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Sri Ramakrishna’s Timeless Wisdom


“God alone is the Doer.
Everything happens by His will.”

~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa


Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
February 18, 1836 – August 16, 1886



Ron’s Introduction to “Sri Ramakrishna’s Timeless Wisdom”

Dear Friends,

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was an exraordinary 19th century Indian holy man who has become likened to Krishna, Buddha, and Christ, as a Divine Incarnation. He was an extremely rare and eccentric mystical genius who taught from his direct experience. Like Jesus, in order to explain abstruse spiritual philosophy to common people, Sri Ramakrishna used parables and illustrations, culled from his observation of the daily life around him.

His exceptional life exemplified the ancient universal non-dualism truths of Advaita Hindu philosophy. However, Sri Ramakrishna’s mystical experiences transcended most precepts of Hinduism, and were similar to experiences of prophets and mystics from other enduring religions.

As a tribute to him Mahatma Gandhi has written:


“His life enables us to see God face to face. .
Ramakrishna was a living embodiment of godliness.”


Sri Ramakrishna’s spiritual teachings have been preserved and disseminated globally through “The Gospel of Sri Ramakrisha”, a unique written record of the direct words of a prophet consisting of a very detailed account of the daily life and conversations of Sri Ramakrishna interspersed with his profound and subtle utterances about the nature of Ultimate Reality. Those teachings continue to bless and benefit countless people worldwide, including me.

Sri Ramakrishna’s groundbreaking religious pluralism and spiritual non-dualism teachings were first prominently disseminated by his most important disciple Swami Vivekananda, a renowned sage and eloquent orator, who came to the West beginning in 1893 as the spokesman for Hinduism at the first Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago.

Thereafter to promote Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings, in America Vivekananda established Vedanta Societies, and in India he founded the Ramakrishna Mission. There now exists a thriving Ramakrishna spiritual revitalization movement with numerous Vedanta centers in India, America and worldwide.

My Discovery of Sri Ramakrisha’s Teachings

I first learned about Sri Ramakrishna during my 1982 pilgrimage to India, while at Dakshineshwar, his long-time residence place outside Calcutta (now Kolkata). There – almost a century after Sri Ramakrishna’s transition – I experienced his shakti life-force presence with an intense feeling of déjà vu while visiting a room where he had lived; a place which felt so pleasingly familiar to me that it seemed I could happily remain there forever.

Before visiting Dakshineshwar I knew nothing about Sri Ramakrishna. Nor was I yet aware that Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna’s principal disciple, had often visited him at Dakshineshwar; or that, touched and blessed by Ramakrishna, Vivekananda attained highest spiritual states, became an Indian national hero and first brought Vedantic wisdom to widespread Western audiences and spiritual practitioners. (Nor had I yet learned that Vivekananda was very important to my beloved Guruji.)

On returning home I began reading with fascination about Ramakrishna’s life and his teachings. I learned that (like Saint Francis of Assisi) he was an egalitarian ascetic mystic who completely renounced worldly pleasures and lived in utter simplicity. Ultimately, of all the saints whose stories I’d reflected on, I came to feel most intuitive affinity with Sri Ramakrishna (as well as with Saint Francis of Assisi), both of whom were extraordinary ascetics with similar Divine devotional traits with which I’ve felt great rapport, especially their “gift of tears”.

Moreover, I’ve especially appreciated Sri Ramakrishna’s simple sayings, parables, and spiritual stories, which continue to bless the world.
So to honor Sri Ramakrishna on his February 18th birthday anniversary I have gathered the following collection of his teachings.

Please enjoy and reflect upon them.


Sri Ramakrishna’s Timeless Wisdom Teachings



“The supreme purpose and goal for human life… is to cultivate love.”

“He is born in vain, who having attained the human birth, so difficult to get, does not attempt to realize God in this very life.”

“Try to cultivate love of God. You are born as a human being only to attain divine love.”

“Unalloyed love of God is the essential thing. All else is unreal.”

“You should love everyone because God dwells in all beings.”

“Have love for everyone, no one is other than you.”

“One day, it was suddenly revealed to me that everything is pure spirit.”

