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The Essays of Brother Anonymous
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Contents

Harmlessness (Ahimsa)
Health
The Heart - The Lord tests the purity of the heart
The Heart - The Lord looks upon it through the Eye of God
The Heart - Keeping it pure - See also Purity - God visits the souls of the pure in heart
The Heart - Opening it
The Heart - The Father "dwells" in the spiritual heart (hridayam)
The Heart - Within it is the Father revealed
The Heart - Heart vs. mind
The Heart – Sri Ramana Maharshi on the nature of the spiritual heart or hridayam – See Contemplatives (Solitaries, Hermits, Recluses)
Hermits – See Contemplatives (Solitaries, Hermits, Recluses)
Householders
Householders - Can they attain God?
Householders – True householder devotees are heroes
Householders – Fighting from within the fortress
Householders – But the householder’s path is extremely difficult
Householders – Their practice is inconsistent and lukewarm
Householders – They fail to arrive at discrimination
Householders – Non-dualistic attitude inappropriate
Householders – Face the same task as monks
Householders – For a few householders, total renunciation may become desirable
Householders – But for most, total renunciation is inappropriate
Householders – They must perform their duties
Householders – How long must they perform worldly duties?
Householders – How much attention should go to worldly duties?
Householders – Have faith in the words of the guru – See also Guru – One must have faith in the words of the guru
Householders – Practice constantly
Householders – As a minimum, develop devotion before entering the world
Householders – It would be best to realize God before entering the world
Householders – But, whatever the case, live in the world detached
Householders – Cling to God
Householders – Spend some time in solitude
Householders – Live in the company of holy men >
Householders – Contribute to monks and devotees
Householders – Marriage and family
Householders – They owe a debt to the chaste spouse and religious family
Householders – Give up the spouse who stands in the way of spirituality
Householders – Sexuality – See Sexuality
Householders – Sri Ramakrishna’s prayer to the Mother
How You Treat Others
Human Level
Human Nature - The difference between God and man
Human Nature -- Humans made in the image of God - See The Self - It is made in the image of the Father
Human Nature - The human condition
Humility



Harmlessness (Ahimsa)

If you do not harm anyone in this world … no one will harm you. The reflection in the mirror shows exactly the same face that you make at it. (Durga Charan Nag, or Nag Mahasay, in TLWG, 222.)

Health

The constant desire for health and prosperity, which is so much harped upon in modern spiritual organizations, is the way to slavery. We must seek God first and then find health and prosperity through Him. Beggars get only a beggar's share, whereas a son of God gets his son's share. That is why Jesus spoke of seeking and knowing the kingdom of God first. When that is actually accomplished, then health and prosperity will be added. The acquirement of wisdom and everything else that the soul of man needs will be received as a matter of his Divine birthright. (Paramahansa Yogananda, SCC, 1, 42.)

The Heart - The Lord tests the purity of the heart

I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his doings. (Jeremiah 17:10.)

The Lord seeth not as man seeth: for man looketh on the outside appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. (I Samuel 16:7.)

The Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts. (I Chronicles 28.)

Thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. (I Chronicles 29.)

Thy Father ... seeth in secret. (Jesus in Matthew 6:4.)

Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? (Matthew 9:4.)

And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit (1) that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? (Mark 2:8.)

(1) In his soul, Self or Christ.

Your Lord has knowledge of what they hide in their bosoms and what they say aloud. (Koran, 85.)

Verily, the Lord looks into a man's heart and does not judge him by what he does or where he lives. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 204.)

The Heart - The Lord looks upon it through the Eye of God

God is aware of all they do, both what is public and also what is hidden. (Zarathustra in GZ, 146.)

When ... deluded..., a desparate sinner may draw near to fame, but the Lord knows (his) real worth, being aware (of it) through the Best Mind. (1) (Zarathustra in GZ, 194.)

(1) That is, the Self in the heart.

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, (1) beholding the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3.)

(1) The Self is in every heart, and the Lord is that Self. Therefore the eyes of the Lord are in every place.
For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings. (Proverbs 5:21.)

Thine eyes are open upon all the works of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruits of his doings. (Jeremiah 32:19.)

For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes. (Jeremiah 17:17.)

The Lord looketh from heaven; (1) he beholdeth all the sons of men. (2)

From the place of his habitation (3) he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.

He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.

... Behold, the eye of the Lord (4) is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;

To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. (Psalm 33:13-5 and 18.)

(1) Through the Self.
(2) The same Self in the hearts of all men.
(3) In the heart.
(4) The Self.

Verily, the Lord looks into a man’s heart and does not judge him by what he does or where he lives. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 204.)

The Heart - Keeping it pure - See also Purity - God visits the souls of the pure in heart

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (1) (Proverbs 4:23.)

(1) The most important "issue" being enlightenment.

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Jesus in Matthew 6:21.)

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. (Jesus in Matthew 12:34.)

Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

These are the things which defile a man. (Jesus in Matthew 15:18-20.)

The Treasury of the Heart is the Library of God. Let him not allow thoughts other than those concerning God to enter. (Ibn Arabi, KK, 41.)

The heart is a divine ka'aba. Whoever allows thoughts not concerning God to enter there fills his heart with idols. (Ibn Arabi quoting a hadith, KK, 42.)

It is necessary to keep the heart pure from things that are unfitting to God's satisfaction; it is necessary to purify it from bad memories; the heart of the servant is the treasury or the library of God; Man is its custodian. Every reflection other than God is a thief and bandit. (Ibn Arabi, KK, 41.)

The Heart - Opening it

Now you are in your heart. Now you are in the silence from which all sound comes. Like a boat on the ocean you feel the waves swell beneath you. And you move with the waves, yet you know you are not the waves. Thoughts come and go, yet you know you are not the thoughts. Some # thoughts propel you further out than others, yet still you can return to your center. Like a large wave, a particular thought may be charged with emotion, yet if you remain where you are, the emotion will subside. Now you know you can abide the ebb and flow of the tide, moving out and moving in, feeling the contraction and expansion of thought. (Paul Ferrini, SOH, 10-1.)

Observing silence, and breathing deeply and gently is the easiest way to open the heart. You can also open it through sacred dancing and movements which incorporate the breath and encourage gratitude and presence in the moment. The method you use to fall into the heart is just a tool. Do not make it important. What is important is that you find a way to access the deeper aspect of your being which is at peace.

There is no human being who is incapable of reaching this state of open awareness and compassion. However, very few people know that this capacity for peace exists in them. (Paul Ferrini, SOH, 11.)

The Heart - The Father "dwells" in the spiritual heart (hridayam)

Within the city of Brahman, which is the body, there is the heart, (1) and within the heart there is a little house. This house has the shape of a lotus, and within it dwells that which is to be sought after, inquired about, and realized. (UPAN, 74.)

(1) Not the Heart Chakra, but the hridayam.
The ancient, effulgent being, in-dwelling Spirit, (1) [is] deep-hidden in the lotus of the heart. (UPAN, 17.)

(1) The Self.

Smaller than the smallest, greater than the greatest, this Self forever dwells within the hearts of all. (UPAN, 18.)

Both the individual self and the Universal Self have entered the cave of the heart, the abode of the Most High. (UPAN, 19.)

He who ... sees [the Atman] inhabiting the lotus of the heart, living among physical elements, sees Brahman indeed. For this First-Born is the immortal self. (UPAN, 21.)

The Supreme Person, ... the Innermost Self, dwells forever in the heart of all beings. (UPAN, 24.)

The Self exists in man, within the lotus of the heart, and is the master of his life and of his body. (UPAN, 46.)

