What is Self-Development from a Vedantic standpoint?
“Each soul is potentially divine,” says Swami Vivekananda. “The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal.”[Swami Vivekananda, The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (Mayavati: Mayavati Memorial Edition), I.124.] We read such words, and the meaning seems self-evident. Until, that is, we try to define our terms.
Then the avadhuta introduces a second idea. For the realized soul there is no distinction of I and other. The supreme Self is one and indivisible. The light of consciousness reflected in each of us produces the appearance of separate selves, but just as there remains only one sun in the sky no matter how many pots of water reflect it, the supreme Self remains One without a second.
Every culture has a world-view or even a package of world-views, and that is as true of twenty-first century America as of any other time and place. The American view of the world rests primarily on the developments of European civilization, which derive in large part from the ancient Semitic and Greco-Roman cultures. These are the foundations of what we call modern Western civilization.
When I visited Brazil the first time, several years ago, a friend there said to me, “Swami, do you know that we have a Ramakrishna Mission in Brazil?”
I was really surprised to hear that. The Ramakrishna Mission is an Indian-based religious and philanthropic organization with several branches outside India, but at that time there was none in Brazil.