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Going into solitude and meditating on God
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
February 1882: M.'s second visit to the Master
1. It is most necessary to go into solitude now and then and think of God:
M. (humbly): Yes, sir. How, sir, may we fix our minds on God?
MASTER: Repeat God's name and sing His glories, and keep holy company; and now and then visit God's devotees and holy men. The mind cannot dwell on God if it is immersed day and night in worldliness, in worldly duties and responsibilities; it is most necessary to go into solitude now and then and think of God. To fix the mind on God is very difficult, in the beginning, unless one practises meditation in solitude. When a tree is young it should be fenced all around; otherwise it may be destroyed by cattle. To meditate, you should withdraw within yourself or retire to a secluded corner or to the forest. And you should always discriminate between the Real and the unreal. God alone is real, the Eternal Substance; all else is unreal, that is, impermanent. By discriminating thus, one should shake off impermanent objects from the mind.
2. One must go into solitude to attain divine love:
But one must go into solitude to attain this divine love. To get butter from milk you must let it set into curd in a secluded spot; if it is too much disturbed, milk won't turn into curd. Next, you must put aside all other duties, sit in a quiet spot, and churn the curd. Only then do you get butter.
Further, by meditating on God in solitude the mind acquires knowledge, dispassion, and devotion. But the very same mind goes downward if it dwells in the world. In the world there is only one thought: 'woman and gold'.
The world is water and the mind milk. If you pour milk into water they become one; you cannot find the pure milk any more. But turn the milk into curd and churn it into butter. Then, when that butter is placed in water, it will float. So, practise spiritual discipline in solitude and obtain the butter of knowledge and love. Even if you keep that butter in the water of the world the two will not mix. The butter will float.
3. Living in solitude now and then as a means to see God:
M: Is it possible to see God?
MASTER: Yes, certainly. Living in solitude now and then, repeating God's name and singing His glories, and discriminating between the Real and the unreal – these are the means to employ to see Him.
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