We can learn much through the conversations recorded between Gurus and their disciples. In this post, we reflect on advice given by Śrī Ramakrishna to his disciple known as M.
M is the author of the Gospel of Śrī Ramakrishna, the most important text on the life and teachings of this unique saint. M recorded many of his meetings with Ramakrishna. This report comes from his second visit.
Śrī Ramakrishna’s Audience
All visitors approach a saint with their own concerns and desires. Everyone wants something. Ideally, we seek the company of saints for spiritual blessings.
People came from all walks of life to learn from Ramakrishna. For example, some were young and unmarried, carrying few responsibilities. Others were householders, with wives, families, and jobs. Some visitors were religious scholars working at universities. Wealthy and famous people were also among Ramakrishna’s devotees.
On Daily Practice
“The mind cannot dwell on God if it is immersed day and night in worldly duties and responsibilities. It is most necessary to go into solitude now and then and think of God.”
Some people begin their spiritual quest when they are young and free from worldly burdens. They may go into lengthy seclusion for spiritual practices.
For most of us, however, solitude means daily meditation practice. Householders must adjust their routines to include spiritual practices. Yoga masters never approve of those who shirk duty in the name of spiritual quest.
“To fix the mind on God is very difficult, in the beginning, unless one practices meditation in solitude. When a tree is young it should be fenced all around; otherwise it may be destroyed by cattle.”
Most of us lack the experience of cattle stampeding our gardens. But we know what it means to protect a young tree (or child or pet) until it can fend for itself.
As spiritual seekers we are that young tree. We must diligently protect our spiritual welfare. Ramakrishna tells us why.
On the Dangers of Worldliness
“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.”
The warning is clear. Without meditation, we’re prone to getting caught up in life’s dramas. We forget our peaceful, inner nature, and we suffer. The cure is so simple! Make meditation your highest priority every day.
How Meditation Works
Meditation makes us strong and wise. It gives us the clarity to avoid situations that cause suffering. Here, Ramakrishna illustrates the effects of a regular practice:
“One must go into solitude to attain 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.
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, practice spiritual discipline in solitude. 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.”
Take a moment now to think about how you can apply Ramakrishna’s advice in your life. Imagine that you’re a young tree, growing on the spiritual path. You need protection and nurturing. How can you provide more of that—starting now?
Chityānanda has been a disciple of Svāmī Gurupremānanda Sarasvatī since 1975. She teaches meditation and yoga as a spiritual path in Santa Cruz, California.