February 2009

True Knowledge

From Chapter 3

The pundit became silent. Sri Ramakrishna said: “Your activities are inspired by sattva. Though they are rajasic, they are influenced by sattva. Compassion springs from sattva. Though work for the good of others belongs to rajas, yet this rajas has sattva for its basis, and is not harmful. Suka and other sages cherished compassion in their minds to give people religious instruction, to teach them about God. You are distributing food and learning. That is good too. If these activities are done in a selfless spirit they lead to God. But most people work for fame or to acquire merit. Their activities are not selfless. Besides, you are already a siddha.”

VIDYASAGAR: “How is that, sir?”

MASTER (laughing): “When potatoes and other vegetables are well cooked, they become soft and tender. And you possess such a tender nature! You are so compassionate!”(Laughter.)

VIDYASAGAR (laughing): “But when the paste of kalai pulse is boiled it becomes all the harder.”

MASTER: “But you don’t belong to that class. Mere pundits are like diseased fruit that becomes hard and will not ripen at all. Such fruit has neither the freshness of green fruit nor the flavour of ripe. Vultures soar very high in the sky, but their eyes are fixed on rotten carrion on the ground. The book-learned are reputed to be wise, but they are attached to ‘woman and gold’. Like the vultures, they are in search of carrion. They are attached to the world of ignorance. Compassion, love of God, and renunciation are the glories of true knowledge.”

From Chapter 31

” ‘I’ and ‘mine’-that is ignorance. True knowledge makes one feel: ‘O God, You alone do everything. You alone are my own. And to You alone belong houses, buildings, family, relatives, friends, the whole world. All is Yours.’ But ignorance makes one feel: ‘I am doing everything. I am the doer. House, buildings, family, children, friends, and property are all mine.’

From Chapter 32

TRAILOKYA: “Is it ever possible, sir, to have true knowledge of God while living in the world? Can one realize God here?”

MASTER (with a smile): “Why do you worry? You are enjoying both treacle and refined sugar. (All laugh.) You are living in the world with your mind in God. Isn’t that true? Why shouldn’t a man realize God in the world’? Certainly he can.”

TRAILOKYA: What are the signs of a householder having attained Knowledge?”

MASTER: “His tears will flow, and the hair on his body will stand on end. No sooner does he hear the sweet name of God than the hair on his body stands on end from sheer delight, and tears roll down his cheeks. “A man cannot get rid of body-consciousness as long as he is attached to worldly things and loves ‘woman and gold’. As he becomes less and less attached to worldly things, he approaches nearer and nearer to the Knowledge of Self. He also becomes less and less conscious of his body. He attains Self-Knowledge when his worldly attachment totally disappears. Then he realizes that body and soul are two separate things. It is very difficult to separate with a knife the kernel of a coconut from the shell before the milk inside has dried up. When the milk dries up, the kernel rattles inside the shell. At that time it loosens itself from the shell. Then the fruit is called a dry coconut

From Chapter 40

MASTER: “Some people indulge in philosophical speculation and think much of themselves. Perhaps they have studied a little Vedanta. But a man cannot be egotistic if he has true knowledge. In other words, in samadhi man becomes one with God and gets rid of his egotism. True knowledge is impossible without samadhi. In samadhi man becomes one with God. Then he can have no egotism.

“Do you know what it is like? Just at noon the sun is directly overhead. If you look around, then, you do not see your shadow. Likewise, you will not find the ‘shadow’ of ego after attaining Knowledge, samadhi.

“But if you see in anyone a trace of ‘I-consciousness’ after the attainment of true Knowledge, then know that it is either the ‘ego of Knowledge’ or the ‘ego of Devotion’ or the ‘servant ego’. It is not the ‘ego of ignorance’.


From Chapter 7

“Without giving up worldliness a man cannot awaken his spiritual consciousness, nor can he realize God. He cannot but be a hypocrite as long as he has even a trace of worldly desire. God cannot be realized without guilelessness.

