The Origin of Change

Swami Vivekananda

“The Vedanta recognizes no sin it only recognizes error. And the greatest error, says the Vedanta, is to say that you are weak, that you are a sinner, a miserable creature, and that you have no power and you cannot do this and that.” -Swami Vivekananda

Many people struggle with trying to change-habits, addictions, and unwanted thoughts or behaviors. Also, sometimes we feel stuck, unable to experience novelty, excitement or passion. We push ourselves, make resolutions, maybe give up and feel hopeless that we cannot change. In the quote above, Vivekananda affirms our power to act, to change, and to do anything. But where does this power come from? Another quote elucidates this conundrum:

“The will is not free – it is a phenomenon bound by cause and effect – but there is something behind the will which is free.” -Swami Vivekananda

Thus when we use our will and force to act, we ultimately are thwarted by other forces- biology, chemistry, physics, social pressure, cultural context, etc. The power to act and the freedom to change arise from a deeper place. How can we reach that place? Vedanta teaches that “Many are the names of God and infinite the forms through which He may be approached.” And, take heart, Vivekananda assures us that “A tremendous stream is flowing toward the ocean, carrying us all along with it; and though like straws and scraps of paper we float at times aimlessly about, in the long run we are sure to join the Ocean of Life and Bliss.”

Download the Upanishads for free here. Translation by Swami

Paramananda, a Vivekananda disciple and the man who founded the Ashrama where I grew up.

Swami Paramananda

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