12 December 2013

Swami Vivekananda's Quotes On Struggle

War painting
Life itself is a state of continuous struggle
between ourselves and everything outside.
— Swami Vivekananda
Image source: Wikimedia Commons 
Scientists like Robert Malthus, Charles Darwin have taught us about "Struggle for existence". H. G. Wells, in his famous novel The Time Machine (1905), wrote about a species of human being (Eloi) who don't need to struggle for existence. But we have not reached that stage yet.

In this article we'll make a collection of Swami Vivekananda's quotes on struggle.

Swami Vivekananda on struggle for existence and struggle and competition

From Complete Works, volume VII[Source]
You are certainly aware of the laws of struggle for existence, survival of the fittest, natural selection, and so forth, which have been held by the Western scholars to be the causes of elevating a lower species to a higher. But none of these has been advocated as the cause of that in the system of Patanjali. Patanjali holds that the transformation of one species into another is effected by the "in - filling of nature" [(Sanskrit)]. It is not that this is done by the constant struggle against obstacles. In my opinion, struggle and competition sometimes stand in the way of a being's attaining its perfection. If the evolution of an animal is effected by the destruction of a thousand others, then one must confess that this evolution is doing very little good to the world. Taking it for granted that it conduces to physical well - being, we cannot help admitting that it is a serious obstacle to spiritual development. According to the philosophers of our country, every being is a perfect Soul, and the diversity of evolution and manifestation of nature is simply due to the difference in the degree of manifestation of this Soul. The moment the obstacles to the evolution and manifestation of nature are completely removed, the Soul manifests Itself perfectly. Whatever may happen in the lower strata of nature's evolutions, in the higher strata at any rate, it is not true that it is only by constantly struggling against obstacles that one has to go beyond them. Rather it is observed that there the obstacles give way and a greater manifestation of the Soul takes place through education and culture, through concentration and meditation, and above all through sacrifice. Therefore, to designate the obstacles not as the effects but as the causes of the Soul - manifestation, and describe them as aiding this wonderful diversity of nature, is not consonant with reason. The attempt to remove evil from the world by killing a thousand evil - doers, only adds to the evil in the world. But if the people can be made to desist from evil - doing by means of spiritual instruction, there is no more evil in the world. Now, see how horrible the Western struggle theory becomes!