“I have now come to a stage of realization in which I see that God is walking in every human form and manifesting Himself alike through the sage and the sinner, the virtuous and the vicious. Therefore when I meet different people I say to myself, “God in the form of the saint, God in the form of the sinner, God in the form of the righteous, God in the form of the unrighteous.”

“Yes, all one’s confusion comes to an end if one only realizes that it is God who manifests Himself as the atheist and the believer, the good and the bad, the real and the unreal; that it is He who is present in waking and in sleep; and that He is beyond all these.”

“God alone is the Doer. Everything happens by His will.”

“When the divine vision is attained, all appear equal;
and there remains no distinction of good and bad, or of high and low.”

“Men are like pillow-cases. The color of one may be red, that of another blue, and that of the third black; but all contain the same cotton within. So it is with man; one is beautiful, another is ugly, a third holy, and a fourth wicked; but the Divine Being dwells in them all.”

“The sun can give heat and light to the whole world, but he cannot do so when the clouds shut out his rays.
Similarly as long as egotism veils the heart, God cannot shine upon it.”

“God is in all men, but all men are not in God; that is why we suffer.”

“It is on account of the ego that one is not able to see God.
In front of the door of God’s mansion lies the stump of ego.
One cannot enter the mansion without jumping over the stump.”

“The water of God’s grace cannot collect
on the high mound of egotism. It runs down.”

“The ego is like the root of a banyan tree, you think you have removed it all then one fine morning you see a sprout flourishing again.”

“All troubles come to an end when the ego dies.”

“As a piece of rope, when burnt, retains its form, but cannot serve to bind, so is the ego which is burnt by the fire of supreme Knowledge.”

“Imagine a limitless expanse of water: above and below, before and behind, right and left, everywhere there is water. In that water is placed a jar filled with water. There is water inside the jar and water outside, but the jar is still there. The [ego] ‘I’ is the jar.”

“Take the case of the infinite ocean. There is no limit to its water. Suppose a pot is immersed in it: there is water both inside and outside the pot. The [wise] jnani sees that both inside and outside there is nothing but [God] Paramatman. Then what is this pot? It is [ego] ‘I-consciousness’. Because of the pot the water appears to be divided into two parts; because of the pot you seem to perceive an inside and an outside. One feels that way as long as this pot of [ego] ‘I’ exists. When the ‘I’ disappears, what is remains. That cannot be described in words.”

“The waves belong to the water. Does the water belong to the waves?”

“Bondage and Liberation are of the mind alone.”

“Bondage is of the mind; freedom too is of the mind. If you say ‘I am a free soul. I am a son of God who can bind me’ free you shall be.”

“It is the mind that makes one wise or ignorant, bound or emancipated.”

“By the mind one is bound; by the mind one is freed. … He who asserts with strong conviction: “I am not bound, I am free,” becomes free.”

“A man is truly free, even here in this embodied state, if he knows that God is the true [doer] and he by himself is powerless to do anything.”

*“God alone is the Doer.
Everything happens by His will.”

“Two things are necessary for the realization of God;
faith and self-surrender.”

“God has put you in the world. What can you do about it?
Resign everything to Him. Surrender yourself at His feet.
Then there will be no more confusion.
Then you will realize that it is God who does everything.”

“Surrender everything at the feet of God.
What else can you do?
Give Him the power of attorney.
Let Him do whatever He thinks best.”

“Have faith. Depend on God. Then you
will not have to do anything yourself.
Mother Kali will do everything for you.”

“An ocean of bliss may rain down from the heavens,
but if you hold up only a thimble, that is all you receive.”

“The winds of grace are always blowing,
but you have to raise the sail.”

“Through selfless work, love of God grows in the heart.
Then through his grace one realizes him in course of time.
God can be seen. One can talk to him as I am talking to you.”

“Great men have the nature of a child.”

“So long as one does not become simple like a child, one does not get divine illumination. Forget all the worldly knowledge that thou hast acquired and become as a child, and then will thou get the divine wisdom.”

“Only two kinds of people can attain self-knowledge: those who are not encumbered at all with learning, that is to say, whose minds are not over-crowded with thoughts borrowed from others; and those who, after studying all the scriptures and sciences, have come to realize that they know nothing.”

