Faith in yourself
The ideal of faith in ourselves is of the greatest help to us. If faith in ourselves had been more extensively taught and practiced, I am sure a very large portion of the evils and miseries that we have would have vanished. Throughout the history of mankind, if any motive power has been more potent than another in the lives of all great men and women, it is that of faith in themselves. Born with the consciousness that they were to be great, they became great. Let a man go down as low as possible; there must come a time when out of sheer desperation he will take an upward curve and will learn to have faith in himself. But it is better for us that we should know it from the very first.
Swami Vivekananda on Self Belief Importance
To the man who has begun to hate himself the gate to degeneration has already opened; and the same is true of a nation.Our first duty is not hate ourselves, because to advance we must have faith in ourselves first and then in God. He who has no faith in himself can never have faith in God.

Whatever you think, that you will be. If you think yourselves weak, weak you will be; if you think yourselves impure, impure you will be; if you think yourselves pure, pure you will be. This teaches us not to think ourselves as weak, but as strong, omnipotent, omniscient. No matter that I have not expressed it yet, it is in me. All knowledge is in me, all power, all purity, and all freedom. Why cannot I express this knowledge? Because I do not believe in it. Let me believe in it, and it must and will come out.

The history of the world is the history of a few men who had faith in themselves. That faith calls out the divinity within. You can do anything. You fail only when you do not strive sufficiently to manifest infinite power. As soon as a man or a nation loses faith, death comes.
Imitation is Bad
Next you must understand this, my friend, that we have many things to learn from other nations. The man who says he has nothing more to learn is already at his last grasp. The nation that says it knows everything is on the very brink of destruction! " As long as I live, so long so I learn." But one point to note here is that when we take anything from others, we must mould it after our own way. We shall add to our stock what others have to teach, but we must always be careful to keep intact what is essentially our own.

None can teach another. You have to realise truth and work it out for yourself according to your own nature...All must struggle to be individuals--strong, standing on your own feet, thinking your own thoughts, realizing your own Self. No use swallowing doctrines others pass on--standing up together like soldiers in jail, sitting down together, all eating the same time. Variation is the sign of life. Sameness is the sign of death.

Another great lesson we have to remember; imitation is not civilization...Imitation, cowardly imitation, never makes for progress. It is verily the sign of awful degradation in a man...We have indeed many things to learn from others, yea, that man who refuses to learn is already dead...Learn everything that is good from others, but bring it in, and in your own way absorb it; do not become others. Do not for a moment think that it would be better for India if all the Indians dressed, ate, and behaved like another race.

The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant, it develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant...[Similarity] each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.
What is Ethics
One idea stands out as the center of all ethical systems, expressed in various forms, namely, doing good to others. The guiding motive of mankind should be charity towards all animals. But these are all various expressions of that eternal truth that, " I am the universe is one." Or else, where is the reason? Why should I do good to my fellowmen? Why should I do good others? What compels me? It is sympathy, the feeling of sameness everywhere. The hardest hearts feel sympathy for beings sometimes. Even the man who gets frightened if he is told that this assumed individuality is really a delusion, that it is ignoble to try to cling to this apparent individuality, that very man will tell you that extreme self-abnegation is the center of all morality. And what is perfect self-abnegation? It means the abnegation of this apparent self, the abnegation of all selfishness. This idea of"me and mine"--Ahamkara and Mamata--is the result of past superstition, and the more this present self passes away, the more the real Self becomes manifest. This is true self-abnegation, the center, the basis, the gist of all moral teaching; and whether man knows it or not, the whole world is slowly going towards it, practicing it more or less. Only, the vast majority of mankind are doing it unconsciously. Let them do it consciously. Let them make the sacrifice, knowing that this" me and mine" is not the real Self, but only a limitation. But one glimpse of that infinite reality which is behind--but one spark of that infinite fire that is the All--represents the present man; the Infinite is this true nature.

Doing good to others is virtue(Dharma); injuring others is sin. Strength and manliness are virtue; weakness and cowardice are sin. Independence is virtue; dependence is sin. Loving others is virtue; hating others is sin. Faith in God and in one's own Self is virtue; doubt is sin. Knowledge of oneness is virtue; seeing diversity is sin. The different scriptures only show the means of attaining virtue.

It is the quintessence of all ethics, preached in any language, or in any religion, or by any prophet in the world. "Be thou unselfish","Not 'I', but ' thou --that is the background of all ethical codes. And what is meant by this is the recognition of non-individuality--that you are a part of me, and I of you; the recognition that in hurting you I hurt myself, and in helping you I help myself; the recognition that there cannot possibly be death for me when you live. When one worm lives in this universe, how can I die? For my life is in the life of that worm. At the same time it will teach us that we can't leave one of our fellow-beings without helping him, that in his good consists my good.
Hold on the Ideal
That is the one great first step--the real desire for the ideal. Everything comes easy after that...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 circumstances 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 s 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, for what is there to compare to my own Self? Can a 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 can't bear the dust, let them get out of the ranks.

If a man with an ideal makes a thousand mistakes, I am sure that the ,man without an ideal makes fifty thousand. Therefore, it is better to have an ideal. And this ideal we must hear about as much as we can, till it enters into our hearts, into our brains, into our very veins, until it tingles in every drop of our blood and permeates every pore in our body. We must mediate upon it."Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaketh," and out of fullness of the heart the hand works too.

It is thought which is the propelling force in us. Fill the mind with the highest thoughts, hear them day after day, think them month after month. Never mind failures; they are quite natural, they are the beauty of life, these failures. What would life be without them? It would not be worth having if it were not for struggles. Where would be the poetry of life? Never mind the struggles, the mistakes. I naver heard a cow tell a lie, but it is only a cow--never a man. So never mind these failures, these little back-slidings; hold the ideal a thousand times, and if you fail a thousand times, makes the attempt once more. The ideal of man is to see God in everything. But if you cannot see Him in everything, see Him in one thing, in that thing which you like best, and then see Him in another. So on you can go. There is infinite life before the soul. Take your time and you will achieve your end.

Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life--think of it,dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerevs, evry part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, andthis is the way great spiritual giants are produced. Others are more talking machines.

The life of the practical is in the ideal. It is the ideal that has penetrated the whole of our lives, whether we philosophise, or perform the hard, everyday duties of life. The rays of the ideal, reflected and refracted in various straight or tortuous lines, are pouring in through every aperture and wind-hole, and consciously or unconsciously, every function has to be performed in its light, every object has to be seen transformed, heightened, or deformed by it. It is the ideal that has made us what we are, and will make us what we are going to be. It is the power of the ideal that has enshrouded us, and is felt in our joys or sorrows, in our great acts or mean doings, in our virtues and vices.

Article Credit - Ramakrishna Mission.

Books by Surendra Nath

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