Cherish love within your heart; abandon cunning and deceit:

Through service, worship, selflessness, does Rama’s blessed vision come.

Even those engaged in worldly activities, such as office work or business, should hold to the truth. Truthfulness alone is the spiritual discipline in the Kaliyuga.”

PRANKRISHNA: “Yes, sir. It is said in the Mahanirvana Tantra: ‘O Goddess, this religion enjoins it upon one to be truthful, self-controlled, devoted to the welfare of others, unagitated, and compassionate.'”

MASTER: “Yes. But these ideas must be assimilated.”

From Chapter 14

MASTER: “Why doesn’t Vidyasagar keep his word? ‘If one who holds to truth and looks on woman as his mother does not realize God, then Tulsi is a liar.’ If a man holds to truth he will certainly realize God. The other day Vidyasagar said he would come here and visit me. But he hasn’t kept his word.

From Chapter 14

MASTER: “I feel very happy when I see Shivanath. He always seems to be absorbed in the bliss of bhakti. Further, a man who is respected by so many surely possesses some divine power. But he has one great defect: he doesn’t keep his word. Once he said to me that, he would come to Dakshineswar, but he neither came nor sent me word. That is not good. It is said that truthfulness alone constitutes the spiritual discipline of the Kaliyuga. If a man clings tenaciously to truth he ultimately realizes God. Without this regard for truth, one gradually loses everything. If by chance I say that I will go to the pine-grove, I must go there even if there is no further need of it, lest I lose my attachment to truth. After my vision of the Divine Mother, I prayed to Her, taking a flower in my hands: ‘Mother, here is Thy knowledge and here is Thy ignorance. Take them both, and give me only pure love. Here is Thy holiness and here is Thy unholiness. Take them both, Mother, and give me pure love. Here is Thy good and here is Thy evil. Take them both, Mother, and give me pure love. Here is Thy righteousness, and here is Thy unrighteousness. Take them both, Mother, and give me pure love.’ I mentioned all these, but I could not say: ‘Mother, here is Thy truth and here is Thy falsehood. Take them both.’ I gave up everything at Her feet but could not bring myself to give up truth.”

From Chapter 39

MASTER: “Truthfulness in speech is the tapasya of the Kaliyuga. It is difficult to practise other austerities in this cycle. By adhering to truth one attains God. Tulsidas said: ‘Truthfulness, obedience to God, and the regarding of others’ wives as one’s mother, are the greatest virtues. If one does not realize God by practising them, then Tulsi is a liar.’

“Keshab Sen assumed his father’s debts. Others would have repudiated them. I visited Devendra’s Samaj at Jorashanko and found Keshab meditating on the dais. He was then a young man. I said to Mathur Babu, ‘Of all who are meditating here, this young man’s “float” alone has sunk under water. The “fish” is biting at the hook.’

From Chapter 44

The conversation with the Vaishnava continued.

MASTER: “Man should possess dignity and alertness. Only he whose spiritual consciousness is awakened possesses this dignity and alertness and can be called a man. Futile is the human birth without the awakening of spiritual consciousness.

“There are many men at Kamarpukur with big bellies and imposing moustaches. Yet the villagers go with palanquins and bring righteous and truthful persons from twenty miles away to arbitrate their quarrels. They do not bring mere pundits.

“Truthfulness is the tapasya of the Kaliyuga. ‘Truthfulness, submission to God, and looking on the wives of other men as one’s own mother’-these are the means to realize God.”

One and the Same

From Chapter 13

MASTER (with a smile): “But Pure Knowledge and Pure Love are one and the same thing. Both lead the aspirants to the same goal. The path of love is much the easier.”

From Chapter 18

Next Sri Ramakrishna proceeded toward Surendra’s garden. He walked on foot a little distance and saw a sadhu sitting on a couch under a tree. At once he went up to the holy man and joyfully began a conversation with him.

MASTER: “To which order of monks do you belong? Have you any title-Giri, Puri, or the like?”

