Sri Ramakrishna would often advise his devotees to be aware of the power of samskaras. Such awareness would help them understand their mind in times of difficulties. He would say that even if one wants to renounce the world, it is not so easy because such intentions can be thwarted by the karmas done in the previous births. The impressions of the actions in the previous births on the mind start bearing fruits in the present birth and thus create obstacles in actualising noble intentions. In this connection, he used to narrate an interesting parable.

Once, a king met a yogi and sought his blessings. The yogi was compassionate by nature and wanted to help the king. He asked him to sit by his side and meditate upon God. He told the king that as long as one is bothered by thoughts concerning the world, it is not possible to be free from sorrow and sufferings. He added that the solution lay in meditating upon God and realising the Ultimate Truth. But the king replied that it is not possible for him to do so. Even if he remains near the yogi, he would still be bothered by the thirst for worldly enjoyments. Hence, it won’t be possible for him to concentrate his mind on God. The king added that even if he were to remain in a forest, there too he would create a kingdom.

But Sri Ramakrishna would also suggest a way out. Once a person develops some orientation towards a higher life, such a person should try to cultivate dispassion for the world and love of God through intense longing and prayer. Such a practice over a long period of time slowly weans away the mind from the world. It would also weaken the powerful hold of the samskaras on the mind. Slowly the person would be able to concentrate his mind more and more on God and thus progress towards the ultimate goal of life.

Published in the ‘Sacred Books of the East’ column, Sunday Guardian, 22nd Jun 2013