Within the lotus of the heart (1) he dwells, where, like the spokes of a wheel in its hub, the nerves meet. Meditate on him as OM. Easily mayest thou cross the ocean of darkness. (UPAN, 46.)

(1) Hridayam.

I am the Lord in the midst of the earth. (1) (Exodus 8:22.)

(1) "In the midst of the earth" = In the center of the body; that is, in the Heart.

The devoted ... know Him always
There in the heart,
Where action is not.
(Sri Krishna in BG, 59.)

There in the ignorant heart ... I dwell. (Sri Krishna in BG, 87.)

The fire (1) shall ever be burning upon the altar; (2) it shall never go out. (Leviticus 6:13.)

(1) The Father or Self.
(2) The Heart.

The Lord is in his holy temple: (1) let all the earth keep silence before him. (2) (Habakkuk 2:20.)

(1) The body; more specifically, the Heart.
(2) Silently meditate on Him.

Oh, Lord, dweller within;
You are the light in the heart's lotus.
(Shankara in CJD, i.)

Here, within this body, in the pure mind, in the secret chamber of intelligence, in the infinite universe within the heart, the Atman (1) shines in its captivating splendour, like a noonday sun. (Shankara in CJD, 53.)

(1) The Self.

The Atman, which is pure consciousness, is the light that shines in the shrine of the heart, the center of all vital force. (Shankara in CJD, 63.)

The Atman is ... the real I, hidden in the shrine of the heart. (Shankara in CJD, 69.)

The first step to self-knowledge is to know that thou art composed of an outward shape, called the body, and an inward entity called the heart, or soul. (1) By "heart" I do not mean the piece of flesh situated in the left of our bodies, but that which uses all the other faculties as its instruments and servants. In truth it does not belong to the visible world, but to the invisible, and has come into this world as a traveller visits a foreign country for the sake of merchandise, and will presently return to its native land. It is the knowledge of this entity and its attributes which is the key to the knowledge of God. (Al-Ghazzali, AH, 21.)

(1) Al-Ghazzali here equates the hridayam or heart with the Self.

There is something nearer to us than Scriptures, to wit, the Lord in the heart to which all Scriptures come. (William Penn in PP, 14.)

God, the true Philosopher's Stone,
Who answers every prayer,
Lies hidden deep within your heart,
The richest gem of all.
(Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 235.)

The heart of the devotee is the abode of God. He dwells, no doubt, in all beings, but He especially manifests Himself in the heart of the devotee. A landlord may at one time or another visit all parts of his estate, but people say he is generally to be found in a particular drawing-room. The heart of the devotee is the drawing-room of God. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 133.)

The Heart - Within it is the Father revealed

In the heart is he revealed, through self-control and meditation. (UPAN, 24.)

Within the heart art thou revealed to those that seek thee. (UPAN, 54.)

To him who sees the Self revealed in his own heart belongs eternal bliss -- to none else, to none else! (UPAN, 23.)

The heart-enshrined Self .. is verily Brahman. I, who worship the Self within the lotus of my heart, will attain him at death. (UPAN, 65.)

He who seeks union with [Brahman] must meditate upon it within the shrine of the heart. (Shankara in CJD, 75.)

The heart is a pearl (1) which looks at God.
The heart is the place of manifestation of the Name and the Named.
(Ibn Arabi, KK, 43.)

(1) A pearl of great price.

The Heart - Heart vs. mind

If knowledge is the widest power of the consciousness and its function is to free and illumine, yet love is the deepest and most intense and its privilege is to be the key to the most profound and secret recesses of the Divine Mystery. Man, because he is a mental being, is prone to give the highest importance to the thinking mind and its reason and will and to its way of approach.... The heart with its emotions and incalculable movements is to the eye of [the human] intellect an obscure, uncertain and often a perilous and misleading power which needs to be kept in control by the reason and the mental will and intelligence. And yet there is in the heart or behind it a profounder mystic light which, if not what we call intuition -- for that, though not of the mind, yet descends through the mind -- has yet a direct touch upon Truth and is nearer to the Divine than the human intellect in its pride of knowledge. According to the ancient teaching the seat of the immanent Divine, the hidden Purusha, is in the mystic heart, -- the secret heart-cave, hridaye guhayam, as the Upanishads put it, -- and, according to the experience of many Yogins, it is from its depths that there comes the voice or breath of the inner oracle.

This ambiguity, these opposing appearances of depth and blindness are created by the double character of the human emotive being. For there is in front in men a heart of vital emotion...; its emotions are governed by egoistic passion, blind instinctive affections and the play of the life-impulses with their imperfections, perversions, often sordid degradations, -- ... given over to the lusts, desires, wraths, intense or fierce demands or little greeds and mean pettinesses of an obscure and fallen life-force and debased by its slavery to any and every impulse. This mixture of the emotive heart and the sensational hungering vital creates in man a false soul of desire; it is this that is the crude and dangerous element which the reason rightly distrusts and feels a need to control.... But the true soul of man is not there; it is in the true invisible heart hidden in some luminous cave of the nature: there under some filtration of the divine Light is our soul, a silent inmost being of which few are even aware; for if all have a soul, few are conscious of their true soul or feel its direct impulse. There dwells the little spark of the Divine which supports this obscure mass of our nature and around it grows the psychic being, the formed soul or the real Man within us. (Sri Aurobindo, SOY, 140-1.)

In our culture, "heart" is considered to be something quite distinct from "mind," the latter usually referring to our rational, thinking capacity. In the Eastern traditions, however, the word "heart" does not mean emotions or sentimental feelings. In Buddhism, the words "heart" and "mind" are part of the same reality ( citta in Sanskrit). In fact, when Buddhists refer to mind, they point not to the head, but to the chest. The mind that the Eastern traditions are interested in is not the thinking capacity, but rather what the Zen master Suzuki Roshi called "big mind": a fundamental openness and clarity which resonates directly with the world around us. This big mind is not created or possessed by anyone's ego; rather, it is a universal wakefulness that any human being can tap into. The rational thinking apparatus we know so well in the West is, in this perspective, "small mind." The mind which is one with the heart is a much larger kind of awareness that surrounds the normally narrow focus of our attention.

We could define heart here as that "part" of us where we can be touched -- by the world and other people. Letting ourselves be touched in the heart gives rise to expansive feelings of appreciation for others. Here is where heart connects with big mind. For we an only appreciate others if we can first of all see them as clearly as they are, in all their humanness, apart from our ideas and misconceptions about them. In seeing and letting ourselves be touched by the humanness in others, we come to realize that we are not so different from them (at heart). This gives rise to real compassion, considered by many Eastern traditions to be the noblest of human feelings. Awakening the heart, then, involves a double movement: both letting others into us, which allows us to appreciate their humanness, and going out to meet them more fully. ... Heart is not only the open, receptive dimension of our being, but also an active, expansive opening out to the world. (John Welwood, AHT, viii-ix.)

The Heart – Sri Ramana Maharshi on the nature of the spiritual heart or hridayam – See Contemplatives (Solitaries, Hermits, Recluses)

D. Sri Bhagavan speaks of the Heart as the seat of Consciousness and as identical with the Self. What does the Heart exactly signify?

M. The question about the Heart arises because you are interested in seeking the Source of consciousness. To all deep-thinking minds, the enquiry about the ‘I’ and its nature has an irresistible fascination.

Call it by any name, God, Self, the Heart or the Seat of Consciousness, it is all the same. The point to be grasped is this, that HEART means the very Core of one’s being, the Centre, without which there is nothing whatever.

D. But Sri Bhagavan has specified a particular place for the Heart within the physical body, that it is in the chest, two digits to the right from the meridian.

