Sri Ramakrishna used to emphasise that it was extremely important to experience the spiritual truths before embarking on the mission of instructing others. He would say that the instruction of a man who has not had the vision of God does not produce any worthwhile effect on the hearers. Such a man’s instructions are often a bundle of confused statements, a mixture of right and wrong.

In this connection he used to refer to a lecture delivered by a leader of one of the religious sects which had a decent number of followers at that time. It was a great occasion and a large number of devotees had gathered to listen to a spiritual discourse. Among the crowd were a number of serious spiritual aspirants keen to be instructed about the way to go forward in spiritual life.

Sri Ramakrishna said, “Samadhyayi (a religious instructor) delivered a lecture. He said: ‘God is beyond words and mind; He is dry. Worship Him through the bliss of your love and devotion’.” Sri Ramakrishna would exclaim, how one could describe God that way since the very nature of God was joy and bliss. He would wonder what such a lecture would accomplish. It was not capable of teaching people anything. He would add that such a lecture was like the lecture of a man who said, “My uncle’s cowshed is full of horses.” Horses in the cowshed! From that one could understand that there were neither horses nor cows.

Published in the ‘Sacred Books of the East’ column, Sunday Guardian, Jan 26, 2013

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