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Sri Ramakrishna on Need of Guru and Faith in Guru

Need of a Guru (Sunday, April 9, 1882)
Neighbour: "Then householders, too, will have the vision of God, won't they?"
Sri Ramakrishna : "Everybody will surely be liberated. But one should follow the instructions of the guru; if one follows a devious path, one will suffer in trying to retrace one's steps. It takes a long time to achieve liberation. A man may fail to obtain it in this life. Perhaps he will realize God only after many births. Sages like Janaka performed worldly duties. They performed them, bearing God in their minds, as a dancing-girl dances, keeping jars or trays on her head. Haven't you seen how the women in northwest India walk, talking and laughing while carrying waterpitchers
on their beads?"

Neighbour: "You just referred to the instructions of the guru. How shall we find him?"
Sri Ramakrishna : "Anyone and everyone cannot be a guru. A huge timber floats on the water and can carry animals as well. But a piece of worthless wood sinks, if a man sits on it, and drowns him. Therefore in every age God incarnates Himself as the guru, to teach humanity. Satchidananda alone is the guru. "What is knowledge? And what is the nature of this ego? 'God alone is the Doer, and none else' – that is knowledge. I am not the doer; I am a mere instrument in His hand.

Therefore I say: 'O Mother, Thou art the Operator and I am the machine. Thou art the Indweller and I am the house. Thou art the Driver and I am the carriage. I move as Thou movest me. I do as Thou makest me do. I speak as Thou makest me speak. Not I, not I, but Thou, but Thou.' "

The need of a Guru
(April 22, 1883)
Brahmo: "Is spiritual knowledge impossible without a guru?"
Sri Ramakrishna : "Satchidananda alone is the Guru. If a man in the form of a guru awakens spiritual consciousness in you, then know for certain that it is God the Absolute who has assumed that human form for your sake. The guru is like a companion who leads you by the hand. After the realization of God, one loses the distinction between the guru and the disciple. 'That creates a very difficult situation; there the guru and the disciple do not see each other.

It was for this reason that Janaka said to Sukadeva, 'Give me first my teacher's fee if you want me to initiate you into the Knowledge of Brahman.' For the distinction between the teacher and the disciple ceases to exist after the disciple attains to Brahman. The relationship between them remains as long as the disciple does not see God."

Faith in the Guru (Saturday, September 22, 1883)
Sri Ramakrishna : "One must get instruction from a guru. Once a man was looking for a stone image of Siva. Someone said to him: 'Go to a certain river. There you will find a tree. Near it is a whirlpool. Dive into the water there, and you will find the image of Siva.' So I say that one must get instruction from a teacher."

Ishan: "That is true, sir."
Sri Ramakrishna : "It is Satchidananda that comes to us in the form of the guru. If a man is initiated by a human guru, he will not achieve anything if he regards his guru as a mere man. The guru should be regarded as the direct manifestation of God. Only then can the disciple have faith in the mantra given by the guru. Once a man has faith he, achieves all. The sudra Ekalavya learnt archery in the forest before a clay image of Drona; He worshipped the image as the living Drona; that by itself enabled him to attain Mastery in archery.

"Don't mix intimately with brahmin pundits. Their only concern is to earn money. I have seen brahmin priests reciting the Chandi while performing the swastyayana. It is hard to tell whether they are reading the sacred book or something else. They turn half the pages without reading them. (All laugh.)

"A nail-knife suffices to kill oneself. One needs sword and shield to kill others. That is the purpose of the sastras. "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 all that you need."

Faith in the guru (Saturday, December 10, 1881)
A Devotee: "Then what is the way for a householder?"
Sri Ramakrishna : "Faith in the guru's words. 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. "One must not look on one's guru as a mere human being: it is Satchidananda Himself who appears as the guru. When the disciple has the vision of the Ishta, through the guru's grace, he finds the guru merging in Him. "What can one not achieve through simple faith! Once there was an annaprasana ceremony in a guru's house.

His disciples volunteered, according to their powers, to supply the different articles of food. He had one disciple, a very poor widow, who owned a cow. She milked it and brought the guru a jar of milk. He had thought she would take charge of all the milk and curd for the festival. Angry at her poor offering, he threw the milk away and said to her, 'Go and drown yourself.' The widow accepted this as his command and went to the river to drown herself.

But God was pleased with her guileless faith and, appearing before her, said: 'Take thispot of curd. You will never be able to empty it. The more curd you pour out, the more will come from the pot. This will satisfy your teacher.' The guru was speechless with amazement when the pot was given to him. After hearing from the widow the story of the pot, he went to the river, saying to her, 'I shall drown myself if you cannot show God to me.' God appeared then and there, but the guru could not see Him.

Addressing God, the widow said, 'If my teacher gives up his body because Thou dost not reveal Thyself to him, then I too shall die.' So God appeared to the guru—but only once. "Now you see, because of faith in her guru the disciple herself had the vision of God and also showed Him to her teacher. Therefore I say, 'Even though my guru frequents a grog-shop, still to me he is the embodiment of Eternal Bliss.' "All want to be the guru, but very few indeed want to be the disciple. But you know that rain-water doesn't collect on a high mound; it collects in low land, in a hollow.

Company of holy men extolled (Sunday, January 1, 1882)
The Master looked at the householder devotees seated around him and said with a smile: "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.

Source: from book "Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna" (opens in new window)

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