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Universality and the Comprehensive Spiritual Body

This unique body described above is not one of mere physical proportions. It is a body of dharmic dexterity, religious reckoning, and philosophical potency. It is nourished on the nondual knowledge of the difference between the abiding Real (Brahman/Spirit/Reality) and the transitory unreal (the universe/matter/maya). It grows by affirming the former and renouncing the latter, but matures fully in the end by acknowledging the interconnectedness of both these principles while simultaneously acquiring the ability to concentrate on what is essential and thereby transcend the very idea of difference and separation. Perceiving what changes, acknowledging it, and verily renouncing it is therefore essential:

“The only knowledge that is of any value is to know that all this (maya) is humbug. But few, very few, will ever know this. Know the Atman alone, and give up all other vain words. This is the only knowledge we gain from all this knocking about the universe. This is the only work, to call upon mankind to ‘Awake, arise, and stop not till the goal is reached.’ It is renunciation, Tyaga, that is meant by religion, and nothing else.”

If we look at this equanimous spiritual body from the angles of path, practice, and philosophy, we can perceive and recognize its inner glory. Vivekananda states:

“What I want to propagate is a religion that will be equally acceptable to all minds; it must be equally philosophic, equally emotional, equally mystic, and equally conducive to action. If professors from the colleges come, scientific men and physicists, they will court reason. Let them have it as much as they want. Similarly, if the mystic comes, we must welcome him, be ready to give him the science of mental analysis, and practically demonstrate it before him. And if emotional people come, we must sit, laugh, and weep with them in the name of the Lord; we must ‘drink the cup of love and become mad.’ If the energetic worker comes, we must work with him, with all the energy that we have. And this combination will be the ideal of the nearest approach to a universal religion. Would to God that all men were so constituted that in their minds all these elements of philosophy, mysticism, emotion, and of work were equally present in full! That is the ideal, my ideal of a perfect man. Everyone who has only one or two of these elements of character, I consider ‘one-sided;’ and this world is almost full of such ‘one-sided’ men, with knowledge of that one road only in which they move; and anything else is dangerous and horrible to them. To become harmoniously balanced in all these four directions is my ideal of religion.”

And if we listen from the standpoint of Swamiji’s comprehensive philosophy, a fresh, complete and original definition of the Advaita Vedanta is heard:

“To put the Hindu ideas into English and then to make out of dry Philosophy, intricate Mythology, and queer startling Psychology a religion that shall be easy, simple, popular, and at the same time meet the requirements of the highest mind is a task that only those can understand who have attempted it. The abstract Advaita must become living — poetic — in everyday life; out of hopelessly intricate Mythology must come concrete moral forms; and out of bewildering Yogi-ism must come the most practical and scientific Psychology — and all this must be put in a form so that a child may grasp it.”

In this light, one can understand not only the extreme subtlety and difficulty of the worthy work at hand, but all that is required to make it possible and amenable to hosts of living, striving beings. The sacred offering must be both appealing and effective. According to Vivekananda: “I want to give Truth dry hard reason, softened in the sweetest syrup of love, and made spicy with intense work, and cooked in the kitchen of Yoga so that even a baby can easily digest it.”

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