Sri Ramakrishna would often explain to his devotees, only a person who can accept both the Nitya i.e. Absolute and the Lila i.e. Relative, is a true knower of the Ultimate Truth. People often accept one and reject the other due to their own inhibitions. To illustrate this idea he used to tell a beautiful story.
Once, a woman went to see her friend who was a weaver. The latter was very happy to see her and wanted to feed her. So, she left the room to fetch some refreshments. But she had been spinning different kinds of silk threads and she had left several bundles on the floor. The visiting woman was tempted by the colors and she took a bundle of thread and hid it under one of her arms.
The weaver returned soon with refreshments and began to feed her friend with great enthusiasm. But, looking around she realized that her friend had taken a bundle of thread. She wanted to get it back and hit upon a plan. She said to her friend that they had met after a long time and that it was a day of great joy and suggested that both of them dance. The visitor also agreed and both of them began to dance. The weaver saw that her friend was dancing raising only one arm. She was restricted by her own inhibition due to her act of stealing.
Drawing inference from the above story, Sri Ramakrishna would say that Brahman has two aspects, namely Nitya, the Absolute and Lila, the Relative. The former represents the transcendental state of unitary consciousness, whereas the latter represents the manifested aspect of Reality. But unless one accepts both, one’s spiritual realization will not be complete. But such acceptance is possible only when one is free from any inhibition or limitation with respect to one’s understanding of the Ultimate Truth.
– by Swami Shantatmananda, published in the ‘Sacred Books of the East’ column, Sunday Guardian, 2nd Nov 2013