^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ SYMBOLS OF TWELVE MAJOR WORLD RELIGIONS ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^



 M.'s second visit to Sri Ramakrishna took place on the southeast verandah at eight o'clock in the morning.  The Master was about to be shaved, the barber having just arrived.  As the cold season still lingered he had put on a moleskin shawl bordered with red.  Seeing M., the Master said: "So you have come.  That's good.  Sit down here." He was smiling.  He stammered a little when he spoke.
SRI RAMAKRISHNA (to M.): "Where do you live?"

M: "In Calcutta, sir."

SRI RAMAKRISHNA: "Where are you staying here?"

M: "I am at Baranagore at my older sister's-Ishan Kaviraj's house."

SRI RAMAKRISHNA: "Oh, at Ishan's? Well, how is Keshab now? He was very ill."

M: "Indeed, I have heard so too, but I believe he is well now."
Master's love for Keshab
SRI RAMAKRISHNA: "I made a vow to worship the Mother with green coconut and sugar on Keshab's recovery.  Sometimes, in the early hours of the morning, I would wake up and cry before Her: 'Mother, please make Keshab well again.  If Keshab doesn't live, whom shall I talk with when I go to Calcutta?' And so it was that I resolved to offer Her the green coconut and sugar. 
"Tell me, do you know of a certain Mr.  Cook who has come to Calcutta? Is it true that he is giving lectures? Once Keshab took me on a steamer, and this Mr.  Cook, too  was in the party."

M: "Yes, sir, I have heard something like that; but I have never been to his lectures.  I don't know much about him."
Sri Ramakrishna on M.'s marriage
SRI RAMAKRISHNA: "Pratap's brother came here.  He stayed a few days.  He had nothing to do and said he wanted to live here.  I came to know that he had left his wife and children with his father-in-law.  He has a whole brood of them! So I took him to task.  Just fancy! He is the father of so many children! Will people from the neighbourhood feed them and bring them up? He isn't even ashamed that someone else is feeding his wife and children, and that they have been left at his father-in-law's house.  I scolded him very hard and asked him to look for a job.  Then he was willing to leave here. 
"Are you married?"

M: "Yes, sir."

SRI RAMAKRISHNA (with a shudder): "Oh, Ramlal! Alas, he is married!"
Like one guilty of a terrible offence, M. sat motionless, his eyes fixed on the ground.  He thought, "Is it such a wicked thing to get married?"
The Master continued, "Have you any children?"

M. this time could hear the beating of his own heart.  He whispered in a trembling voice, "Yes, sir, I have children."

Very sadly Sri Ramakrishna said, "Ah me! He even has children!"

Thus rebuked M. sat speechless.  His pride had received a blow.  After a few minutes Sri Ramakrishna looked at him kindly and said affectionately: "You see, you have certain good signs.  I know them by looking at a person's forehead, his eyes, and so on.  Tell me, now, what kind of person is your wife? Has she spiritual attributes, or is she under the power of avidya?"

M: "She is all right.  But I am afraid she is ignorant."

MASTER (with evident displeasure): "And you are a man of knowledge!"

M. had yet to learn the distinction between knowledge and ignorance.  Up to this time his conception had been that one got knowledge from books and schools.  Later on he gave up this false conception.  He was taught that to know God is knowledge, and not to know Him, ignorance.  When Sri Ramakrishna exclaimed, "And you are a man of knowledge!", M.'s ego was again badly shocked.
God with and without form
MASTER: "Well, do you believe in God with form or without form?"

M., rather surprised, said to himself: "How can one believe in God without form when one believes in God with form? And if one believes in God without form, how can one believe that God has a form? Can these two contradictory ideas be true at the same time? Can a white liquid like milk be black?"

M: "Sir, I like to think of God as formless."

MASTER: "Very good.  It is enough to have faith in either aspect.  You believe in God without form; that is quite all right.  But never for a moment think that this alone is true and all else false.  Remember that God with form is just as true as God without form.  But hold fast to your own conviction."

The assertion that both are equally true amazed M.; he had never learnt this from his books.  Thus his ego received a third blow; but since it was not yet completely crushed, he came forward to argue with the Master a little more.   
God and the clay image
M: "Sir, suppose one believes in God with form.  Certainly He is not the clay image!"

MASTER (interrupting): "But why clay? It is an image of Spirit."

M. could not quite understand the significance of this "image of Spirit".  "But, sir," he said to the Master, "one should explain to those who worship the clay image that it is not God, and that, while worshipping it, they should have God in view and not the clay image.  One should not worship clay."
God the only real teacher
MASTER (sharply): "That's the one hobby of you Calcutta people - giving lectures and bringing others to the light! Nobody ever stops to consider how to get the light himself.  Who are you to teach others?
"He who is the Lord of the Universe will teach everyone.  He alone teaches us, who has created this universe; who has made the sun and moon, men and beasts, and all other beings; who has provided means for their sustenance; who has given children parents and endowed them with love to bring them up.  The Lord has done so many things - will He not show people the way to worship Him? If they need teaching, then He will be the Teacher.  He is our Inner Guide.
"Suppose there is an error in worshipping the clay image; doesn't God know that through it He alone is being invoked? He will he pleased with that very worship.  Why should you get a headache over it? You had better try for knowledge and devotion yourself."

This time M. felt that his ego was completely crushed.  He now said to himself: "Yes, he has spoken the truth.  What need is there for me to teach others? Have I known God? Do I really love Him? 'I haven't room enough for myself in my bed, and I am inviting my friend to share it with me!' I know nothing about God, yet I am trying to teach others.  What a shame! How foolish I am! This is not mathematics or history or literature, that one can teach it to others.  No, this is the deep mystery of God.  What he says appeals to me."

