Swami Vivekananda's Thoughts on Evolution and Meditation

Swami Vivekananda came in the unbroken line of spiritual teachers who brightened the sky of India from the Vedic period to the modern age. He was rare spiritual teacher. Himself immersed in God, he came down to the ordinary levels of men and women. He expressed this truth in his great equation ‘work is worship’. Everywhere he taught man to realize his divine heritage. The innate divinity of man was the constant theme of all his teachings. He traveled and preached in the United States and England for four intense years, and five equally intense years in India delivering his message of a universal and practical spirituality, and setting in motion a movement as an effective conduit for the furtherance of his message. He left his earthly form shortly before his fortieth birthday.

This is an excerpt from Swami Vivekananda’s talks on the Soul’s journey towards evolution and The Art of Meditation.

Think of a space in your heart, and in the midst of that space think that a flame is burning. Think of that flame as your own soul and inside the flame is another effulgent light, and that is the Soul of your soul, God. Meditate upon that in the heart.

How some people give all their energies, time, brain, body, and everything, to become rich! They have no time for breakfast! Early in the morning they are out and at work! They die in the attempt – ninety percent of them – and the rest when they make money, cannot enjoy it. That is grand! I do not say it is bad to try to be rich. It is marvelous, wonderful. Why, what does it show? It shows that one can have the same amount of energy and struggle for freedom as one has for money. We know we have to give up money and all other things when we die, and yet, see the amount of energy we can put forth for them. But we, the same human beings, should we not put forth a thousandfold more strength and energy to acquire that which never fades, but which remains to us for ever? For this is the one great friend, our own good deeds, our own spiritual excellence, that follows us beyond the grave. Everything else is left behind here with the body.

That is the one great first step – the real desire for the ideal. Everything comes easy after that. That the Indian mind found out; there, in India, men go to any length to find truth. But here, in the West, the difficulty is that everything is made so easy. It is not truth, but development, that is the great aim. The struggle is the great lesson. Mind you, the great benefit in this life is struggle. It is through that we pass. If there is any road to Heaven, it is through Hell. Through Hell to heaven is always the way. When the soul has wrestled with circumstance and has met death, a thousand times death on the way, but nothing daunted has struggled forward again and again and yet again – then the soul comes out as a giant and laughs at the ideal he has been struggling for, because he finds how much greater is he than the ideal. I am the end, my own Self, and nothing else, or what is there to compare to my own Self? Can the bag of gold be the ideal of my Soul? Certainly not! My Soul is the highest ideal that I can have. Realizing my own real nature is the one goal of my life.

There is nothing that is absolutely evil. The devil has a place here as well as God, else he would not be here. Just as I told you, it is through Hell that we pass to Heaven. Our mistakes have places here. Go on! Do not look back if you think you have done something that is not right. Now, do you believe you could be what you are today, had you not made those mistakes before? Bless your mistakes, then. They have been angels unawares. Blessed be torture! Blessed be happiness! Do not care what be your lot. Hold on to the ideal. March on! Do not look back upon little mistakes and things. In this battlefield of ours, the dust of mistakes must be raised. Those who are so thin skinned that they cannot bear the dust, let them get out of the ranks.

So, then, this tremendous determination to struggle, a hundredfold more determination than that which you put forth to gain anything which belongs to this life, is the first great preparation.

And then along with it, there must be meditation. Meditation is the one thing. Meditate! The greatest thing is meditation. It is the nearest approach to spiritual life – the mind meditating. It is the one moment in our daily life that we are not at all material – the Soul thinking of Itself, free from all matter – this marvelous touch of the Soul!