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Do yourself what you wish others to do.

Paramahansa Ramakrishna

"Perform your duties in an unselfish spirit. Always try to perform your duties without desiring any result. All, without exception, perform work. Even to chant the name and glories of God is work, as is the meditation of the non-dualist on 'I am He'. Breathing is also an activity. There is no way of renouncing work altogether. So do your work, but surrender the result to God." - Paramahansa Ramakrishna

Devotee: You mean we can do the work of the world and also contemplate God?

Ramakrishna: Yes, you will do them both. You have to perform the work of the world, but from time to time go into solitude and pray that you can perform those activities without personal desire. Then you will say, "Hey, God, reduce my worldly desires because when I see that there is so much work in front of me, I forget you. I think that I am acting selflessly, but I actually have lots of desires." If you are pursuing name, gain, and fame, you cannot be free from desire.

"Devotion to God may be said to be 'green' so long as it doesn't grow into love of God; but it becomes 'ripe' when it has grown into such love. A man with 'green bhakti cannot assimilate spiritual talk and instruction; but one with 'ripe' bhakti can. The image that falls on a photographic plate covered with black film is retained. On the other hand, thousands of images may be refelected on a piece of bare glass, but not one of them is retained. As the object moves away, the glass becomes the same as it was before." - Sri Ramakrishna

"There are certain characteristics of God-vision. One sees light, feels joy, and experiences the upsurge of a great current in one's chest, like the bursting of a rocket."
- from "The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna" (Abridged Edition): The Master and Keshab

Once, Sri Ramakrishna was asked: "Where is God? How can we reach him?" Sri Ramakrishna replied: "Adopt adequate means for the end you seek to attain. You cannot get butter by crying, "There is butter in the milk!" If you wish to make butter, turn the milk into curds, and churn it well. Then alone can you get butter. Therefore, if you long to see God, practice spiritual exercises. Everything depends upon the will of the Lord. Effort is necessary for God-vision. There are pearls in the deep sea, but one must hazard all to find them. If diving once does not bring you pearls, you need not conclude that the sea has none. Dive again and again. You are sure to be rewarded in the end. So is it with the finding of the Lord. If your first attempt proves fruitless, do not lose heart. Persevere in your efforts. You are sure to realize him at last."

Ramakrishna: The devotion that sadhus derive from their sadhana is not the same as the devotion of worldly people. Worldly devotion always calculates, "I have to do this much japa. I have to sit for so many hours in meditation. I have to do that much worship." They keep an account of how much they do.
- from Ramakrishna The Nectar of Eternal Bliss Copyright 2005 Devi Mandir Publications First Edition


More are the names of God and infinite are the forms through which He may be approached. In whatever name and form you worship Him, through them you will realize Him.

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.

You see many stars in the sky at night, but not when the sun rises. Can you therefore say that there are no stars in the heavens during the day? Because you cannot find God in the days of your ignorance, say not that there is no God.

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, honour, 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.

As the cloud covers the sun, so Maya hides God. When the cloud moves away, the sun is seen again, when Maya is removed, God becomes manifest.

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.

Rain-water never stands on high ground, but runs down to the lowest level. So also the mercy of God remains in the hearts of the lowly, but drains off from those of the vain and the proud.

If you feel proud, let it be in the thought that you are the servent of God, the son of God. Great men have the nature of a child. They are always a child before Him; so they are free from pride. All their strength is of God and not their own. It belongs to Him and comes from Him.

To explain God after merely reading the scriptures is like explaining to a person the city of Benares after seeing it only in a map.

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

The nearer you come to God, the less you are disposed to questioning and reasoning. When you actually attain Him, when you behold Him as the reality, then all noise, all disputations, come to an end.

Sugar and sand may be mixed together, but the ant rejects the sand and carres away the grains of sugar. So the holy and pious men successfully sift the good from the bad.

The spiritually minded belong to a caste of their own, beyond all social conventions.

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.

Forgiveness is the true nature of the ascetic.

As a toy fruit or a toy elephant reminds one of the real fruit and the living animal, so do the images that are worshipped remind one of the God who is formless and eternal.

God comes not where reign timidity, hatred and fear.

A young plant should always be protected against goats and cows and the miscief of little urchins, by means of a fence. But when it becomes a big tree, a flock of goats or a herd of cows can freely find shelter under its spreading boughs and fill their stomachs with their leaves. So when your faith is yet in its infancy, you should protect it from the evil influences of bad company. But when you grow strong in faith, no worldliness or evil inclination will dare approach your holy presence; and many who are wicked will become godly through their holy contact with you.

