God is formless and with form. One day in winter a certain householder disciple, who was a college professor, came to see the bhagavan. Sri Ramakrishna was seated on the southern veranda of his room, and he was smiling. After a short conversation he asked: "Do you prefer to meditate on God with form or without form?" The disciple hesitated and answered: "I prefer to meditate on God as the formless Being rather than as a Being with form." The bhagavan replied: "That is good. There is no harm in looking at him from this or the other point of view. Yes, to think of him as the formless Being is quite right. But do not go away with the idea that that alone is true and that all else is false. Meditating [63} on him as a Being with form is equally right. You, however, must hold on to your particular conception of God until you have realised and seen God."
Image Worship. The disciple asked: "Bhagavan, one may believe that God is with form, but surely he is not in the earthen images that are worshipped?" Sri Ramakrishna replied: "My dear sir, why do you say earthen images? The image of the Divine Being is made of the spirit." The disciple could not understand the meaning of this, but answered: "Yet should it not be one's duty to make clear to those who worship images that God is not the same as the images and that at the time of worship they should think of God himself and not of the image made of clay?" The bhagavan said: "The Lord of the universe teaches mankind. He who has made the sun and moon, men and brutes; he who has created things for them to live on, parents to tend and rear them; he who has done so many things will surely do something to bring them to the light. The Lord dwells in the temple of the human body. He knows our innermost thoughts. If there is anything wrong in image worship, does he not know that all worship is [64} meant for him? he will be pleased to accept it knowing that it is for him. Why should you worry yourself about things which are beyond your reach? Try to realise God and love him. This is your first duty.
"You speak of images made of clay. Well, there often comes a necessity for worshipping such images and symbols. In Vedanta it is said, the absolute Existence-Intelligence-Bliss pervades the universe and manifests itself through all forms. What harm is done by worshipping the Absolute through images and symbols? We see little girls with their dolls. How long do they play with them? So long as they are not married. After marriage they put away those dolls. Similarly, one needs images and symbols so long as God is not realised in his true form. It is God himself who has provided these various forms of worship. The Master of the universe has done all this to suit different men in different stages of spiritual growth and knowledge. The mother so arranges the food for her children that each one gets what is best for him. Suppose a mother has five children with one fish to cook for all. She will make different dishes of it that she may give to each just what suits him, the rich [65} polao for one, soup for another, fried fish for a third, fish with sour tamarind for a fourth. and so on, exactly according to the power of digestion of each. Do you now understand?"
How to fix one's mind on God. The disciple replied: "Yes, Bhagavan, now I do. But, revered Sir, how can one fix one's mind on God?"
Sri Ramakrishna: To that end one must always sing forth the Holy Name of God and talk without ceasing of his glory and attributes. Then one must seek the company of holy men. One must from time to time visit the Lord's devotees or those who have given up attachment to the things of the world for the sake of the Lord. It is, however, difficult to fix one's mind on God in the midst of worldly cares and anxieties; hence the necessity of going into solitude now and again with a view to meditating on him
Solitude necessary. In the first stage of one's spiritual life one cannot do without solitude. When plants are young, they stand in need of fences around them for their protection; otherwise goats and cattle will destroy them. The depth of the heart, the retired corner, and the forest are the three places for meditation [66} One should also practise discrimination. One should discriminate between the Real and the unreal, between matter and spirit. It is thus that one will shake off one's love for the things of the world and attachment to sensual pleasures, wealth, fame, power.
Avadhuta and a kite. Turning to Bijoy, who had come in, the bhagavan continued: Shivanath, the leader of the Brahmo Samaj, has great cares, he has to edit a newspaper and do various other works In attending to worldly affairs, one naturally loses peace of mind and is overwhelmed with worries and anxieties. It is said in the Bhagavat that Avadhuta [**] made twenty-four Gurus. The kite was one of them. In a certain place some fishermen were catching fish, a kite swooped down and snatched a fish. Seeing the kite with the fish in its claw, hundreds of crows flew after him and began to caw, making a great noise. In whatever direction the kite flew, the crows followed. When he flew to the [67} south, they pursued him; when he flew to the north, they were after him, and he found no peace in any direction. At last the kite dropped the fish. Then the crows flew after the fish and the kite rested calmly on the branch of a high tree. He thought within himself: "That fish was the cause of all this trouble. Now that I no longer have it, I am happy and in perfect peace." The Avadhuta learned from this kite that as long as a man is attached to worldly objects, so long he has toil, cares, anxiety, unrest and unhappiness. When attachment is gone, all works end, and then comes peace. But work without attachment is good; it does not bring unrest.
