Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

When a thorn gets into the sole of your foot, you procure a second thorn. After taking out the first thorn with the help of the second, you throw both thorns away. Likewise, you should procure the thorn of knowledge in order to remove the thom of ignorance. After destroying ignorance, you should discard both knowledge and ignorance. Then you attain vijnana. ...
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SHYAM: "Ah, what a fine thing you said to us the other day!"MASTER (smiling): "What was that?"SHYAM: "What remains with a man when he goes beyond jnana and ajnana, knowledge and ignorance."MASTER (smiling): "It is vijnana, special Knowledge of God. To know many things is ignorance. To know that God dwells in all beings is knowledge. And what is vijnana? It is to know God in a special manner, to converse with Him and feel Him to be one's own relative."To know that there is fire in wood is knowledge. But to make a fire with that wood, cook food with that fire, and become healthy and strong from that food is vijnana." ...
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Don't you know what difference in taste is? Some enjoy fish curry; some, fried fish; some, pickled fish; and again, some, the rich dish of fish pilau. Then too, there is difference in fitness. I ask people to learn to shoot at a banana tree first, then at the wick of a lamp, and then at a flying bird. ...
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The conversation turned to money.MASTER (to Dr. Sarkar): "I don't think about it at all. You know that very well, don't you? This is not a pretence."DR. SARKAR: "Even I have no desire for money — not to speak of yourself! My cash-box lies open."MASTER: "Jadu Mallick, too, is absent-minded. When he takes his meals he sometimes becomes so absent-minded that he doesn't know whether the food is good or bad. When someone says to him, 'Don't eat that; it doesn't taste good', Jadu says: 'Eh? Is this food bad? Why, that's so!'"Was the Master hinting that there was an ocean of difference between absent-mindedness due to the contemplation of God, and absent-mindedness due to preoccupation with worldly thoughts? ...
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There are three kinds of devotees: superior, mediocre, and inferior. The inferior devotee says, 'God is out there.' According to him God is different from His creation. The mediocre devotee says: 'God is the Antaryami, the Inner Guide. God dwells in everyone's heart.' The mediocre devotee sees God in the heart. But the superior devotee sees that God alone has become everything; He alone has become the twenty-four cosmic principles. He finds that everything, above and below, is filled with God.Read the Gita, the Bhagavata, and the Vedanta, and you will understand all this. Is not God in His creation? ...
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By taking off, one by one, the sheaths of a banana tree, one obtains the pith. The sheaths are one thing, and the pith is another. The sheaths are not the pith, and the pith is not the sheaths. But in the end one-realizes that the pith cannot exist apart from the sheaths, and the sheaths cannot exist apart from the pith; they are part and parcel of one and the same banana tree. Likewise, it is God who has become the twenty-four cosmic principles; it is He who has become man. ...
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DR. SARKAR: "Is everything delusion? Then whose is this delusion? And why this delusion? If all know it to be delusion, then why do they talk? I cannot believe that God is real and His creation unreal."MASTER: "That is a good attitude. It is good to look on God as the Master and oneself as His servant. As long as a man feels the body to be real, as long as he is conscious of 'I' and 'you', it is good to keep the relationship of master and servant; it is not good to cherish the idea of 'I am He'."Let me tell you something else. You see the same room whether you look at it from one side or from the middle of the room." ...
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How can I explain to you what I experience in samadhi? After coming down from that state I think, sometimes, that my illness may be due to samadhi. The thing is, the thought of God makes me mad. All this is the result of my divine madness. How can I help it? ...
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If you won't take offense, I shall tell you something. It is this: You have had enough of such things as money, honour, lecturing, and so on. Now for a few days direct your mind to God. And come here now and then. Your spiritual feeling will be kindled by hearing words about God. ...