M. Yes, that is the Centre of spiritual experience according to the testimony of Sages. The spiritual Heart-centre is quite different from the blood- propelling, muscular organ known by the same name. The spiritual Heart-centre is not an organ of the body. All that you can say of the Heart is that it is the very Core of your being, that which you are really identical (as the word in Sanskrit literally means), whether you are awake, asleep or dreaming, whether you are engaged in work or immersed in Samadhi.

D. In that case, how can it be localized in any part of the body? Fixing a place for the Heart would be simply setting physiological limitations to That which is beyond space and time.

M. That is right. But the person who puts the question about the position of the Heart, considers himself as existing with or in the body. While putting the question now, would you say that your body alone is here but that you are speaking from somewhere else? No, you accept your bodily existence. It is from this point of view that any reference to a physical body comes to be made.

Truly speaking pure Consciousness is indivisible, it is without parts. It has no form and shape, no ‘within’ and ‘without’. There is no ‘right’ or ‘left’ for it. Pure Consciousness, which is the Heart, includes all; and nothing is outside or apart from it. That is the ultimate Truth.

From this absolute standpoint, the Heart, Self or Consciousness can have no particular place assigned to it in the physical body. What is the reason? The body is itself a mere projection of the mind, and the mind is but a poor reflection of the radiant Heart. How can That in which everything is contained, be itself confined as a tiny part within the physical body which is but an infinitesimal, phenomenal manifestation of the one Reality?

But people do not understand this. They cannot help thinking in terms of physical body and the world. For instance, you say “I have come to this Asramam all the way from my country beyond the Himalayas”. But that is not the truth. Where is there a ‘coming’ or ‘going’ or any movement whatever, for the one, all-pervading Spirit which you really are? You are where you have always been. It is your body that moved or was conveyed from place to place till it reached this Asramam. This is the simple truth, but to a person who considers himself a subject living in an objective world, it appears as something altogether visionary!

It is by coming down to the level of the ordinary understanding that a place is assigned to the Heart in the physical body.

D. How then shall I understand Sri Bhagavan’s statement that the experience of the Heart-centre is at the particular place in the chest?

M. Once you accept that from the true and absolute standpoint, the Heart as pure Consciousness is beyond space and time, it will be easy for you to understand the rest in its correct perspective.

D. It is only on that basis that I have put the question about the position of the Heart. I am asking about Sri Bhagavan’s experience.

M. Pure Consciousness wholly unrelated to the physical body and transcending the mind is a matter of direct experience. Sages know their bodiless, eternal Existence just as the layman knows his bodily existence. But the experience of Consciousness can be with bodily awareness as well as without it. In the bodiless experience of Pure Consciousness the Sage is beyond time and space, and no question about the position of the Heart can then at all arise.

Since, however, the physical body cannot subsist (with life) apart from Consciousness, bodily awareness has to be sustained by pure Consciousness. The former, by its nature, is limited and can never be coextensive with the latter, which is infinite and eternal. Body-consciousness is merely a monad- like, miniature reflection of the pure Consciousness with which the Sage has realized his identity. For him, therefore, body consciousness is only a reflected ray, as it were, of the self-effulgent, infinite Consciousness which is himself. It is in this sense alone that the Sage is aware of his bodily existence. Since, during the bodiless experience of the Heart as pure Consciousness, the Sage is not at all aware of the body, that absolute experience is localized by him within the limits of the physical body by a sort of feeling-recollection made while he is with bodily awareness. (Sri Ramana Maharshi, MG, 72-5.)

Bhagavan used to say that the ego-sense arose in the Heart. This heart is not the physical organ or even on eof the Yogic Chakras but a point about one and a half inches to the right from the middle of the chest. Some people pretended that Self-realization was to be found at that point. But how is that possible? Can there be a physical spot where Realization is located? Surely it is all-enveloping. The idea is that when a Sadhu returns from a state of deep Samadhi the first point of outer consciousness of which he is aware is this point in the so-called Heart. At this point the transcendental experience drops away and the ego again takes possession. So looking back it almost seems to him as though Self-realization was found there as it was his last point of consciousness. Talking inexactly then it is possible to say that Realization was found in the Heart. People were sometimes advised to take their minds back to this point, for, at the same point where the ego took birth, at this same point the ego would drop away. This was not laid down as necessary Sadhana but only as a help for a certain number of seekers. … In the “Talks” he explains about the Heart as follows:

”The Heart is used in the Vedas and the scriptures to denote the place whence the notion ‘I’ springs. Does it spring only from the fleshly ball? It springs within us somewhere right in the middle of our being. The ‘I’ has no location. Everything is the Self. There is nothing but that. So the Heart must be said to be the entire body of ourselves and of the entire Universe conceived as ‘I.’ But to help the practiser (Abhyasi) we have to indicate a definite part of the Universe, or of the body. So this Heart is pointed out as the seat of the Self. But in truth we are everywhere, we are all that is, and there is nothing else.” (Sadhu Arunachala [A.W. Chadwick] in SRRM, 81-2.)

That from which all thoughts of embodied beings issue forth is called the Heart. All descriptions of it are only mental concepts.

The 'I'-thought is said to be the root of all thoughts. In brief, that from which the 'I'-thought springs forth is the Heart.

If the Heart be located in anahata chakra, (1) how does the practice of yoga begin in muladhara? (2)

This Heart is different from the blood-circulating organ. 'Hridayam' (3) stands for hrit 'the centre which sucks in everything', and ayam 'this' and it thus stands for the Self.

The location of this Heart is on the right side of the chest, not at all on the left. The light (of awareness) flows from the Heart through sushumna (4) to sahasrara (5). ...

The whole universe is in the body and the whole body is in the Heart. hence all the universe is contained in the Heart.

The universe is nothing but the mind, and the mind is nothing but the Heart. Thus the entire story of the universe culminates in the Heart.

The Heart is to the body what the sun is to the world. The mind in sahasrara is like the orb of the moon in the world.

As the sun gives light to the world, even so this Heart gives light to the mind.

A mortal absent from the Heart perceives only the mind, just as the light of the moon is perceived at night in the absence of the sun.

Not perceiving that the true source of light is one's own Self, and mentally perceiving objects as apart from oneself, the ignorant one is deluded.

The jnani (6) present in the Heart sees the light of the mind merged in the light of the Heart, like moonlight in daylight.

The wise know that the superficial meaning of prajnana (7) is mind and its true meaning is the Heart. The Supreme is nothing but the Heart.

The notion that the seer is different from the seen is only in the mind. For those that abide in the Heart the seer and the seen are one.

The thought process, arrested by swooning, sleep, excessive joy or sorrow, fear, and so on, goes back to its source, the Heart.

The ignorant one does not know that at such times thought has entered the Heart, but one in samadhi knows it. Hence arises the difference in names. (Ramana Maharshi in SRG, 25-31.)

(1) The Fourth, or Heart, Chakra.
(2) The First, or Root, Chakra.
(3) Sanskrit for the true or spiritual heart.
(4) The hollow canal which runs through the center of the spinal cord in the human body. It is flanked on the left by the Ida and on the right by the Pindala -- the main channels through which the afferent and efferent nerve currents travel. When the Kundalini becomes awakened in the spiritual aspirant, it passes through the centers of consciousness which are located in the sushumna. (Usha, RVW, 75-6.)
(5) The Seventh, or Crown, Chakra.
(6) The Knower of Self.
(7) Knowledge of the Ultimate, Transcendent Reality.

Hermits – See Contemplatives (Solitaries, Hermits, Recluses)

Householders

He gave you wives from among yourselves that you might live in joy with them, and planted love and kindness in your hearts. (Koran, 188.)

Do I look down on worldly people? Of course not. When I see them, I apply the Knowledge of Brahman, the Oneness of Existence. Brahman Itself has become everything; all are Narayana Himself. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 710.)