Avadhuta and a bee. It is very difficult, however, to work and remain unattached. A few only can accomplish it. Those who have attained to God-consciousness, like the sage Narada, work for the good of humanity. Avadhuta made another Guru a bee. What trouble a bee takes to collect honey! But it is not for its own use; someone else comes and takes the honey from the comb. The Avadhuta learned from the bee that it is not wise to collect anything. Truly spiritual men should depend absolutely on God and should not [68} desire to possess anything. But this is not possible for householders. They will have to support their families and therefore they should gather and possess. A fowl does not gather into barns, but when it has a number of young ones, then it brings food for them in its bill.
Practice of non-attachment. Perform all your duties with your mind always fixed on God. As for your parents, wife and children, serve them as your own, but always remember they do not belong to you, that they are the children of God. You are also a child of God and your own people are those who love God. The tortoise moves about in the water in quest of food; where do you think her mind is? On the water's edge where her eggs are laid. In the same manner you may go about in the world, but take good care that your mind always rests on the hallowed feet of the Lord.
Suppose you have not acquired true love for the Lord? If in this state you enter the world, then you will surely get entangled. Misfortune, grief, misery, sorrow, suffering and the various diseases of the body will disturb the balance of your mind; and the more you will throw yourself into the affairs of the world and trouble [69} yourself about worldly matters, the more your attachment to the world will be increased. Rub your hand with oil if you desire to break open the jackfruit, else the milky exudation of the fruit will stick to your hands. First rub your soul with the oil of love and devotion to the Lord, then you may come in contact with the affairs of the world
Need of solitude. But to this end solitude is the one thing needful. If you want butter, you must curdle the milk and set it in a place where no one can disturb it; otherwise the curd will not stand. Then churn it and the butter will rise. Similarly the neophyte should sit in solitude and not be disturbed by worldly-minded people; then through the churning of the settled mind by the practice of meditation the butter of Divine Love will be acquired. If you give your mind to God in solitude, you will obtain the spirit of true renunciation and absolute devotion. If you give the same mind to the world, it will grow worldly and think of woman and gold.
The world may be likened to water, and the mind to milk. Pure milk once mixed with water cannot be separated from it; but if it is first turned into butter and then placed in water, [70} it can remain separate. Let the milk of your mind be turned into the butter of Divine Love by means of religious practices in solitude. The mind then will never get mixed with the water of worldliness, but will rise above and remain unattached to the world. Having attained true knowledge and devotion the mind will stand apart from the world.
Lust and gold unreal. Along with this, practise discrimination. "Lust and gold" are unreal; God is the one Reality. What uses has money? It can give one food, clothes, house, the luxuries and comforts of life, but it cannot bring spiritual perfection or God-vision. Therefore the acquisition of wealth should not be the highest end and aim of life. In this manner you should discriminate. Similarly by discrimination you will overcome your attachment to personal beauty. Think what the body of a beautiful woman is made of. Like all bodies it is of flesh and blood, skin and bones, fat and marrow, etc. The wonder is that man loses sight of God and gives his mind purely to such transitory objects of sense.
Means of God-vision. The disciple asked: "Bhagavan, is it possible to see God?"
Sri Ramakrishna: Certainly. The following [71} are some of the means of seeing God: Going from time to time into solitude; singing forth his name and his attributes; discrimination.
The disciple: Bhagavan, what state of mind leads to God-vision?
Sri Ramakrishna: Cry to God with a yearning heart and then you will see him. People will shed a jugful of tears for the sake of their wife or children; they will be carried away by a stream of their own tears for the sake of money; but who sheds a tear for God? Cry for him, not for show, but with a longing and yearning heart. The rosy light of the dawn comes before the rising sun; likewise a longing and yearning heart is the sign of God-vision that comes after.
