Vivekananda’s Assimilation of Five Ideas

by Aranyakananda

“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.

Do it.

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One Response to Vivekananda’s Assimilation of Five Ideas

  1. Dhrishti says:

    “And maybe 12 days is a long shelf-life for New Years Resolutions.” – So true!

    “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.” -Also very true, bhai. The Nataraj dances in everyone’s life. 🙂

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