Religion wants to know the truth. And the first thing it has discovered is that without a knowledge of this truth there will be no life worth living.
Life will be a desert, human life will be vain, it we cannot know the beyond. It is very good to say: Be contented with tile things of the present moment. The cows and the dogs are, and so are all animals, and that is what makes them animals. So if man rests content with the present and gives up all search into the beyond, mankind will all have to go back to the animal plane again. It is religion, this inquiry into the beyond, that makes the difference between man and an animal. Well has it been said that man is the only animal that naturally looks upwards; every other animal naturally looks down. That looking upward and going upward and seeking perfection are what is called salvation, and the sooner a man begins to go higher, the sooner he raises himself towards this idea of truth as salvation. It does not consist in the amount of money in your pocket, or the dress you wear, or the house You live in, but in the wealth of spiritual thought in your brain. That is what makes for human progress; that is the source of all material and intellectual progress, the motive power behind, the enthusiasm that pushes mankind forward.
- Swami Vivekananda
The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 4/Lectures and Discourses/The Claims of Religion