Sri Ramakrishna with the Devotees at Dakshineswar Temple
‘Lust and greed’ are indeed obstacles in the path of yoga – practicing spiritual disciplines and the secret of yoga
Sri Ramakrishna is living with devotees at the Dakshineswar Temple. It is Thursday, 24 August 1882, the 10th day of the bright fortnight of Shravana.
These days Hazra, Ramlal, Rakhal and other devotees are staying with Thakur. Ramlal is Thakur’s nephew and works as a priest at the Kali Temple. When he arrives, M. sees that Thakur and Hazra are standing on the long northeastern verandah talking. M. prostrates before Thakur and takes the dust of his feet.
Thakur is smiling. He says to M., “I would like to visit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar again. A painter first draws a rough sketch [for the Durga Puja] and later fills in the colours. The image is first made with clay, and then is given a second coat. After that it is plastered and, at last, it is painted with a brush. This is done one step at a time. Iswar Vidyasagar is ready in every aspect, but it is hidden. He has done so much humanitarian work, but he doesn’t know what is within himself. Gold lies hidden inside him. When he knows that the Lord resides within, he will give up all his activities and call upon Him with a yearning heart.”
Thakur stands talking to M., sometimes pacing the verandah back and forth.
Spiritual practice – to quell the storm and tempest of ‘lust and greed’
Sri Ramakrishna —To know what is inside, a little spiritual practice is needed.
M. — Will one always have to perform spiritual practices?
Sri Ramakrishna — No, in the beginning you must be up and doing, but you don’t have to work so hard later on. As long as there are storms, tempests and rough water, the boat has to be steered along zigzag routes; so long does the boatman stand and hold the rudder – but he no longer does so when he is past them. When the boat rounds a bend and a favourable wind blows, he can sit down and relax and just touch the rudder. Then he prepares to hoist the sail and sits down for a smoke. There is peace when the storm and tempest of ‘lust and greed’ pass.
Sri Ramakrishna and essence of yoga – fall from yoga – state of yoga – steady and unwavering like the flame of a lamp in a windless place – obstacle in yoga
“Some people show signs of yoga. But even they have to be careful. ‘Lust and greed’ are the obstacles to yoga. They make one deviate from yoga and fall into worldliness – if there is still any desire for sense enjoyment. When this desire is fulfilled, the person will again turn toward the Lord – he will again attain the state of yoga. Do you know what a ‘satka kal’ is, the spring trap for fish?”
M. — No sir, I haven’t seen one.
Sri Ramakrishna — You can see it in the countryside. A string with a hook is attached to a bent bamboo pole. Bait is tied to the hook. When a fish swallows the bait, the bamboo stick suddenly springs up. It regains its upright position.
“If you place a weight in one of the pans of a small scale, the lower needle moves away from the upper needle. Man’s mind is the lower needle, the Lord is the upper needle. When the lower needle aligns with the upper needle, there is yoga.
“If the mind is restless, yoga is not possible. The wind of the world always distracts the flame of the mind. When the flame does not waver, one attains a perfect state of yoga.
“ ‘Lust and greed’ are obstacles to yoga. You must discriminate: what is there in a woman’s body but blood, flesh, fat, intestines, worms, urine, faeces and so on. Why love such a body?
“I used to assume a rajasic attitude in order to renounce worldly things. I developed a craving to put on pure gold-embroidered robes, to wear a ring and to smoke the hubble-bubble through a long pipe. I dressed myself in a robe embroidered with pure gold. He (Mathur Babu) bought it for me. After some time I said to my mind, ‘Oh mind, so this is a pure gold-embroidered robe!’ Then I took it off and threw it away – I didn’t like it any more. In the same way, I said to myself, ‘Oh mind, this is what is known as a shawl and a ring. And this is what is called smoking a hubble-bubble through a long pipe.’ When I threw them away, I didn’t want to have anything to do with them again.
It is almost dusk. Thakur is talking with Mani alone on the southeastern verandah near the door to his room.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mani) — The mind of a yogi is always fixed on the Lord, ever absorbed in the Atman. You know it as soon as you see his eyes; they gaze in wonder. They look like the eyes of a bird hatching her eggs. Her entire mind is centered on the eggs. She sees outwardly only in name. Can you show me such a picture of a bird?
Mani — I will try to find one, sir.
Conversation between the Guru and the disciple – secret talk
It is already dusk. The lamps in the Kali Temple, the Radhakanta Temple, and all other rooms have been lit by the lamplighter. Thakur is sitting on his smaller cot as he meditates on the Mother of the Universe. Afterwards he repeats the name of the Lord. Incense has been burnt in his room. On one side a light burns on a lamp stand. After awhile, conch shells and bells sound. Arati is being performed in the Kali Temple. It is the tenth day of the bright fortnight. The moon shines brightly.
A short time after the arati, Sri Ramakrishna, still seated on the smaller cot, talks privately to Mani about different things. Mani sits on the floor.
