Swami Vivekananda: You can know God directly


“What right has a man to say he has a soul if he does not feel it, or that there is a God if he does not see Him? If there is a God we must see Him, if there is a soul we must perceive it; otherwise it is better not to believe.”

Swami Vivekananda

As a child I totally rejected religion. I must admit that a part of me did want to believe in God; I saw the strength and certainty it gave people. But the bigger (better?) part of me thought it all seemed so silly and nonsensical. The very idea of believing in anything at all seemed bizarre, let alone believing in some big person in the sky somewhere that created the universe but didn’t give me any sign of their existence. Or a god who performed great miracles in times gone by, but decided that now they wouldn’t bother any more and I had to read it in a book instead.

The very idea of believing in anything at all seemed bizarre, let alone believing in some big person in the sky…

Then there was the hypocrisy. I often saw people of faith doing mean-spirited things, judging people on superficialities such as their social status or the clothes they wore, and generally not always being nice to be around. Often religion was devoid of fun, love, creativity and open-heartedness.

It was only much later as a teenager that I was shown that there could be a spirituality that was rational and did not require belief, and yet speak equally to the heart as well as the mind. One day, whilst rummaging around in my parents’ bookcase as a young teenager, I came across a book that would change my life.

It was only much later…that I was shown that there could be a spirituality that was rational and did not require belief

It was called Raja Yoga and was written by a Bengali holy man who is very well-known in India. His name was Swami Vivekananda. The quote above is one of many taken from this book. Whilst I did not understand or did not agree with everything he wrote, his vision of religion as something that must be experienced firsthand revitalised me and filled me with excitement.

“We see that in the study of this Raja Yoga no faith or belief is necessary. Believe nothing, until you find it out for yourself; that is what it teaches us. Truth requires no prop to make it stand. Do you mean to say that the facts of our awakened state require any dreams or imagining to prove them? Certainly not.”

Swami Vivekananda

I remember reading through his essays as well as his commentaries on the Sanskrit text of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras which were also in the book. It was a magical time for me of exploration and expansion, a world where there was hope. I felt the possibility of something spiritual existing that could actually be known firsthand without books or beliefs.

Swami Vivekananda told me that I could know God directly. He said that this was the central truth present in all the great religions, it was merely expressed differently due to differences in time and place.

Do you have a story about how you became interested in spirituality? Has something like a book or event affected you profoundly? I’d love to hear about it…

3 thoughts on “Swami Vivekananda: You can know God directly

  1. Thanks for sharing. I could pretty much relate to most of it. Although growing up I did have a sense of there being a creator/intelligence behind this marvellous universe full of wonders.
    Being a fan of steve jobs led me to reading autobiography of a yogi which made me feel the same excitement that you describe after reading Raja yoga and I started following paramahansa Yoganandas Kriya yoga teachings. Alhough since the last year or so I’ve been really drawn to the stillness non duality teachings and reading I am that has really changed my perspective.
    There’s still a conflict sometimes in the mind between yoganandas/Raja yogas goal oriented approach of awakening through the third eye to cosmic consciousness opposed to the simpler abiding in the I am of maharaj and even your own teachings. I just try and surrender whenever these doubts/confusions come trusting that since it hasn’t been this ‘me’ who decided to start meditating in the first place, I’m sure whatever guidance is required will come as it always has and just be still and quiet within.
    Thanks a lot for sharing the love and light

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi utsav talwas, thanks for taking the time to write your experiences and sorry for my late response. There is no real contradiction between yoga and ‘abiding’, as both aim at stillness of mind and insight to remove the false sense of self, but different people provisionally require different teachings depending where they are. It all takes you home, either way, so worry not and be still. Namaste.


  2. In the presence of a Master, one experiences Self – bliss live, directly, first hand as Self-experience, with full awareness, as the mind is let quiescent in the presence of the Master, and then let go the same state in all our existence.


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