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OM, AUM

Hinduism
Many Paths to One God

Ramakrishna's Teachings

Shri Ramakrishna (1836-1886) is one of the most influential and liked saints of Hinduism. Mahatma Gandhi was one of his admirers. Gandhi wrote, "His life enables us to see God face to face. ... Ramakrishna was a living embodiment of godliness. "  Ramakrishna studied all the major religions and was a proponent of religious tolerance. Later Vivekananda helped publicize the works of Ramakrishna.
Here are some samples of Sri Ramakrishna's Teachings.

Ramakrishna's Teachings

You see many stars at night in the sky but find them not when the sun rises; can you say that there are no stars in the heaven of day? So, O man! because you behold not God in the days of your ignorance, say not that there is no god. As one and the same material, water, is called by different names by different peoples, one calling it water, another calling it eau, a third aqua, and another pani, so the one Sat-chit-ananda, the ever- lasting-intelligent-bliss, is invoked by some as God, by some as Allah, by some as Jehovah, by some as Hari, and by others as Brahman. As one can ascend to the top of a house by means of a ladder or a bamboo or a stair- case or a rope, so divers are the ways and means to approach God, and every religion in the world shows one of these ways. Different creeds are but different paths to reach the Almighty. ... 

Men weep rivers of tears because a son is not born to them; others wear away their hearts with sorrow because they cannot get riches. But how many. ..weep and sorrow because they have not seen God? He finds who seeks him; he who with intense longing weeps for God has found God. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, he who longs for him, finds him. Go and verify this in thine own life; try for three consecutive days with genuine earnestness and thou art sure to succeed. ...

The Avatara or Savior is the messenger of God. He is like the viceroy of a mighty monarch. As when there is some disturbance in a far-off province, the king sends his viceroy to quell it, so whenever there is a decline of religion in any part of the world, God sends his Avatara there. It is one and the same Avatara that, having plunged into the ocean of life, rises up in one place and is known as Krishna, and diving down again rises in another place and is known as Christ. The Avataras [like Raffia, Krishna, Buddha, Christ] stand in relation to the Absolute Brahman as the waves of the ocean are to the ocean. On the r tree of absolute existence-knowledge-bliss (Sat-chit- ananda] there hang innumerable Ramas, Krishnas, Buddhas, Christs, etc., out of which one or two come down Ito this world now and then and produce mighty changes and revolutions. ... 

What is true preaching like? Instead of preaching to others, if one worships God all that time, that is enough preaching. ...As many have merely heard of snow but not seen it, so many are the religious preachers who have read only in books about the attributes of God. ...And as many have seen but not tasted it, so many are the religious teachers who have got only a glimpse of divine glory, but have not understood its real essence. He. .. alone can describe the attributes of God who has associated with him in his different aspects, now as a servant of God, then as a friend of God, then as a lover of God, or as being absorbed in him. ...The sunlight is one and the same wherever it falls, but only bright surfaces like water, mirrors and polished metals can reflect it fully. So is the divine light. It falls equally and impartially on all hearts, but only the pure and clean hearts' : of the good and holy can fully reflect it.

Every man should follow his own religion. A Christian should follow Christianity, a Mohammedan should follow Mohammedanism, and so on. For the Hindus the ancient path, the path of the Aryan Rishis, is the best. People partition off their lands by means of boundaries, but no one can partition off the all-embracing sky over head. The indivisible sky surrounds all and it includes all. So common man in ignorance says, "My religion is the only one, my religion is the best." But when his heart is illumined by true knowledge, he know~ that above all these wars of sects and sectarians presides the one indivisible, eternal, all-knowing bliss.

As a mother, in nursing her sick children, gives rice and curry to one, and sago arrowroot to another and bread and butter to a third, so the Lord has laid out different paths for different men suitable to their natures.

Dispute not. As you rest firmly on your own faith and opinion, allow others. ..to stand by their own faiths and opinions. By mere disputation you will never succeed in convincing another of his error. When the grace of God descends on him, each one will understand his own mistakes. So long as the bee is outside the petals of the lily, and has not tasted the sweetness of its honey, it hovers round the flower emitting its buzzing sound; but when it is inside the flower. it noiselessly drinks its nectar . So long as a man quarrels and disputes about doctrines and dogmas, he has not tasted the nectar of true faith; when he has tasted it, he becomes quiet and full of peace. ... 