You have the right to work, but not to its fruit
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mani) — You must work without the expectation of any reward. The work that Iswar Vidyasagar is doing is good. He is trying to perform work selflessly.
‘Where there is Rama there is no desire, and where there is desire, there is no Rama.’
Sri Ramakrishna — Everybody performs karma. Repeating His name and singing His glories are also work. Even the non-dualists’ meditation on ‘I am He’ is also work. It is work to exhale. There is no way to give up action. So work, but surrender its result to the Lord.
Mani — Sir, is it all right to try to earn more money?
Sri Ramakrishna — You can, if you spend it in spiritual pursuit. You may earn more – but you must make the right use of it. Earning cannot be the ideal – the ideal is to serve the Lord. If money is used in the service of the Lord, there is no harm in it.
Mani — Well sir, how long does one have duties toward one’s family?
Sri Ramakrishna — Make sure that they are not in want of food and clothing. But there is no need to take your children’s burden when they can stand on their own feet. When a young bird learns to find grain for itself, it is pecked away by its mother when it approaches her for food.
Mani — How long must one work?
Sri Ramakrishna — The blossom falls off when the fruit is ripe. When you have attained the Lord, you don’t have to work any longer. You won’t even want to.
“When a drunkard drinks too much liquor, he loses his senses – but if he has taken two or three drinks, he can carry on with his work. The nearer one advances toward the Lord, the more He lessens one’s duties. There is no danger in this. When the daughter-in-law in the family conceives, her mother-in-law gradually reduces her work. In the last month of her pregnancy, the mother-in-law doesn’t let her work at all. After the birth of the baby, she remains busy with it all the time.
“One has peace only when one has finished all karma at hand. When a housewife has finished her cooking, the serving of meals and other household chores, and goes to take her bath, she doesn’t return, even if you call for her.”
What is meant by attaining the Lord and having His vision? What is the way?
Mani — Sir, what is meant by attaining the Lord? What is a vision of the Lord? What are the means?
Sri Ramakrishna — The Vaishnavas say there are stages on the path to the realization of the Lord. There are beginners, aspirants, perfected ones and the most perfect of the perfected. He who has just begun to walk the path is a beginner. He who practices spiritual disciplines – worship, japa, meditation and chanting His name – is an aspirant. He who has had the inner experience of God is perfected. The Vedanta illustrates it this way: A gentleman is lying in a dark room. Somebody gropes in the dark to reach him. His hand touches a couch and he says, ‘No, this is not he.’ Then he touches the window. This is not he. Then he touches the door and again says to himself, ‘No, not he.’ ‘Not this, not this, not this.’ At last his hand touches the gentleman. Then he says, ‘That’s it! Here is the gentleman.’ It means that he is now conscious of the gentleman’s actual ‘existence’. He has reached the gentleman – but he hasn’t known him intimately.
“There is yet another class, that of the most perfect of the perfect. It is another state to have an intimate acquaintance with the gentleman – to become intimately acquainted with the Lord through love and devotion. The perfect has no doubt attained the Lord, but the most perfect of the perfect has become intimately acquainted with Him.
“Shanta – the rishis had this calm attitude. They didn’t desire worldly enjoyment. It is also the single-minded devotion of a wife toward her husband. She feels that her husband is the embodiment of beauty and love.
“Dasya – this was Hanuman’s attitude. He served Rama with the strength of a lion. A wife also has this attitude: she serves her husband from the bottom of her heart. A mother has this attitude to some extent. Yashoda had it.
“Sakhya – the attitude of a friend. ‘Come, sit beside me.’ Sridama and others sometimes gave Sri Krishna a bite from the fruit they were eating and at other times they rode on his shoulders.
“Vatsalya – this was Yashoda’s attitude. To some extent a wife also has it toward her husband. She feeds him from the bottom of her heart. And she is only satisfied when her son has eaten his fill. Yashoda would wander around with butter in her hand to feed Krishna.
“Madhura – as that of Radha. The wife also has this attitude. It includes all other attitudes – shanta, dasya, sakhya and vatsalya.”
Mani — Does one have the vision of the Lord with these very eyes?
Sri Ramakrishna — He can’t be seen by these physical eyes. By practicing spiritual disciplines, one develops a special body of love which has eyes and ears of ecstatic love. One sees Him with these eyes and listens to Him with these ears. Then one even develops a sexual organ of ecstatic love.
Hearing this, Mani laughs boisterously. Thakur is not irritated and continues –
Sri Ramakrishna — One enjoys communion with the Atman by this body of ecstatic love.
Mani again becomes grave.
Sri Ramakrishna — This does not happen without having intense love for God. When one develops intense love, one sees everything filled with God. Just like in severe jaundice everything appears yellow.
“It is then that one has the special feeling, ‘I am indeed He.’ A fellow who is drunk says, ‘I am indeed Kali.’
“Intoxicated with ecstatic love, the gopis said, ‘I am Krishna.’
