Ramakrishna was a great devotee, and the path of devotion
is full of imagination. Mind has the capacity to hypnotize itself and can
see the object of imagination just standing before it.
You should pay attention to the fact that no Mohammedan
or Christian ever experiences Krishna, no Hindu ever experiences Jesus.
They all see what they imagine, what they believe in, what is their hypothesis.
If you continuously go on insisting on a certain hypothetical
concept of God, one day you will see that hypothesis becoming a reality.
Ramakrishna was a devotee of the Mother Goddess of Calcutta.
An enlightened man, Totapuri, was just passing by. He looked at Ramakrishna
and he felt great compassion for the poor fellow. He told Ramakrishna:
“You think that you have experienced the Mother Goddess.”
Ramakrishna said: “See, I have talked with her, and
not one day, but every day.” He was an honest man, and what he was
saying was absolutely true.
Totapuri laughed and he said: “Listen, that Mother
Goddess is nothing but pure imagination. Unless you drop that you will
never become enlightened. So sit down. I will remain here for three or
four days, just for you. I have to help you in somehow dropping the Mother
Now that was a very difficult matter. Ramakrishna had
loved the Mother Goddess his whole life, danced before her. And he was
not a traditional fellow; he was very untraditional, very loving, very
innocent — so much so that twice the trustees of the temple in which he
used to worship, where he was the priest, had to call him saying: “This
is strange what you are doing….”
First he would taste the food that was to be offered to
the goddess, and then he would offer it. Now this is absolutely wrong according
to the Hindu tradition. First you should offer it to the god and then you
can distribute it, you can eat it.
But Ramakrishna said: “My mother always used to taste
it first and then she would give it to me. I don’t care about anybody,
I know what the reason was. The reason was whether it is worth giving.
Is the taste right? Is the sweetness not too much or too little? I cannot
offer it without tasting it first.”
He used to fight with the Mother Goddess. Nobody could
understand what was happening. He would lock the temple for three or four
days and would tell the Mother Goddess: “Remain inside the temple,
because you are not doing anything for your devotees. So many people come
and they ask you and their prayers are not answered. I am the priest here;
it is my duty to take care. Now remain locked up. After three or four days
I will see you again.”
The trustees said: “You are here as the salaried
priest. Your work is to worship every day.”
He said: “That is not the question. The question
is that the Mother Goddess has to listen to me. When she listens I prepare
such good food for her and bring so many roses and so many flowers. When
she is really listening to the prayers I dance the whole day. But when
she is not listening, becomes adamant, then I am also a man of some dignity….”
Totapuri said to Ramakrishna: “You sit in silence.
You don’t have any other ropes that I can see, just this one rope. So when
you see the Mother Goddess arising in your imagination, just take the sword
and cut the mother in two pieces. They will fall, and with them will fall
the last barrier.”
Ramakrishna said: “From where am I going to get the
Totapuri said: “From where have you got this Mother
Goddess? — From the same place. It is your imagination. That is also your
imagination; only imagination is needed to cut it.”
It took three days, because he would go into meditation
and the Mother Goddess would be standing there, and he would forget all
about Totapuri. He would forget all about the sword, and tears would start
flowing from his eyes, and Totapuri would shake him saying: “What
are you doing?”
Ramakrishna said: “What to do? — Because once I
see her, she is so beautiful…. Don’t force me to cut her.”
Totapuri said: “Listen, I can see even from the outside:
your face immediately changes when you see the mother. I have brought a
piece of glass, and the moment I see that you are seeing the mother —
because your tears start flowing, your face becomes so beautiful — I will
make a cut just on your third eye center with the glass. I have to do this
because tomorrow I leave. I cannot waste any more time. This is the last
chance: either you do it or I am finished with you.”
And Totapuri said: “When I cut your forehead and
blood starts flowing, don’t hesitate, just take the sword and cut the mother.”
Ramakrishna cut the mother and he remained silent for
six days. Totapuri remained for six days, and when Ramakrishna opened his
eyes he thanked Totapuri and said: “If you had not come, I would have
lived my whole life with the hallucination. My last barrier has fallen
Ramakrishna became enlightened after he had cut the last
barrier. But even the followers of Ramakrishna don’t mention this incident,
because this incident makes the whole effort of worshipping futile. If
you have finally to cut it, why start it in the beginning?
Zen Wind, Sufi Fire