Sri Ramakrishna would draw the devotees’ attention to the nature of the world. He would say that it is extremely important to have a proper worldview. People often entertain wrong notions about the existential world and suffer. He would narrate a beautiful story to highlight the idea.
Once, there was a woodcutter who was highly spiritual. Once when he was sleeping, he had a wonderful dream and was happily immersed in it. All of a sudden he was awakened by a friend. The woodcutter asked with annoyance why his friend awakened him. In the dream he was a king and he father of seven children. They were all receiving education in various disciplines. He was seated on a throne and was ruling his country. All his subjects were happy and contended. When he suddenly woke up, his happy dream was broken and his delightful state of mind was destroyed. Hence, he felt annoyed.
His friend replied that it was only a dream and it did not really matter whether he was a king or a woodcutter. Anyway the dream would have been broken sooner or later. But the woodcutter retorted by saying, “Get away you fool. You don’t understand that my being a king was as real as my being a woodcutter. If it is true that I am a woodcutter then it is equally true that I was a king.” According to Vedanta, the waking state is no more real than the dream state.
Thus Sri Ramakrishna would say that one should be aware about the transitory nature of this world and should not get attached to one’s power, position, wealth or glory. All these are bound to perish sooner or later.
Hence, it is important to develop a correct worldview and learn to accept opposites such as good and bad, happiness and misery, etc., with equanimity. Only then is it possible to progress in a life of spirituality.
-by Swami Shantatmananda, Sunday Guardian, 19th Apr 2014.