Swami Vivekananda's quotes and comments on struggle

  • A man may struggle all his life for riches; he may cheat thousands, but he finds at last that he did not deserve to become rich, and his life becomes a trouble and a nuisance to him.[Source]
  • After long struggle, it finds that the subject must always remain the subject; and then begins non-attachment, and it becomes free.[Source]
  • All our struggles, exercises, pains, pleasures, tears, and smiles, all that we do and think tend towards that goal, the tearing up of the screen, making the hole bigger, thinning the layers that remain between the manifestation and the reality behind. Our work, therefore, is not to make the soul free, but to get rid of the bondages.[Source]
  • As long as touch-me-not-ism is your creed and the kitchen-pot your deity, you cannot rise spiritually. All the petty differences between religion and religion are mere word-struggles, nonsense. Everyone thinks, "This is my original idea", and wants to have things his own way. That is how struggles come.[Source]
  • As our social struggles are represented amongst different nations by different social organizations, so is man's spiritual struggle represented by various religions; and as different social organizations are constantly quarrelling, are constantly at war with one another, so these spiritual organisations have been constantly at war with one another, constantly quarrelling.[Source]
  • Blessed are those who struggle to go beyond.[Source]
  • By great struggle we get a certain power of concentration, the power of attachment of the mind to certain things.[Source]
  • Every existence from the highest to the lowest, all manifest according to their degree as—energy (in the higher life), attraction (in the higher love), and struggle for equilibrium (in the higher happiness).[Source]
  • Every one is struggling for freedom—from the atom to the star.[Source]
  • Everything in the universe is struggling to complete a circle, to return to its source, to return to its only real Source, Atman. The search for happiness is a struggle to find the balance, to restore the equilibrium. Morality is the struggle of the bound will to get free and is the proof that we have come from perfection. . . .[Source]
  • However mistaken we may be as to the method, all our struggle is really for freedom.[Source]
  • If we have true yearning for realisation, we must struggle, and through struggle growth will come.[Source]
  • In this struggle through what we call our environments, there will come a time when we shall find that these environments were almost zero in comparison with the power of the soul. It is only a question of time, and time is nothing in the Infinite.[Source]
  • It is in ignorance that struggle remains, because we are all really atheists. Real theists cannot work. We are atheists more or less. We do not see God or believe in Him. He is G-O-D to us, and nothing more. There are moments when we think He is near, but then we fall down again. When you see Him, who struggles for whom?[Source]
  • It is the patient upbuilding of character, the intense struggle to realise the truth, which alone will tell in the future of humanity.[Source]
  • Life itself is a state of continuous struggle between ourselves and everything outside. Every moment we are fighting actually with external nature, and if we are defeated, our life has to go. It is, for instance, a continuous struggle for food and air. If food or air fails, we die. Life is not a simple and smoothly flowing thing, but it is a compound effect. This complex struggle between something inside and the external world is what we call life. So it is clear that when this struggle ceases, there will be an end of life.[Source]
  • Man begins to struggle and fight against nature. He makes many mistakes, he suffers. But eventually he conquers nature and realises his freedom. When he is free, nature becomes his slave.[Source]
  • Man is a thinking being and must struggle on until he conquers death, until he sees the light.[Source]
  • My mission in life is to rouse a struggle in you. [Source]
  • My old watchword — struggle, struggle up to light! Onward![Source]
  • Not a work will be lost, no struggle vain. . .[Source]
  • Resistance and struggle at every step is the law.[Source]
  • Struggle Godward! Never mind if you fail, never mind if you get hold of a queer theory. If you are afraid to be called queer, keep it in your own mind — you need not go and preach it to others. But do something! Struggle Godward![Source]
  • Struggle hard and then if you do not succeed, you are not to blame.[Source]
  • Struggle is the sign of life.[Source]
  • Struggle itself is the grandest and most glorious that man can make.[Source]
  • Struggle, struggle, was my motto for the last ten years. Struggle, still say I. When it was all dark, I used to say, struggle; when light is breaking in, I still say, struggle.[Source]
  • The education which does not help the common mass of people to equip themselves for the struggle for life, which does not bring out strength of character, a spirit of philanthropy, and the courage of a lion -- is it worth the name? Real education is that which enables one to stand on one's own legs.[Source]
  • Mind you, the great benefit in this life is struggle.[Source]
  • The Lord is the great magnet, and we are all like iron filings; we are being constantly attracted by Him, and all of us are struggling to reach Him. All this struggling of ours in this world is surely not intended for selfish ends. Fools do not know what they are doing: the work of their life is, after all, to approach the great magnet. All the tremendous struggling and fighting in life is intended to make us go to Him ultimately and be one with Him.[Source]
  • The Self is the eternal subject, and we are eternally struggling to objectify that Self, and out of that struggle has come this phenomenon of the universe: that which we call matter.[Source]
  • The struggle never had meaning for the man who is free. But for us it has a meaning, because it is name-and-form that creates the world.[Source]
  • The very idea of free-will shows every moment man's struggle against bondage.[Source]
  • The whole process of evolution is the soul's struggle to manifest itself. It is a constant struggle against nature. It is a struggle against nature, and not conformity to nature that makes man what he is. We hear a great deal about living in harmony with nature, of being in tune with nature. This is a mistake. This table, this pitcher, the minerals, a tree, are all in harmony with nature. Perfect harmony there, no discord. To be in harmony with nature means stagnation, death. How did man build this house? By being in harmony with nature? No. By fighting against nature. It is the constant struggle against nature that constitutes human progress, not conformity with it.[Source]
  • The whole struggle of life is not to obey.[Source]
  • Throw your religious observances overboard for the present and be first prepared for the struggle for existence.[Source]
  • We are all babies struggling.[Source]
  • We have a place for struggle in the Vedanta, but not for fear. All fears will vanish when you begin to assert your own nature. If you think that you are bound, bound you will remain. If you think you are free, free you will be.[Source]
  • We hope and pray and struggle on, and the day will come when we shall arrive at the truth, and we shall not have to speak.[Source]
  • We may not understand what the meaning is, but there is that unconscious struggle of the human with the spiritual, of the lower with the higher mind, and the struggle attempts to preserve one's separate life, what we call our "individuality".[Source]
  • We struggle hard to attain to some goal and then discover we do not want it.[Source]
  • What makes us all struggle for something beyond what we see — whether it be a beautiful morning or a fear of dead spirits? ... We need not go back into prehistoric times, for it is a fact present today as it was two thousand years ago. We do not find satisfaction here. Whatever our station in life — [even if we are] powerful and wealthy — we cannot find satisfaction.[Source]
  • Where there is struggle, where there is rebellion, there is the sign of life, there consciousness is manifested.[Source]
  • Why are people struggling? To lessen the misery.... All unhappiness is caused by our not having mastery over the body.... We are all putting the cart before the horse....[Source]

Everything around us is struggling for freedom

From Karma Yoga, chapter: III, The ideal of Karma Yoga[Source]
Everything that we perceive around us is struggling towards freedom, from the atom to the man, from the insentient, lifeless particle of matter to the highest existence on earth, the human soul. The whole universe is in fact the result of this struggle for freedom. In all combinations every particle is trying to go on its own way, to fly from the other particles; but the others are holding it in check. Our earth is trying to fly away from the sun, and the moon from the earth. Everything has a tendency to infinite dispersion. All that we see in the universe has for its basis this one struggle towards freedom; it is under the impulse of this tendency that the saint prays and the robber robs. When the line of action taken is not a proper one, we call it evil; and when the manifestation of it is proper and high, we call it good. But the impulse is the same, the struggle towards freedom. The saint is oppressed with the knowledge of his condition of bondage, and he wants to get rid of it; so he worships God. The thief is oppressed with the idea that he does not possess certain things, and he tries to get rid of that want, to obtain freedom from it; so he steals. Freedom is the one goal of all nature, sentient or insentient; and consciously or unconsciously, everything is struggling towards that goal. The freedom which the saint seeks is very different from that which the robber seeks; the freedom loved by the saint leads him to the enjoyment of infinite, unspeakable bliss, while that on which the robber has set his heart only forges other bonds for his soul.

This page was last updated on: 28 December 2013, 9::41 pm IST (UTC+5:30 hours)
Number of revisions in this page:  3


  1. Struggle, struggle, move on, struggle, as Swami Vivekananda said, struggle is the way


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