Those who still have a few worldly experiences to enjoy should lead a householder's life and pray to God. ... But it is quite different with sannyasis. A bee lights on flowers and nothing else. ... A real sannyasi will not enjoy any kind of bliss except the Bliss of God. The bee lights only on flowers. The real monk is like a bee, whereas the householder devotee is like a common fly, which lights on a festering sore as well as a sweetmeat. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 244.)

For the householders Sri Ramakrishna did not prescribe the hard path of total renunciation. He wanted them to discharge their obligations to their families. Their renunciation was to be mental. Spiritual life could not be acquired by flying away from responsibilities. A married couple should live like brother and sister after the birth of one or two children, devoting their time to spiritual talk and contemplation. He encouraged the householders, saying that their life was, in a way, easier than that of a monk, since it was more advantageous to fight the enemy from inside a fortress than in an open field. He insisted, however, on their repairing into solitude every now and then to strengthen their devotion and faith in God through prayer, japa and meditation. He prescribed for them the companionship of sadhus. He asked them to perform their worldly duties with one hand, while holding to God with the other, and to pray to God to make their duties fewer and fewer so that in the end they might cling to Him with both hands. He would discourage in both the householders and the celibate youths any lukewarmness in their spiritual struggles. (Nikhilananda in GSR, 47-8.)

Householders - Can they attain God?

[A visitor:] Sir, can one realize God while leading the life of a householder?

Master (with a smile): Why not? Live in the world like a mudfish. The mudfish lives in the mud but itself remains unstained. Or live in the world like a loose woman. She attends her household duties, but her mind is always on her sweetheart. Do your duties in the world, fixing your mind on God. But this is extremely difficult. … The craving for worldly things, which is chronic in man, is like the patient's craving for water. There is no end to this craving. … There is so much confusion in the world. If you go this way, you are threatened with a shovel; if you go that way, you are threatened with a broomstick; again, in another direction, you are threatened with a shoe-beating. Besides, one cannot think of God unless one lives in solitude. The goldsmith melts gold to make ornaments. But how can he do his work well if he is disturbed again and again. Suppose you are separating rice from bits of husk. You must do it all by yourself. Every now and then you have to take the rice in your hand to see how clean it is. But how can you do you work well if you are called away again and again?

A devotee: What then is the way [for a householder], sir?

Master: There is a way. One succeeds if one develops a strong spirit of renunciation. Give up at once, with determination, what you know to be unreal. … You have to spend a few days in solitude. If you touch the “granny’ (1) you are safe. Turn yourself into gold and then live wherever you please. After realizing God and divine love in solitude, one may live in the world as well. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 246.)

(1) An allusion to the game of “hide and seek.”

Those who still have a few worldly experiences to enjoy should lead a householder’s life and pray to God. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 244.)

What if you are [householders]? Through His grace even the impossible becomes possible. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 293.)

Householders – True householder devotees are heroes

They are heroes indeed who can pray to God in then midst of worldly activities. They are like men who strive for God-realization while carrying heavy loads on their heads. Such men are real heroes. You may say that this is extremely difficult. But is there anything, however hard, that cannot be achieved through God’s grace? His grace makes even the impossible possible. If a lamp has been brought into a room that has been dark a thousand years, does it illumine the room little by little? The room is lighted all at once. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 1014-5.)

Your life will be a true ideal for the householders. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna to Nag Mahasaya in NM, 46.)

Do I look down on worldly people? Of course not. When I see them, I apply the Knowledge of Brahman, the Oneness of Existence. Brahman Itself has become everything; all are Narayana Himself. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 710.)

Householders – Fighting from within the fortress

What harm is there in remaining as a householder? Only keep the mind fixed on God. The life of a householder is like fighting from within the fortress. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in NM, 46.)

You are talking about leading a householder's life. Suppose you are a householder. It rather helps you in the practice of spiritual discipline. It is like fighting from inside a fort. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 244.)

Householders – But the householder’s path is extremely difficult

Why shouldn't one be able to attain spirituality living the life of a householder? But it is extremely difficult. ... The world is a place of terror. Even a detached householder has to be careful. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 250.)

Alas, he is married! … Ah me! He even has children. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna, of Mahendranath Gupta, or “M,” in GSR, 79.)

Why shouldn’t one be able to lead a spiritual life in the world? But it is extremely difficult. … There are many ties on a worldly man. There is no way for him to get rid of them except through the grace of God. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 1016.)

Worldly duties bring much worry and anxiety along with them (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 314.)

By leading a householder's life a man needlessly dissipates his mental powers. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 247.)

It is difficult to lead the life of a a householder in a spirit of detachment. Once Pratap said to me: “Sir, we follow the example of King Janaka. He led the life of a householder in a detached spirit. “ … I said to him: “Can one be like King Janaka merely by wishing it? How many austerities he practised in order to acquire divine knowledge! He practised the most intense form of asceticism for many years and only then returned to the life of the world. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 313.)

I have seen householder devotees filled with spiritual emotion while performing their daily worship. ... But afterwards they become their old selves again. They display their rajasic and tamasic natures. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 250.)

A few succeed through the grace of God and as a result of their spiritual practice. But most people fail. Entering the world, they become more and more involved in it; they drown in worldliness and suffer the agonies of death. A few only ... have succeeded, through the power of their austerity. (1) ... Therefore spiritual practice (2) is extremely necessary; otherwise one cannot live rightly in the world. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 154.)

(1) Sri Ramakrishna's own disciple, Nag Mahasaya, showed the degree of austerity needed to realize God as a householder. When he heard his beloved guru say that it was hard for doctors, preoccupied with the physical, to realize God, Durga Charan Nag, a homeopathic doctor, threw his medical chest into the Ganges. Nag Mahasaya was known for his austerities: he would sooner sleep outside in the rain than deny a visitor shelter in his home. He was equally loving to every sentient being: he protected even the anthills on his fences from the destructiveness of well-meaning visitors who attempted to remove them.
(2) By spiritual practice Sri Ramakishna usually meant repetition of the names of God (japam), prayer, meditation, group singing (sankirtan), and selfless service.

Householders – Their practice is inconsistent and lukewarm

The worldly man's devotion to God is momentary -- like a drop of water on a red-hot frying pan. Perchance he looks at a flower and exclaims, “Ah, what a wonderful creation of God!” (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 384.)

People worship God to win money or a lawsuit. That is not good. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 336.)

It is not best to tell householders about the sorrows of life. They want bliss. Those who suffer from chronic poverty can go without food for a day or two. But it is not wise to talk about the sorrows and miseries of life to those who suffer if their food is delayed a few minutes. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 224.)

Keshab, once I went to your temple. In the course of your preaching I heard you say, “We shall dive into the river of devotion and go straight to the Ocean of Satchidananda.” At once I looked up [at the gallery where Keshab’s wife and the other ladies were sitting] and thought, “Then what will become of these ladies? You see, Keshab, you are householders. How can you reach the Ocean of Satchidananda all at once? You are like a mongoose with a brick tied to its tail. When something frightens it, it runs up the wall and sits on a niche. But how can it stay there any length of time. The brick pulls it down and it falls to the floor with a thud. You may practice a little meditation, but the weight of wife and children will pull you down. You may dive into the river of devotion, but you must come up again. You will alternatively dive and come up. How can you dive and disappear once and for all? (Letter from Aswini Kumar Dutta to “M,” with reminiscences of PR in GSR, 1022.)

Householders – They fail to arrive at discrimination

You say that God wants everybody to lead a worldly life. But why don’t you see it as God’s will when your wife and children die? Why don’t you see His will in poverty, when you don’t have a morsel to eat? (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 1013.)

