Most of the spiritual seekers try to seek God or the Ultimate Truth in the objective world. They seldom pay attention to the subjective aspect of reality. To explain this idea Sri Ramakrishna used to narrate a beautiful story.

A man who was very fond of smoking wanted to enjoy smoke through a hubble-bubble and for that he needed to light his charcoal. He went to a neighbour’s house in search of fire. It was the dead of night and the entire household was asleep. After he had knocked a great deal, someone came down to open the door. At the sight of the man, he asked, “What is the matter? Why are you here at the dead of night?” The man replied, “Can’t you guess? You know how fond I am of smoking. I have come here to light my charcoal.” The neighbour started laughing uncontrollably. The man asked him as to what was the reason for his laughter. The neighbour replied, “You are a wonderful man indeed. You took so much trouble to come here and do all the knocking at the door at the dead of night while you have a lighted lantern in your hand. Could you not use that to light your charcoal?” The man felt ashamed at his ignorance. All that he had wanted was within his reach and yet he was so ignorant that he had to go and seek help from someone else.

Sri Ramakrishna used to say that what a man seeks is within him; still he wanders about from place to place seeking the Truth in the external world. That is why the Upanishads speak of turning the gaze inwards. That is the way to realize the Truth.

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