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Home >> Seeker’s Solace  >> Know thyself: Discovery of the self
 

Know thyself: Discovery of the self

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Here, I am reminded of a beautiful story from the life of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.

You know when M–not me Sri M, but Mahendranath Gupta–was headmaster in a school in Calcutta, he went to meet Ramakrishna Paramahamsa–the unlettered Brahmin priest who lived in the temple of Kali.

An interesting conversation took place between them.

Ramakrishna asked Mahendranath Gupta: “Tell me, you are the educated Bengali. Tell me….bolun (speak), God is with form or without form? What do you think?” 

Mahendranath Gupta, being part of the educated elite of Bengal termed as ‘bhadralok’, said, “I believe in God without form.”

Ramakrishna asked: “Why?” M answered: “Because there can be no God in that clay image, which can be broken and thrown into the water.”

Ramakrishna said: “Okay, but this God with no form that you worship, is he an all-pervading God? Does he exist everywhere or only in a confined space somewhere?”

M replied: “Of course, he exists everywhere, he is all-pervading.”

Ramakrishna asked: “If he is all-pervading, why would you exclude him from the image, the clay image? Wouldn’t he be in the clay image too?”

M is perplexed at this question. This is the first time, in his experience, anyone had come up with such a point of view. But, soon he gets over it by saying, “Well, that is true, but we must teach people, the ignorant people, that it is God inside the image that they worship and not the image.”

Then, Ramakrishna laughs and says, “This is the problem with you (modern) Bengalis. You don’t know a thing yourself and you want to lecture others on what you know or what they should do.”

It also means that since ‘It’ is infinite, whatever that you are seeking cannot be confined to anything finite and, therefore, you cannot worship it exclusively from one point alone.


This deflates M’s ego totally, and he comes back to visit Sri Ramakrishna again. Then, he becomes a very close associate of Ramakrishna, and finally writes the ‘Gospel of Ramakrishna’, which is more like a report. He reported all that happened during his visits to Ramakrishna.

So, when you read the Upanishad, the Upanishad declares:

nedam yad idam upasate

Nothing that you worship here!

I am saying the most important thing is to understand that one who worships or respects or longs for anything, other than the ‘Truth’, cannot reach the ‘Truth’. It also means that since ‘It’ is infinite, whatever that you are seeking cannot be confined to anything finite and, therefore, you cannot worship it exclusively from one point alone. Since it is multi-dimensional, it can be worshipped from all sides.

It also means that when the mind is absolutely still, when it is no longer engaged in what we call ‘worship’–wherein every worship has a worshipper and the worshipped, or the thinker and the thing thought of–where the observer and the observed cease as a dual fact and becomes one, then what takes place is known as the discovery of the ‘Self’.

In that quietness, comes the discovery of the ‘Self’. 

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