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



Disciplines of Tantra:
NARENDRA: "Isn't it true that the Tantra prescribes spiritual discipline in the company of woman?"

MASTER: "That is not desirable.  It is a very difficult path and often causes the aspirant's downfall.  There are three such kinds of discipline.  One may regard woman as one's mistress or look on oneself as her handmaid or as her child.  I look on woman as my mother.  To look on oneself as her handmaid is also good; but it is extremely difficult to practise spiritual discipline looking on woman as one's mistress.  To regard oneself as her child is a very pure attitude."
The sannyasis belonging to the sect of Nanak entered the room and greeted the Master, saying, "Namo Narayanaya." Sri Ramakrishna asked them to sit down.

All is possible with God:
MASTFR: "Nothing is impossible for God.  Nobody can describe His nature in words.  Everything is possible for Him.  There lived at a certain place two yogis who were practising spiritual discipline.  The sage Narada was passing that way one day.  Realizing who he was, one of the yogis said: 'You have just come from God Himself.  What is He doing now?' Narada replied, 'Why, I saw Him making camels and elephants pass and repass through the eye of a needle.' At this the yogi said: 'Is that anything to wonder at? Everything is possible for God.' But the other yogi said: 'What? Making elephants pass through the eye of a needle - is that ever possible? You have never been to the Lord's dwelling-place.' "

At nine o'clock in the morning, while the Master was still sitting in his room, Manomohan arrived from Konnagar with some members of his family.  In answer to Sri Ramakrishna's kind inquiries, Manomohan explained that he was taking them to Calcutta.  The Master said: "Today is the first day of the Bengali month, an inauspicious day for undertaking a journey.  I hope everything will be well with you." With a smile he began to talk of other matters.

Present Panchavati
When Narendra and his friends had finished bathing in the Ganges, the Master said to them earnestly: "Go to the Panchavati (see Picture) and meditate there under the banyan-tree.  Shall I give you something to sit on?"

Discrimination and dispassion:
About half past ten Narendra and his Brahmo friends were meditating in the Panchavati.  After a while Sri Ramakrishna came to them.  M., too, was present.

The Master said to the Brahmo devotees: "In meditation one must be absorbed in God.  By merely floating on the surface of the water, can you reach the gems lying at the bottom of the sea?"
Then he sang:
Taking the name of Kāli, dive deep down,
O mind, Into the heart's fathomless depths,
Where many a precious gem lies hid.  
But never believe the bed of the ocean bare of gems
If in the first few dives you fail;
With firm resolve and self-control
Dive deep and make your way to Mother Kāli's realm.
Down in the ocean depths of heavenly Wisdom lie
The wondrous pearls of Peace, O mind;
And you yourself can gather them,
If you but have pure love and follow the scriptures' rule.  
Within those ocean depths, as well,
Six alligators, lurk - lust, anger, and the rest -
Swimming about in search of prey.  
Smear yourself with the turmeric of discrimination;
The very smell of it will shield you from their jaws.
Upon the ocean bed lie strewn
Unnumbered pearls and precious gems;
Plunge in, says Ramprasad, and gather up handfuls there!

Narendra and his friends came down from their seats on the raised platform of the Panchavati and stood near the Master.  He returned to his room with them.  The Master continued: "When you plunge in the water of the ocean, you may be attacked by alligators.  But they won't touch you if your body is smeared with turmeric.  There are no doubt six alligators - lust, anger, avarice, and so on - within you, in the 'heart's fathomless depths'.  But protect yourself with the turmeric of discrimination and renunciation, and they won't touch you.

Futility of mere lecturing:
"What can you achieve by mere lecturing and scholarship without discrimination and dispassion? God alone is real, and all else is unreal.  God alone is substance, and all else is nonentity.  That is discrimination.

"First of all set up God in the shrine of your heart, and then deliver lectures as much as you like.  How will the mere repetition of 'Brahma' profit you if you are not imbued with discrimination and dispassion? It is the empty sound of a conch-shell.
"There lived in a village a young man named Padmalochan.  People used to call him 'Podo', for short.  In this village there was a temple in a very dilapidated condition.  It contained no image of God.  Aśwattha and other plants sprang up on the ruins of its walls.  Bats lived inside, and the floor was covered with dust and the droppings of the bats.  The people of the village had stopped visiting the temple.  One day after dusk the villagers heard the sound of a conch-shell from the direction of the temple.  They thought perhaps someone had installed an image in the shrine and was performing the evening worship.  One of them softly opened the door and saw Padmalochan standing in a corner, blowing the conch.  No image had been set up.  The temple hadn't been swept or washed.  And filth and dirt lay everywhere.  Then he shouted to Podo:
You have set up no image here,
Within the shrine, O fool!
Blowing the conch, you simply make
Confusion worse confounded.  
Day and night eleven bats
Scream there incessantly.

Purification of mind
"There is no use in merely making a noise if you want to establish the Deity in the shrine of your heart, if you want to realize God.  First of all purify the mind.  In the pure heart God takes His seat.  One cannot bring the holy image into the temple if the droppings of bats are all around.  The eleven bats are our eleven organs: five of action, five of perception, and the mind.

"First of all invoke the Deity, and then give lectures to your heart's content.  First of all dive deep.  Plunge to the bottom and gather up the gems.  Then you may do other things.  But nobody wants to plunge.  People are without spiritual discipline and prayer, without renunciation and dispassion.  They learn a few words and immediately start to deliver lectures.  It is difficult to teach others.  Only if a man gets a command from God, after realizing Him, is he entitled to teach."

Thus conversing, the Master came to the west end of the verandah.  M stood by his side.  Sri Ramakrishna had repeated again and again that God cannot be realized without discrimination and renunciation.  This made M. extremely worried.  He had married and was then a young man of twenty-eight, educated in college in the Western way.  Having a sense of duty, he asked himself, "Do discrimination and dispassion mean giving up 'woman and gold'?" He was really at a loss to know what to do.

Mahendranath Gupta ('M')
M. (to the Master): "What should one do if one's wife says: 'You are neglecting me.  I shall commit suicide?' "

MASTER (in a serious tone): "Give up such a wife if she proves an obstacle in the way of spiritual life.  Let her commit suicide or anything else she likes.  The wife that hampers her husband's spiritual life is an ungodly wife."

Immersed in deep thought, M. stood leaning against the wall.  Narendra and the other devotees remained silent a few minutes.  The Master exchanged several words with them; then, suddenly going to M., he whispered in his ear: "But if a man has sincere love for God, then all come under his control - the king, wicked persons, and his wife.  Sincere love of God on the husband's part may eventually help the wife to lead a spiritual life.  If the husband is good, then through the grace of God the wife may also follow his example."

This had a most soothing effect on M.'s worried mind.  All the while he had been thinking: "Let her commit suicide.  What can I do?"

M. (to the Master): "This world is a terrible place indeed."

MASTER (to the devotees): "That is the reason Chaitanya said to his companion Nityananda, 'Listen, brother, there is no hope of salvation for the worldly-minded.' "
On another occasion the Master had said to M. privately: "Yes, there is no hope for a worldly man if he is not sincerely devoted to God.  But he has nothing to fear if he remains in the world after realizing God.  Nor need a man have any fear whatever of the world if he attains sincere devotion by practising spiritual discipline now and then in solitude.  Chaitanya had several householders among his devotees, but they were householders in name only, for they lived unattached to the world."

It was noon.  The worship was over, and food offerings had been made in the temple.  The doors of the temple were shut.  Sri Ramakrishna sat down for his meal, and Narendra and the other devotees partook of the food offerings from the temple.

SOURCE: The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

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