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SHYAM: "You can learn from Theosophy where the soul goes after death —whether to the lunar sphere or the stellar sphere or some other region."MASTER: "That may be. But let me tell you my own attitude. Once a man asked Hanuman, 'What day of the lunar fortnight is it?' Hanuman replied: 'I know nothing about the day of the week, the day of the lunar fortnight, the position of the stars in the sky, or any such things. On Rama alone I meditate.' That is my attitude too."SHYAM: "The Theosophists believe in the existence of mahatmas. Do you believe in them, sir?"MASTER: "If you believe in my words, I say yes. But now please leave these matters alone. Come here again when I am a little better. Some way will be found for you to attain peace of mind, if you have faith in me. You must have noticed that I don't accept any gift of money or clothes. We do not take any collection here. That is why so many people come.” ...
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The long and short of the matter is that those who go about making disciples belong to a very inferior level. So also do those who want occult powers to walk over the Ganges and to report what a person says in a far-off country and so on. It is very hard for such people to have pure love for God. ...
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There is no harm in your leading the life of a householder. But do your duties in an unselfish spirit, fixing your mind on the Lotus Feet of God. You must have noticed that a man with a carbuncle on his back speaks to others in his usual way; perhaps he attends to his daily duties also; but his mind is always on the carbuncle. It is like that.Live in the world like an immoral woman. Though she performs her household duties, her mind is fixed on her sweetheart. ...
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Dharma means good actions, like giving in charity. If you accept dharma, you have to accept adharma too. If you accept virtue, you have to accept sin. If you accept knowledge, you have to accept ignorance. If you accept holiness, you have to accept unholiness. It is like a man's being aware of light, in which case he is aware of darkness too. If a man is aware of one, he is aware of many too. If he is aware of good, he is aware of evil too.Blessed is the man who retains his love for the Lotus Feet of God, even though he eats pork. ...
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When Rama redeemed Ahalya from the curse. He said to her, 'Ask a boon of Me.' Ahalya said, 'O Rama, if You deign to grant me a boon, then please fulfil my desire that I may always meditate on Your Lotus Feet, even though I may be born in a pig’s body.'I prayed to the Divine Mother only for love. I offered flowers at Her Lotus Feet and said with folded hands: 'O Mother, here is Thy ignorance and here is Thy knowledge; take them both and give me only pure love for Thee. Here is Thy holiness and here is Thy unholiness; take them both and give me only pure love for Thee. Here is Thy virtue and here is Thy sin; here is Thy good and here is Thy evil; take them all and give me only pure love for Thee. Here is Thy dharma and here is Thy adharma; take them both and give me only pure love for Thee.' ...
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SHYAM: "What is the distinction between the gross body and the subtle body?"MASTER: "The body consisting of the five gross elements is called the gross body. The subtle body is made up of the mind, the ego, the discriminating faculty, and the mind-stuff. There is also a causal body, by means of which one enjoys the Bliss of God and holds communion with Him. The Tantra calls it the Bhagavati Tanu, the Divine Body. Beyond all these is the Mahakarana, the Great Cause. That cannot be expressed by words."What is the use of merely listening to words? Do something! What will you achieve by merely repeating the word 'siddhi'? Will that intoxicate you? You will not be intoxicated even if you make a paste of siddhi and rub it all over your body. You must eat some of it. How can a man recognize yarns of different counts, such as number forty and number forty-one, unless he is in the trade? Those who trade in yarn do not find it at all difficult to describe a thread of a particular count. Therefore I say, practise a little spiritual discipline; then you will know all these — the gross, the subtle, the causal, and the Great Cause. While praying to God, ask only for love for His Lotus Feet.” ...
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Hem used to come to the temple garden at Dakshineswar. Whenever he chanced to meet me, he would say: 'Well, priest, there is only one thing worth having in this world, and that is honour. Isn't that so?' Very few indeed say that the goal of human life is the realization of God. ...
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Why don't you give your power of attorney to God? Rest all your responsibilities on Him. If you entrust an honest man with your responsibilities, will he misuse his power over you? God alone knows whether or not He will punish you for your sins. ...