Extreme longing is the surest way to God-vision. Through extreme longing the mind remains fixed on the Supreme Being. One should have faith like that of an innocent child and such longing as a child has when it wants to see its mother. There was a boy named Jatila. He used to go to school alone through the woods. Often he felt lonely and afraid. He told his mother about it and she said to him: "Why are you fearful, my child? you [72} must call Krishna whenever you are frightened." "Who is Krishna, mother?" the boy asked. The mother answered: "Krishna is thy brother."
Power of faith and true longing. After that when Jatila was passing true through the woods alone and felt frightened, he called aloud, "Brother Krishna!" When no one came, he cried again: "O Brother Krishna, where are you? Come to me and protect me; I am frightened." Hearing the call of this faithful child, Krishna could no longer remain away. He appeared in the form of a young boy and said: "Here am I, thy brother! Why are you frightened? Come with me, I will take you to school." Then having escorted him to school, Lord Krishna said to him: "I will come to you whenever you call me; do not be afraid." Such is the power of true faith and true longing.
How to love God. You can see God if your love for him he as strong as the strength of these three attachments put together: namely, the attachment of a miser to his wealth, that of a mother to her new-born child, and that of a chaste wife to her husband.
To see God one must love him with the whole heart and soul. One must make one's  prayers [73} reach the Divine Mother. Absolute self-resignation to the will of the Divine Mother is the surest way to God-vision. As the kitten resigns itself to the will of its mother, so a devotee shall resign himself to the will of the Divine Mother. The kitten knows nothing more than to cry "Mew, mew," and the mother-cat may keep her young one on the bare floor of the kitchen or on the downy bed of the householder. The kitten is always contented. Similarly the true devotee should always cry to the Divine Mother and be contented with whatever She wishes to do with him.
Fetters of the soul. God-consciousness does not come so long as there are three things in the heart, shame, hatred and fear. These three and caste pride are the fetters of the soul. When these fetters are broken, freedom is attained. Bound by fetters is Jiva (the ego), free from fetters is Shiva (God).
Every man has certain debts to pay, a debt to the Divine Spirit, a debt to the sages, debt to mother, to father, to the wife. No man can renounce everything without paying off these debts. But if his soul be intoxicated with Divine Love and become mad after God, then he is free from all duties and debts. Then who [74} is his father, who is his mother and who is his wife?
Madness of Divine Love. he behaves like a madman who is free from all bondage and who has no duty to perform. Do you know what that madness of Divine Love is? In that state one forgets the world and becomes unconscious of one's own body which is so dear to one. Chaitanya Deva possessed this madness of ecstasy. He had neither hunger, nor thirst, nor sleep, nor consciousness of his physical form. The meaning of the word Chaitanya is "indivisible and absolute intelligence." Vaishnava Charan used to say that Chaitanya Deva, the Incarnation of Divine Love, was like a bubble on the ocean of that Absolute Intelligence.
Divine Love and ecstasy. Divine Love is the rarest thing in the world. He who can love God as a devoted wife loves her husband, attains to Divine Love. Pure love is difficult to acquire. In pure love the whole heart and soul must be absorbed in God. Then will come ecstasy. In ecstasy a man remains dumb with wonder. Outward breathing stops entirely, but inward breathing continues: as when aiming a gun, a man remains speechless and without breathing. In Divine Love one entirely forgets the external world with all its charms and attractions; [75} even one's own body, which is so dear to one, is easily forgotten. In ecstasy, when the breathing stops, the whole mind remains absolutely fixed on the Supreme. All nerve currents run upward with tremendous force and the result is Samâdhi or God-consciousness. Those who are mere scholars (Pandits) and have not attained Divine Love, confound the minds of others.
Pride. Some people are proud of their wealth, their fame and social position, but these things are transitory. None can take them away after death. It is not good to be proud of wealth. You may say, "I am wealthy," but then there are millionaires, multimillionaires, and so on. In the evening fireflies think that they are lighting the world; but when the stars begin to shine, their pride is subdued. The stars in turn think that they are lighting the world, but when the moon shines, the stars are put to shame. The moon, too, believes that her light illumines everything; but lo! the dawn appears and the rising sun effaces the light of the moon. If wealthy people thought of these things, they would no longer be proud of their wealth.
A householder: Revered Sir, we are householders; [76} please give us some further instructions.
Sri Ramakrishna: First know God, then perform the duties of a householder.
