Swami Vivekananda Answers…
Q.– Is Maya without beginning and end?
A.– Maya is eternal both ways, taken universally, as genus; but it is non – eternal individually.
Q.– Brahman and Maya cannot be cognised simultaneously. How could the absolute reality of either be proved as arising out of the one or the other?
A.– It could be proved only by realisation. When one realises Brahman, for him Maya exists no longer, just as once the identity of the rope is found out, the illusion of the serpent comes no more.
Q.– What is Maya?
A.– There is only one thing, call it by any name — matter, or spirit. It is difficult or rather impossible to think the one independent of the other. This is Maya, or ignorance.
Q.– What is Mukti (liberation)?
A.– Mukti means entire freedom — freedom from the bondages of good and evil. A golden chain is as much a chain as an iron one. Shri Ramakrishna used to say that, to pick out one thorn which has stuck into the foot, another thorn is requisitioned, and when the thorn is taken out, both are thrown away. So the bad tendencies are to be counteracted by the good ones, but after that, the good tendencies have also to be conquered.
Q.– Can salvation (Mukti) be obtained without the grace of God?
A.– Salvation has nothing to do with God. Freedom already is.
Q.– What is the proof of the self in us not being the product of the body etc.?
A.– The “ego” like its correlative “non – ego”, is the product of the body, mind etc. The only proof of the existence of the real Self is realisation.
Q.– Who is a true Jnani, and who is a true Bhakta?
A.– The true Jnani is he who has the deepest love within his heart and at the same time is a practical seer of Advaita in his outward relations. And the true Bhakta (lover) is he who, realising his own soul as identified with the universal Soul, and thus possessed of the true Jnana within, feels for and loves everyone. Of Jnana and Bhakti he who advocates one and denounces the other cannot be either a Jnani or a Bhakta, but he is a thief and a cheat.
Q.– Why should a man serve Ishvara?
A.– If you once admit that there is such a thing as Ishvara (God), you have numberless occasions to serve Him. Service of the Lord means, according to all the scriptural authorities, remembrance (Smarana). If you believe in the existence of God, you will be reminded of Him at every step of your life.
Q.– Is Mayavada different from Advaitavada?
A.– No. They are identical. There is absolutely no other explanation of Advaitavada except Mayavada.
Q.– How is it possible for God who is infinite to be limited in the form of a man (as an Avatara)?
A.– It is true that God is infinite, but not in the sense in which you comprehend it. You have confounded your idea of infinity with the materialistic idea of vastness. When you say that God cannot take the form of a man, you understand that a very, very large substance or form (as if material in nature), cannot be compressed into a very, very small compass. God’s infinitude refers to the unlimitedness of a purely spiritual entity, and as such, does not suffer in the least by expressing itself in a human form.
Q.– Some say, “First of all become a Siddha (one who has realised the Truth), and then you have the right to Karma, or work for others”, while others say that one should work for others even from the beginning. How can both these views be reconciled?
A.– You are confusing one thing with the other. Karma means either service to humanity or preaching. To real preaching, no doubt, none has the right except the Siddha Purusha, i.e. one who has realised the Truth. But to service every one has the right, and not only so, but every one is under obligation to serve others, so long as he is accepting service from others.
Q.– Does Yoga serve to keep the body in its full health and vitality?
A.– It does. It staves off disease. As objectification of one’s own body is difficult, it is very effective in regard to others. Fruit and milk are the best food for Yogis.
Q.– Is the attainment of bliss synchronous with that of Vairagya?
A.– The first step in Vairagya is very painful. When perfected, it yields supreme bliss.
Q.– What is Tapasya?
A.– Tapasya is threefold — of the body, of speech, and of mind. The first is service of others; the second, truthfulness; and third, control and concentration.
Q.– Why do we not see that the same consciousness pervades the ant as well as the perfected sage?
A.– Realising the unity of th is manifestation is a question of time only.