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“I say: O my foolish boy, eat the mangoes and be happy. What is the use of your calculating how many hundreds of trees, how many thousands of branches, and how many millions of leaves there are in the orchard? You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes. Eat them and be contented.(To Shyam) "You have been born in this world as a human being to worship God; therefore try to acquire love for His Lotus Feet. Why do you trouble yourself to know a hundred other things? What will you gain by discussing philosophy'? Look here, one ounce of liquor is enough to intoxicate you. What is the use of your trying to find out how many gallons of liquor there are in the tavern?” ...
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Look here. One cannot attain Knowledge unless one is free from egotism. There is a saying:When shall I be free?When 'I' shall cease to be.'I' and 'mine' — that is ignorance. 'Thou' and 'Thine' — that is Knowledge. A true devotee says: 'O God, Thou alone art the Doer; Thou alone doest all, I am a mere instrument; I do as Thou makest me do. All these — wealth, possessions, nay, the universe itself — belong to Thee. This house and these relatives are Thine alone, not mine. I am Thy servant; mine is only the right to serve Thee according to Thy bidding.' ...
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What Brahman is cannot be described in words. Somebody once said that everything in the world has been made impure, like food that has touched the tongue, and that Brahman alone remains undefiled. The meaning is this: All scriptures and holy books — the Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras, and so forth — may be said to have been defiled because their contents have been uttered by the tongues of men; but what Brahman is no tongue has yet been able to describe. Therefore Brahman is still undefiled. One cannot describe in words the joy of play and communion with Satchidananda. He alone knows, who has realized it. ...
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SHYAM BASU: "Sir, what remains after one throws away both thorns?"MASTER: "Nityasuddhabodharupam — the Eternal and Ever-pure Consciousness. How can I make it clear to you? Suppose a man who has never tasted ghee asks you, 'What does ghee taste like?' Now, how can you explain that to him? At the most you can say: 'What is ghee like? It is just like ghee!' A young girl asked her friend: 'Well, friend, your husband is here. What sort of pleasure do you enjoy with him?' The friend answered: 'My dear, you will know it for yourself when you get a husband. How can I explain it to you?'"It is said in the Purana that Bhagavati, the Divine Mother, was once born as the daughter of King Himalaya. After Her birth She showed Her father Her many forms. The Lord of the mountains, after enjoying all these visions, said to the Divine Mother, 'May I have the vision of Brahman as It is described in the Vedas!' Then the Divine Mother answered, 'Father, if you want to have the vision of Brahman you must live in the company of holy men.'” ...
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Go beyond knowledge and ignorance; only then can you realize God. To know many things is ignorance. Pride of scholarship is also ignorance. The unwavering conviction that God alone dwells in all beings is jnana, knowledge. To know Him intimately is vijnana, a richer Knowledge. If a thorn gets into your foot, a second thorn is needed to take it out. When it is out both thorns are thrown away. You have to procure the thorn of knowledge to remove the thorn of ignorance; then you must set aside both knowledge and ignorance. God is beyond both knowledge and ignorance. Once Lakshmana said to Rama, 'Brother, how amazing it is that such a wise man as Vasishtha wept bitterly at the death of his sons!' Rama said: 'Brother, he who has knowledge must also have ignorance. He who has knowledge of one thing must also have knowledge of many things. He who is aware of light is also aware of darkness.' Brahman is beyond knowledge and ignorance, virtue and vice, merit and demerit, cleanliness and uncleanliness. ...
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Give up this false modesty. Why should you feel shy about singing the name of God? The proverb says very truly: 'One cannot realize God if one is a victim of shame, hatred, or fear.' Give up such foolish notions as: 'I am such a great man! Shall I dance crying the name of God? What will other great men think of me on hearing of this? They may say that the doctor, poor fellow, has been dancing uttering the name of Hari, and thus pity me.' Give up all these foolish notions. ...
