Sri Ramakrishna would describe to devotees the nature of the Ultimate Truth or Brahman. He would say, Brahman can be realised, but is beyond description. That is why the Upanishads describe it as beyond words and as something which cannot be reached by the mind. To illustrate the idea, he used to narrate a beautiful story.

Once, four friends were walking together towards a destination. On the way they saw a place enclosed by a wall. The wall was very high, but they could hear a lot of noise coming from inside. They became eager to know what it was. One of them climbed the wall. What he saw, when he looked inside, made him speechless with wonder. He exclaimed, “Ah! Ah!” and jumped in. He could not come back to give any information about what he saw. The same was the experience with others.

The sadhaka, when he starts his spiritual journey, his efforts are in the realm of the senses. He strives hard, goes further and further deep in his search for the Ultimate. But as long as he is within the domain of the senses, he is able to relate his experiences through the knowledge derived from senses and also describe the same. But at the point of the Ultimate Experience, a huge paradigm shift takes place. The aspirant goes from the sphere of sense knowledge to something which is indescribable.

The experience is very similar to a rocket taking off from the ground and going higher and higher. As long as the rocket is within the sphere of the gravitational pull of the earth, it has the capacity to come back. Once it goes beyond that region, it can never return to earth. Similarly, the aspirant, when he reaches the highest or the Ultimate Knowledge namely Knowledge of Brahman, he has transcended the limitation of the sense and hence he cannot come back to describe his experience.

– by Swami Shantatmanandaji, published in the ‘Sacred Books of the East’ column, Sunday Guardian, 17th Aug 2013