On Swami Vivekananda’s death anniversary, here are 5 quotes which are extremely relevant today

In our hectic 21st century lives, we often take the wisdom of our ancestors for granted. Wisdom, that has stood the test of time. Today is the death anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, a day of despair but also a day for us to introspect. This day provides us with the opportunity to look back at Swamiji’s life and his teachings.

I sense that most of us don’t have the attention span to go through the pragmatic monk’s life, thus here are five quotes that prove Swamijis progressive mindset and relevance in our times.

Arise, awake and do not stop until the goal is reached.”

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This is one of the most common of Swamiji’s quotes. Swamiji always talked about the need for consistency and perseverance. Long before the ‘motivational videos’ on youtube or the overtly shallow ‘5 steps to become kings’ self-help books, the need to set a goal in order to achieve the desired disposition was talked about this man of greatness. It is worthy to keep in mind that the ‘reward system’ that we now know and talk about was discovered much later. Swami Vivekananda believed that only continuous and focused approach can be the means to achieve the desired and there are no shortcuts. A tip that can help us immensely in today’s world where every day may seem like a battle that we are losing.

“You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.”

The idea that the self is not divorced of spirituality is in itself a very powerful message. Swami Vivekananda always emphasized the need to realize that spirituality cannot be attained by external means. It must be an eternal process. He believed that all that is required for spiritual knowledge is embedded inside our mind we just need to unlock it by looking inward, and not waste our time on finding spirituality through external means. He believed no one can help anyone in matters of spiritual conquest it is he or she, who must take the initiative.

“In a day, when you don’t come across any problems – you can be sure that you are travelling in a wrong path.”   

Swami Vivekananda was a pragmatic person and this quote of his only reinforces that personality. In our daily lives, we tend to get bogged down by negativity and criticism of our fellow human beings. We suffer from anxiety and insecurities because we tend to weigh our own self-esteem through others assessment of us. Swamiji in this quote acknowledges that problems are merely part of life and they will always be there. It is the perception that matters, how one perceives such problems makes all the difference. If one views these problems as being stepping stones towards success then life can be much easier.

“The greatest sin is to think yourself weak”

We are greeted with many failures and some of us start to think that we just cannot take it anymore. It can be a toxic relationship, academic problems, problems in one’s marriage, etc. We tend to have little faith in ourselves and much lesser in our strengths. Swamiji believes that it is the greatest sin to consider yourself as weak as we can never estimate our true limits if we don’t push ourselves. It is only when we push ourselves we discover that we are much stronger than we anticipated.

“Neither seek nor avoid, take what comes.” 

If asked why so many of us feel down or disappointed, many would reply with- expectations. It is an exclusively human thing to have expectations from fellow human beings. Though, Swamiji advised that not to expect or avoid anything in life. He asked to take life as it presents itself to you. His words hold merit as we in our lives are always trying to outdo everyone else in order to seek happiness through economic means or avoiding that person who broke our hearts. But if we look at this from a grand scheme of things, nothing really matters. It would serve us right to pay heed to Swamiji’s words to avoid unnecessary emotional and physical toll that expectations bring.

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