Sri Ramakrishna would again and again caution his devotees about leading a materialistic or worldly life. He would try to inspire them about the joy and beauty of leading a life based on spiritual values. But some of the devotees who were not given to the pursuit of a deep spiritual life would often express apprehension about getting close to him. They would say that suddenly and without notice he would sting them like a wasp and all their worldly ties would be severed and they would be forced into a life of renunciation. But Sri Ramakrishna would assure that he never advocated such a path for everyone. He would tell them that there is a way to live in this world where we can certainly have a taste of material comforts, etc. People living a materialistic life often try to indulge in bhoga or enjoyment which relate to the plane of matter. They wrongly assume that having possessions, riches, etc would automatically lead to joy and happiness.
But time and again it has been proved beyond doubt that such a materialistic approach ultimately leads to disaster and destruction. As against this, Sri Ramakrishna used to advocate a beautiful method.
He would say that supposing there is the number “One”and adding one “Zero”, it becomes “Ten”. Adding two “Zeros”, it becomes “Hundred”. The more number of zeros you add to “One”, the value of the number keeps on increasing and in a very big way. But the moment you remove that “One”, adding any number of zeros would not create any value.
In the same way, he would say, you can have worldly possessions, enjoyments, etc, but they should be preceded by “One”viz. God. Once you associate all your actions, possessions, etc with God, then the charm, beauty and degree of enjoyment will only increase.
Sri Ramakrishna would say that one can live in the world but one should constantly associate all his actions with God.
-by Swami Shantatmananda, Sunday Guardian, 20th Jul 2014
(Background image: Stylized Minimalism by cdwillis)