How to cultivate detachment (continued)
Change of attitude toward spouse and children
Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings are as profound as they are simple. Citing examples from everyday life, he teaches us how to live in the world with our mind centered in God. When his disciple M. asked, “How ought we to live in the world?” Sri Ramakrishna replied, “Do all your duties, but keep your mind on God. Live with all—with wife and children, father and mother—and serve them. Treat them as if they were very dear to you, but know in your heart of hearts that they do not belong to you. A maidservant in the house of a rich man performs all the household duties, but her thoughts are fixed on her own home in her native village. She brings up her master’s children as if they were her own. She even speaks of them as ‘my Rama’ or ‘my Hari’. But in her own mind she knows very well that they do not belong to her at all.”
This teaching of Sri Ramakrishna has several valuable implications for spiritual life. 1) Instead of being bound by family relations, we should look upon ourselves and our family as children of God, under His care. 2) We cannot escape from our duties to our family or perform them carelessly, but must diligently fulfill them in a spirit of worship of God. 3) What Sri Ramakrishna calls “unripe ego” will be transformed into “ripe ego.” It will no longer be focused on family and possessions, but centered in God. 4) We will grow in detachment and equanimity, and face the inevitable problems of life, offering the results to God. Such a detached mind presupposes a strong will, which helps us in our spiritual practice.
Sri Ramakrishna further explains how husband and wife can live a true spiritual life and help each other: “After the birth of one or two children, husband and wife should live as brother and sister and talk only of God. Then both their minds will be drawn to God, and the wife will be a help to the husband on the path of spirituality. None can taste divine bliss without giving up his animal feeling. A devotee should pray to God to help him get rid of this feeling. It must be a sincere prayer. God is our Inner Controller; He will certainly listen to our prayer if it is sincere.”
Copyright© 2011, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York.