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A goswami said in the course of his preaching, 'If a man has ten thousand rupees he can maintain himself on the income; then, free from worries, he can pray to God.'Keshab Sen also said something like that. He said to me: 'Sir, suppose a man wants, first of all, to make a suitable arrangement of his property and estate and then think of God; will it be all right for him to do so? Is there anything wrong about it?' I said to him: 'When a man feels utter dispassion, he looks on the world as a deep well and' his relatives as venomous cobras. Then he cannot think of saving money or making arrangements about his property.' God alone is real and all else illusory. To think of the world instead of God! ...
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God certainly provides everything for the man who totally surrenders himself to Him. ...
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When a man develops pure sattva, he thinks only of God. He does not enjoy anything else. Some are born with pure sattva as a result of their prarabdha karma. Through unselfish action one finally acquires pure sattva. Sattva mixed with rajas diverts the mind to various objects. From it springs the conceit of doing good to the world. To do good to the world is extremely difficult for such an insignificant creature as man. But there is no harm in doing good to others in an unselfish spirit. This is called unselfish action. It is highly beneficial for a person to try to perform such action. But by no means all succeed, for it is very difficult. Everyone must work. Only one or two can renounce action. Rarely do you find a man who has developed pure sattva. Through disinterested action sattva mixed with rajas gradually turns into pure sattva.No sooner does a man develop pure sattva than he realizes God, through His grace. ...
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I used to weep so bitterly with the name of the Divine Mother on my lips that people would stand in a row watching me. When I was passing through that state, someone, in order to test me and also to cure my madness, brought a prostitute into my room. She was beautiful to look at, with pretty eyes. I cried, 'O Mother! O Mother!' and rushed out of the room. I ran to Haladhari and said to him, 'Brother, come and see who has entered my room!' I told Haladhari and everyone else about this woman. While in that state I used to weep with the name of the Mother on my lips. Weeping, I said to Her: 'O Mother, protect me! Please make me stainless. Please see that my mind is not diverted from the Real to the unreal.' ...
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"Ahalya once said to Rama: 'O Rama, I have no objection to being born even as a pig. But please grant that I may have pure love for Thy Lotus Feet. I do not want anything else.'"Narada went to Ayodhya to remind Rama that He was to kill Ravana. At the sight of Rama and Sita, he began to sing their glories. Gratified at Narada's devotion, Rama said: 'Narada, I am pleased with your prayer. Ask a boon.' Narada replied, 'O Rama, if Thou must give me a boon, then grant that I may have pure love for Thy Lotus Feet and that I may not be deluded by Thy world-bewitching maya.' Rama said, 'Ask something more.' 'No, Rama,' answered Narada, 'I do not want anything else. I want only pure love for Thy Lotus Feet, a love that seeks no return.'” ...
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A man will cherish the illusion that he is the doer as long as he has not seen God, as long as he has not touched the Philosopher's Stone. So long will he know the distinction between his good and bad actions. This awareness of distinction is due to God's maya; and it is necessary for the purpose of running His illusory world. But a man can realize God if he takes shelter under His vidyamaya and follows the path of righteousness. He who knows God and realizes Him is able to go beyond maya. He who firmly believes that God alone is the Doer and he himself a mere instrument is a jivanmukta, a free soul though living in a body. ...
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Look here. If a man truly believes that God alone does everything, that He is the Operator and man the machine, then such a man is verily liberated in life. 'Thou workest Thine own work; men only call it theirs.' Do you know what it is like? Vedanta philosophy gives an illustration. Suppose you are cooking rice in a pot, with potato, egg-plant, and other vegetables. After a while the potatoes, egg-plant, rice, and the rest begin to jump about in the pot. They seem to say with pride: 'We are moving! We are jumping!' The children see it and think the potatoes, egg-plant, and rice are alive and so they jump that way. But the elders, who know, explain to the children that the vegetables and the rice are not alive; they jump not of themselves, but because of the fire under the pot; if you remove the burning wood from the hearth, then they will move no more. Likewise the pride of man, that he is the doer, springs from ignorance. Men are powerful because of the power of God. All becomes quiet when that burning wood is taken away. The puppets dance well on the stage when pulled by a wire, but they cannot move when the wire snaps. ...
