03 December 2013

Swami Vivekananda's Quotes On Desire

  • All desire is contained in the Self. . . .[Source]
  • All desires are but beads of glass.[Source]
  • All experience is preceded by desire for happiness. There was no beginning of experience, as each fresh experience is built upon the tendency generated by past experience; therefore desire is without beginning.[Source]
  • As desire increases,
    so increases the power of pleasure, so the power of pain/
    —Swami Vivekananda
    Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • As desire increases, so increases the power of pleasure, so the power of pain.[Source]
  • Be not bound by good deeds or by desire for name and fame. Those who know this secret pass beyond this round of birth and death and become immortal.[Source]
  • Cut down the banyan tree of desire with the axe of non-attachment, and it will vanish utterly. It is all illusion. "He from whom blight and delusion have fallen, he who has conquered the evils of association, he alone is âzâd (free)."[Source]
  • Desires are held together by cause and effect; if a desire has been raised, it does not die without producing its effect. Then, again, the mind-stuff is the great storehouse, the support of all past desires reduced to Samskāra form; until they have worked themselves out, they will not die. Moreover, so long as the senses receive the external objects, fresh desires will arise. If it be possible to get rid of the cause, effect, support, and objects of desire, then alone it will vanish.[Source]
  • Desire is infinite, its fulfilment limited. Desire is unlimited in everyone; the power of fulfilment varies. Thus some are more successful than others in life.[Source]
  • Desire is infinite. Its fulfilment is very limited.. There is no end to our desires; but when we go to fulfil them, the difficulty comes. It has been so with the most primitive minds, when their desires were [few]. Even [these] could not be accomplished. Now, with our arts and sciences improved and multiplied, our desires cannot be fulfilled [either]. On the other hand, we are struggling to perfect means for the fulfilment of desires, and the desires are increasing. ...[Source]
  • Desire makes slaves of us,
    it is an insatiable tyrant and gives its victims no rest.
    —Swami Vivekananda
    Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Desire makes slaves of us, it is an insatiable tyrant and gives its victims no rest.[Source]
  • Desire, want, is the father of all misery. Desires are bound by the laws of success and failure. Desires must bring misery.[Source]
  • Every desire is fraught with evil, whether the desire itself be good or evil. It is like a dog jumping for a piece of meat which is ever receding from his reach, and dying a dog's death at last. Do not be like that. Cut off all desire.[Source]
  • "Give up all desire and be at peace. Have neither friends nor foes, and live alone. Thus shall we travel having neither friends nor foes, neither pleasure nor pain, neither desire nor jealousy, injuring no creatures, being the cause of injury to no creatures — from mountain to mountain, from village to village, preaching the name of the Lord."[Source]
  • Give up all desire for enjoyment in earth or heaven.[Source]
  • If one thing is obvious to me it is this that desires bring all misery; it is the state of the beggar, who is always begging for something, and unable to see anything without the wish to possess it, is always longing, longing for more. If the power to satisfy our desires is increased in arithmetical progression, the power of desire is increased in geometrical progression.[Source]
  • It is our desire that binds us. If we take the results of actions, whether good or evil, we will have to bear them.[Source]
  • Jnana says, "Kill desire and so get rid of it". That is the only way. Cast out all causation and realise the Atman.[Source]
  • Man's thirst, says the Hindu, man's thirst, says the Buddhist, is a burning, unquenchable thirst for more and more.[Source]
  • Our desires also are constantly changing—what we would prize today we would reject tomorrow. The pleasure of the present will be the pain of the future, the loved hated, and so on.[Source]
  • "Seek no help from high or low, from above or below. Desire nothing — and look upon this vanishing panorama as a witness and let it pass."[Source]
  • The objects of desire are all complex—pleasure-giving and pain-bringing mixed up.[Source]
  • There is a limit to the working power of human beings, but no limit to desire; so we strive to get hold of the working powers of others and enjoy the fruits of their labours, escaping work ourselves. Inventing machinery to work for us can never increase well - being, for in gratifying desire, we only find it, and then we want more and more without end. Dying, still filled with ungratified desires, we have to be born again and again in the vain search for satisfaction. "Eight Millions of bodies have we had, before we reached the human", say the Hindus. Jnana says, "Kill desire and so get rid of it".[Source]
  • Thirst for happiness being eternal, desires are without beginning.[Source]
  • Those who deny themselves, live in the forest, and chew the cud of unsatisfied desires are not true renouncers. Live in the midst of the battle of life. Anyone can keep calm in a cave or when asleep. Stand in the whirl and madness of action and reach the Centre. If you have found the Centre, you cannot be moved.[Source]
  • We desire only the pleasurable, not the painful.[Source]
  • When we let go the eternal fever of desire, the endless thirst that gives us no rest, when we have for ever quenched desire, we shall escape both good and evil, because we shall have transcended both. The satisfaction of desire only increases it, as oil poured on fire but makes it burn more fiercely.[Source]
  • While we hope for anything, desire still rules us.[Source]
  • Why care so much for this little life? All these vain desires of living and enjoying this life, here or in some other place, bring death.[Source]