The world unreal. Householder: Revered Sir, is this world unreal?
Sri Ramakrishna: So long as a man does not realise God, so long it is real; because at that time he makes mistakes and through self-delusion says: "Me and mine." Being fettered by this self-delusion, he drowns in the sea of lust and worldliness, and becomes so blinded by ignorance that he cannot see the way out. You yourself can notice how transitory the world is. Look at this house; how many people have come and gone; how many people have been born and have died in it! Now it exists, now it does not; it is ephemeral. Those whom you call your own will vanish when your eyes are closed. If you have no one in the household, still you are bound and cannot go anywhere because of some distant relative. The way is open, but the fish cannot escape from the net. The silkworm makes its own cocoon, but does not know how to get out and consequently dies in it.
How a householder should live in the world. A householder should take care of his children, [77} but at the same time he should think of them as Baby Krishna, or as children of God. Serve your father as God, and your mother as Divine Mother. After realizing God, if a man lives with his wife, he has no physical relation with her. Both live like Bhaktas or true devotees. They talk of spiritual subjects and spend their time in thinking of God and in caring for his Bhaktas. They serve God who dwells in all beings.
Householder: But, Revered Sir, we do not find any such husbands and wives.
Ramakrishna: Yes, there are some, but they are very rare. Worldly people do not easily recognize them. But in order to live like this both must he spiritual. If both enjoy Divine Love, then such a life is possible; otherwise there will be no harmony, but discord and trouble between husband and wife. Perhaps the wife will complain, saying: "Why did I marry this man! What pleasure does he give me? he simply sits quietly and thinks of God. He is losing his mind."
A devotee: These are some of the obstacles; but there may be others. The children may be disobedient or may be diseased. Then, Revered Sir, what is to be done? [78}
Ramakrishna: It is very difficult for a householder to practise devotion. There are many obstacles. You all know them very well, disease, sorrow, poverty, disharmony with the wife, disobedience and evil tendencies in the children; but there is a way out of it. One should occasionally live in solitude and pray and struggle hard to attain to God.
A householder: Revered Sir, is it necessary to leave one's home?
Ramakrishna: Not for good; but occasionally when you find opportunity, for a day or two, leaving behind responsibility, care and anxiety. But during this time you should not mix with worldly people or think of worldly affairs. Either live alone, or in the company of some saint or holy man.
Householder: Revered Sir, how can we know or recognize a saint?
How to recognize a saint. Ramakrishna: he is a saint whose heart, soul, and inner nature have turned towards God; he who has renounced woman and wealth. A saint does not look at women with the eye of desire; if he comes near a woman, he sees the Divine Mother in her and worships her. His thoughts are always on God and his words are of him. He sees God everywhere [79} and knows that by serving others, he serves him. These are some of the outward signs of a saint.
Householder: Revered Sir, is it necessary to remain long in solitude?
Right discrimination. Ramakrishna: Until right discrimination is acquired.
Householder: Revered Sir, what is right discrimination?
Ramakrishna: God is Truth, the world is untruth; this is discrimination. Truth means that which is unchangeable and permanent, and untruth is that which is changeable and transitory. He who has right discrimination knows that God alone is the Reality; all other things are unreal. When right discrimination comes, then rises intense desire to know God. As long as one loves untruth, such as the pleasures and comforts of the body, fame, honour and wealth, so long one does not desire to know God, the Truth. Right discrimination between Truth and untruth leads one to search after God.
Ecstasy. Another householder devotee: Bhagavan, we have heard that you have attained to ecstasy and God-consciousness; will you please explain when and how such a state comes? [80}
Ramakrishna: Ecstasy does not come to one who has not realised God. When a fish rises from deep water, it disturbs the surface of the water, and the larger the fish, the greater the disturbance. Therefore, a person in the state of ecstasy sometimes laughs, sometimes weeps, sometimes sings, sometimes dances, but one cannot remain in that state of ecstasy for a long time.
Householder devotee: Bhagavan, we have heard that you have seen God. If this be true, please make us see him also.