House, wife, and children are all transitory; they have only a momentary existence. The palm-tree alone is real. One or two fruits have dropped off. Why lament? (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 209.)

The truth is that God alone is real and all else unreal. Men, universe, house, children – all these are like the magic of the magician…. The magician alone is real and his magic unreal…. God is like an ocean, and living beings are its bubbles. They are born there and they die there. Children are like the few small bubbles around a big one. God alone is real. Make an effort to cultivate love for him and find out the means to realize him. What will you gain by grieving? (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in TLWG, 354.)

Householders – Non-dualistic attitude inappropriate

The non-dualists say, “Soham”, that is, “I am the Supreme Self.” … But this is not the right attitude for householders, who are conscious of doing everything themselves. That being so, how can they declare, “I am That, the actionless Supreme Self’? (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 274.)

In the Kaliyuga, man, being totally dependent on food for life, cannot altogether shake off the idea that he is the body. In this state of mind it is not proper for him to say, “I am He.” When a man does all sorts of worldly things, he should not say “I am Brahman.” Those who cannot give up attachment to worldly things, and who find no means to shake off the feeling of “I,” should rather cherish the idea: “I am God’s servant. I am His devotee.” One can also realize God following the path of devotion. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 103.)

Householders – Face the same task as monks

The lesson of the Gita is: “O man, renounce everything and seek God alone.” Whether a man is a monk or a householder, he has to shake off all attachment from his mind. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 104-5.)

In a word, “woman and gold” is the covering of maya.

There is no harm in chewing betel-leaf, eating fish, smoking, or rubbing the body with oil. What will one achieve by renouncing only these things? The one thing needful is the renunciation of “woman and gold.” That renunciation is the real and supreme renunciation. Householders should go into solitude now and then, to practise spiritual discipline in order to cultivate devotion to God; they should renounce mentally. But the sannyasi should renounce both mentally and physically. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 291.)

Householders – For a few householders, total renunciation may become desirable

One can realize God if one feels intense dispassion for worldly things. A man with such dispassion feels that the world is like a forest on fire. He regards his wife and children as a deep well. If he really feels that kind of dispassion, he renounces home and family. It is not enough for him to live in the world in a spirit of detachment. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 336.)

Householders – But for most, total renunciation is inappropriate

Bees accumulate their honey by days of hard labour. But they cannot enjoy their honey, for a man soon breaks the comb and takes it away. The Avadhuta learnt this lesson from the bees, that one should not lay things up. Sadhus should depend one hundred per cent on God. They must not gather for the morrow. But this does not apply to the householder. He must bring up his family; therefore it is necessary for him to provide. Birds and monks do not hoard. Yet birds also hoard after their chicks are hatched: they collect food in their beaks fro their young ones. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 314.)

One cannot renounce by the mere wish. There are prarabdha karma – inherited tendencies – and the like. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 336.)

I ask people to live in the world and at the same time fix their minds on God. I don't ask them to give up the world. I say, “Fulfil your worldly duties and also think of God.” (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 828.)

One day Devendra expressed to Sri Ramakrishna his desire to become a monk. The Master did not approve of it. He said to him: “You do not have to renounce your family. I ask you to stay at home.” The Master knew that Devendra was the only earning member of his family, and moreover his mother had earlier lost her eldest son. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in TLWG, 314.)

Why should you renounce everything? You are all right as you are, following the middle path -- like molasses partly solid and partly liquid. Do you know the game of nax? Having scored the maximum number of points, I am out of the game. I can’t enjoy it. But you are very clever. Some of you have scored ten points, some six, and some five. You have scored just the right number; so you are not out of the game like me. The game can go on. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 137.)

Paramahamsas may not lay things up; but this rule does not apply to householders. They must provide for their families. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 250.)

Why should everybody renounce? On the other hand, can it be the will of God that all should revel in “woman and gold” like dogs and jackals? Has He no other wish? (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 1013.)

You are a goswami. It is your duty to officiate as priest in the temple. You cannot renounce the world; otherwise, who would look after the temple and its services? You have to renounce mentally.

It is God Himself who has kept you in the world to set an example to men. You may resolve in your mind a thousand times to renounce the world, but you will not succeed. God has given you such a nature and you must perform your worldly duties. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna to Navadvip Goswami, in GSR, 255.)

Those who have not yet come to the end of their enjoyments should not renounce the world. … You should renounce the world only in mind. But a sannyasi should renounce the world both inwardly and outwardly. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 215.)

Those who still have a few worldly experiences to enjoy should lead a householder's life and pray to God. ... But it is quite different with sannyasis. A bee lights on flowers and nothing else. ... A real sannyasi will not enjoy any kind of bliss except the Bliss of God. The bee lights only on flowers. The real monk is like a bee, whereas the householder devotee is like a common fly, which lights on a festering sore as well as a sweetmeat. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 244.)

Householders – They must perform their duties

Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. (Jesus in Matthew 22:21.)

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Jesus in Matthew 6:24.)

All, without exception, perform work. Even to chant the name and glories of God is work, as is the meditation of the non-dualist on 'I am He'. Breathing is also an activity. There is no way of renouncing work altogether. So do your work, but surrender the result to God. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 113-4.)

Let the boat be in the water, but let there be no water in the boat; let an aspirant live in the world, but let there be no worldliness in him. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in TLWG, 189.)

You should say to Him, ‘O God, make my worldly duties fewer and fewer; otherwise, O Lord, I find that I forget Thee when I am involved in too many activities.’ (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 142.)

To him who says, “I am He” the world appears to be a dream. His mind, his body, even his ego are dreams to him. Therefore he cannot perform worldly duties. So it is very good for the householder to look on himself as the servant and on God as the Master. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 370.)

But it will not do for the sadhaka to renounce duties. He should perform his duties, such as worship, japa, meditation, prayer, and pilgrimage. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 111.)

The world is our field of activity. We are born here to perform certain duties. People have their homes in the country but come to Calcutta for work.

It is necessary to do a certain amount of work. But one must finish it speedily. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 209.)

Perform your duties in an unselfish spirit ... without desiring any result. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 113.)

Now go home and live there. Let them know that you belong to them. But you must remember in your heart of hearts that you do not belong to them nor they to you. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna to Mahendranath Gupta, after the latter stayed at Dakshineswar for an extended period, in GSR, 382.)

I suggest that you do your job and your duties wholeheartedly and joyfully and bring peace and happiness [to] your family and ... your surroundings. Do Japa, the chanting or repeating of the name of God (or whatever you believe in), and ask for whatever you want. (Mother Meera on back cover, MTHR.)

Householders – How long must they perform worldly duties?

How long should a man perform his duties? As long as he has not attained God. Duties drop away after the realization of God. Then one goes beyond good and evil. The flower drops off as soon as the fruit appears. The flower serves the purpose of begetting the fruit. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 367.)

The more you advance toward God, the less he will give you worldly duties to perform. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 367.)

The blossom drops off when the fruit appears. One doesn't have to do one's duty after the attainment of God, nor does one feel like doing it then. ... As you advance nearer and nearer to God, he will reduce your activities little by little. Have no fear. Finish the few duties you have at hand, and then you will have peace. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 114.)

Householders – How much attention should go to worldly duties?

