Paths of knowledge and devotion
A NEIGHBOUR: "Revered sir, what are the doctrines of Vedanta?"
Sri Ramakrishna: "The Vedantist says, 'I am He.' Brahman is real and the world illusory. Even the 'I' is illusory. Only the Supreme Brahman exists.
"But the 'I' cannot be got rid of. Therefore it is good to have the feeling, 'I am the servant of God, His son, His devotee.'
"For the Kāli Yuga the path of bhakti is especially good. One can realize God through bhakti too. As long as one is conscious of the body, one is also conscious of objects. Form, taste, smell, sound, and touch-these are the objects. It is extremely difficult to get rid of the consciousness of objects. And one cannot realize 'I am He' as long as one is aware of objects.
"The sannyasi is very little conscious of worldly objects. But the householder is always engrossed in them. Therefore it is good for him to feel, 'I am the servant of God.'"
Guru and Ishta
MR. CHOUDHURY: "Sir, is it not possible to have the vision of God without the help of a guru?"
Sri Ramakrishna: "Satchidananda Himself is the Guru. At the end of the Shavasadhana, just when the vision of the Ishta is about to take place, the guru appears before the aspirant and says to him, 'Behold! There is your Ishta.' Saying this, the guru merges in the Ishta. He who is the guru is also the Ishta. The guru is the thread that leads to God. Women perform a ritualistic worship known as the 'Ananta-vrata', the object of worship being the Infinite. But actually the Deity worshipped is Vishnu. In Him are the 'infinite' forms of God.
(To Ram and the other devotees) "If you asked me which form of God you should meditate upon, I should say: Fix your attention on that form which appeals to you most; but know for certain that all forms are the forms of one God alone.
"Never harbour malice toward anyone. Śiva, Kāli, and Hari are but different forms of that One. He is blessed indeed who has known all as one. Outwardly he appears as Śiva's devotee, But in his heart he worships Kāli, the Blissful Mother, And with his tongue he chants aloud Lord Hari's name.
"The body does not endure without a trace of lust, anger, and the like. You should try to reduce them to a minimum."
Looking at Kedār, the Master said: "He is very nice. He accepts both the Absolute and the Relative. He believes in Brahman, but he also accepts the gods and Divine Incarnations in human form."
In Kedār's opinion Sri Ramakrishna was such an Incarnation.
Looking at Nityagopal, the Master said to the devotees, "He is in a lofty mood.
(To Nityagopal) "Don't go there too often. You may go once in a while. She may be a devotee, but she is a woman too. Therefore I warn you.
"The sannyasi must observe very strict discipline. He must not look even at the picture of a woman. But this rule doesn't apply to householders. An aspirant should not associate with a woman, even though she is very much devoted to God. A sannyasi, even though he may have subdued his passions, should follow this discipline to set an example to householders.
"Worldly people learn renunciation by seeing the complete renunciation of a monk; otherwise they sink more and more. A sannyasi is a world teacher."
Source: Sri Ramakrishna Jivan Charitra, Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by M