Work necessary for God-vision. Ramakrishna: Everything depends on the will of the Lord. What can man do? One may repeat his Holy Name, but sometimes tears flow and sometimes not. At the time of meditation, one day you may have perfect concentration and another day you will not be able to fix your mind at all. Work is necessary for God-vision. Once I was passing by a pool, the surface of which was covered by a thick scum; I saw a poor man pushing the scum to one side to look at the water. This showed me that if you wish to see the water, you must push aside the scum. That act of pushing is like the work which removes all the impurities of the heart, Then [81} God is visible. Concentration, meditation, repetition of the Name of the Lord, charitable works, self-sacrifice, these works will remove the scum of ignorance which covers the water of Divinity in the pool of the heart.
Mahima, [**] who had joined the group of devotees, exclaimed: Oh yes, Bhagavan, such works are absolutely necessary. Tireless labor is needed to attain great results. How much we must study! Innumerable are the sciences, Scriptures and philosophies.
Ramakrishna: How much can you study? What results can you get by mere discrimination? First try to realise God. Have faith in the words of your Guru, and perform some good work. If you have not found a Guru, a true spiritual master, earnestly pray to God. He will show you what he is like. What can you know by reading books? Before you enter a market-place, you can hear only a loud confused uproar; but when you go near, all confusion will vanish and you will distinguish what each [82} one is calling. Before you reach the shore, you hear the roar of the waves; but when you come near, you see vessels, sea-gulls, birds, and you can count the waves
Book knowledge and realisation. One cannot realise Divinity by reading books. There is a vast difference between book knowledge and realisation. After realisation, all books, sciences and Scriptures seem to he like worthless straw. It is necessary first to make acquaintance with the landlord. Why are you so anxious to know beforehand how many houses, how many gardens, how many stocks and bonds he possesses? If you ask the servants, they will not tell you; nor will they notice you. But if you can once become acquainted with the landlord, by whatever means, you will learn about his possessions in a moment, and the servants then will bow down to you and honour you.
A devotee: Bhagavan, how can one make acquaintance with the Landlord?
Ramakrishna: For that, I say, work is necessary. What is the use of sitting quietly and saying, "God exists"? If you merely sit on the shore of a lake and say: "There are fish in this lake," will you catch any? Go and get the things necessary for fishing, get a rod and line [83} and bait and throw some lure in the water. Then from the deep water the fish will rise and come nearer, and you will be able to see and catch them. You wish me to show you God while you sit quietly by, without making the least effort. How unreasonable! You would have me set the curds, churn the butter, and hold it before your mouths. You ask me to catch the fish and place it in your hands. How unreasonable! If a man desires to see the King in his palace, he will have to go to the palace and pass through all the gates; but if after entering the outermost gate he exclaims, "Where is the King?" he will not find him. He must go on through the seven gates, then he will see the King.
Work and grace. Mahima: Bhagavan, by what kind of work can God be attained?
Ramakrishna: There is no difference in work. Do not think that this work will lead to God and that will not. Everything depends on his Grace. Whatever work you perform with sincerity and earnest longing will attract his Grace and help towards realisation. Through his Grace the conditions for realisation will become perfect. These conditions are association with the holy, right discrimination [84} of the Real from the unreal, and the finding of the real Guru, or true spiritual master. If your family depends on you, perhaps your brother will assume its responsibility for you. Perhaps your wife will not hinder you in your spiritual life, but will rather help you; or perhaps you will not marry at all and will not be attached to the world in any way. When such conditions become absolutely favorable, the realisation of God becomes easy.
Parable of the father and his dying son. Once a man's son lay at the point of death and none could help him. Some one, however, said: "There is but one hope. If you can get the venom of a cobra mixed with a few drops of rain-water fallen under the constellation of Swati in a human skull, by it your son's life will be saved." The father looked and found that the constellation of Swati would be in the ascendant on the morrow; so he prayed, saying: "O Lord, do you make possible all these conditions and spare the life of my son." With extreme earnestness and longing in his heart he set out on the following evening and searched diligently in a deserted spot for a human skull. At last he found one under a tree and watched, praying. Suddenly a shower came up and a few drops of [85} rain lodged in the upturned skull. He said to himself: "Now I have the water in the skull under the right constellation." Then he prayed earnestly: "Grant, Lord, that the rest may also come." In a short time he discovered a toad not far from the skull, and he prayed again. Then from the grass sprang a cobra to snatch the toad, but at that moment the toad jumped over the skull and the venom of the cobra fell into it. With overwhelming gratitude the anxious father cried out: "Lord, by your Grace all impossible things are possible. Now I know that my son's life will be saved." Therefore I say, if you have true faith and earnest longing, you will get everything by the Grace of the Lord
Non-attachment necessary. God cannot be obtained so long as the mind is not absolutely free from all worldly attachment. A true sage is one who cannot hoard anything for himself. There is a saying: "A fowl of the air and a true sage do not gather stores; they do not keep anything for the morrow." As regards myself, I cannot keep anything even for my personal needs. I cannot put away any object, even a clove, for the future. At one time I thought of going to Benares, but afterwards I discovered that I had to carry clothes and take money with [86} me, so it was impossible for me to go. (Turning to Mahima) But you are householders, you can have both this and that, both the world and the spiritual life.
