Grow Free

Freedom is a universal value. Physically or genetically we may not be born free. But if we have to realize our full inner potential we have to grow free.

We preach neither social equality nor inequality, but that every being has the same rights, and insist upon freedom of thought and action in every way.

We reject none, neither theist, nor pantheist, monist, polytheist, agnostic, nor atheist; the only condition of being a disciple is modeling a character at once the broadest and the most intense.

Nor do we insist upon particular codes of morality as to conduct, or character, or eating or drinking, except so far as it injures others.

Whatever retards the onward progress or helps the downward fall is vice; whatever helps becoming harmonized is virtue.

We leave everybody free to know, select, and follow whatever suits and helps him. Thus, for example, eating meat may help one, eating fruit another. Each is welcome to his own peculiarity; but he has no right to criticize the conduct of others, because that would, if followed by him, injure him, much less insist that others should follow his way. A wife may help some people in this progress, to others she may be a positive injury. But the unmarried man has no right to say that the married disciple is wrong, much less to force his own ideal of morality upon his brother.

We believe that every being is divine, is God. Every soul is a sun covered over with clouds of ignorance, the difference between soul and soul is due to the difference in density of these layers of clouds. We believe that this is the conscious or unconscious basis of all religions, and that this is the explanation of the whole history of human progress either in the material, intellectual, or spiritual plane – the same spirit is manifesting through different planes.

We believe that it is the duty of every soul to treat, think of, and behave to other souls as such, i.e. as Gods, and not hate or despise, or vilify, or try to injure them by any manner or means. This is the duty not only of the Sannyasin but of all men and women.

Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man. Religion is the manifestation of the Divinity already in man. Therefore the only duty of the teacher in both cases is to remove all obstructions from the way. Hands off! as I always say, and everything will be right. That is, our duty is to clear the way. The Lord does the rest.

…only take care that no form becomes necessary – unity in variety – see that universality be not hampered in the least. Everything must be sacrificed, if necessary, for that one sentiment, universality… remember this specially, that universality – perfect acceptance, not tolerance only – we preach and perform, take care how you trample on the least right of others. Many a huge ship has foundered in that whirlpool. Remember, perfect devotion minus its bigotry – this is what we have got to show.

…To advance oneself towards freedom – physical, mental, and spiritual – and help others to do so, is the supreme prize of man. Those social rules which stand in the way of the unfoldment of this freedom are injurious, and steps should be taken to destroy them speedily. Those institutions should be encouraged by which men advance in the path of freedom.

Swami Vivekananda

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