Many devotees would approach Sri Ramakrishna and unburden their hearts to him. They would narrate in great detail their tales of sorrow and suffering. Of course, Sri Ramakrishna knew that the world was full of problems and difficulties and that it was really difficult to steer clear of the obstacles one faced in life. The devotees would ask Sri Ramakrishna how to carry on with their lives in such difficult circumstances and yet keep their minds focused on a spiritual goal. Although Sri Ramakrishna was aware that people were placed in different circumstances in this world as per the results of their actions in their past lives, or in other words, according to the Law to Karma, but there was a way of overcoming the problems that arose in one’s life. Sri Ramakrishna would explain this idea using a very powerful illustration.
Once a man developed a boil on his back. It grew big and was diagnosed as a carbuncle. He was in great pain. He was poor and had a big family to support. The date for his operation was fixed, but until the last day he continued to perform his duties, although he was constantly suffering from pain. He was doing everything, but his mind was constantly thinking of his ailment.
Thus Sri Ramakrishna would explain that one may face tremendous difficulties and problems in life, yet one should keep at least a portion of one’s mind focused on the Lord and carry on with various duties, however difficult and painful they may be. As one continues in this fashion, one slowly learns to adjust to the difficult circumstances of life and tends to concentrate the mind more and more on God. Slowly but steadily the worldly problems and difficulties would either lessen or would cease to trouble such an aspirant. Finally, it is possible to absorb one’s mind completely in God and live happily and peacefully.
-by Swami Shantatmananda, Sunday Guardian, 8th Nov 2014