Mahima: Bhagavan, "this" cannot remain long.
Ramakrishna: When I was practising renunciation, one day I went to the Ganges near the Panchavati and took up a handful of earth and a handful of coins; then I began to discriminate, saying that earth and gold are one and the same; earth is gold and gold is earth; and after realizing the sameness, I threw both into the river. I prayed to my Divine Mother, saying: "O Mother, I do not desire material wealth or earthly prosperity, but only that you dwell within my heart." When the mind renounces attachment to lust and wealth, it turns towards God and ultimately becomes attached to him. Then that which was bound becomes free. To be turned away from God is bondage. The mind is like the needle of a scale and God is the central point of balance. When the weight of worldly attachment is in the heart, the scale drops to one side and the needle of the mind is deflected from the central point or God. The heavier the weight, the [87} greater is the deflection. Why does a child cry after its birth? It thinks, as it were: "I was enjoying Divine Communion, but now I have lost it. Where have I come and where is my God, where is my God?" For you (to Mahima) the renunciation should be in the mind only. You should remain in the world, but unattached to it.
Mahima: Revered Sir, can the world exist for the mind which is fixed on God?
Ramakrishna: Of course it will exist; otherwise where will it go?
The kingdom of God is everywhere. [Ramakrishna:] I see that wherever I remain, I am in the kingdom of God. Verily I say to you, this world is the kingdom of God. Ramachandra, the Divine Incarnation and the Hero of the epic Ramayana, said to his father that he would renounce the world and go to a spiritual Guru in order to attain spiritual wisdom. The father summoned the great sage Vashishta to reason with his son. Vashishta saw that Rama had intense dispassion for the world; he then said to him. "O Rama, first discriminate with me, then renounce the world." By right discrimination Rama realised that God manifests himself in the form of Jiva, or the individual soul and the world. Everything lives and exists [88} in and through his Being. Then Rama kept silent.
Some time ago Vaishnava Charan said that perfect knowledge of God is attained when one perceives him in all human beings. I have now come to a stage of realisation in which I see that God is walking in every human form and manifesting himself alike through the sage and the sinner, the virtuous and the vicious. Therefore when I meet different people, I say to myself: "God in the form of the saint, God in the form of the sinner, God in the form of the unrighteous and God in the form of the righteous." he who has attained to such realisation goes beyond good and evil, above virtue and vice, and realizes that the Divine will is working everywhere.
Parable of the monk and the Zemindar. There was a Hindu monastery in a certain village. The monks of the monastery went out every day with begging bowls to gather food. One day, a monk, passing by, saw a Zemindar severely beating a poor man. The holy man, being very kind-hearted, entreated the Zemindar to stop beating the man. The Zemindar, blind with rage, immediately turned on the monk and poured on him the venom of his anger. He [89} beat him until he was knocked unconscious on the ground. Another man, seeing his condition, went to the monastery and told what had happened. His brother monks ran to the spot where the holy man was lying. They lifted him and brought him to the monastery and laid , him in a room; but the holy man still remained unconscious for a long time. Sorrowful and anxious, his brothers fanned him, bathed his face, put milk into his mouth and tried to nurse him back to life. Gradually they brought him back to consciousness. The holy man opened his eyes and looked at his fellow-brethren. One of them, desiring to know whether he could recognize his friends, asked him in a loud voice: "Maharaj, do you recognize him who is feeding you with milk?" The holy man answered in a feeble voice: "Brother, he who beat me is now feeding me." And Ramakrishna added: But one cannot realise this oneness of the Spirit unless one has reached God-consciousness.
