“If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart a whole library.” – Swami Vivekananda
I cannot believe we are only 12 days into January. I feel like New Year’s Resolutions are a long-forgotten fancy but it’s only been 12 days since they were all that people were talking about. And maybe 12 days is a long shelf-life for New Years Resolutions. That is why I was interested when I heard the above quote from Swami Vivekananda today at my temple’s Vivekananda 150th Birth Anniversary festivities in honor of the great Swami.
Resolutions last a few weeks (let’s be real) when they are made on New Year’s Eve. Occasionally a real spirit of change comes upon one and he decides in October that he will be a vegetarian, and remains so for life. Occasionally one decides to begin attending religious services in August and it remains a weekly event for that person. Or he decides in June that he will never drink alcohol again. You get the idea.
But assimilation of ideas into one’s life – weaving this handful of ideas into the fabric of one’s character, as prescribed by Swami Vivekananda, that is something more. That, I believe is like yamas and niyamas. That is changing the very perspective from which you live. They are observances, inner and outer, which become inextricably a part of your reason for being, but you do not attach them to your personality, the I, me and mine of your present life. Though they do become a tool to guide you through this present life. Everybody comes into this present life with different karma, and therefore everyone will have a different set of “ideas” which will rightly guide them through it, safely assisting one in burning away and shedding of these collections of karma. I believe that should be the purpose of the five ideas. To ferry one safely down the river of time to the Ocean of Bliss.
I just heard this idea today. I have not written a 1-5 on a sheet of paper and filled it in and said to myself “Okay, now go!”. That is not how it is done. I am sure I will make lists. I am sure I will cross things off as other ideas which are more important to me come to mind. But eventually – and there is no time limit on this, it is a life-long journey – I think this suggestion of 5 ideas will coagulate, come into focus. I will know when I have hit on the things that suit my karmic needs.