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A man must have some kind of faith before he undertakes a work. Further, he feels joy when he thinks of it. Only then does he set about performing the work. Suppose a jar of gold coins is hidden underground. First of all a man must have faith that the jar of gold coins is there. He feels joy at the thought of the jar. Then he begins to dig. As he removes the earth he hears a metallic sound. That increases his joy. Next he sees a corner of the jar. That gives him more joy. Thus his joy is ever on the increase. Standing on the porch of the Kali temple, I have watched the ascetics preparing their smoke of hemp. I have seen their faces beaming with joy in anticipation of the smoke. ...
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MASTER: "Once some Sikhs came to the Kali temple at Dakshineswar. They said: 'You see, the leaves of the aswattha tree are moving. That too is due to the will of God.' Without His will not even a leaf can move."DOCTOR: "If everything is done by the will of God, then why do you chatter? Why do you talk so much to bring knowledge to others?"MASTER: "He makes me talk; therefore I talk. 'I am the machine and He is the Operator.'" ...
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You know I am a fool. I know nothing. Then who is it that says all these things? I say to the Divine Mother: 'O Mother, I am the machine and Thou art the Operator. I am the house and Thou art the Indweller. I am the chariot and Thou art the Charioteer. I do as Thou makest me do; I speak as Thou makest me speak; I move as Thou makest me move. It is not I! It is not I! It is all Thou! It is all Thou!' Hers is the glory; we are only Her instruments. Once Radha, to prove her chastity, carried on her head a pitcher filled with water. The pitcher had a thousand holes, but not a, drop of water spilled. People began to praise her, saying, 'Such a chaste woman tlie world will never see again!' Then Radha said to them: 'Why do you praise me? Say: "Glory unto Krishna! Hail Krishna!'' I am only His handmaid.' ...
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During my boyhood God manifested Himself in me. I was then eleven years old. One day, while I was walking across a paddy-field, I saw something. Later on I came to know from people that I had been unconscious, and my body totally motionless. Since that day I have been an altogether different man. I began to see another person within me. When I used to conduct the worship in the temple, my hand, instead of going toward the Deity, would very often come toward my head, and I would put flowers there. A young man who was then staying with me did not dare approach me. He would say: 'I see a light on your face. I am afraid to come very near you.' ...
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How can a man who has the grace of God lack knowledge? Look at me. I am a fool. I do not know anything. Then who is it that utters these words? The reservoir of the Knowledge of God is inexhaustible. There are grain-dealers at Kamarpukur. When selling paddy, one man weighs the grain on the scales and another man pushes it to him from a heap. It is the duty of the second man to keep a constant supply of grain on the scales by pushing it from the big heap. It is the same with my words. No sooner are they about to run short than the Divine Mother sends a new supply from Her inexhaustible storehouse of Knowledge. ...
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Once I went to a certain place with Mathur Babu. Many pundits came forward to argue with me. And you all know that I am a fool. (All laugh.) The pundits saw that strange mood of mine. When the conversation was over, they said to me: 'Sir, after hearing your words, all that we have studied before, our knowledge and scholarship, has proved to be mere spittle. Now we realize that a man does not lack wisdom if he has the grace of God. The fool becomes wise and the mute eloquent.' Therefore I say that a man does not become a scholar by the mere study of books. ...
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DOCTOR: "I have heard the story that you were once lying on the ground unconscious in samadhi when a wicked man kicked you with his boots."MASTER : "You must have heard it from M. The man was Chandra Haldar, a priest of the Kali temple at Kalighat; he often came to Mathur Babu's house. One day I was lying on the ground in an ecstatic mood. The room was dark. Chandra Haldar thought I was feigning that state in order to win Mathur's favour. He entered the room and kicked me several times with his boots. It left black marks on my body. Everybody wanted to tell Mathur Babu about it, but I forbade them." ...
