India will be raised, not with the power of the flesh, but with the power of the spirit.
CW: Vol.4, Writings: Prose, Reply to the Madras Address
In this interpretation from the viewpoint of Enlightened Citizenship, we take “flesh” to mean material power and resources, and “spirit” to mean consciousness and quality of consciousness.
India, a country of a billion people! How is this vast mass of humanity to be raised?
Swami Vivekananda’s answer to this question is a frame-shift: from dependence on the ‘material power & resources’ to dependence on the ‘human consciousness & quality of consciousness’.
What does dependence on material power and resources mean? It means quantity is important. When we refer to human resources we may be referring to the quantity of human beings rather than the quality of those human beings.
We may believe that if we had enough wealth, power, and influence then people could be roused and answers could be found. It is built on the axiom that ‘those with more assets will win’.
On the other hand, spirit-dependence is about the ‘quality of consciousness’ that is invoked in any situation.
If the ‘quality of consciousness’ is lower, then human actions that issue forth from such a consciousness are selfish, narrow, local, and conducive to short term personal good.
If the ‘quality of consciousness’ is higher, then human actions that issue forth are selfless, wide, universal, and conducive to sustainable good for all.
Why does Swami Vivekananda say that India will be raised by dependence on ‘quality of consciousness’ and not ‘material power and resources’?
Because by raising the ‘quality of consciousness’, the actions (i.e., use of resources) of those who lead, and those who follow will also be correspondingly raised.
The leaders will act in an enlightened manner in the interests of the collectives they serve.
The large mass will also become more open to new modes of thinking and will be willing to adopt improved methods of work, co-operation, and collective action.
Material power and resources will also be utilized well.
Put in another way:
- of what use are infinite physical resources if the quality of consciousness that manipulates them is small;
- and what does it matter if resources are limited, if we have the quality of consciousness needed to creatively engage with any human challenge.