Although in a grain of paddy (rice) the germ is considered the only necessary thing [for germination and growth), while the husk or chaff is considered to be of no importance; still if the husked grain be put into the ground, it will not sprout up and grow into a plant and produce rice. To get a crop one must needs to sow the grain with the husk on. But if one wants to get at the kernel itself, he must remove the husk of the grain. So rites and ceremonies are necessary for the growth and the perpetuation of a religion. They are the receptacles that contain the kernel of truth, and consequently every man must perform them before he reaches the central truth. ... 

A young plant should be always protected by a fence from the mischief of goats and cows and little urchins. But when once it becomes a big tree, a flock of goats or a herd of cows may find shelter under its spreading boughs, and fill their stomachs with its leaves. So when you have but little faith within you, you should protect it from the evil influences of bad company and worldliness. But when once you grow strong in faith, no worldliness or evil inclination will dare approach your holy presence, and many who are wicked will become godly through your holy contact.

The spiritual gain of a person depends upon his sentiments and ideas, proceeds from his heart and not from his visible actions. Two friends, while strolling about, happened to pass by a place where Bhagavat [the word of God] was being preached.

One of them said, "Brother, let us go there for a while and hear the good words spoken."

The other replied,. "No, friend, what is the use of hearing the Bhagavatam? Let us spend the time in yonder public house in amusement and pleasure."

The first one did not consent to this. He went to the place where the Bhagavatam was being read and began to hear it. The other went to the public house, but did not find the pleasure that he had anticipated there and was thinking all the while, "Alas, me! Why have I come here? How happy is my friend hearing all the while the sacred life and deeds of Hari [Lord]." Thus he meditated on Hari even though in a public house.

The other man who was hearing the Bhagavatam also did not find pleasure in it. Sitting there, he began to blame himself, saying, "Alas! Why did I not accompany my friend to the public house? What a great pleasure he must be enjoying at this time there!"

The result was that he who was sitting where the Bhagavatam was preached meditated on the pleasure of the public house and acquired the fruit of the sin of going to the public house because of his bad thoughts, while the man who had gone to the public house acquired the merit of hearing the Bhagavatam because of his good heart.

It is the mind that makes one wise or ignorant, bound or emancipated. One is holy because of his mind, one is wicked because of his mind, one is a sinner because of his mind, and it is the mind that makes one virtuous. So he whose mind is always fixed on God requires no other practices, devotion, or spiritual exercises.

The faith-healers of India order their patients to repeat with full conviction the words, "There is no illness in me, there is no illness at all." The patient repeats it, and thus mentally denying the illness, goes off. So if you think yourself mortally weak, sinful and without goodness, you will really find yourself to be so in time. Know and believe that you are of immense power and the power will come to you at last. ... 

When a man is on the plains, he sees the lowly grass and the mighty pine tree and says, "How big is the tree and how small is the grass!" But when he ascends the mountain and looks from its high peak on the plain below, the mighty pine tree and the lowly grass blend into one indistinguishable mass of green verdure. So in the sight of the worldly there are differences of rank and position-one is a king, another is a cobbler, one a father, another a son, and so on-but when the divine sight is opened, all appear as equal and one, and there remains no distinction of good and bad, high and low. ., . 

If you fill an earthen vessel with water and set it apart upon a shelf, the water in it will dry up in a few days; but if you place the same vessel immersed in water, it will remain filled as long as it is kept there. Even so is the case of your love for the Lord God. Fill and enrich your bosom with the love of God for a time and then employ yourself in other affairs, forgetting him all the while, and then you are sure to find within a short time that your heart has become poor and vacant and devoid of that precious love. But if you keep your heart immersed always in the ocean of divine love, your heart is sure to remain ever full to overflowing with the water of the divine love.

Source: The Sayings Of Shri Ramakrishna

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