Our best work is done, our greatest influence is exerted when we are without thought of self. All great geniuses know this. Let us open ourselves to the one Divine Actor and let Him act, and do nothing ourselves. ‘O Arjuna! I have no duty in the whole world,’ says Krishna. Be perfectly resigned, perfectly unconcerned; then alone can you do any true work. No eyes can see the real forces, we can only see the results. Put out self, lose it, forget it; just let God work, it is His business. We have nothing to do but stand aside and let God work. The more we go away, the more God comes in. Get rid of the little ‘I’ and let only the great ‘I’ live.
We are what our thoughts have made us, so take care of what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live, they travel far. Each thought we think is tinged with our own character, so that for the pure and holy man, even his jests or abuse will have the twist of his own love and purity and do good.
Desire nothing; think of God and look for no return. It is desirelessness which bring results. The begging monk carries religion to every man’s door; but they think that they do nothing, they claim nothing, their work is unconsciously done. If they should eat of the tree of knowledge, they would become egoists and all the good they do would fly away. As soon as we say ‘I’ we are humbugged all the time, and we call it ‘knowledge,’ but it is only going round and round like a bullock tied to a tree. The Lord has hidden Himself best and His work is best; so he who hides himself best, accomplishes most. Conquer yourselves and the whole universe is yours.
In the state of sattva (equilibrium) we see the very nature of things, we go beyond the senses and beyond reason. The adamantine wall that shuts us in is egoism; we refer everything to ourselves, thinking I do this, that, and the other. Get rid of this puny ‘I;’ kill this diabolism in us. ‘Not I, but Thou,’ say it, feel it, live it. Until we give up the world manufactured by the ego, never can we enter the kingdom of heaven. None ever did, none ever will. To give to the world is to forget the ego, to know it not at all, living in the body, but not of it. This rascal ego must be obliterated. Bless men, when they revile you. Think how much good they are doing you; they can only hurt themselves. Go where people hate you, let them thrash the ego out of you and you get nearer to the Lord. Like the mother monkey, we hug our ‘baby,’ the world, as long as we can, but at last when we are driven to put it under our feet and step on it then we are ready to come to God. Blessed it is to be persecuted for the sake of righteousness. Blessed are we if we cannot read, we have less to take us away from God.
Enjoyment is the million-headed serpent that we must tread under foot. We renounce, and go on, then find nothing and despair; but hold on, hold on. The world is a demon. It is a kingdom of which the puny ego is king. Put it away and stand firm. Give up lust and gold and fame and hold fast to the Lord, and at last we shall reach a state of perfect indifference. The idea that gratification of the senses constitutes enjoyment is purely materialistic. There is not one spark of real enjoyment there: all the joy there is is a mere reflection of the true bliss.
Those who give themselves up to the Lord do more for the world than all the so-called workers. One man who has purified himself thoroughly, accomplishes more than a regiment of preachers. Out of purity and silence comes the word of power.
– Swami Vivekananda, Inspired Talks, June 26, 1895