This article is from the book What The River Has Taught Me.
A very important reason why man should try to realise God is that it is the only way to get out of the miseries of the cycle of birth and death. There is no second solution. Mark it carefully. There is no second solution. There is no alternative to realising God if you want to escape the miseries you are subject to. The alternative to God-realisation is to suffer the miseries of mundane existence. If you choose to suffer that, well, you are free to do so. But if you want to escape that, there is only one way out, and that is the spiritual way, the way of Sadhana, of Tapasya, of Abhyasa and Vairagya.
Not only that. There is no short-cut to God. You have to traverse the whole distance. The gap, the yawning chasm that separates you from God, has to be fully covered. It takes time. Often it is painful. Sometimes it is so painful that one begins to doubt if all that suffering is worth the while. This is particularly so when God tests the spiritual seeker for his worth. It is like Christ’s crucifixion. Every seeker has to bear the Cross; only it is a different kind of Cross with different seekers. It is no use saying, “Oh! I have all the virtues; I have all the divine qualities, except…except…one imperfection, one little weakness”. No. God is still far away from you.
You cannot realise God who is Perfection while possessing the slightest imperfection, the slightest taint. That is why Mother Saradamani Devi, the worshipful partner of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, prayed the way she did. One full moon night, as she looked up at the sky, a spontaneous prayer arose within her heart: “O God! Bless me that I may become spotless like the yonder full moon”. And, as suddenly, she hesitated. “Father-in-Heaven!” she cried, “Even the full moon has flaws. Make me flawless. Make me immaculate”. Immaculate! That is the word. Flawless. Pure. Perfect. Radiant. Spotless. Immaculate.
So, even if you possess one single weakness, you cannot realise God. You cannot have Atma-sakshatkara. Remember well that it is no use saying, “I have just this weakness. I lack only in this virtue”. You will be tested by God only in that virtue, precisely in that virtue in which you are wanting. Are you impatient? You will be tested for patience again and again. Do you have a weakness for women? God will send girls, and more girls, to test your mettle. You will have to get over your weakness somehow. Till then you will be faced with the same problem, the same temptation, again and again.
Let us see how exactly Maya operates. Suppose, for instance, you succumb at the slightest temptation. Then Maya will confront you with small temptations only, because she is able to achieve her purpose with little effort. But supposing you are morally very strong, though not perfect yet. Then Maya will send powerful temptations, like ravishing damsels, to uproot you from your moral stronghold, as she sent Menaka to Visvamitra. You have to become invulnerable to the most powerful temptation. Then only your spiritual safety becomes foolproof.
When the spiritual seeker is thus repeatedly tested, sorely tried, he feels miserable. Every spiritual seeker has to pass through this stage. It is the process of purification. You will be like the ore in the furnace. It is certainly not a pleasant experience. It is very painful indeed. The seeker begins to ruminate. He feels: “If worldly life was like being in the frying pan, here in this spiritual life, I feel as if I have been thrown into the fire”. And he is dazed. “Is this the choice open to me, after all?” he begins to wonder. If he is weak-willed, he begins to curse his Creator. “What kind of God is He” he cries, “to delight in the miseries of all! He is the greatest sadist. Who wants God?” The part tragic, part comic aspect of the whole situation is that even when the seeker curses his Creator, he is aware of his total helplessness, of his own impotence and God’s omnipotence. Ultimately he breaks down and prays to the very God whom he was abusing and cursing but a little while before. This is surrender, total surrender, unqualified surrender. In that moment of surrender, God’s grace rushes into him, consoles him and comforts him. And peace ensues in the troubled heart … and wisdom.