The Sayings Of Ramakrishna - Attaining Perfection
( Originally Published 1939 )
THERE are two classes of people who attain perfection in this world: those who get the truth and become silent, enjoying it all to themselves without any thought of others; people of the other class get the truth and cannot find pleasure in keeping it to themselves, but cry out in a trumpet voice to all, "Come ye and enjoy the truth with us."
THIS world is like a stage where men perform those who are proud of knowledge, and those who are vain of riches. If one says to these, "In such and such a place there is a good Sannyasin, will you come to see him? " they will invariably make some excuses and say that they cannot go; but in their minds they think they are men of high positions, why should they go to another?
MONEY AND RICHES
THERE is nothing to be proud of in money. If you say that you are rich, there are richer and richer, men than you, in comparison with whom you are a mere beggar. After dusk when the glowworms make their appearance, they think, "We are giving light to the world." But when the stars rise, their pride is gone. Then the stars begin to think, "We are shedding light on the universe." After some time the moon ascends the sky, and the stars are humiliated and look melancholy. So again the moon begins to be proud and think that by her light the world is lighted, and smiles and bathes in beauty and cheerfulness. But lo! the dawn proclaims the advent of the rising sun on the eastern horizon. Where is the moon now? If they who think themselves rich ponder over these natural facts, they will never, never boast of their riches again.
You see many stars at night in the sky but find them not when the sun rises; can you say that there are no stars in the heaven of day? So, 0 man! because you behold not God in the days of your ignorance, say not that there is no God.
MANY are the names of God and infinite the forms that lead us to know Him. In whatsoever name or form you desire to call Him, in that very form and name you will see Him.
As one can ascend to the top of a house by means of a ladder or a bamboo or a staircase or a rope, so divers are the ways and means to approach God, and every religion in the world shows one of these ways.
HE who tries to give an idea of God by mere book learning, is like the man who tries to give an idea of Kasi (Benares) by means of a map or picture.
Goo is in all men but all men are not in God: that is the reason why they suffer.
TEE magnetic needle always points towards the North, and hence it is that the sailing vessel does not lose her course. So long as the heart of man is directed towards God, he cannot be lost in the ocean of worldliness.
EVERY man should follow his own religion, A Christian should follow Christianity, a Mahomedan should follow Mahomedanism, and so on. For the Hindus the ancient path, the path of the Aryan Rishis, is the best.
PEOPLE partition off their lands by means of boundaries, but no one can partition off the all embracing sky overhead. The indivisible sky surrounds all and includes all. So common man in ignorance says, "My religion is the only one, my religion is the best." But when his heart is illumined by true knowledge, he knows that above all these wars of sects and sectarians presides the one indivisible, eternal, allknowing Bliss.
The pearl oyster that contains the precious pearl is in itself of very little value, but it is essential for the growth of the pearl. The shell itself may prove to be of no use to the man who has got the pearl. So ceremonies and rites may not be necessary for him who has attained the Highest Truth — God.
MAN is born in this world with two tendencies, the Vidya tendency, or tendency towards liberation, and the Avidya tendency, or tendency towards world and bondage. When born, both tendencies are in equilibrium like the scales of a balance. The world soon places its enjoyments and pleasures in one scale, and the spirit its attractions on the other; and if the intellect chooses the world, the worldly scale becomes heavy and gravitates towards the earth. But if it chooses the spirit, the spiritual scale gravitates towards God.
THE soul reincarnates in a body of which it was thinking just before its last departure from this world. Devotional practices may therefore be seen to be very necessary. When by constant practice no worldly ideas arise in the mind, then the God-idea alone fills the soul and does not leave it even when on the brink of eternity.
EGOISM is like a cloud that keeps God hidden from our sight. If by the mercy of the Guru egoism vanishes, God is seen in His full glory.
IF one acquires the conviction that everything is done by God's will, that one is only the tool in the hands of God, then is one free even in this life. "Thou doest Thy work, they say, `I do it!' "
PONDER deep and thou shalt know that there is no such thing as "I." As by continually peeIing off the skin of an onion, so on analyzing the ego it will be found that there is not any real entity corresponding to the ego. The ultimate result of all such analysis is God. When egoism drops away Divinity manifests itself.
IF one ponders over the "I," and tries to find out what it is, one sees it is only a word which denotes egoism. It is extremely difficult to shake off. Then one says, "You wicked `I,' if you will not go by any means, remain as the servant of God." This is called the "ripe I."
IF you feel proud, feel so in the thought that you are the servant of God.