SADHU: “People call me a paramahamsa.”

MASTER: “That is good. ‘I am Siva’-that is a good attitude. But I must tell you something else. The process of creation, preservation, and destruction that is going on day and night is due to Sakti, the Power of God. This Primal Power and Brahman are one and the same. Sakti cannot exist without Brahman, just as waves cannot exist without water. There cannot be any instrumental music without an instrument.

“As long as God keeps us in His relative world, so long we feel that there are two. If one accepts Sakti, one accepts Brahman as well. If one is aware of night, one is also aware of day. If one is aware of knowledge, one is also aware of ignorance.

“But there is another state in which God reveals to His devotee that Brahman is beyond both knowledge and ignorance. It cannot be described in words. What exists, exists.”

From Chapter 38

GIRISH: “Narendra says that God is beyond our words and thought.”

MASTER: “That is not altogether true. He is, no doubt, unknowable by this ordinary mind, but He can indeed be known by the pure mind. The mind and intellect become pure the moment they are free from attachment to ‘woman and gold’. The pure mind and pure intellect are one and the same. God is known by the pure mind. Didn’t the sages and seers of olden times see God? They realized the All-pervading Consciousness by means of their inner consciousness.”

From Chapter 42

“Perfect Jnana and perfect bhakti are one and the same thing. A man reasons, saying, ‘Not this, not this’; he rejects the unreal. When his reasoning comes to an end, he attains the Knowledge of Brahman. Then he accepts what he rejected before. A man carefu1ly climbs to the roof, rejecting the steps one by one. After reaching the roof he realizes that the steps are made of the same materials as the roof, namely, brick, lime, and brick-dust.

“He who is aware of the high is also aware of the low. After the attainment of knowledge one looks alike on high and low.

“While Prahlada dwelt on the plane of the Supreme Reality, he maintained the attitude of ‘I am He’; but when he climbed down to the physical plane, he would look on himself as the servant of God.

“Hanuman also sometimes said, ‘I am He’, sometimes, ‘I am the servant of God’, sometimes, ‘I am a part of God.’

“Why should a man cherish love of God in his heart? How else will he live? How else will he spend his days?

“To be sure, the ego does not disappear altogether. As long as the pot of

‘I’ persists, one cannot realize ‘I am He.’ In samadhi the ego totally disappears; then what is remains. Ramprasad says: ‘O Mother, when I shall attain Knowledge, then You alone will know whether I am good or You are good.’

“As long as ‘I-consciousness’ exists, one should have the attitude of a bhakta; one should not say, ‘I am God.’ A man aware of his body should feel that he is not Krishna Himself, but His devotee. But if God draws the devotee to Himself, then it is different. It is like the master saying to his beloved servant: ‘Come, take your seat near me. You are the same as I.’

“The waves are part of the Ganges, but the Ganges is not part of the waves.

“Siva experiences two states of mind. When He is completely absorbed in His own Self, He feels, ‘I am He.’ In that union neither body nor mind functions. But when He is conscious of His separate ego, He dances, exclaiming, ‘Rama! Rama!’

“That which is unmoving also moves. Just now you are still, but a few moments later the same you will be engaged in action.

“Jnana and bhakti are one and the same thing. The difference is like this: one man says ‘water’, and another, ‘a block of ice’.


From Chapter 5

“Even if one lives in the world, one must go into solitude now and then. It will be of great help to a man if he goes away from his family, lives alone, and weeps for God even for three days. Even if he thinks of God for one day in solitude, when he has the leisure, that too will do him good. People shed a whole jug of tears for wife and children. But who cries for the Lord? Now and then one must go into solitude and practise spiritual discipline to realize God. Living in the world and entangled in many of its duties, the aspirant, during the first stage of spiritual life, finds many obstacles in the path of concentration. While the trees on the foot-path are young, they must he fenced around; otherwise they will be destroyed by cattle. The fence is necessary when the tree is young, but it can be taken away when the trunk is thick and strong. Then the tree won’t be hurt even if an elephant is tied to it.