“Different creeds are but different paths to reach the same God.”

“As many faiths so many paths”.

“The way of love is as true as the way of knowledge. All paths ultimately lead to the same Truth. But as long as God keeps the feeling of ego in us, it is easier to follow the path of love.”

“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 easier.”

“If you weep before the Lord, your tears wipe out the mind’s impurities of many births, and his grace immediately descends upon you. It is good to weep before the Lord.”

“Devotional practices are necessary only so long as tears of ecstasy do not flow at hearing the name of Hari. He needs no devotional practices whose heart is moved to tears at the mere mention of the name of Hari.”

“God cannot be realized if there is the slightest trace of pride.”

“Spirituality automatically leads to humility.
When a flower develops into a fruit, the petals drop off on its own.
When one becomes spiritual, the ego vanishes gradually on its own.
A tree laden with fruits always bends low. Humility is a sign of greatness.”

“The tree laden with fruits always bends low. If you wish to be great, be lowly and meek.”

“If you meditate on your ideal, you will acquire its nature. If you think of God day and night, you will acquire the nature of God.”

“Make your meditation a continuous state of mind. A great worship is going on all the time, so nothing should be neglected or excluded from your constant meditative awareness.”

“Man suffers through lack of faith in God.”

“Once a person has faith he has achieved everything.
There is nothing greater than faith.”

“You must have heard about the tremendous power of faith. It is said . . that Rama, who was God Himself – the embodiment of Absolute Brahman – had to build a bridge to cross the sea to Ceylon. But Hanuman, trusting in Rama’s name, cleared the sea in one jump and reached the other side. He had no need of a bridge.”

“The magnetic needle always points to the north, and hence it is that sailing vessel does not lose her direction. So long as the heart of man is directed towards God, he cannot be lost in the ocean of worldliness.”

“Dwell, O mind, within yourself; Enter no other’s home. If you but seek there, you will find All you are searching for. God, the true Philosopher’s Stone, Who answers every prayer, Lies hidden deep within your heart, The richest gem of all. How many pearls and precious stones Are scattered all about The outer court that lies before The chamber of your heart!”

“A boat may stay in water, but water should not stay in boat. A spiritual aspirant may live in the world, but the world should not live within him.”

“Sugar and sand may be mixed together, but the ant rejects the sand and goes off with the sugar grain; so pious men lift the good from the bad.”

“Sunlight is one and the same wherever it falls; but only a bright surface like that of water, or of a mirror reflects it fully. So is the light Divine. It falls equally and impartially on all hearts, but the pure and pious hearts of holy men receive and reflect that light well.”

“Forgiveness is the true nature of the ascetic.”

“The compassion that you see in the kindhearted is God’s compassion. He has given it to them to protect the helpless.”

“The Man who works for others, without any selfish motive, really does good to himself.”

“Do yourself what you wish others to do.”

“Wisdom leads to unity, but ignorance to separation.
So long as God seems to be outside and far away, there is ignorance.
But when God is realized within, that is true knowledge.”

“One must be very particular about telling the truth. Through truth one can realize God.”

“Unless one always speaks the truth, one cannot find God Who is the soul of truth.”

“Different people call on [God] by different names: some as Allah, some as God, and others as Krishna, Siva, and Brahman. It is like the water in a lake. Some drink it at one place and call it ‘jal’, others at another place and call it ‘pani’, and still others at a third place and call it ‘water’. The Hindus call it ‘jal’, the Christians ‘water’, and the Moslems ‘pani’. But it is one and the same thing.”

“So long as the bee is outside the petals of the lily, and has not tasted the sweetness of its honey, it hovers around the flower emitting the buzzing sound; but when it is inside the flower, it noiselessly drinks the nectar. So long as a man quarrels and disputes about doctrines and dogmas, he has not tasted the nectar of true faith; when he has tasted it, he becomes quiet and full of peace.”

“One should not think, ‘My religion alone is the right path and other religions are false.’ God can be realized by means of all paths. It is enough to have sincere yearning for God. Infinite are the paths and infinite are the opinions.”

