Born in 1863, Swami Vivekananda was one of India’s most prolific spiritual leaders. Dubbed ‘the one who awakened India’, the one who ‘saved Hinduism, saved India’ and ‘the maker of modern India’, his life was a testament to the power that one awakened individual can have. And, while there are many Swami Vivekananda quotes to be found, both in traditional books and online, none are more famous or more referred to than his ’15 Laws of Life’.
An influence on everyone from Mahatma Gandhi to Aldous Huxley to Nikola Tesla, he played a pivotal role in bringing Vedanta philosophy and Yoga to the west, and was also a gifted orator, painter and poet.
He predicted that he would not live past forty years of age and, true to form, died while in mediation, entering what is known as Mahasamādhi at the age of 39. Yet one of the most enduring aspects of his legacy was the following 15 Laws of life, available to anyone from any walk of life, at any time — of all the many collections of Swami Vivekananda quotes available, this simple list indeed remains the gem.
As always, we encourage you to check your credulity while reading the list, and exercise your own autonomy instead. If you feel spurred to further reading, there are a number of writings about the man available, as well as numerous other collections of Swami Vivekananda quotes across the web.
1) Love is the Law of Life
All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. Therefore, love for love’s sake, because it is a law of life, just as you breathe to live.
2) It is Your Outlook That Matters
It is our own mental attitude which makes the world what it is for us. Our thoughts make things beautiful, our thoughts make things ugly. The whole world is in our own minds. Learn to see things in the proper light.
3) Life is Beautiful
First, believe in this world – that there is meaning behind everything. Everything in the world is good, is holy and beautiful. If you see something evil, think that you do not understand it in the right light. Throw the burden on yourselves!
4) It is The Way You Feel
Feel like Christ and you will be a Christ; feel like Buddha and you will be a Buddha. It is feeling that is the life, the strength, the vitality, without which no amount of intellectual activity can reach God.
5) Set Yourself Free
The moment I have realised God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him – that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.
6) Don’t Play the Blame Game
Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way.
7) Help Others
If money helps a man to do good to others, it is of some value; but if not, it is simply a mass of evil, and the sooner it is got rid of, the better.
8) Uphold Your Ideals
Our duty is to encourage every one in his struggle to live up to his own highest idea, and strive at the same time to make the ideal as near as possible to the Truth.
9) Listen to Your Soul
You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.
10) Be Yourself
The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves!
11) Nothing Is Impossible
Never think there is anything impossible for the soul. It is the greatest heresy to think so. If there is sin, this is the only sin – to say that you are weak, or others are weak.
12) You Have The Power
All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.
13) Learn Everyday
The goal of mankind is knowledge… now this knowledge is inherent in man. No knowledge comes from outside: it is all inside. What we say a man ‘knows’, should, in strict psychological language, be what he ‘discovers’ or ‘unveils’; what man ‘learns’ is really what he discovers by taking the cover off his own soul, which is a mine of infinite knowledge.
14) Be Truthful
Everything can be sacrificed for truth, but truth cannot be sacrificed for anything.
15) Think Differently
All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.