From Chapter 20

MANILAL (to the Master): “Well, what is the rule for concentration? Where should one concentrate?”

MASTER: “The heart is a splendid place. One can meditate there or in the Sahasrara. These are rules for meditation given in the scriptures. But you may meditate wherever you like. Every place is filled with Brahman-Consciousness. Is there any place where It does not exist? Narayana, in Vali’s presence, covered with two steps the heavens, the earth, and the interspaces. Is there then any place left uncovered by God? A dirty place is as holy as the bank of the Ganges. It is said that the whole creation is the Virat, the Universal Form of God.

“There are two kinds of meditation, one on the formless God and the other on God with form. But meditation on the formless God is extremely difficult. In that meditation you must wipe out all that you see or hear. You contemplate only the nature of your Inner Self. Meditating on His Inner Self, Siva dances about. He exclaims, ‘What am I! What am I!’ This is called the Siva yoga’. While practising this form of meditation, one directs one’s look to the forehead. It is meditation on the nature of one’s Inner Self after negating the world, following the Vedantic method of ‘Neti, neti’.

“There is another form of meditation, known as the ‘Vishnu yoga’, The eyes are fixed on the tip of the nose. Half the look is directed inward and the other half outward. This is how one meditates on God with form. Sometimes Siva meditates on God with form, and dances. At that time he exclaims, ‘Rama! Rama!’ and dances about.”

From Chapter 39

“In deep meditation a man is not at all conscious of the outer world. A hunter was aiming at a bird. A bridal procession passed along beside him, with the groom’s relatives and friends, music, carriages, and horses. It took a long time for the procession to pass the hunter, but he was not at all conscious of it. He did not know that the bridegroom had gone by.

“A man was angling in a lake all by himself. After a long while the float began to move. Now and then its tip touched the water. The angler was holding the rod tight in his hands, ready to pull it up, when a passer-by stopped and said, ‘Sir, can you tell me where Mr. Bannerji lives?’ There was no reply from the angler, who was just on the point of pulling up the rod. Again and again the stranger said to him in a loud voice, ‘Sir, can you tell me where Mr. Bannerji lives?’ But the angler was unconscious of everything around him. His hands were trembling, his eyes fixed on the float. The stranger was annoyed and went on. When he had gone quite a way, the angler’s float sank under water and with one pull of the rod he landed the fish. He wiped the sweat from his face with his towel and shouted after the stranger. ‘Hey!’ he said. ‘Come here! Listen!’ But the man would not turn his face. After much shouting, however, he came back and said to the angler, ‘Why are you shouting at me?’ ‘What did you ask me about?’ said .the angler. The stranger said, ‘I repeated the question so many times and now you art asking me to repeat it once more!’ The angler replied, ‘At that time my float was about to sink; so I didn’t hear a word of what you said.’

“A person can achieve such single-mindedness in meditation that he will see nothing, hear nothing. He will not be conscious even of touch. A snake may crawl over his body, but he will not know it. Neither of them will be aware of the other.

“In deep meditation the sense-organs stop functioning; the mind does not look outward. It is like closing the gate of the outer court in a house. There are five objects of the senses: form, taste, smell, touch, and sound. They are all left outside.

“At the beginning of meditation the objects of the senses appear before the aspirant. But when the meditation becomes deep, they no longer bother him. They are left outside. How many things I saw during meditation! I vividly perceived before me a heap of rupees, a shawl, a plate of sweets, and two women with rings in their noses. ‘What do you want?’ I asked my mind. ‘Do you want to enjoy any of these things?’ ‘No,’ replied the mind, ‘I don’t want any of them. I don’t want anything but the Lotus Feet of God.’ I saw the inside and the outside of the women, as one sees from out side the articles in a glass room. I saw what is in them: entrails, blood, filth, worms, phlegm, and such things.”

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