“It’s enough to have faith in one aspect of God. You have faith in God without form. That is very good. But never get into your head that your faith alone is true and every other is false. Know for certain that God without form is real and that God with form is also real. Then hold fast to whichever faith appeals to you.”

“Who is whose Guru? God alone is the guide and Guru of the universe.”

“Men bound hand and foot in the endless chain of [karmic] cause and effect cannot free each other.”

“Do not be small minded. Do not pray for gourds and pumpkins from God, when you should be asking for pure love and pure knowledge to dawn within every heart.”

“If you must be mad, be it not for the things of the world. Be mad with the love of God.”

“Pray to God that your attachment to such transitory things as wealth, name, and creature comforts may become less and less every day.”

“Pray to Him anyway you like, He can even hear the footfall of an ant.”

“The truth is that you cannot attain God if you have even a trace of desire. Subtle is the way of dharma. If you are trying to thread a needle, you will not succeed if the thread has even a slight fiber sticking out.”

“Common men talk bagfuls of religion but do not practice even a grain of it. The wise man speaks a little, even though his whole life is religion expressed in action.”

“We laugh at the efforts of the musk deer to find the source of the scent which comes from itself and despair at our efforts to find the peace which is our essence.”

“One cannot be spiritual as long as one has shame, hatred, or fear.”

“Those whose spiritual awareness has been awakened never make a false move. They don’t have to avoid evil. They are so replete with love that whatever they do is a good action. They are fully conscious that they are not the doer of their actions, but only servants of God.”

“It is true that God is even in the tiger, but we must not go and face the animal. So it is true that God dwells even in the most wicked, but it is not meet that we should associate with the wicked.”

“As a boy holding to a post or a pillar whirls about it with headlong speed without any fear or falling, so perform your worldly duties, fixing your hold firmly upon God, and you will be free from danger.”

“Little children play with dolls in the outer room just as they like, without any care of fear or restraint; but as soon as their mother comes in, they throw aside their dolls and run to her crying, “Mamma, mamma.” You too, are now playing in this material world, infatuated with the dolls of wealth, honor, fame, etc., If however, you once see your Divine Mother, you will not afterwards find pleasure in all these. Throwing them all aside, you will run to her.”

“When an unbaked pot is broken, the potter can use the mud to make a new one; but when a baked one is broken, he cannot do the same any longer. So when a person dies in a state of ignorance, he is born again; but when he becomes well baked in the fire of true knowledge and dies a perfect man, he is not born again.”

“The world is impermanent. One should constantly remember death.”

“Disease is the tax which the soul pays for the body, as the tenant pays house-rent for the use of the house.”

“Meditate upon the Knowledge and Bliss Eternal , and you will also have bliss. The Bliss indeed is eternal, only it is covered and obscured by ignorance. The less your attachment is towards the senses, the more will be your love towards God.”

“If you first fortify yourself with the true knowledge of the Universal Self, and then live in the midst of wealth and worldliness, surely they will in no way affect you.”

“When one has love for God, one doesn’t feel any physical attraction to wife, children, relatives and friends. One retains only compassion for them.”

“All will surely realize God. All will be liberated. It may be that some get their meal in the morning, some at noon, and some in the evening; but none will go without food. All, without any exception, will certainly know their real Self.”

“As long as I live, so long do I learn.”


Mahatma Gandhi’s Tribute to Sri Ramakrishna

“Ramakrishna was a living embodiment of godliness. His saying are not those of a mere learned man but they are pages from the Book of Life. They are revelations of his own experiences. In this age of scepticism, Ramakrishna presents an example of bright and living faith, which gives solace to thousands of men and women who would otherwise have remained without spiritual light. Ramakrishna’s life was an object-lesson in Ahimsa. His love knew no limits, geographical or otherwise. May his divine love be an inspiration to all.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi


Invocation

May Sri Ramakrishna’s Universal Divine Love
inspire us to become ego-free Lovers of God;
To Self-realize that we are all equally Divine manifestations
of ONE Universal spirit – which is timeless LOVE.


And so may it be!

Ron Rattner

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