This was M.'s first argument with the Master, and happily his last.
MASTER: "You were talking of worshipping the clay image.  Even if the image is made of clay, there is need for that sort of worship.  God Himself has provided different forms of worship.  He who is the Lord of the Universe has arranged all these forms to suit different men in different stages of knowledge.
"The mother cooks different dishes to suit the stomachs of her different children.  Suppose she has five children.  If there is a fish to cook, she prepares various dishes from it - pilau, pickled fish, fried fish, and so on - to suit their different tastes and powers of digestion.

"Do you understand me?"

Need of holy company & Meditation in solitude

M. (humbly): "Yes, sir.  How, sir, may we fix our minds on God?"

MASTER: "Repeat God's name and sing His glories, and keep holy company; and now and then visit God's devotees and holy men.  The mind cannot dwell on God if it is immersed day and night in worldliness, in worldly duties and responsibilities; it is most necessary to go into solitude now and then and think of God.  To fix the mind on God is very difficult, in the beginning, unless one practises meditation in solitude.  When a tree is young it should be fenced all around; otherwise it may be destroyed by cattle.
"To meditate, you should withdraw within yourself or retire to a secluded corner or to the forest.  And you should always discriminate between the Real and the unreal.  God alone is real, the Eternal Substance; all else is unreal, that is, impermanent.  By discriminating thus, one should shake off impermanent objects from the mind."
God and worldly duties
M. (humbly):"How ought we to live in the world?"

MASTER: "Do all your duties, but keep your mind on God.  Live with all - with wife and children, father and mother - and serve them.  Treat them as if they were very dear to you, but know in your heart of hearts that they do not belong to you.
"A maidservant in the house of a rich man performs all the household duties, but her thoughts are fixed on her own home in her native village.  She brings up her Master's children as if they were her own.  She even speaks of them as 'my Rāma' or 'my Hari'.  But in her own mind she knows very well that they do not belong to her at all.
"The tortoise moves about in the water.  But can you guess where her thoughts are? There on the bank, where her eggs are lying.  Do all your duties in the world, but keep your mind on God.
"If you enter the world without first cultivating love for God, you will be entangled more and more.  You will be overwhelmed with its danger, its grief, its sorrows.  And the more you think of worldly things, the more you will be attached to them.
"First rub your hands with oil and then break open the jack-fruit; otherwise they will be smeared with its sticky milk.  First secure the oil of divine love, and then set your hands to the duties of the world.
"But one must go into solitude to attain this divine love.  To get butter from milk you must let it set into curd in a secluded spot; if it is too much disturbed, milk won't turn into curd.  Next, you must put aside all other duties, sit in a quiet spot, and churn the curd.  Only then do you get butter.

"Further, by meditating on God in solitude the mind acquires knowledge, dispassion, and devotion.  But the very same mind goes downward if it dwells in the world.  In the world there is only one thought: 'woman and gold'.

"The world is water and the mind milk.  If you pour milk into water they become one; you cannot find the pure milk any more.  But turn the milk into curd and churn it into butter.  Then, when that butter is placed in water, it will float.  So, practise spiritual discipline in solitude and obtain the butter of knowledge and love.  Even if you keep that butter in the water of the world the two will not mix.  The butter will float. 
Practice of discrimination
"Together with this, you must practise discrimination.  'Woman and gold' is impermanent.  God is the only Eternal Substance.  What does a man get with money? Food, clothes, and a dwelling-place - nothing more.  You cannot realize God with its help.  Therefore money can never be the goal of life.  That is the process of discrimination.  Do you understand?"

M: "Yes, sir.  I recently read a Sanskrit play called Prabodha Chandrodaya.  It deals with discrimination."

MASTER: "Yes, discrimination about objects.  Consider - what is there in money or in a beautiful body? Discriminate and you will find that even the body of a beautiful woman consists of bones, flesh, fat, and other disagreeable things.  Why should a man give up God and direct his attention to such things? Why should a man forget God for their sake?"
How to see God
M: "Is it possible to see God?"

MASTER: "Yes, certainly.  Living in solitude now and then, repeating God's name and singing His glories, and discriminating between the Real and the unreal - these are the means to employ to see Him."
Longing and yearning
M: "Under what conditions does one see God?"

MASTER: "Cry to the Lord with an intensely yearning heart and you will certainly see Him.  People shed a whole jug of tears for wife and children.  They swim in tears for money.  But who weeps for God? Cry to Him with a real cry."

The Master sang:
Cry to your Mother Syama , with a real cry, O mind! 
        And how can She hold Herself from you? 
        How can Syama stay away?    
        How can your Mother Kali hold Herself away?
O mind, if you are in earnest, bring Her an offering 
        Of bel-leaves and hibiscus flowers; 
        Lay at Her feet your offering 
        And with it mingle the fragrant sandal-paste of Love.

Continuing, he said: "Longing is like the rosy dawn.  After the dawn out comes the sun.  Longing is followed by the vision of God.
"God reveals Himself to a devotee who feels drawn to Him by the combined force of these three attractions: the attraction of worldly possessions for the worldly man, the child's attraction for its mother, and the husband's attraction for the chaste wife.  If one feels drawn to Him by the combined force of these three attractions, then through it one can attain Him.
"The point is, to love God even as the mother loves her child, the chaste wife her husband, and the worldly man his wealth.  Add together these three forces of love, these three powers of attraction, and give it all to God.  Then you will certainly see Him.
"It is necessary to pray to Him with a longing heart.  The kitten knows only how to call its mother, crying, 'Mew, mew!' It remains satisfied wherever its mother puts it.  And the mother cat puts the kitten sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes on the floor, and sometimes on the bed.  When it suffers it cries only, 'Mew, mew!' That's all it knows.  But as soon as the mother hears this cry, wherever she may be; she comes to the kitten."

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