Devotees would often express to Sri Ramakrishna the woes of a householder’s life. They would lament that they faced innumerable problems and difficulties. They felt bewildered and helpless by the confusions and contradictions created by multiplicity. Sri Ramakrishna would listen to them patiently and explain how to steer clear of these difficulties. To illustrate this idea he would draw inference from an incident in daily life.
A man has a wife and a grown up daughter. He loves both of them. But the way he expresses his love towards them is different. Quite often he quarrels with his wife and chastises her. But he also patches up with her and shows deep affection. On the other hand, he has an entirely different relationship with his daughter, whom he dotes on. Of course, if necessary, he corrects her mistakes. His relationship and the way of showing affection to his daughter are completely different. Thus, although he has different relationships with his wife and daughter, yet he is the same person and in his heart of hearts, he is identified with both of them.
Thus Sri Ramakrishna would say that one can live in this world amidst all contradictions, confusions and difficulties if one has the right attitude. One has to behave differently under different circumstances and tackle various problems according to the situations. But in and through all this, if one has the basic attitude that everything is the manifestation of the Supreme Reality or Brahman, one can accommodate and adjust with all problems and difficulties. One can also have another attitude that all that one sees and experiences are manifestations of God alone. Thus by adopting the right attitude one can steer clear of the hurdles and live peacefully on this earth. But to do that one needs a spiritual orientation towards life itself.
-by Swami Shantatmananda, Sunday Guardian, 29th Nov 2014.