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Four classes of men
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
1882: M.'s third visit to the Master
Men may be divided into four classes - the bound, the seekers after liberation, the liberated and the ever-free:
In this creation of God there is a variety of things: men, animals, trees, plants. Among the animals some are good, some bad. There are ferocious animals like the tiger. Some trees bear fruit sweet as nectar, and others bear fruit that is poisonous. Likewise, among human beings, there are the good and the wicked, the holy and the unholy. There are some who are devoted to God, and others who are attached to the world.
Men may be divided into four classes: those bound by the fetters of the world, the seekers after liberation, the liberated, and the ever-free.
Among the ever-free we may count sages like Narada. They live in the world for the good of others, to teach men spiritual truth.
Those in bondage are sunk in worldliness and forgetful of God. Not even by mistake do they think of God.
The seekers after liberation want to free themselves from attachment to the world. Some of them succeed and others do not.
The liberated souls, such as the sadhus and mahatmas, are not entangled in the world, in 'woman and gold'. Their minds are free from worldliness. Besides, they always meditate on the Lotus Feet of God.
Suppose a net has been cast into a lake to catch fish. Some fish are so clever that they are never caught in the net. They are like the ever-free. But most of the fish are entangled in the net. Some of them try to free themselves from it, and they are like those who seek liberation. But not all the fish that struggle succeed. A very few do jump out of the net, making a big splash in the water. Then the fishermen shout, 'Look! There goes a big one!' But most of the fish caught in the net cannot escape, nor do they make any effort to get out. On the contrary, they burrow into the mud with the net in their mouths and lie there quietly, thinking, 'We need not fear any more; we are quite safe here.' But the poor things do not know that the fishermen will drag them out with the net. These are like the men bound to the world.
The bound souls are tied to the world by the fetters of 'woman and gold'. They are bound hand and foot. Thinking that 'woman and gold' will make them happy and give them security, they do not realize that it will lead them to annihilation. When a man thus bound to the world is about to die, his wife asks, 'You are about to go; but what have you done for me?' Again, such is his attachment to the things of the world that, when he sees the lamp burning brightly, he says: 'Dim the light. Too much oil is being used.' And he is on his death-bed!
The bound souls never think of God. If they get any leisure they indulge in idle gossip and foolish talk, or they engage in fruitless work. If you ask one of them the reason, he answers, 'Oh, I cannot keep still; so I am making a hedge.' When time hangs heavy on their hands they perhaps start playing cards.
There was deep silence in the room.
Nature of God:
- Getting overwhelmed with the sorrows of the world
- Goal of human life is to love God
- God alone is real, all else is illusory
Nature of Guru:
- God is with and without form
- God is our inner guide
- Communion with God is full of bliss
- God is our very own
- God creates both good and bad
- God gives the results of our actions
- God is like a magnet which attracts a pure mind
- In every age God incarnates Himself to teach humanity
Nature of Man:
- Satchidananda alone is the guru
Path to God:
- Four classes of men
- Nature of the ever-free
Things to avoid:
- Repeating God's name and singing His glories
- Keeping holy company
- Going into solitude and meditating on God
- Discriminating between the Real and the unreal
- Remembering God while performing worldly duties
- Crying to God with an intensely yearning heart
- Keeping away from the evil-minded
- Having tremendous faith in God
- Cultivating inner strength
- Earnestly praying to God
- Purifying the mind of impurities
- Following the instructions of the Guru
Signs of Spiritual Progress:
- Sin begets its own result
- One should avoid anger
- Hearing the name of God you shed tears
- Feeling that God alone is the doer and I am a mere instrument
- With deep yearning God may be realised by any path