At Kamarpukur I have seen the women of the carpenter families selling flattened rice. Let me tell you how alert they are while doing their business. The pestle of the husking-machine that flattens the paddy constantly falls into the hole of the mortar. The woman turns the paddy in the hole with one hand and with the other holds her baby on her lap as she horses it. In the mean time customers arrive. The machine goes on pounding the paddy, and she carries on her bargains with her customers. … You see, she has all these things to do at the same time – nurse the baby, turn the paddy as the pestle pounds it, take the flattened rice out of the hole, and talk to the buyers. This is called the yoga of practice. Fifteen parts of her mind out of sixteen are fixed on the pestle of the husking machine, lest it should pound her hand. With only one part of her mind she nurses the baby and talks to the buyers. Likewise, he who leads the life of a householder should devote fifteen parts of his mind to God; otherwise he will face ruin and fall into the clutches of Death. He should perform the duties of the world with only one part of the mind. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 367-8.)

Householders – Have faith in the words of the guru – See also Guru – One must have faith in the words of the guru

Faith in the guru’s words [is the way for a householder]. You should depend on his instruction. Do your duties in the world, holding fast to his words, like a person whirling round and holding fast to a pillar.

Householders – Practice constantly

If worldly life is so difficult, then what is the way? The way is constant practice. … An immoral woman goes on performing her household duties, but all the time her mind dwells on her sweetheart. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 1014.)

Those who have the time must meditate and worship. But those who cannot possibly do so must bow down whole-heartedly to God twice a day. He abides in the hearts of all; He knows that worldly people have many things to do. What else is possible for them? You don’t have time to pray to God; therefore give Him the power of attorney. But all is in vain unless you attain God and see Him. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 385.)

[To receive God’s grace] constantly you have to chant the name and glories of God and give up worldly thoughts as much as you can. With the greatest effort you may try to bring water into your field for your crops, but it may all leak out through holes in the ridges. Then all your efforts to bring the water by digging a canal will be futile. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 375.)

How long does the bee buzz around? So long as it isn’t sitting on a flower. But it will not do for the sadhaka to renounce duties. He should perform his duties, such as worship, japa, meditation, prayer, and pilgrimage. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 111.)

Householders – As a minimum, develop devotion before entering the world

First rub your hands with oil and then break open the jack-fruit; otherwise they will be smeared with its sticky milk. First secure the oil of divine love, and then set your hands to the duties of the world. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 82.)

If bricks and tiles are burnt after their trade-mark has been stamped on them, they retain the mark for ever. Similarly, man should be stamped with God before entering the world. Then he will not become attached to worldliness. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 61-2.)

Be turned into gold by touching the philosopher’s stone. After that you may remain buried underground a thousand years; when you are taken out you will still be gold. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 313.)

If you enter the world without first cultivating love for God, you will be entangled more and more. You will be overwhelmed with its danger, its grief, its sorrows. And the more you think of worldly things, the more you will be attached to them. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 81-2.)

Before breaking open the jack-fruit you should rub your hands with oil in order to protect them from the sticky juice. Likewise, protect yourself with the oil of devotion; then the world will not cling to you and you will not be affected by it. (Letter from Aswini Kumar Dutta to “M,” with reminiscences of PR in GSR, 1025.)

“You should enter the world after advancing a little in the path of spirituality. Then you will not sink in the mire of worldliness. But nowadays parents get their boys married while quite young, and thus pave the way to their ruin. The boys come out of school to find themselves fathers of several children. So they run hither and thither in search of a job to maintain the family. With great difficulty perhaps they find one, but are hard pressed to feed so many mouths with that small income. They become naturally anxious to earn money and therefore find little time to think of God.”

“Then, sir, is it wrong to marry? Is it against the will of God?” asked one fo the [disciples]. The Master asked him to take a certain book down from the shelf and directed him to read a particular passage that quoted Christ’s opinion of marriage: “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb; there are eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men; and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive.” The Master then asked him to read Saint Paul: “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.”

Someone interrupted, saying: “Do you mean to say, sir, that marriage is against the will of God? And how can his creation go on if people cease to marry?” Sri Ramakrishna smiled and said: “Don’t worry about that. Those who wish to marry are at perfect liberty to do so. What I said just now was between ourselves. I speak on what I have got to say; you take as much of it as you like and no more.” (Sri Ramakrishna in GLWT, 264-5.)

Householders – It would be best to realize God before entering the world

One need not be afraid of the world after one has had the vision of God. Both vidya and avidya exist in His maya, but one becomes indifferent to them after realizing God. One understands it rightly after attaining the state of a paramahamsa. Only a swan can discard the water and drink the milk from a mixture of milk and water. A robin cannot do so. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 1016.)

There is no hope for a worldly man if he is not sincerely devoted to God. But he has nothing to fear if he remains in the world after realizing God. Nor need a man ... fear ... if he attains sincere devotion by practising spiritual discipline now and then in solitude. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 126.)

One can very well live in the world after realizing God. Why don’t you first touch the “granny” and then play hide-and-seek? (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 1011.)

Even after attaining Knowledge through the guru’s grace, one can very well live in the world as a jivanmukta. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 233.)

Yes, after realizing God, one can also get, if one so desires, dharma, artha, and kama, which are necessary for leading the worldly life.; (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 327.)

Householders – But, whatever the case, live in the world detached

You should live in the world in a spirit of detachment. You will no doubt have dirt on your body, but you must shake it off as the mudfish shakes off the mud. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 747.)

Live in the world like a mudfish. The mudfish lives in the mud but itself remains unstained. Or live in the world like a loose woman. She attends her household duties, but her mind is always on her sweetheart. Do your duties in the world, fixing your mind on God. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 246.)

Householders devoted to God live in the world like a maidservant, who performs her duties for her master but always keeps her mind fixed on her own native village; that is to say, they do their duties in the world keeping their minds on God. Anyone leading a worldly life is sure to come in contact with its dirt; but a householder who is a true devotee of God lives like the mudfish, which, though remaining in mud, is not stained by it. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 1017.)

Householders – Cling to God

God first and then the world. (Paramahansa Ramakrishan in TLWG, vii.)

Do all your duties, but keep your mind on God. Live with all -- with wife and children, father and mother -- and serve them. Treat them as if they were dear to you, but know in your heart of hearts that they do not belong to you. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 81.)

I ask people to live in the world and at the same time fix their minds on God. I don't ask them to give up the world. I say, 'Fulfil your worldly duties and also think of God.' (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 828.)

It is very difficult to do one’s duty in the world. If you whirl round too fast you feel giddy and faint; but there is no such fear if you hold on to a post. Do your duty, but do not forget God. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 1014.)

I tell you the truth: there is nothing wrong in your being in the world. But you must direct your mind toward God; otherwise you will not succeed. Do your duty with one hand and with the other hold to God. After the duty is over, you will hold to God with both hands. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 137-8.)

Since you are going to lead a householder’s life, create a roseate intoxication in your mind with the thought of God. You will be doing your duties, but let that pleasant intoxication remain with you. You cannot, of course, like Sukadeva, be so inebriated with the thought of God that you will lie naked and unconscious. As long as you have to live in the world, give God the power of attorney. Make over all your responsibilities to Him; let Him do as He likes. Live in the world as a maidservant in a rich man’s house. She bathes her master’s children, washes them, feeds them, and takes affectionate care of them in many ways, as if they were her own children; but in her heart she knows very well that they do not belong to her. No sooner is she dismissed than all is over; she has no more relationship with the children. (Letter from Aswini Kumar Dutta to “M,” with reminiscences of PR in GSR, 1025.)

Householders – Spend some time in solitude

Repeat God's name and sing His glories 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. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 126-7.)

Why shouldn’t one be able to realize God in this world? King Janaka had such realization. … But one cannot be a King Janaka all of a sudden. Janaka at first practised much austerity in solitude. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 139.)

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 practices meditation in solitude. When a tree is young, it should be fenced all around; otherwise it may be destroyed by cattle. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 81.)

One must go into solitude to attain ... 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. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 82.)

