Archive for August, 2009

Eight Fetters

From Chapter 1

“Men may be divided into four classes: those bound by the fetters of the world, the seekers after liberation, the liberated, and the ever-free.

“Among the ever-free we may count sages like Narada. They live in the world for the good of others, to teach men spiritual truth.

“Those in bondage are sunk in worldliness and forgetful of God. Not even by mistake do they think of God.


“The bound souls are tied to the world by the fetters of ‘woman and gold’. They are bound hand and foot. Thinking that ‘woman and gold’ will make them happy and give them security, they do not realize that it will lead them to annihilation. When a man thus bound to the world is about to die, his wife asks, ‘You are about to go; but what have you done for me?’ Again, such is his attachment to the things of the world that, when he sees the lamp burning brightly, he says: ‘Dim the light. Too much oil is being used.’ And he is on his death-bed!

“The bound souls never think of God. If they get any leisure they indulge in idle gossip and foolish talk, or they engage in fruitless work. If you ask one of them the reason, he answers, ‘Oh, I cannot keep still; so I am making a hedge.’ When time hangs heavy on their hands they perhaps start playing cards.”

There was deep silence in the room.

A DEVOTEE: “Sir, is there no help, then, for such a worldly person?”

MASTER: “Certainly there is. From time to time he should live in the company of holy men, and from time to time go into solitude to meditate on God. Furthermore, he should practise discrimination and pray to God, ‘Give me faith and devotion.’ Once a person has faith he has achieved everything. There is nothing greater than faith.

From Chapter 11

There are eight fetters. Shame, hatred, fear, caste, lineage, good conduct, grief, and secretiveness-these are the eight fetters. And they cannot be unfastened without the help of a guru.

From Chapter 14

Sri Ramakrishna stood in front of the shrine of Kali and prostrated himself  before the Divine Mother. M. followed him. Then the Master sat on the lower floor in front of the shrine room, facing the blissful image, and leaned against a pillar of the natmandir. He wore a red-bordered cloth, part of which was on his shoulder and back. M. sat by his side.

M: “Since there is no unbroken happiness in the world, why should one assume a body at all? I know that the body is meant only to reap the results of past action. But who knows what sort of action it is performing now? The unfortunate part is that we are being crushed.”

MASTER: “If a pea falls into filth, it grows into a pea-plant none the less.”

M: “But still there are the eight bonds.”

MASTER: “They are not eight bonds, but eight fetters. But what if they are? These fetters fall off in a moment, by the grace of God. Do you know what it is like? Suppose a room has been kept dark a thousand years. The moment a man brings a light into it, the darkness vanishes. Not little by little. Haven’t you seen the magician’s feat? He takes string with many knots, and ties one end to something, keeping the other in his hand. Then he shakes the string once or twice, and immediately all the knots come undone. But another man cannot untie the knots however he may try. All the knots of ignorance come undone in the twinkling of an eye, through the guru’s grace.

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