Resignation. Live in the world like a dead leaf. As a dead leaf is carried by the wind into a house or on the roadside and has no choice of its own, so let the wind of Divine Will blow you wherever it chooses. Now it has placed you in the world, be contented. [90} Again when it will carry you to a better place, be equally resigned. The Lord has kept you in the world, what can you do? Resign everything to him, even your own dear self; then all trouble will be over. You will see then that he is doing everything; everywhere is the will of Rama [**] (God).
Parable of the pious weaver. In a certain village there lived a weaver. He was very spiritual; everyone trusted and loved him. The weaver went to the market to sell his cloth. If a customer asked the price of it, he would say: "By the will of Rama the thread cost one Rupee, by the will of Rama the labor cost four Annas, by the will of Rama the profit is two Annas, by the will of Rama the price of the cloth as it stands is one Rupee and six Annas." People had such confidence in him that they would immediately pay the price and take the cloth. This man was a true devotee. At night after dinner he would sit for a long time and meditate on God and repeat his Holy Name. Once it was late into the night; he could not sleep; [91} he was sitting alone in the courtyard near the entrance, smoking. A gang of robbers was passing that way. They wanted a carrier, and seeing this man, they dragged him away with them. Then they broke into a house and stole a great many things, some of which they piled on the poor weaver's head. At this moment the watchman came up, the robbers ran away and the poor weaver with his load was caught. He had to spend that night in confinement. Next morning he was brought before the judge. The people of the village, hearing what had happened, came to see the weaver. They unanimously declared: "My lord, this man has not stolen anything." The judge then asked the weaver to describe what had occurred. The weaver said: "My lord, by the will of Rama, I was sitting in the courtyard; by the will of Rama it was very late in the night; I, by the will of Rama, was meditating on God and repeating his Holy Name; when, by the will of Rama, a band of robbers passed that way; by the will of Rama they dragged me away with them; by the will of Rama they broke into a house; by the will of Rama they piled a load on my head; when, by the will of Rama, the watchman came up and, by the will of Rama, I was caught. [92} Then, by the will of Rama, I was kept in prison, and this morning the will of Rama has brought me before you." The judge, seeing the innocence and spirituality of the man, ordered him to be released. Coming out, the weaver said to his friends, "The will of Rama has released me."
Everything depends on God's will. Whether you live in the world or renounce it, everything depends on the will of Rama. Throwing your whole responsibility on God, do your work in the world. If you cannot do this, what else can you do?
If a clerk be imprisoned, when the term of his sentence is over and he comes out, tell me, will he pass his time in dancing for joy over his release or resume his work as clerk? So when the householder is liberated from the prison of the world, will he spend his life in rejoicing over his liberation? he may continue to perform his duties as householder, if he so desires. He who has attained wisdom makes no distinction between this place and that place; to him all positions are equal. He who has found God here has also found him there. When the tail of a tadpole drops off, it can live both in water and on land. When the tail of ignorance drops off, man becomes free. He [93} can then live both in God and in the world equally well.
The world like a dream. Those who follow monistic (Advaita) Vedanta, however, look on this world as unreal, like a dream. According to them Paramatman, or the Over-Soul, is the witness of the three states of consciousness, waking, dream and dreamless sleep. All these are ideas. The dream state is just as real as the waking state. Let me tell you a story.
Parable of the farmer and his only child. There was a farmer who was a monist; he had attained to some realisation. He lived like any other farmer with his family, and he had a child. He and his wife had extreme love for this son because he was their only child. The farmer himself was a very spiritual man. He was respected and loved by everyone in the village. Once he was working in the field, when suddenly a man brought the news of his son's severe illness. He went home, called physicians, took great care, but could not save the child's life. Everybody in the household was overwhelmed with grief, but the farmer looked as if nothing had happened. He consoled others by saying, "What can be gained by mourning over the child?" The next day he went to the field as [94} usual, and after finishing his work he came home and found his wife and the other members of the family still weeping and wailing and plunged in deep sorrow. The wife reproached him, saying: "How heartless you are! you have not shed a single tear for your only child." The farmer then calmly replied: "Shall I tell you why I do not weep? Last night I had a wonderful dream. I saw that I was a king, and the father of eight beautiful children, and that I was enjoying all the pleasures and comforts of life. Suddenly I woke up and the dream passed away. Now I am in great confusion, whether I shall weep and wail for my eight children or for this only one." The farmer was an Advaita Jnani, therefore he realised that the waking state was as unreal as the dream state, and that the one permanent Reality was Atman. But I accept all states as true, the state of Samâdhi, which is the fourth state, and again, the waking, dream and dreamless sleep state. I accept Brahman the Absolute and Maya, Jiva (the individual soul) and the world. If I do not take all, a portion will be missing and the weight will be less.