THERE are three kinds of love, unselfish (Samartha), mutual (Saman jasa), and selfish (Sadharni). The unselfish love is of the highest kind. The lover only minds the welfare of the beloved and does not care for his own sufferings. In mutual love the lover not only wants the happiness of his beloved but has an eye towards his own happiness also. It is middling. The selfish love is the Iowest. It only looks towards its own happiness, no matter whether the beloved suffers weal or woe.
Q. WHY does the God-lover renounce everything for Him?
A. The moth, after seeing the light, never returns to darkness; the ant dies in the sugar-heap, but never retreats therefrom; similarly the God-lover gladly sacrifices his life for the attainment of Divine bliss and cares for nothing else.
IF you have a mind to live unattached from the world, you should first practise devotion in solitude for some time, say a year, or six months, or a month, or at least twelve days. During the period of retirement you should meditate constantly upon God and pray to Him for Divine Love. You should revolve in your mind the thought that there is nothing in the world that you may call your own; those whom you think your own will pass away in no time. God is really your own, He is your All-in-All How to obtain Him should be your only concern.
KEEP thyself aloof at the time of thy devotions from those who scoff at them and from those who ridicule piety and the pious.
KEEP thine own sentiments and faith to thyself. Do not talk about them abroad. Otherwise thou wilt be a great loser.
THE TRULY RELIGIOUS
THE truly religious man is he who does not commit any sin even when he is alone, because God sees him, though no man may see him. He who can resist the temptation of lust and gold in a lonely place unobserved by any man, through the fear that God sees him, and who through such fear does not even think an evil thought, is truly a religious man. But he who practises religion for the sake of show and through the fear of public opinion has no religion in him.
THAT man, who living in the midst of the temptations of the world attains perfection, is the true hero.
THOSE who live in the world and try to find salvation are like soldiers that fight protected by the breastwork of a fort, while the ascetics who renounce the world in search of God are like soldiers fighting in the open field. To fight from within the fort is more convenient and safer than to fight in the open field.
THE DIVINE MOTHER
Q. WHY does the God-Iover find such ecstatic pleasure in addressing the Deity as Mother?
A. Because the child is more free with its mother, and consequently she is dearer to the child than any one else.
A LOGICIAN once asked Sri Ramakrishna, "What are knowledge, knower, and the object known? " To which he replied, "Good man, I do not know all these niceties of scholastic learning. I know only my Mother Divine, and that I am Her son. "
PRAY to the Divine Mother in this wise: Give me, 0 Mother! Love that knows no incontinence and faith adamantine that cannot be shaken.
WOMAN and wealth have drowned the whole world in sin. Woman is disarmed when you view her as the manifestation of the Divine Mother.
"To him who is perfect in meditation salvation is very near," is an old saying. Do you know when a man becomes perfect in meditation? When, as soon as he sits down to meditate, he becomes surrounded with Divine atmosphere and his soul communes with God.
HE who at the time of contemplation is entirely unconscious of everything outside so much so that he would not know if birds were to make nests in his hair has acquired the perfection of meditation.
So long as one does not become simple like a child one does not get Divine illumination. Forget all the worldly knowledge that thou hast acquired and become as ignorant as a child, and then wilt thou get the Divine wisdom.
To live in the world or to Ieave it depends upon the will of God. Therefore work, leaving everything to Him. What else can you do?
As dry leaves are blown about here and there by the wind and have no choice of their own and make no exertion; so those who depend upon God move in harmony with His will, and can have no will and put forth no effort of their own.
THE vanities of all others may gradually die out, but the vanity of a saint as regards his sainthood is hard indeed to wear away.
BE as devoid of vanity as the castaway leaf before the high wind.
VANITY is like a heap of rubbish or ashes on which the water, as soon as it falls, dries away. Prayers and contemplations produce no effect on the heart puffed up with vanity.
THE scale that is heavy bends down, but the lighter scale of the balance rises up. So the man of merit and ability is always humble and meek, but the fool is always puffed up with vanity.
LUNATICS, drunkards and children sometimes give out the truth unconsciously, as if inspired by heaven.
MANY with a show of humility say, "I am like a low worm groveIling in the dust"; thus always thinking themselves worms, in time they become weak in spirit like worms. Let not despondency ever enter into thy heart; despair is the great enemy of progress in one's path. As a man thinketh, so he becometh.
THE mind attached to lust and wealth is like the unripe betel-nut attached to its shell; so long as the betel-nut is not ripe it remains fixed to its shell by its juice, but when the juicy substance dries by time, the nut becomes detached from its shell and is felt rolling inside the shell, if shaken. So when the juice of attachment to gold and Iust is dried up, the man becomes free.