God First, World Next, Yourself Last

From the teachings of Swami Sivananda Saraswati

God first; world next; yourself last. When a person forgets this, all tribulations and troubles in life begin.

A person forgets this great teaching because of selfishness, which impels one to place oneself first, the world next and God last. Selfishness is the original sin which binds man to the wheel of samsara and puts him through untold miseries, pain and death. The cause of selfishness is ignorance.


To forget the Lord within, the witness of our thoughts and feelings, is ignorance. To identify oneself with the perishable body is ignorance. To forget that there is but One Self which is the same in all of creation is ignorance. To see diversity is ignorance. To be caught in the whirlpool of names and forms and forget the Spirit is ignorance.

Ignorance is the inner enemy whose abode is the mind. Conquest of the external nature and conquest of space are not real conquests. Conquest of the inner nature and inner space are real conquests. He who conquers his mind is the greatest warrior. He who conquers his mind is a mightier hero than one who conquers the world. The obstacles to self-realization, happiness, peace and joy are in the mind. All that we are is the direct result of what we have thought in the past. In a similar way, what we are going to be in the future depends upon what we think at present.

Therefore, one should develop the habit of right thinking. A pure thought is a mighty force. Saints and sages whose hearts are pure are doing more valuable service to mankind with their untainted and sattwic thoughts than many of the social reformers.

Way to peace

To be a slave of the mind is ignorance and to have control over the mind is wisdom. Nothing can bring peace but the conquest of mind. Fight the inner battle bravely with the sword of wisdom. Develop discrimination and dispassion. Withdraw the senses from the objects and the mind from the senses. Achieve victory over the mind through self-discipline, cultivation of virtues, and by invoking the higher consciousness. Extinguish the four fires of passion, hatred, anger and jealousy through purity, love and nobility.

This whole world is pervaded by the Lord. Nothing is bad and nothing is to be condemned. The world is a great school, so learn your lessons well from every experience. Everything in this world has something to teach you. Once again I tell you:

God first, the world next and yourself last.
Practise this sublime precept.
Peace, then, is yours.
Joy, then, is yours.
Bliss, then, is yours.