Narendranath Datta: “Have you seen God?”

Sri Ramakrishna: “Yes, I have. I see God as clearly as I see you, only in a much deeper sense.”

Earlier, during his youth, Narendranath, later known as Swami Vivekananda had visited prominent spiritual leaders. His quest about God and religion had taken an agnostic turn. He believed in questioning beliefs that people followed blindly. Many of the leaders he had met gave him a rather unimpressive response.

Although Narendranath was raised in a religious environment at home, he experienced a profound spiritual crisis in his early youth. At the same time, he couldn’t entirely disregard the notion of a Supreme Being.

He became associated with the Brahmo Movement led by Keshab Chandra Sen for a while. As the movement recognized one God in contrast to the idol-worshiping practices of Hinduism, which were riddled with superstition. Nevertheless, the philosophical queries about the existence of God continued to trouble him without finding satisfactory answers.

“Talk to yourself once a day, otherwise you may miss meeting an intelligent person in the world.”

~Swami Vivekanand

In 1884, Narendranath faced significant financial distress following the death of his father, as he had the responsibility of supporting his mother and younger siblings. Seeking assistance, he approached Ramakrishna and requested him to pray to the Goddess for the financial well-being of his family. Acting on Ramakrishna’s suggestion, Narendranath himself visited the temple to offer prayers.

However, when he stood before the Goddess, he found himself unable to ask for money and wealth. Instead, he prayed for ‘Vivek’ (Conscience) and ‘Bairagya’ (Reclusion). It was on that day that Narendranath experienced a profound spiritual awakening, and he felt a strong inclination towards an ascetic way of life.

While wandering, Swami Vivekananda learned about the World Parliament of Religions taking place in Chicago, America, in 1893. With a strong desire to represent India, and his Guru Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings. So, he resolved to attend the event in the United States. He found the affirmation of his aspiration while meditating on the rocks of Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of India.

Despite encountering significant hardships during his journey, Vivekananda’s determination remained unshakable. On September 11, 1893, when the moment arrived, he took the stage and captivated the audience with his opening line, “My brothers and sisters of America.”

Following the Parliament, Vivekananda spent the next two and a half years in America, where he established the Vedanta Society of New York in 1894. He also traveled to the United Kingdom, spreading the teachings of Vedanta and Hindu spirituality to the Western world.

I’ve taken a small section of his speech delivered on that day at the first World’s Parliament of Religions –

I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: “As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”

The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.”

The amalgamation of Sri Ramakrishna’s spiritual teachings on the manifestation of the Divine and Swami Vivekananda’s personal internalization of Advaita Vedanta philosophy formed the foundation of his religious conscience. He believed in attaining the divinity of the soul through selfless work, worship, and mental discipline. According to Vivekananda, the ultimate objective was to attain liberation of the soul, which encompassed the entirety of one’s religious journey.

Additionally, Swami Vivekananda was a prominent nationalist who held the well-being of his fellow countrymen as a top priority. He passionately encouraged his compatriots to “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached,” emphasizing the need for active engagement and unwavering determination in the pursuit of national progress.

In all of this, this noble and great individual emphasizes the transformative power of self-discovery and the importance of developing a clear sense of VISION, VALUES, IDENTITY, and PURPOSE. A clear portrayal of VVIP, the salt of leadership in one’s life. His actions and beliefs elaborate on how these elements can shape one’s life and help in navigating the challenges of adulthood.

“To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”

~Stephen Covey

What VVIP truly means:

· hashtag#VISION represents your long-term objective and the desired outcome you strive for through your dedicated efforts.

· hashtag#VALUES encompass the principles and beliefs that you firmly hold onto, serving as a foundation as you journey toward your goals. Your values define your character and what you stand for.

· hashtag#IDENTITY encompasses the amalgamation of these values, forming the essence of who you are as an individual.

·      Lastly, hashtag#PURPOSE delves into the reason for your existence, addressing profound questions such as “Why am I here?” and “What is the meaning behind it all?” It serves as a guiding force that brings clarity to your life’s mission.

For Swami Vivekananda, the VVIP (Vision, Values, Identity, and Purpose) can be defined as follows:

Vision: His vision was to promote spiritual awakening, social reform, and the unity of humankind. He envisioned a world where individuals realize their true potential, recognize the divinity within themselves, and work toward the betterment of society. Vivekananda sought to bridge the gap between the East and the West, fostering mutual respect and understanding.

Values: His values were deeply rooted in spirituality, tolerance, and service to humanity. He emphasized the importance of universal love, harmony among religions, and the pursuit of truth. Vivekananda advocated for the upliftment of the oppressed, the eradication of social evils, and the promotion of education as a means of empowerment.

Identity: His identity was shaped by his embodiment of spiritual wisdom, intellectual brilliance, and compassionate leadership. He was a representative of the rich spiritual heritage of India and a proponent of Vedanta philosophy. Vivekananda’s identity also included being a voice for the marginalized and an ambassador of Indian culture and spirituality to the world.

Purpose: His purpose was multi-faceted. Firstly, it was to rejuvenate Hinduism and revive its core principles to address the challenges of the modern era. Secondly, Vivekananda aimed to promote religious and social harmony by emphasizing the underlying unity of all religions. Additionally, his purpose involved empowering individuals to discover their inner potential, awaken their spiritual essence, and contribute to the welfare of society.

Swami Vivekananda’s VVIP encompassed a vision of spiritual awakening and global unity, values grounded in spirituality and service. It encompassed an identity as a spiritual leader and ambassador of Indian culture, and a purpose focused on personal transformation, social reform, and promoting interfaith harmony. His teachings and contributions continue to inspire millions worldwide.

By engaging with these aspects, you can embark on a path of self-discovery. It is the salt to your leadership journey. As you continue to build your Spiritual Quotient, the process of crafting your VVIP will help you to discern your aspirations and enable you to determine the direction you wish to pursue in life.

It’s as Justin Farley talks about finding himself on his path to self-discovery:

Finding Myself

The search for truth keeps me

Trekking across uncharted lands

And diving under unventured seas

Where I find myself alone,

Without the comfort of familiarity.

I have walked out onto the plank too far

To not take the plunge –

Bound myself in the shackles of curiosity

And distanced myself from past experiences and previous peers.

I was once a jolly pirate,

But am now the prisoner they push overboard and feed to the sharks.

But I must listen to the call of my heart –

The call that won’t let me live content

Following worn paths walked by countless others,

Taking the road society says leads to success.

I wish it wasn’t so…

It would be much easier

If I could distract myself from meaning,

From searching for the answers to this string of thoughts

Unraveling in my mind, but I cannot.

I can’t look upon the forest

In the midst of spring,

Watch the birds rest atop

The branches at the break of dawn,

Or feel the wind breathe across my face

Without the taste of some eternal truth

Lingering on the tip of my tongue,

Reminding me of a magic I felt

During days when I was young,

Some glorious mystery that awakens my taste buds

And makes them yearn for more.

I am a seeker,

Seeking beauty, seeking truth.

And to deny myself the journey of self-discovery

For the sake of comfort is a travesty of my heart

And of the one who created it.

It’s never easy to abandon the crowds,

Leave the pack,

And become a lone wolf,

But by keeping the status quo

You’ll never find the piece of yourself

You’ve been missing all your life –

The piece of you that you’ve been afraid to acknowledge,

The piece of you that connects you to your destiny,

The piece of your puzzle that fits perfectly into place

Forming a beautiful portrait,

And the piece of you that makes you come alive.

It’s time.

You’re ready.

Share the real you

With the world.

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