But one needs spiritual discipline to acquire such a state of mind; one should pray to God in solitude every now and then. It is possible to perform worldly duties after obtaining love for God. If you try to break a jackfruit, your hands will be smeared with its sticky juice. But that won’t happen if, beforehand, you rub them with oil. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 1014.)

There is no hope for a worldly man if he is not sincerely devoted to God. But he has nothing to fear if he remains in the world after realizing God. Nor need a man ... fear ... if he attains sincere devotion by practising spiritual discipline now and then in solitude. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 126.)

It is extremely difficult to practise spiritual discipline and at the same time lead a householder’s life. There are many handicaps: disease, grief, poverty, misunderstanding with one’s wife, and disobedient, stupid, and stubborn children. I don’t have to give you a list of them.

But still there is a way out. One should pray to God, going now and then into solitude, and make efforts to realize Him. … Whenever you have leisure, go into solitude for a day or two. At that time don’t have any relations with the outside world and don’t hold any conversation with worldly people on worldly affairs. You must live either in solitude or in the company of holy men. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 326.)

Even if one lives in the world, one must go into solitude now and then. It will be of great help to a man if he goes away from his family, lives alone, and weeps for God even for three days. Even if he thinks of God for one day in solitude, when he has the leisure, that too will do him good. People shed as whole jug of tears for wife and children. But who cries for the Lord? (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 139-40.)

Is there, then, no hope for householders? Certainly there is. They must practise spiritual discipline in solitude for some days. Thus they will acquire knowledge and devotion. Then it will not hurt them to lead the life of the world. But when you practise discipline in solitude, keep yourself entirely away from your family. You must not allow your wife, son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, friends, or relatives near you. While thus practicing discipline in solitude, you should think: “I have no one else in the world. God is my all.” You must also pray to Him, with tears in your eyes, for knowledge and devotion. If you ask me how long you should live in solitude away from your family, I should say that it would be good for you if you could spend even one day in such a manner. Three days at a time are still better. One may live in solitude for twelve days, a month, three months, or a year, according to one’s convenience and ability. One hasn’t much to fear if one leads the life of a householder after attaining knowledge and devotion. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 313.)

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, practice 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. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 82.)

Living in solitude now and then, repeating God’s name and singing His glories, and discriminating between the Real and the unreal – these are means to employ to see Him. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 83.)

One doesn’t really need to study the different scriptures. If one has no discrimination, one doesn’t achieve anything through mere scholarship, even though one studies all the six systems of philosophy. Call on God, crying to Him secretly in solitude. He will give you all that you need. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 292.)

Spiritual aspirants must go into solitude now and then. After acquiring love of God in solitude, they may live in the world. If one is wearing a pair of shoes, one can easily walk over thorns. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 241.)

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. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 82.)

You have to spend a few days in solitude. If you touch the “granny’ (1) you are safe. Turn yourself into gold and then live wherever you please. After realizing God and divine love in solitude, one may live in the world as well. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 246.)

(1) An allusion to the game of “hide and seek.”
Either he should think of God in solitude day and night, or he should live with holy men. The mind left to itself gradually dries up. Take a jar of water, for instance. If the jar is set aside, the water dries up little by little. But that will not happen if the jar is kept immersed in the Ganges. The iron becomes red in the furnace of a smithy. Take it out and it becomes black as before. Therefore the iron must be heated in the furnace now and then. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 1019.)

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, practice 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. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 82.)

Living in solitude now and then, repeating God’s name and singing His glories, and discriminating between the Real and the unreal – these are means to employ to see Him. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 83.)

From time to time [a worldly person] should live in the company of holy men, and from time to time go into solitude to meditate on God. Furthermore, he should practice discrimination and pray to God, “Give me faith and devotion.” (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 87.)

Householders – Live in the company of holy men

From time to time [a worldly person] should live in the company of holy men, and from time to time go into solitude to meditate on God. Furthermore, he should practice discrimination and pray to God, “Give me faith and devotion.” (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 87.)

Prayer and the company of holy men [is the way for the bound soul]. You cannot get rid of an ailment without the help of a physician. But it is not enough to be in the company of religious people only for a day. You should constantly seek it, for the disease has become chronic. Again, you can’t understand the pulse rightly unless you live with a physician. Moving with him constantly, you learn to distinguish between the pulse of phlegm and the pulse of bile. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 96.)

The worldly man must constantly live in the company of holy men. It is necessary for all, even sannyasis. But it is especially necessary for the householder. His disease has become chronic because he has to live constantly in the midst of “woman and gold.” (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 344.)

Why shouldn’t it be possible for a householder to give his mind to God? But the truth is that he no longer has his mind with him. If he had it, then he could certainly offer it to God. But, alas, the mind has been mortgaged – mortgaged to “woman and gold.” So it is necessary for him constantly to live in the company of holy men. When he gets back his own mind, then he can devote it to spiritual practice; but first it is necessary to live constantly with the guru, wait on him, and enjoy the company of spiritual people. Either he should think of God in solitude day and night, or he should live with holy men. The mind left to itself gradually dries up. Take a jar of water, for instance. If the jar is set aside, the water dries up little by little. But that will not happen if the jar is kept immersed in the Ganges.

The iron becomes red in the furnace of a smithy. Take it out and it becomes black as before. Therefore the iron must be heated in the furnace now and then. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 1019.)

[Holy company] begets yearning for God. It begets love of God. Nothing whatsoever is achieved in spiritual life without yearning. By constantly living in the company of holy men, the soul becomes restless for God. This yearning is like the state of mind of a man who has someone ill in the family. His mind is in a state of perpetual restlessness, thinking how the sick person may be cured. Or again, one should feel a yearning for God like the yearning of a man who has lost his job and is wandering from one office to another in search of work. If he is rejected at a certain place which has no vacancy, he goes there again the next day and inquires, “Is there any vacancy today?” (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 96.)

There is another benefit from holy company. It helps one cultivate discrimination. God alone is the Real, that is to say, the Eternal Substance, and the world is unreal, that is to say, transitory. As soon as a man finds his mind wandering away to the unreal, he should apply discrimination. The moment an elephant stretches out its trunk to eat a plantain-tree in a neighbour’s garden, it gets a blow from the iron goad of the driver. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 97.)

Householders – Contribute to monks and devotees

One should give something to monks and devotees. Those who have the means should help such persons when they meet them. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 361.)

Householders – Marriage and family

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Jesus in Matthew 10:37.)

And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or land, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. (Jesus in Matthew 19:29.)

Kill this deadly attachment to body, wife, children and others. (Shankara in CJD, 45.)

Rama accepted the life of a householder and married to fulfil that mission. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 350.)

What if you have married? Haven’t I too married? What is there to be afraid of in that? … If this [meaning himself] is propitious, then even a hundred thousand marriages cannot injure you. If you desire to lead a householder’s life, then bring your wife here one day, and I shall see that she becomes a real companion in your spiritual progress. But if you want to lead a monastic life, then I shall eat up your attachment to the world. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna to Jogindranath, later Swami Jogananda, in GSR, 61.)

Let men cast their own lives in this mould and fashion an image of purity and perfect beauty. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna on his marriage with Sarada Devi, in RAWSH, 171.)

When you feed your child, you should feel that you are feeding God. You should look on your father and mother as veritable manifestations of God and the Divine Mother, and serve them as such. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 326.)

If a man enters the world after realizing God, he does not generally keep up physical relations with his wife. Both of them are devotees; they love to talk only of God and pass their time in spiritual conversation. They serve other devotees of God, for they know that God alone has become all living beings; and knowing this, they devote their lives to the service of others. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 326.)