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Whatever may be a householder's profession, it is necessary for him to live in the company of holy men now and then. If a man loves God, he will himself seek the company of holy men. ...
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Many think that the duty of a physician is a very noble one. The physician is undoubtedly a noble man if he treats his patients free, out of compassion and moved by their suffering. Then his work may be called very uplifting. But a physician becomes cruel and callous if he carries on his profession for money. It is very mean to do such things as examine urine and stool in order to earn money, like a business man carrying on his trade.But the medical profession is certainly very noble if the physician devotes himself to the welfare of others in an unselfish spirit. ...
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MASTER: "God incarnates Himself on earth in a human body. He is, no doubt, present everywhere and in all beings, but man's longing is not satisfied unless he sees God in a human form. Man's need is not satisfied without the Divine Incarnation. Do you know what it is like? By touching any part of a cow you undoubtedly touch the cow herself. Even by touching her horns you touch the cow. But the milk comes through the cow's udder."MAHIMA: "If a man wants milk he must put his mouth to the udder. What will he get by sucking the horns?" (All laugh.)VIJAY: "But a calf at first licks other parts of the cow."MASTER (smiling): "True. But seeing the calf doing so, someone perhaps puts its mouth to the udder." (All laugh.) ...
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God cannot be realized through scholarship. He is beyond the scriptures — the Vedas, Puranas, and Tantras. If I see a man with even one book in his hand, I call him a rajarshi, though he is a jnani. But the brahmarshi has no outer sign whatsoever.Do you know the use of the scriptures? A man once wrote a letter to a relative, asking him to send five seers of sweetmeats and a piece of cloth. The relative received the letter, read it, and remembered about the sweet-meats and the cloth. Then he threw the letter away. Of what further use was it? ...
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Japa means silently repeating God's name in solitude. When you chant His name with single-minded devotion you can see God's form and realize Him. Suppose there is a piece of timber sunk in the water of the Ganges and fastened with a chain to the bank. You proceed link by link, holding to the chain, and you dive into the water and follow the chain. Finally you are able to reach the timber. In the same way, by repeating God's name you become absorbed in Him and finally realize Him. ...
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I am unlettered and yet educated people come here. How amazing! You must admit that it is the play of God. ...
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MASTER:”The instruction of a man who has not seen God does not produce the right effect. He may say one thing rightly, but he becomes confused about the next.“Samadhyayi delivered a lecture. He said: 'God is beyond words and mind; He is dry. Worship Him through the bliss of your love and devotion.' Just see, he thus described God, whose very nature is Joy and Bliss! What will such a lecture accomplish? Can it teach people anything? Such a lecturer is like the man who said, 'My uncle's cow-shed is full of horses.' Horses in the cow-shed! (All laugh.) From that you can understand that there were no horses at all.”DOCTOR (smiling): "Nor cows either!" (All laugh.) ...
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One cannot teach men without the command of God. After attaining Knowledge, Sankaracharya retained the ego of Knowledge' in order to teach mankind. But to lecture without realizing God! What good will that do? ...
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There may be hollows on the top of a hill, but they cannot exist on the hill of the 'wicked ego'. Only if it is an 'ego of Knowledge' or an 'ego of bhakti', does the pure water from the sky collect there.It is true that the water from a hill-top may flow in all directions, but that is possible only from the hill of the 'ego of Knowledge'. ...
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You must remember one thing. When his soul feels restless for God, a man forgets the difference between good water and ditch-water. In order to know God, he sometimes goes to good men, sometimes to imperfect men. Dirty water cannot injure an aspirant if God's grace descends on him. When God grants him Knowledge, He reveals to the aspirant what is good and what is bad. ...
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It is attachment to 'woman and gold' that begets pride of learning, pride of money, and pride of social position.One cannot attain divine knowledge till one gets rid of pride. Water does not stay on the top of a mound; but into low land it flows in torrents from all sides. ...
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It is not harmful for a householder to live with his wife. But after the birth of one or two children, husband and wife should live as brother and sister. ...
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