This Same Freedom Is in You

Blessedness, eternal peace, arising from perfect freedom, is the highest concept of religion underlying all the ideas of God in Vedanta—absolutely free existence, not bound by anything, no change, no nature, nothing that can produce a change in him. This same freedom is in you and in me and is the only real freedom.

God is still, established upon his own majestic changeless Self. You and I try to be one with him, but plant ourselves upon nature, upon the trifles of daily life, on money, on fame, on human love, and all these changing forms in nature which make for bondage. When nature shines, upon what depends the shining? Upon God and not upon the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars. Wherever anything shines, whether it is the light in the sun or in our own consciousness, it is he. He shining, all shines after him.

Now we have seen that this God is self-evident, impersonal, omniscient, the knower and master of nature, the Lord of all. He is behind all worship and it is being done according to him, whether we know it or not. I go one step further. That at which we marvel, that which we call evil, is his worship too. This too is a part of freedom. Nay, I will be terrible even and tell you that, when you are doing evil, the impulse behind is also that freedom. It may have been misguided and misled, but it was there; freedom was behind it. Freedom breathes in the throb of the universe. Unless there is unity at the universal heart, we cannot understand variety. Such is the conception of the Lord in the Upanishads. Sometimes it rises even higher, presenting to us an ideal before which at first we stand aghast—that we are in essence one with God. He who is the coloring in the wings of a butterfly, and the blossoming of the rosebud, is the power that is in the plant and the butterfly. He who gives us life is the power within us. Out of his fire comes life, and the direst death is also his power. He whose shadow is death, his shadow is immortality also.

–Swami Vivekananda, “What Is Religion?”