Do not desire anything

   Main article: Do not desire anything
From a lecture delivered in London on 27 October 1896, which was later published in the Complete Works as God in Everything[Source]
Do not desire anything. What makes us miserable? The cause of all miseries from which we suffer is desire. You desire something, and the desire is not fulfilled; the result is distress. If there is no desire, there is no suffering. But here, too, there is the danger of my being misunderstood. So it is necessary to explain what I mean by giving up desire and becoming free from all misery. The walls have no desire and they never suffer. True, but they never evolve. This chair has no desires, it never suffers; but it is always a chair. There is a glory in happiness, there is a glory in suffering. If I may dare to say so, there is a utility in evil too. The great lesson in misery we all know. There are hundreds of things we have done in our lives which we wish we had never done, but which, at the same time, have been great teachers. As for me, I am glad I have done something good and many things bad; glad I have done something right, and glad I have committed many errors, because every one of them has been a great lesson. I, as I am now, am the resultant of all I have done, all I have thought. Every action and thought have had their effect, and these effects are the sum total of my progress.

We all understand that desires are wrong, but what is meant by giving up desires? How could life go on? It would be the same suicidal advice, killing the desire and the man too. The solution is this. Not that you should not have property, not that you should not have things which are necessary and things which are even luxuries. Have all that you want, and more, only know the truth and realise it. Wealth does not belong to anybody. Have no idea of proprietorship, possessorship. You are nobody, nor am I, nor anyone else. All belongs to the Lord, because the opening verse told us to put the Lord in everything. God is in the wealth that you enjoy. He is in the desire that rises in your mind. He is in the things you buy to satisfy your desire; He is in your beautiful attire, in your beautiful ornaments. This is the line of thought. All will be metamorphosed as soon as you begin to see things in that light. If you put God in your every movement, in your conversation, in your form, in everything, the whole scene changes, and the world, instead of appearing as one of woe and misery, will become a heaven.

"The kingdom of heaven is within you," says Jesus; so says the Vedanta, and every great teacher. "He that hath eyes to see, let him see, and he that hath ears to hear, let him hear." The Vedanta proves that the truth for which we have been searching all this time is present, and was all the time with us. In our ignorance, we thought we had lost it, and went about the world crying and weeping, struggling to find the truth, while all along it was dwelling in our own hearts. There alone can we find it.

If we understand the giving up of the world in its old, crude sense, then it would come to this: that we must not work, that we must be idle, sitting like lumps of earth, neither thinking nor doing anything, but must become fatalists, driven about by every circumstance, ordered about by the laws of nature, drifting from place to place. That would be the result. But that is not what is meant. We must work. Ordinary mankind, driven everywhere by false desire, what do they know of work? The man propelled by his own feelings and his own senses, what does he know about work? He works, who is not propelled by his own desires, by any selfishness whatsoever. He works, who has no ulterior motive in view. He works, who has nothing to gain from work.

Bhartrihari's Verses on Renunciation

Swami Vivekananda's translation of Bhartrihari's Verses on Renunciation, verses 5–8:[Source]

Hope is the name of this river, whose water is Desire, And Thirst the waves thereof.
Passion is the crocodile living in that water,
Vain resolves are the birds that reside
In the tree of virtue on the shores and kill it. But there are the whirlpools of Delusion
And Despondence, the high banks.
The great Yogis are blissful because they,
With their pure minds, never crossed this river. 

This page was last updated on: 23 December 2013, 10:00 pm IST (UTC+5:30 hours)
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