Divine Qualities (Part 28)

Resorting to Solitude (Continued)

Spiritual Value of Solitude

Sri Ramakrishna assured his householder devotees that they could realize God while living in the world. When his disciple M. asked him if it was possible to see God, Sri Ramakrishna replied: "Yes, certainly. Living in solitude now and then, repeating God's name and singing His glories, and discriminating between the Real and the unreal─these are the means to employ to see Him." About the first discipline he said: "One must go into solitude to attain...divine love. To get butter from milk you must let it set into curd in a secluded spot; if it is too much disturbed, milk won't turn into curd. Next, you must put aside all other duties, sit in a quiet spot, and churn the curd. Only then do you get butter." Says Holy Mother: "If you practise spiritual discipline for some time in a solitary place you will find that your mind has become strong, and then you can live in any place or society without being in the least affected by it."

Sri Ramakrishna on how to Benefit from Solitude

Detachment from worldly relations

"Whenever you have leisure, go into solitude for a day or two. At that time don't have any relations with the outside world and don't hold any conversation with worldly people on worldly affairs. You must live either in solitude or in the company of holy men."

Reflection on the reality of God and the impermanence of the world

"A man must practise some spiritual discipline in order to be able to lead a detached life in the world. It is necessary for him to spend some time in solitude-be it a year, six months, three months, or even one month. In that solitude he should...say to himself: 'There is nobody in this world who is my own. Those whom I call my own are here only for two days. God alone is my own. He alone is my all in all. Alas, how shall I realize Him?' "

Prayer to remember God amid worldly duties

Being increasingly involved with work can deprive us of energy and enthusiasm needed for spiritual practice. In the words of Sri Ramakrishna, "Yes, you can perform them [worldly duties] too, but only as much as you need for your livelihood. At the same time, you must pray to God in solitude, with tears in your eyes, that you may be able to perform those duties in an unselfish manner. You should say to Him: 'O God, make my worldly duties fewer and fewer; otherwise, O Lord, I find that I forget Thee when I am involved in too many activities.' "

Practicing spiritual discipline in solitude

"It will be of great help to a man if he goes away from his family, lives alone, and weeps for God even for three days. Even if he thinks of God for one day in solitude, when he has the leisure, that too will do him good. People shed a whole jug of tears for wife and children. But who cries for the Lord? Now and then one must go into solitude and practise spiritual discipline to realize God." "By meditating on God in solitude the mind acquires knowledge, dispassion, and devotion. But the very same mind goes downward if it dwells in the world."

True Solitude

True solitude is in the divine core of our being. To experience it we must detach the will from the mind and the senses, and assert our oneness with the Spirit at all times, whether we are at work, or in meditation, or at leisure.

Part 29

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