Sri Ramakrishna would often explain to his devotees the true nature of Brahman. He would say that Brahman is beyond vidya (knowledge) and avidya (ignorance). It is beyond maya, the illusion of duality. However, he would say that the world consists of the illusory duality of knowledge and ignorance. Good and evil apply to the jiva, the individual soul, as do righteousness and unrighteousness; but Brahman is not at all affected by them. He would give several examples to highlight this idea. He would say that there is a lighted lamp. One may read the Bhagavata or any holy scripture by the light of the lamp and another may commit any theft or forgery by that very lamp; but the lamp is unaffected. The sun sheds its light on the wicked and the virtuous. But, the sun itself is not affected by all these.
But someone would ask how one could explain misery and sin and unhappiness i.e. the negative expressions of life. Sri Ramakrishna would answer that these apply only to the jiva or the individual soul and the Brahman is unaffected by them. He would say that there is poison in the snake, but though others may die if bitten by it, the snake itself is not affected by the poison.
One often feels bewildered by the nature of the manifested world. One often finds it impossible to reconcile the contradictory dualities in such a world, but all these contradictions can be resolved through the understanding of the nature of the highest reality or the Brahman. What Brahman is cannot be described by words, but one can intuitively feel the undying and eternal nature of Brahman which is totally unaffected by the modifications that we witness in the manifested world. As one advances in the spiritual path, one is able to understand and absorb all the difficulties and problems that one faces in life and ultimately go beyond them.
-by Swami Shantatmananda, Sunday Guardian, 28th Jun 2014