Swami Rama Tirtha on Real Work and Progress

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Swami Rama Tirtha (1873-1906)

Swami Rama spoke in the third person:

"Stretched beneath the cedars and pines, a cool stone serving for pillow, the soft sand for bed, one leg resting carelessly on the other, drinking fresh air with the whole heart, kissing the glorious light with fullness of joy, singing OM, and letting the murmuring stream to keep time, Rama is questioned, half in joke, by a visitor -some upstart of civilization:
“Why do you import Asiatic laziness into America? Go out, do some good.”

"Rama -O my dear Self. As to doing good, is not that profession already chokeful, overcrowded? Leave me alone, me and my Rama.

"Laziness, did you say? Oriental laziness? Why? What is laziness?
Is it not laziness to keep floundering in the quagmire of conventionality and let oneself flow down the current of custom and fashion and sink like a dead weight in the well of appearances and be caught in the pond of possession and spend the time which should be God’s in making gold and call it “doing good?” Is it not laziness to practically let others live your life and have no freedom in dress, eating, walking, sleeping, laughing, and weeping, not to say anything of talking? Is it not laziness to lose your godhead? What for is this hurry and worry, this break-neck hot haste and feverish rush? To accumulate almighty Dollar like others, and what then? To enjoy as others? No. There is no enjoyment in running after enjoyment. O dear dupes of opinions, why postpone your enjoyment? Why don’t you sit down here in this natural garden on the banks of this beautiful mountain-stream And enjoy the company of your real blood relations -free air, silvery light, playful water and green earth -relations of which your blood is really formed? Hide bound in caste are the civilized nations. They separate themselves from fellow-beings and exile themselves from free open Kature and fresh fragrant natural life into close drawing rooms -dens and dungeons. They banish themselves from the wide world, excommunicate themselves from all creation, ostracise themselves from plants and animals. By arrogating to themselves airs of superiority, prestige, respectability, honour, they cut themselves into isolated stagnation. Have mercy, my friends, have mercy on yourselves.

"The wealth swept out of the possession of more needy and added to your property by organised craft will enable you simply to have sickening dinners of hotels and taverns and furnish you with pallid countenances and conventional looks, will imprison you in boxes called rooms, choked with the stink of artificiality, will keep you all the time in the restlessness of mind excited by all sorts of unnatural stimulants -physical and mental. Why all such fuss for mere self-delusion? In the name of such supposed pleasures lose not your hold on Real joy, no need of beating about the bush. Come, enjoy the Now and Here. Come, lie with me on the grass.

"Don’t you waste away your life in soliciting the favour of silver or gold to insure your life. Can your life be insured by becoming rich in money and paying in time? Don’t you believe it, O deluded Immortal! Why seek excuses for existence in rush and push about dainty trifles?
“The world is much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon;
This sea that bears her bosom to the moon;
The winds that would be howling at all hours;
And are up gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything we are out of tune;
It moves us not -Great God! I’d rather be
A pagan suckled in a creed outworn!
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn,
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn
"The so-called advanced nations of Europe and America are only in advanced stages of mortification.

"Advancement means spiritual or intellectual advancement. True progress must touch the real man and not waste itself on his mere shadow. Progress has nothing to do with material riches or with the multiplying of unnecessary necessities. The ancient Aryans, writing magnificent works, living unsophisticated, free lives and owning nothing in the world, led a mode of life to be repeated by History again with proper modifications. Present civilization is side-tracked from its main end. Man is talked of just as they speak of corn and wheat; prices rising and falling. Rise above it. Nothing can set a price on you.
Beloved devotees of Show, to you the Aryan ideal of Sannyasa, Renunciation, appears as idle dreaming. Be on your guard, please, the time is ripe to shake you and wake you up and make you realize what a terrible nightmare you were under. The civilized man without renunciation through love is only a more experienced and wiser savage
"Be not charmed by the glamour, artificiality, conventionality, money-madness of the civilized world. These have proved a failure. These were tried in the fire and found wanting like wood, hay, or stubble. Half the population is dying of starvation, the other half is buried under conspicuous waste, superfluous furniture, scent bottles, affectations, galvanized manners, all sorts of precious trifles, squalid riches, and unhealthy show.
Neither mental nor manual labour is incompatible with health and longevity except the one is maintained at the expense of the other. But in the present-day world some are living on (rather dying of) manual labour, others are perishing from the luxury of intellectual dissipation (mental strain). This is like dry bread being divided among some members of the family and mere butter (or garnishing) distributed among some others.
The self-condemned slums of the Universe are those who possess anything, the real Sudras are those who claim anything, the self-impeached prisoners in dingy dungeons are those who own anything, the pitia