes the world worse for us, wanting to see the best in the world will make the world better for us as well. When you see people around you as great and noble, your actions towards them will be extremely positive. You may even win over people who may not be very kind hearted only because of your warm behaviour towards them. As a result their behaviour towards you will become positive as well and your world will actually become the way you thought it was. Your mental attitude shapes your actions and your actions shape your world. So make sure your mental attitude is right.
Quote 8) “Karma is the eternal assertion of human freedom. If we can bring ourselves down by our karma, surely it is in our power to raise ourselves by our own karma.”
This Swami Vivekananda quote emphasizes the importance of the idea that we are ultimately in control of the evolution of our soul and thus our fate, even if our circumstances seem horrible presently. If our present is a result of our past, surely our future will be influenced by our actions in the present.
Swami Vivekananda talks about the law of Karma which basically means, what goes around, comes around. The Law of Karma states that whatever we are presently is a result of our actions in the past, even if they were from a past birth. Thus whatever we will be in the future will be a result of our actions in the present, even if we reap the rewards in the next birth. But we can neither change the past nor directly influence the future. The only thing under our control are our present actions, our Karma. We only have the freedom to exercise conscious choice and make decisions in the present moment. So do the right Karma or action today and the future will inevitably lead to the right result.
Quote 9) “This I have seen in life—those who are overcautious about themselves fall into dangers at every step; those who are afraid of losing honor and respect, get only disgrace; and those who are always afraid of loss, always lose.”
This Swami Vivekananda Quote basically says that we should not be controlled by fear. It is good to be cautious and take preventive or corrective steps but if you over do them or become obsessed with trying to prevent something you are going to make it a self fulfilling prophecy. In other words you may make that very thing happen because of your actions.
Let me illustrate this through a story. A man was once told by an astrologer that his wife would leave him for someone else and that would lead to his death. As a result of that prediction the man became increasingly fearful. He became extremely suspicious towards his wife even though she was devoted towards him. He also started hating her and hitting because he believed she would not be loyal towards him and leave him. After ten years of constant physical and emotional abuse the wife had enough and became attracted to another man she felt was much kinder. One day after yet another violent episode from the suspicious husband, she decided that she would leave him for the other man and ran away that evening! Shocked, the man committed suicide.
The man made that very thing happen that he feared! His own fear led him to commit actions that ultimately made his wife desert him. He made his life a self fulfilling prophecy. If you are going to make your life a self fulfilling prophecy as well make it a positive one, not a negative one! Throw away your fears and nurture positive beliefs instead. Your life itself will turn out to be much more positive.
Quote 10) “To devote your life to the good of all and to the happiness of all is religion. Whatever you do for your own sake is not religion.”
Most religions teach us to do good for our fellow human beings or all living beings in general. However many times they motivate us to do it not for the betterment of society but through the incentive of a reward. They say if you give charity today, God will bless you with millions tomorrow. If you do good things today, you are going to go to heaven. If you do this and that, you are going to get beautiful women in heaven and so on.
The truth is whatever you do for the sake of a reward, it is motivated by your own selfish desire to get something in return. This Swami Vivekananda quote says that this kind of reward oriented mindset should not be defined as following one’s religion. Whatever you do should be for the good and benefit of all mankind without any desire for a reward. A person who works selflessly work for the betterment of society is more religious than a person who does things for a reward, like a salesman motivated by a bonus!
I hope this list of Swami Vivekananda Quotes as well as my detailed explanations of them have been useful to you. Implement them and you will go on to succeed not just materialistically but also spiritually. Let us work hard to follow what this great man said and lead our lives in a way that not only do we progress personally, we also make the world around us much better.
The author of this article, Anubhav Srivastava is an author, motivational speaker and the director of Carve Your Destiny, a first of its kind inspirational documentary featuring some of the most famous personalities from diverse fields, who teach the viewers how they too can make all of their dreams come true. The movie itself has been seen on Youtube by close to 700,000 people. Anubhav has also been featured in numerous International and India Media outlets such as BBC , The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Rediff.com, Leicester Mercury and many others.
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