swami vivekananda was the key disciple of sri ramakrishna paramhansa. ramakrishna attained to god via many paths but the path which came naturally to him was of devotion.
on the other hand for his disciple swami vivekananda the path of meditation was natural and spontaneous. so ramakrishna guided him into meditation path. because it was best suited for him. sri ramakrishna was more of heart and feeling. whereas swami vivekananda was more into logic and intellect. he used to meditate from very early age. he was also fond of gautam buddha. so once he also visited bodhgaya to see the place where buddha got enlightened.
ramakrishna attained to god by worshipping kali ma (god in form). whereas vivekananda was into formless god. thus one can reach to god via both devotion and meditation. one should follow the path which comes naturally to you. for swami vivekananda, it was meditation.
swami vivekananda quotes on meditation:
- in real meditation you forget the body. you may be cut to pieces and not feel it at all. you feel such pleasure in it. you become so light. this perfect rest we will get in meditation.
- meditation means the mind is turned back upon itself. the mind stops all the thought-waves and the world stops. your consciousness expands. every time you meditate you will keep your growth.
- self-realization is to be attained by renunciation, by meditation—renunciation of all the senses, cutting the knots, the chains that bind us down to matter.
- the meditative state is the highest state of existence. so long as there is desire, no real happiness can come. it is only the contemplative, witness-like study of objects that brings to us real enjoyment and happiness.
- not even the deepest sleep will give you such a rest as meditation can. the mind goes on jumping even in deepest sleep. just those few moments in meditation your brain has almost stopped. … you forget the body. … you feel such pleasure in it. you become so light. this perfect rest we will get in meditation.
- the greatest thing is meditation. it is the nearest approach to spiritual life — the mind meditating. it is the one moment in our daily life that we are not at all material — the soul thinking of itself, free from all matter — this marvelous touch of the soul!
- work a little harder at meditation and it comes. you do not feel the body or anything else. when you come out of it after the hour, you have had the most beautiful rest you ever had in your life. that is the only way you ever give rest to your system.
- the greatest help to spiritual life is meditation. in meditation we divest ourselves of all material conditions and feel our divine nature. we do not depend upon any external help in meditation. the touch of the soul can paint the brightest color even in the dingiest places; it can cast a fragrance over the vilest thing; it can make the wicked divine–and all enmity, all selfishness is effaced.
- the less the thought of the body, the better it is. for it is the body that drags us down. it is attachment, identification which makes us miserable. that is the secret: to think that i am the spirit and not the body, and that the whole of this universe with all its relations, with all its good and all its evil, is but as a series of paintings–scenes on a canvas–of which i am the witness.
- when we can attach the mind to—or detach it from—the sense at our will, we shall really possess character. then alone we shall have taken a long step towards freedom; before that, we are mere machines.
- to realize the spirit as spirit is practical religion. everything else is good so far as it leads to this one grand idea. that realization is to be attained by renunciation, by meditation—renunciation of all the senses, cutting the knots, the chains that bind us down to matter.
- this is the secret of spiritual life: to think that i am the atman and not the body, and that the whole of this universe with all its relations, with all its good and all its evil, is but as a series of paintings—scenes on a canvas—of which i am the witness.
- if we can find in ourself something that is not acted on by any cause, then we have known the self.
- watch people do their most common actions; these are indeed the things that will tell you the real character of a great person.
- it is good and very grand to conquer external nature, but grander still to conquer the internal nature of man. it is grand and good to know the laws that govern the stars and planets; it is infinitely grander and better to know the laws that govern the passions, the feelings, the will, of mankind. this conquering of the inner man, understanding the secrets of the subtle workings that are within the human mind, and knowing its wonderful secrets, belong entirely to religion.
- let the mind be cheerful but calm. never let it run into excesses, because every excess will be followed by a reaction.
- avoid excessive merriment. a mind in that state never becomes calm; it becomes fickle. excessive merriment will always be followed by sorrow. tears and laughter are near kin. people so often run from one extreme to the other.
- those who have succeeded in attaching or detaching their minds at will have succeeded in pratyahara, which means “gathering towards,” checking the outgoing powers of the mind, freeing it from the thralldom of the senses. when we can do this, we shall really possess character; then alone we shall have taken a long step towards freedom. before that, we are mere machines.
- there is but one way to control the senses — to see him who is the reality in the universe. then and only then can we really conquer our senses.
- discriminate within yourself between the real and the unreal. have you not read the vedanta? even when you sleep, keep the sword of discrimination at the head of your bed, so that covetousness cannot approach you even in dream. practicing such strength, renunciation will gradually come, and then you will see the portals of heaven are wide open to you.
- this little separate self must die. then we shall find that we are in the real, and that real is god, and he is our own true nature, and he is always in us and with us. let us live in him and stand in him. it is the only joyful state of existence. life on the plane of the spirit is the only life, and let us all try to attain to this realization.