“Yearning for God does not come until and unless a person has satisfied his cravings for mundane objects, renounced all attachment to lust and gold, and shunned worldly comforts and enjoyments like filth. How many people are restless for God-realization? People shed jug full of tears for their wives, children, or money, but who weeps for God? He who longs for Him certainly will find Him. Cry to Him. Call on Him with a longing heart. You will see Him.” They Lived with God: Life Stories of Some Devotees of Sri Ramakrishna Ch 7 Manomohan Mitra, p 115
Above quote is an excellent description of the longing for God. We weep and cry for our wife and children and live a life of fear for losing the gold and wealth we have! Attachments with all these are seen as sources of stress, anxiety and unhappiness. Longing for God begins with non-attachment from all that is worldly like the wife, children, money, etc. As a counter balance to this non-attachment from all worldly objects, we need something else to hang on to. Religion and theology tells us that God, the all pervasive, Omnipresent, Eternal and Objective source is the one to hang to. “Any one who longs for Him certainly will find Him”.
Excerpts like the above fail to provide the context adequately. Solely based on the quote and not being aware of the totality of his teachings one may assume that Sri Ramakrishna was very rigid in his approach to teach his devotees. This is not the case in reality. His teachings were tailored to the spiritual maturity of each devotee coupled with their worldly responsibilities. He used to tell his devotees in family life to pursue their duties while keeping their mind in God.
Developing spiritual maturity is an individual responsibility. It is part of Spirituality in Practice. We can look at the above quote with an intent to further our spiritual maturity.
Let us reflect for a moment a person in family life, living in any community. His wife, children or money – are they his sources of stress, anxiety and unhappiness? It is an opinion based on our superficial observation that requires further analysis. It is like blaming a stone by stating “this stone tripped me causing my injury, pain and suffering!” Did the stone really trip you? Stone is an inertial object, incapable of moving or impacting anyone or anything. It requires my foot and its impact against the stone to trip me! Where did this motion of my foot in that direction at that moment come from? Because I did not see the stone before! My ignorant mind gave my foot a command to move in a certain direction resulting in my getting tripped resulting in pain and injury. Any objective observer will know this simple truth.
In fact, every aspect of our pain and suffering can be traced back to our mind and its attachment to something it knows and something else it does not know or believes to be true based on partial knowledge. When my mind is still – at peace, non-attached – things around me continue to happen, but “I” am non-attached. One can experience this non-attachment when your brain and its functions are sedated (under Anesthesia). In that state the body feels no pain even when it is cut by a surgeon’s knife! But, can my mind remain unattached to anything and hence feel no pain or pleasure without my brain being anesthetized? Vedanta offers a simple approach for this.
Returning to our example of tripping on the stone, let us ask the question, “who really tripped me?” Not the stone alone, or my foot, my eyes looking elsewhere, my brain nor my mind. It is the way it happened where everything had a part. But collectively it is part of nature. When I accept this view – “na ithi bhavam”: Not this attitude – we also see all that is involved. Of course my pleasure and pain comes from many sources and reasons that include wife, children, money, etc. . But, through sustained analysis – “na ithi bhavam”: Not this attitude – blame or responsibility shifts from anything or anyone specific to a collective view that it is all part of nature: Sarvam Brahma Mayam.
The more my mind is trained and focused to look at all that happens as part of nature, we are more objective and non-judgmental. We are able to see the full picture and proceed accordingly. We are at peace, calm and tranquil. We want to get united with the all pervasive, Omnipresent, Eternal and Objective source. Is there anyone like that? Can we get attached and emulate that Person? Our longing and its intensity increases. Religion and theology tells us this void can be filled by God.
Philosophy tells us that as this void and longing – to be relentlessly objective and eternally focused to remain as part of nature – increases, we see increasing Divinity in our action and way of living. We live the life of God with increasing non-attachment and less perturbations, anguish and tumult in our daily life, while living with all aspects of nature. That includes wife, children and money!
Yearning for God through the religious path requires us to accept God as “someone else”. We accept and worship that God! We surrender to that God, His mercy and blessings! Yearning for God through a reflective approach transforms us into a better person (more Divine in our thoughts and way of life). We see God in us. We live the life of God through Divinity in daily life. We accept and worship wife, children and money as the extensions of God within, part of God’s family (Vasudeva Kudumbham). Perhaps they are not two separate pathways? Instead they are two sides of a coin, integral and inseparable!
Thanks to my good friend Dr. Sankaran.
His insightful comments were helpful to set the proper context as part of this essay!
Wonderful way explaining. Throughly enjoyed reading and assimilating. Thanks Subbu for sharing. Nagesh