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Let Us Be Gods-Part IX
Courtesy: The Vedanta Kesary, English monthly from R K Math, Chennai
Continued From The Eight Part
Swami Vivekananda found that this is such an age of materialism. Through the grace of science, so many things have been brought to us for sense enjoyment. So much is available that we are all being swept away by these things. Here, only one thing can save us. Intellect will not save us. Intellect hasn't got any power in itself. It cannot create will within oneself. It can give you knowledge, but it would not give you will power. The body would not give you this will power. It is only idealism, spiritual idealism, which will give you the necessary will power. How? You have to learn to think of yourselves in terms that will insure this will power, this ability to rise above the temptations of the senses. And what is that idealism? It is the recognition that I am the spirit, I am God; I am divine. Nothing short of that will do.
Of course, even when we try to affirm our divine nature, it would not become real at once. Then, if you say, 'If it doesn't become real at once, why be so bombastic about it? We know we are not God at the present time.' And some of you will remind me here that it is not safe to think of oneself as God. Sri Ramakrishna, often in speaking to lay devotees would say: 'Do not say "I am He. I am God,' as long as you have body-consciousness.' You understand what is meant by body-consciousness? Body-consciousness means, to begin with the crudest form, 'I am the body.' Of course, nobody says, 'I am the body,' because everybody knows they are also the mind. But, most people feel primarily that they are physical. They think of themselves in terms of the body. That is called body-consciousness.
There is a higher form of body-consciousness, in which a man is simply aware of the existence of his body, but doesn't identify himself with the body. Well, that is also called body-consciousness. But I am speaking of it in this lower sense, in which we feel we are the body, or we are essentially physical. Sri Ramakrishna used to say: 'As long as you have this body-consciousness, you should not say "I am God."' On the other hand, he also said, 'He who says that he is bound, bound he becomes; he who says that he is free, free he becomes. He who says he is pure, pure he becomes. But he who says "I am sinful", more and more sinful he becomes.' What you think you become.
That is the practical affirmation of the divine nature of man. Once there was an argument between Swami Vivekananda and another monk, a very learned man. One day he asked Swamiji at Belur monastery, after Swamiji had returned from the West, 'Swamiji, our Master, Sri Ramakrishna, used to say that one should not mix with women. But here I find you have got Western women as your disciples. Some of them even come here. How is it? And I see you going to them and sitting near them, and so on.' Swamiji's face became red, and he said,
'He told you that. He did not tell me that, and through his grace I do not feel any difference between male and female anymore. I see the same Brahman everywhere. Everyone I see as Brahman.'
The other monk still tried to argue a little, but he got frightened, as he, himself, told that story afterwards. He said,
'After having said this, when I found Swamiji very grave and his face became bright, I was just frightened.' And then Swami Vivekananda said, 'You follow what he has told you. That is good for you. But what right have you to say that that is the teaching of Sri Ramakrishna? What right? He taught me monism, and he asked me to teach that to the world, which I have done. You follow what he has told you, but don't try to bring him down to your level, and to your idea of him. He taught many, many more things. Just remember this.'
To be continued
About the author
Swami Ashokananda (1893-1969) was a much-venerated monk of the Ramakrishna Order. He was ordained into sannyasa by Swami Shivananda, and was the editor of Prabuddha Bharata, an English monthly of the Ramakrishna Order brought out from the Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati in Uttaranchal. He was an outstanding writer and speaker and the leader of the Vedanta Society of Northern California (San Fransisco) from 1931 until his passing away in 1969.