The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 9/Notes of Lectures and Classes

[Mr. Frank Rhodehamel’s notes of the Bhagavad-Gitâ lecture delivered Tuesday, May 29, 1900, in San Francisco, California]
1. “If you know everything, disturb not the childlike faith of the innocent.”
2. “Religion is the realization of Spirit as Spirit. Not spirit as matter.”
3. “You are spirit. Realize yourselves as spirit. Do it any way you can.” 4. “Religion is a growth”: each one must experience it himself. 5. “Everyone thinks ‘my method is the best’. That is so, but it is the best for you.”
6. “Spirit must stand revealed as spirit.”
7. “There never was a time when spirit could be identified with matter.” 8. “What is real in nature is the spirit.”
9. “Action is in nature.”
10. “‘In the beginning there was That Existence. He looked and everything was created.’”
11. “Everyone works according to his own nature.” 12. “You are not bound by law. That is in your nature. The mind is in nature and is bound by law.”
13. “If you want to be religious, keep out of religious arguments.” 14. “Governments, societies, etc., are evils.”
“All societies are based on bad generalizations.” “A law is that which cannot be broken.”
15. “Better never love, if that love makes us hate others.” 16. “The sign of death is weakness; the sign of life is strength.”
[The following numbered paragraphs are correlated with the preceding numbered sentences.]
4. The Christian believes that Jesus Christ died to save him. With you it is belief in a doctrine, and this belief constitutes your salvation. With us, doctrine has nothing whatever to do with salvation. Each one may believe in whatever doctrine he likes or in no doctrine. With us realization is religion, not doctrine. What difference does it make to you whether Jesus Christ lived at a certain time? What has it to do with you that Moses saw God in a burning bush? The fact that Moses saw God in the burning bush does not constitute your seeing Him, does it? If it does, then the fact that Moses ate is enough for you; you ought to stop eating. One is just as sensible as the other. Records of great spiritual men of the past do us no good whatever except that they urge us onward to do the same, to experience religion ourselves. Whatever Christ or Moses or anybody else did does not help us in the least except to urge us on.
5. Each one has a special nature peculiar to himself which he must follow and through which he will find his way to freedom. Your teacher should be able to tell you what your particular path in nature is and to put you in it. He should know by your face where you belong and should be able to indicate it to you. We should never try to follow another’s path for that is his way, not yours. When that path is found, you have nothing to do but fold your arms and the tide will carry you to freedom. Therefore when you find it, never swerve from it. Your way is the best for you, but that is no sign it is the best for another.
6. The truly spiritual see spirit as spirit, not as matter. Spirit as such can never become matter, though matter is spirit at a low rate of vibration. It is spirit that makes nature move; it is the Reality in nature, so action is in nature but not in the spirit. Spirit is always the same, changeless, eternal. Spirit and matter are in reality the same, but spirit, as such, never becomes matter, and matter, as such, never becomes spirit. Matter, as such, never becomes spirit as such, for it is simply a mode of spirit, or spirit at a low rate of vibration. You take food and it becomes mind, and mind in turn becomes the body. Thus mind and body, spirit and matter are distinct though either may give place to the other; but they are not to be identified.
8. “What is real in nature is the Spirit.” The spirit is the life in all action in nature. It is the spirit that gives nature its reality and power of action.
9. “Action is in nature.” “The spirit never acts. Why should it?” It merely is, and that is sufficient. It is pure existence absolute and has no need of action.
12. All nature is bound by law, the law of its own action; and this law can never be broken. If you could break a law of nature, all nature would come to an end in an instant. There would be no more nature. He who attains freedom breaks the law of nature and for him nature fades away and has no more power over him. Each one will break the law but once and forever and that will end his trouble with nature. “You are not bound by law. That is in your nature. The mind is in nature and is bound by law.”
14. The moment you form yourselves into an organization, you begin to hate everybody outside of that organization. When you join an organization you are putting bonds upon yourself, you are limiting your own freedom. Why should you form yourselves into an order having rules and regulations, thus limiting every one as to his independent action? If one breaks a law of an order or society he is hated by the rest. What right has anyone to lay down rules and laws governing others? Such laws are not laws at all. If it were a law it could not be broken. The fact that these so-called laws are broken shows clearly they are not laws.