A devotee: How could the weight be less?
The Absolute and the phenomenal. Ramakrishna: Brahman the Absolute is with [95} the individual souls and the phenomenal world. First, when a person is discriminating by saying: "Not this, not this," he leaves the individual egos and the phenomenal world aside; then after reaching the Absolute, when he returns, he realizes that the Absolute appears as the phenomenal world. In a wood-apple there are seeds, pulp and the shell. When I take the pulp, I leave out the seeds and the shell; but when I speak of the weight of the wood-apple, the weight of the pulp alone would not be equal to it. You will have to weigh the pulp, seeds, shell and everything. That which has pulp has also seeds and shell. Similarly, that which is the Absolute has also all phenomena. Therefore I take both the Absolute Reality and the phenomenal reality. I do not blow away the phenomenal world by calling it a dream, because then the weight will be less.
Mahima: This is a wonderful harmony. From the Absolute to the phenomenal and from the phenomenal to the Absolute.
Ramakrishna: Those who are Jnanis (monists) look at the world as a dream, but the realistic Bhaktas take every state as real. There are some cows who pick only certain tufts of grass [96} and give very little milk; but there are other cows who eat all kinds of grass and give plenty of milk. The Jnanis may be compared to the former, and the Bhaktas to the latter. The highest of the Bhaktas take both the Absolute and the phenomenal; therefore when they come down from the Absolute to the plane of relativity, they continue to enjoy the Absolute through the phenomenal
Meaning of Om. (To Mahima) You explain Om as containing three letters, A-u-m.
Mahima: Revered Sir, A-u-m means creation, preservation and destruction.
Ramakrishna: But for me it is like the sound d-o-n-g of a big bell, which is at first audible, then inaudible, and ultimately melts away into infinite space. So the phenomenal melts away in the Absolute; the gross, subtle and causal states lose themselves in the Great Cause, the Absolute; the waking, dream and dreamless sleep states become merged in the fourth state, Samâdhi. When the bell sounds, it creates waves like those in the ocean when a heavy stone is thrown into it. From the Absolute phenomena come out, from the same Absolute, which is the great First Cause, have also evolved the gross, subtle and causal bodies. [97} From the same Absolute, again, which is the fourth state, come the other three states of consciousness. The waves of the ocean are once more dissolved in the ocean. By this illustration of d-o-n-g I show that the eternal word Om is symbolic of the evolution and involution of phenomena from and into the Absolute. I have seen all these things. My Divine Mother has shown me that in the infinite ocean of the Absolute, waves rise and again merge into it. In that infinite spiritual space millions of planets and worlds rise and are dissolved. I do not know what is written in your books; I have seen all this.
Mahima: Those who had realised, did not write the books. They were intoxicated by their own realisation. They forgot everything, how could they write? To write something is to have a calculating intellect. Others having learned from them, have written and their writings are known as Scriptures.
When is attained worldly attachment vanishes. God Ramakrishna: Worldly people say that it is impossible to be free from attachment to worldliness. But when God is attained, all worldly attachment vanishes. After realizing the absolute bliss of God-consciousness one cannot enjoy sense-pleasures or run after fame, honour or any [98} worldly object. Moths after once seeing the light do not return to the darkness. As much as one thinks of God and meditates on him, by so much will one lose one's taste for worldly pleasures. As much as one's love and devotion for God increases, by so much will diminish worldly desires and care for the body. Then one will look on every woman as mother, on his own wife as a spiritual helpmate; all animal passions will disappear; Divine spirituality will come, and non-attachment to the world; then one will become absolutely emancipated even in this life.