“By meditating on God night and day, one sees Him everywhere. Just as after you concentrate on the flame of a lamp, you begin to see flames everywhere.”
Is God-realization some mistake of the mind? A doubtful person is ruined
Mani thinks to himself that this flame is not the real flame.
Thakur, who could read a man’s mind, says, “Nobody can become unconscious by meditating on Consciousness.” Shivanath said that the head begins to reel if one meditates on the Lord too much. I said to him, “Can one become unconscious by meditating on Consciousness?”
Mani — Sir, I now understand that. It’s not meditation on a transitory object. How can a man become unconscious by meditating on the real Self of eternal Consciousness?
Sri Ramakrishna (happily) — That’s His grace. Without His grace, one’s doubts do not vanish.
“Without the vision of the Atman, doubts are not dispelled.
“There is no fear when His grace dawns. A son holding his father’s hand can fall down. But if the father holds the son’s hand, there is no fear. All difficulties are resolved if, out of His grace, He dispels one’s doubts and grants His vision. And if one continues to call upon Him with a heart full of yearning, and continues to practice spiritual disciplines to attain Him, His grace dawns. When a mother sees her child running around restlessly [seeking her], she feels compassion for it. She who was hiding herself, now comes and reveals herself.”
Mani is wondering why God makes one run around restlessly. Thakur immediately says, “It is Her will that there should be some running around. Only then is there fun. He has created this universe in sport. That is what Mahamaya is. One must, therefore, take refuge in that Mother, the embodiment of Shakti (Power). One has been bound in the meshes of maya. By tearing its net, one can have the vision of the Lord.”
Primal Energy, Mahamaya and worship of Shakti
Sri Ramakrishna — To obtain His grace, one must keep the Primal Energy, Shakti, pleased. She Herself is indeed Mahamaya. By enchanting the world, She creates, preserves and dissolves. It is She who has deluded our spiritual awareness. One can enter the door only when She allows us through. When one is outside, one can see only outer objects – one cannot know the Supreme Eternal Person, Sat-chit-ananda. Therefore the Puranas state: Brahma and other gods sang hymns of praise to Mahamaya at the time of the assassination of demons Madhu and Kaitabha.
“Shakti is at the root of the universe. She includes both knowledge and ignorance. Ignorance deludes and enchants – it leads to ‘lust and greed’. On the other hand, love and devotion, compassion, jnana and prema, which take one to the Lord, come from knowledge (vidya).
“You have to placate avidya. That is the purpose of the worship of Shakti.
“In order to please Her, there are different attitudes with which to worship Her – the attitude of a handmaid, the heroic attitude, and the attitude of a child.
“The heroic attitude is romantic, having intercourse with Her to please Her.
“‘The discipline of the worship of Shakti is very difficult to practice. One cannot deceive or cheat Her.
“I lived for two years in the attitude of a handmaid and companion of the Divine Mother. But my attitude is that of a child to its mother. I look at women’s breasts as though they were my mother’s.
“Every woman is a form of Shakti. In the west [northwest India], a bridegroom holds a knife in his hand at the time of marriage; in Bengal he holds a nutcracker. It means that, with the help of his bride, the embodiment of Shakti, the bridegroom is going to cut the bonds of illusion. This is the heroic attitude. I have never worshipped in this attitude. I have the attitude of a child.
“A bride is the embodiment of Shakti. Haven’t you noticed, at a marriage ritual that the bridegroom sits behind like a fool? While the bride sits undaunted!”
One forgets worldly wealth on having God’s vision –several branches of knowledge and worldly education – religion and science – sattvic jnana and rajasic jnana
Sri Ramakrishna — After God-realization one forgets His external riches, the glories of His world. On seeing Him, one no longer remembers His riches. When a devotee has lost himself in the Bliss of the Lord, he is rid of all calculation. When one sees Narendra, one doesn’t bother to ask, ‘What is your name? Where do you live?’ Where is the time to ask him such questions? Someone asked Hanuman the date of a particular day. Hanuman replied, ‘Brother, I neither know the day of the week, nor the date, nor the constellation of stars. I only meditate on Rama.’ ”
 Communion with God
 Karmaëyevädhikäraste mä phaleñu kadäcana. (Gita 2:47)
 One of the incarnations of God
 Siddha of the siddhas
 Serene attitude
 A servant toward his master
 Attitude of a friend
 Attitude of a mother toward her child
 Attitude of a sweetheart
 Prema: ecstatic love
 Ramana: romance, lit. intercourse
 Saàçayätmä vinaçyati (Gita 4:40)
 Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute
 Mother, You are the mystic words ‘Svaha’ and ‘Vashat’ uttered while performing homa and yajna. You are Svadha, the mystic word, uttered during observance of shraddha.
You are the inmost Self of the mantra. You are the nectar of immortality. O Everlasting One, You are the three lengths of time for pronouncing a vowel sound. (For complete song, see Volume II, Section XIX, Chapter VI)
 Ecstatic love