In a potter's shop there are vessels of different shapes and forms — pots, jars, dishes, plates, etc., — but all are made of the same clay. So God is one, but He is worshipped in different ages and climes under different names and aspects.

One can ascend the top of a house by means of a ladder or a bamboo or a staircase or a rope; so too, diverse are the ways of approaching God, and each religion in the world shows one of the ways.

He who has faith has all, and he who lacks faith lacks all.

As one thinks, so does one become.

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

It is very pleasant to scratch an itching ring-worm, but the sensation one gets afterwards is very painful and intolerable. In the same way the pleasures of this world are very attractive in the beginning, but their consequences are terrible to contemplate and hard to endure.

To drink pure water from a shallow pond one should gently take the water from the surface without disturbing the pond in the least. If it is disturbed, the sediments rise up and make the whole water muddy. If you desire to be pure, have firm faith, and slowly go on with your devotional practices, without wasting your energy in useless scriptural discussions and arguments. Your little brain will otherwise be muddled.

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.

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

It is immaterial whether one believes or not that Radha and Krishna were incarnations of God. One may believein God's incarnation. Or one may not believei His assuming form, human or otherwise. But let all have a yearning for this Anuraga (intense love for the Lord). This intense love is the one thing needful.

As water, when congealed, becomes ice, so also the visible form of the Almighty is the materialised manifestation of the all-prevading formless Brahman. It may be called in fact Sachchidananda (Existance - Knowledge - Bliss Absolute) solidified. As the ice, which is a part and parcel of water, remains in water and afterwards melts into it, so the Personal God, Who is a part and parcel of the Impersonal, rises from the Impersonal, remains there, and ultimately merges into It and disappears.

As the shell, the pith and the kernel of the fruit are all produced form one parent seed of the tree, so from the one Lord is produced the whole of creation, animate and inanimate, spiritual and material.

A jar kept in water is full of water inside and outside. Thus the soul immersed in God sees the all-prevading Spirit within and without.

When the head of a goat is severed from its body, the trunk struggles for some time, still showing signs of life. Similarly, though ahamkara (egotism) is slain in the perfect man, yet enough of its vitality is left to make him carry on the functions of physical life; but it is not sufficient to bind him again into the world.

The body is born, and it will have to die. But there is no death to the soul. When the betel-nut is ripe, the nut seperates from the outer case, but it is very difficult to seperate it while the nut is green. When God is attained, there dawns the conciousness that the soul is separate from the body.

When the tail of the tadpole drops off, it can live both in water and on land. When the tail of delusive ignorance drops off from man, he becomes free. He can then live in God and the world equally well.

Do yourself what you wish others to do.

Reality with attributes, saguna Brahman, has been unanimously declared by the Vedas, Puranas, and Tantras to be Mahakali, the primordial energy of awareness. Her Energy is like the rays of the sun. The original sun is attributeless Reality, nirguna Brahman, boundless Awareness alone. Proceed to the Original through its Radiance. Awaken to non-dual Reality through Mother Kali. She holds the key.

My Mother is the principle of consciousness. She is akhanda satchidananda; indivisible Reality, Awareness, and Bliss. The night sky between the stars is perfectly black. The waters of the ocean depths are the same. The infinite is always mysteriously dark. This inebriating darkness is my beloved Kali....

Think of Brahman, Existance, Knowledge - Bliss Absolute, as a shoreless ocean. Through the cooling influence, as it were, of the bhakta's love, the water has frozen at places into blocks of ice. In other words, God now and then assumes various forms for His lovers and reveals Himself to them as a Person.

The one goal of life is to cultivate love for God, the love that the milkmaids, the milkmen, and the cowherd boys of VrindAvan felt for Krishna. When Krishna went away to Mathura, the cowherds roamed about weeping bitterly because of their separation from Him.

Live in the world like a waterfowl. The water clings to the bird, but the bird shakes it off. Live in the world like a mudfish. The fish lives in the mud, but its skin is always bright and shiny.