[Householders like this] can be found, though they may be very rare. Worldly people cannot recognize them. In order to lead such a life both husband and wife must be spiritual. It is possible to lead such a life if both of them have tasted the Bliss of God. God’s special grace is necessary to create such a couple; otherwise there will always be misunderstanding between them. In that case the one has to leave the other. Life becomes very miserable if husband and wife do not agree. The wife will say to her husband day and night: “Why did my father marry me to such a person? I can’t get enough to eat or to feed my children. I haven’t received a single piece of jewelry from you. How happy you have made me! Ah! You keep your eyes closed and mutter the name of God! Now do give up all these crazy ideas.” (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 326.)

Our love for Nature, family, friends, duties, and possessions should not occupy the supreme throne in our hearts. That is where God belongs. (Paramahansa Yogananda in SY, 47.)

Householders – They owe a debt to the chaste spouse and religious family

Paramahansas may not lay things up; but this rule does not apply to householders. They must provide for their families. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 250.)

[A man] has a debt to his wife. She must be supported. If the wife is chaste, the husband must provide for her after his death. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 828.)

A householder has his duties to discharge, his debts to pay: his debt to the gods, his debt to his ancestors, his debt to the rishis, and his debt to his wife and children. If a wife is chaste, then her husband should support her; he should also bring up their children until they are of age. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in TLWG, 144-5.)

Sharatkamini herself was like a nun – very pure, dedicated, self-effacing, and unselfish. She did not try to possess her husband (Durga Charan Nag] for her own self-interest; she was simply his co-pilgrim. She was happy to serve her husband and father-in-law and, later, the many devotees that came to their house. Her life shows that when a person comes in close contact with a God-intoxicated soul, that person’s mind rises above the physical plane. (Swami Chetanananda of Nag Mahasay’s wife, Sharatkamini, in TLWG, 214.)

The householder should pacify his wife and the other members of his family. He should provide them with food and other necessities. Thus he removes the obstacles to his practice of spiritual discipline. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 244.)

It is permissible to [make an effort to make more money] to maintain a religious family. You may try to increase your income, but in an honest way. The goal of life is not the earning of money, but the service of God. Money is not harmful if it is devoted to the service of God. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 114.)

Householders – Give up the spouse who stands in the way of spirituality

M. (To the Master): “What should one do if one’s wife says: ‘You are neglecting me. I shall commit suicide.’”

Master: “Give up such a wife if she proves an obstacle in the way of spiritual life. Let her commit suicide or do anything else she likes. The wife that hampers her husband’s spiritual life is an ungodly wife.” …

“But if a man has sincere love for God, then all come under his control – the king, wicked persons, and his wife. Sincere love of God on the husband’s part may eventually help the wife to lead a spiritual life. If the husband is good, then through the grace of God the wife may also follow his example.” (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 126.)

Sincere love of God on the husband’s part may eventually help the wife to lead a spiritual life. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna to Mahendranath Gupta in TLWG, 197.)

Householders – Sexuality – See Sexuality

Householders – Sri Ramakrishna’s prayer to the Mother

Mother, may those who come to You have all their desires fulfilled! But please don’t make them give up everything at once, Mother. Well, You may do whatever You like in the end. If You keep them in the world, Mother, then please reveal Yourself to them now and then. Otherwise, how will they live? How will they be encouraged if they don’t see You once in a while? (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 381.)

How You Treat Others

Spiritual people often want unconditional support and understanding from their friends, family, and mates, but all too often seem blind to their own shortcomings when it comes to the amount of unconditional support and understanding that they give to others. I have seen many spiritual people become obsessed with how unspiritual others are and assume an arrogant and superior attitude while completely missing the fact that they themselves are not nearly as spiritually enlightened as they would like to think that they are. Enlightenment can be measured by how compassionately and wisely you interact with others; with all others, not just those who support you in the way that you want. How you interact with those who do not support you shows how enlightened you really are.

The perspective of Love doesn't leave anybody out. Until your vision and compassion is big enough to include those who oppose you, you are simply contributing to the continuation of destructiveness. The end of separation is the salvation for all. (Adyashanti, Nonduality Salon Highlights, http://nonduality.com/hl2165.htm, downloaded 11 March 2006.)

Human Level

If the awakening is taken out of the rarefied atmosphere of simply 'a realization that I have,' and taken into the level of 'my human life, and humanity,' it actually becomes an absolutely, totally unique expression of that truth. Nobody else throughout all of time is going to carry that uniqueness into life. (Adyashanti, Downloaded from Nonduality Salon Highlights, http://www.nonduality.com/hl2348.htm, 11 March 2006.)

Human Nature - The difference between God and man

Iswara, (1) technically, is Brahman (2) associated with Maya, (3) or universal ignorance, and the individual man is Brahman associated with individual ignorance. The distinction between God and man is that God controls ignorance, man is controlled by it. (Swami Prabhavananda in UPAN, 51n.)

(1) The Personal God or conditioned Brahman.
(2) The Father.
(3) The Mother.

Human Nature -- Humans made in the image of God - See The Self - It is made in the image of the Father

Human Nature - The human condition

The Lord is the one life shining forth from every creature. Seeing him present in all, the wise man is humble, puts not himself forward. His delight is in the Self, his joy is in the Self, he serves the Lord in all. Such as he, indeed, are the true knowers of Brahman. (UPAN, 47.)

Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. (Deuteronomy 10:16.)

Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. (1) (Psalm 39:5.)

(1) That is, the state of every mortal at his best is nothing compared to the state of the immortal. The saying is similar to Jesus' assertion about John the Baptist: "Among them that are born of women [that is, mortals] there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven [that is, the immortal] is greater than he." (Matthew 11:11.) Jesus’s saying has a deeper mystical meaning as well: he that is least in the kingdom of heaven would be he that is most humble and hence most godly, the reverse of our worldly way of thinking.

Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Psalm 53:2-3.)

Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Jesus in Matthew 18:3-4.)

He that is great among you shall be your servant.

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Jesus in Matthew 23:11-2.)

Humility

With the lowly is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2.)

Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3:7.)

Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5.)

Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly. (Proverbs 3:34.)

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 51:17.)

But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight in themselves in the abundance of peace. (Psalm 37:11.)

If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. (Job 9:20.)

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (Jesus in Matthew 5:5.)

Whosoever ... shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Jesus in Matthew 18:4.)

Many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first. (Jesus in Matthew 19:30.)

God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise ... that no flesh should glory in his presence. (St. Paul in I Corinthians 27 and 29.)

A good merchant hides his goods and appears to have nothing. (Thomas Cleary, Zen proverb, ZIBO, x.)

A skillful craftsman leaves no traces. (Thomas Cleary, Zen proverb, ZIBO, x.)

Do not treat men with scorn, nor walk proudly on the earth: Allah does not love the arrogant and the vain-glorious. Rather let your gait be modest and your voice low: the harshest of voices is the braying of the ass. (Koran, 186.)

As he knew his obligation to love God in all things, and as he endeavored so to do, he had no need of a director to advise him, but … he needed much a confessor to absolve him. … He was very sensible of his faults, but not discouraged by them; … he confessed them to God, but did not plead against Him to excuse them. (Attributed to Brother Lawrence, PPG, 12.)

The water of God's grace cannot collect on the high mound of egotism. It runs down. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 111.)

Mere possession of money does not make a nobleman. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 205.)

It is not good for ordinary people to say, 'I am He.' The waves belong to the water. Does the water belong to the waves? (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 248.)

By being lowly one can rise high. (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in GSR, 204.)

Humility is essential for experiencing. But how eager is the mind to absorb the experiencing into experience! How swift is the mind to think about the new and thus make of it the old! So it establishes the experiencer and the experienced, which gives birth to the conflict of duality. (Krishnamurti, COL, 1, 32.)

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