12 April 2014

Swami Vivekananda's Quotes On "Neti, Neti"

"Neti", "Neti"—"not this", "not this"—
stopping every wave in the mind which tries to draw it out
—Swami Vivekananda 
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Neti, neti (Devanagari: नेति, नेति, Bengali: নেতি, নেতি, "not this", "not this") is a process of negotiation. Following this a Yogi or a Sadhaka (spiritual aspirant) negotiates everything that is "unreal", or does not relate to his "goal". In this article we'll collect Swami Vivekananda's quotations on neti, neti.
  • It is a most difficult thing to give up the clinging to this universe; few ever attain to that. There are two ways to do that mentioned in our books. One is called the "Neti, Neti" (not this, not this), the other is called "Iti" (this); the former is the negative, and the latter is the positive way. The negative way is the most difficult. It is only possible to the men of the very highest, exceptional minds and gigantic wills who simply stand up and say, "No, I will not have this," and the mind and body obey their will, and they come out successful. But such people are very rare. The vast majority of mankind choose the positive way, the way through the world, making use of all the bondages themselves to break those very bondages. This is also a kind of giving up; only it is done slowly and gradually, by knowing things, enjoying things and thus obtaining experience, and knowing the nature of things until the mind lets them all go at last and becomes unattached. The former way of obtaining non-attachment is by reasoning, and the latter way is through work and experience.[Source]
  • Suppose a man is cultivating that type of devotion to God which Hanumân represents. The more intense the attitude becomes, the more will the pose and demeanour of that aspirant, nay even his physical configuration, be cast in that would. It is in this way that transmutation of species takes place. Taking up any such emotional attitude, the worshipper becomes gradually shaped into the very form of his ideal. The ultimate stage of any such sentiment is called Bhava Samadhi. While the aspirant in the path of Jnana, pursuing the process of Neti, Neti, "not this, not this", such as "I am not the body, nor the mind, nor the intellect", and so on, attains to the Nirvikalpa Samadhi when he is established in absolute consciousness. It requires striving through many births to reach perfection or the ultimate stage with regard to a single one of these devotional attitudes. But Shri Ramakrishna, the king of the realm of spiritual sentiment, perfected himself in no less than eighteen different forms of devotion! He also used to say that his body would not have endured, had he not held himself on to this play of spiritual sentiment.[Source]
  • The dualists believe in a Personal God, and a personal only. I want you to understand this word personal a little more. This word personal does not mean that God has a body, sits on a throne somewhere, and rules this world, but means Saguna, with qualities. There are many descriptions of the Personal God. This Personal God as the Ruler, the Creator, the Preserver, and the Destroyer of this universe is believed in by all the sects. The Advaitists believe something more. They believe in a still higher phase of this Personal God, which is personal-impersonal. No adjective can illustrate where there is no qualification, and the Advaitist would not give Him any qualities except the three —Sat-Chit-Ananda, Existence, Knowledge, and Bliss Absolute. This is what Shankara did. But in the Upanishads themselves you find they penetrate even further, and say, nothing can be predicated of it except Neti, Neti, "Not this, Not this".[Source]
  • The moment you get rid of the idea that you are the body, you do not see the world at all; it vanishes for ever. The Jnani seeks to tear himself away from this bondage of matter by the force of intellectual conviction. This is the negative way — the "Neti, Neti" — "Not this, not this."[Source]
  • The soul is not essentially a knowing being. Sachchidânanda is only an approximate definition, and Neti Neti is the essential definition.[Source]
  • We say there are two processes. One is the positive, and the other, the negative. The positive is that through which the whole universe is going— that of love. If this circle of love is increased indefinitely, we reach the one universal love. The other is the "Neti", "Neti"—"not this", "not this" —stopping every wave in the mind which tries to draw it out; and at last the mind dies, as it were, and the Real discloses Itself. We call that Samâdhi, or superconsciousness.[Source]
  • We sometimes indicate a thing by describing its surroundings. When we say "Sachchidananda" (Existence-Knowledge-Bliss), we are merely indicating the shores of an indescribable Beyond. Not even can we say "is" about it, for that too is relative. Any imagination, any concept is in vain. Neti, neti ("Not this, not this") is all that can be said, for even to think is to limit and so to lose.[Source]
  • "Whatever comes by combination", the Hindus said, "dies of annihilation". They asked external nature, "Do you know what is soul?" and nature answered, "No". "Is there any God?" Nature answered, "I do not know". Then they turned away from nature. They understood that external nature, however great and grand, was limited in space and time. Then there arose another voice; new sublime thoughts dawned in their minds. That voice said — "Neti, Neti", "Not this, not this". All the different gods were now reduced into one; the suns, moons, and stars — nay, the whole universe — were one, and upon this new ideal the spiritual basis of religion was built.[Source]

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