He who is called Brahman by the jnanis is known as Atman by the yogis and as Bhagavan by the bhaktas. The same brahmin is called priest, when worshipping in the temple, and cook, when preparing a meal in the kitchen. The jnani, following the path of knowledge, always reason about the Reality saying, 'not this, not this.' Brahman is neither 'this' nor 'that'; It is neither the universe nor its living beings. Reasoning in this way, the mind becomes steady. Finally it disappears and the aspirant goes into samadhi. This is the Knowledge of Brahman. It is the unwavering conviction of the jnani that Brahman alone is real and the world is illusory. All these names and forms are illusory, like a dream. What Brahman is cannot be described. One cannot even say that Brahman is a Person. This is the opinion of the jnanis, the followers of Vedanta. But the bhaktas accept all the states of consciousness. They take the waking state to be real also. They don't think the world to be illusory, like a dream. They say that the universe is a manifestation of the God's power and glory. God has created all these - sky, stars, moon, sun, mountains, ocean, men, animals. They constitute His glory. He is within us, in our hearts. Again, He is outside. The most advanced devotees say that He Himself has become all this - the 24 cosmic principles, the universe, and all living beings. The devotee of God wants to eat sugar, and not become sugar. Do you know how a lover of God feels? His attitude is: 'O God, Thou art the Master, and I am Thy servant. Thou art the Mother, and I Thy child.' Or again: 'Thou art my Father and Mother. Thou art the Whole, and I am a part.' He does not like to say, 'I am Brahman.' They yogi seeks to realize the Paramatman, the Supreme Soul. His ideal is the union of the embodied soul and the Supreme Soul. He withdraws his mind from sense objects and tries to concentrate on the Paramatman. Therefore, during the first stage of his spiritual discipline, he retires into solitude and with undivided attention practices meditation in a fixed posture. But the reality is one and the same; the difference is only in name. He who is Brahman is verily Atman, and again, He is the Bhagavan. He is Brahman to the followers of the path of knowledge, Paramatman to the yogis, and Bhagavan to the lovers of God.

Man cannot really help the world. God alone does that - He who has created the sun and the moon, who has put love for their children in parents' hearts, endowed noble souls with compassion, and holy men and devotees with divine love. The man who works for others, without any selfish motive, really does good to himself.

A man cannot realize God unless he gets rid of all such egoistic ideas as 'I am such an important man' or 'I am so and so'. Level the mound of 'I' to the ground by dissolving it with the tears of devotion.

Can you weep for Him with intense longing of heart? Men shed a jugful of tears for the sake of their children, for their wives, or for money. But who weeps for God?

Whatever appears in the Pure Mind is the voice of God. That which is Pure Mind is also Pure Buddhi; that, again, is Pure Atman, because there is nothing pure but God.

God is realized as soon as the mind becomes free from attachment. But in order to realize God one must go beyond dharma and adharma.

Knowledge leads to unity; ignorance to diversity.

Once a man realizes God through intense dispassion, he is no longer attached to woman. Even if he must lead the life of a householder, he is free from fear of and attachment to woman. Suppose there are two magnets, one big and the other small. Which one will attract the iron? The big one,of course. God is the big magnet. Compared to Him, woman is a small one. He who has realized God does not look upon a woman with the eye of lust; so he is not afraid of her. He perceives clearly that women are but so many aspects of the Divine Mother. He worships them all as the Mother Herself.

God is realized by following the path of truth. One should always chant His name. Even while one is performing one's duties, the mind should be left with God.

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 the real Self. * It is said that truthfulness alone constitutes the spiritual discipline of the Kaliyuga. If a man clings tenaciously to Truth he ultimately realizes God.

To be humble is to be on the first leg of the journey to purity. The humble has yet to be on the first leg of the journey to purity. The humble has yet to be pure. He is on the way to it. One cannot be pure without being humble, because there is no greater impurity than ego."

Spiritual discipline is necessary in order to see God. I had to pass through very severe discipline. How many austerities I practised under the bel-tree! I would lie down under it, crying to the Divine Mother, 'O Mother, reveal Thyself to me.' The tears would flow in torrents and soak my body.

The great Goal can never be reached unless a man makes his mind strong and firmly resolves that he must realize God in this very birth, nay, in this very moment.

God can be realized through all paths. All religions are true. The important thing is to reach the roof. You can reach it by stone stairs or by wooden stairs or by bamboo steps or by a rope. You can also climb up by a bamboo pole. * The formless Absolute is my Father, and God with form is my Mother. God reveals Himself in the form which His devotee loves most. His love for the devotee knows no bounds.

If you desire to be pure, have firm faith, and slowly go on with your devotional practices without wasting your energy in useless scriptural discussions and arguments. Your little brain will otherwise be muddled.

A poor devotee points to the sky and says, "God is up there." An average devotee says, "God dwells in the heart as the Inner Master." The best devotee says, "God alone is and everything I perceive is a form of God."

- Sri Ramakrishna

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