Sri Ramakrishna

Sri Ramakrishna was a spiritual master and teacher who lived in India during the late 1800's. One of his followers, Swami Vivekananda, was one of the first to bring the philosophical ideas of Hinduism to America and the Western world.

Sri Ramakrishna had achieved a state of consciousness where he experienced God in everything. He said that he could see that "It is God who has become everything." Just the mention or sight of something that reminded him of God could cause him to start experiencing the "Sat, Chit, Ananda" or existence, consciousness and bliss of God. Once he was taken to the zoo, and when he saw the lion, it reminded him of God's majesty and he immediately went into "samadhi", the state of experiencing God directly.

When Swami Vivekananda, whose name was Naren, was a young skeptical college student studying Western philosophy, he began asking Hindu spiritual teachers if they had seen God directly, because he wanted proof. They all dodged the question until he met Sri Ramakrishna and asked him, "Sir, have you seen God?" Sri Ramakrishna replied, "Yes, I have seen God. I have seen Him more tangibly than I see you. I have talked to Him more intimately than I am talking to you. But, my child, who wants to see God? People shed jugs of tears for money, wife, and children. But if they would weep for God for only one day they would surely see Him."

In the following story, Sri Ramakrishna is seated with a group of his followers:

"The song came to an end; but its few words so sung by the Master, generated waves of spirituality, which filled the room for a long time and was palpably felt like a presence by all. All were still and lost themselves in the spiritual mood: "It is God alone who is our own, we offer our hearts and lives to Him. May He bestow his compassion on us and reveal Himself to us." When the Master's ecstasy came to an end a little later, he sat by the side of Manimohan and said, "Ah! What burning pain is there on earth which can compare with grief at the death of a son? A son is born of this sheath (body); isn't he? So his relation with the body persists as long as it lasts." Saying so, the Master began to describe to him the death of Akshay as an example, so touchingly that it seemed as if he was visualising before his eyes the death of his relatives. He said, "Akshay died. I felt nothing at the time. I was standing and was witnessing how man dies. I saw there was, as it were, a sword in a sheath and the sword was brought out of it. The sword was not affected at all. It remained as it was and the sheath lay there. I felt great joy to see it. I laughed and sang and danced. They then burnt the body and returned. The next day I was standing there (pointing to the verandah to the east of the room and near the courtyard of the Kali temple), and do you know what I felt? I felt as if my heart was being wrung in the way a wet towel is wrung. My heart was feeling for Akshay like that. I thought, "Mother (addressing God as the Divine Mother), this (his body) has no relation with even the cloth it wears; ah, how great was then the relation with the nephew. When it is so even here (with himself), how agonizing the pain must be to the householders! Thou art showing that, aren't you?"

"But do you know?" continued the Master, a little later, "Those who take refuge in Him do not go down to the bottom even on account of this unbearable grief. They regain their balance, but after a few tossings. Persons of small capacity, like small vessels, lose their control, their balance, altogether and go down. Haven't you noticed the plight of the small fishing boats when steamers pass through the Ganga (river)? It looks as if they are lost and are gone. Some are capsized altogether. The bigger vessels, carrying tons of load regain their balance after a few tossings. But a toss or two must be felt by all."