SRI RAMAKRISHNA was sitting on the small couch in his room. Rakhal, M., and several other devotees were present. A special worship of Kali had been performed in the temple the previous night. In connexion with the worship a theatrical performance of the Vidyasundar had been staged in the natmandir. The Master had watched a part of it that morning. The actors came to his room to pay him their respects. The Master, in a happy mood, became engaged in conversation with a fair complexioned young man who had taken the part of Vidya and played his part very well.
MASTER (to the actor): "Your acting was very good. If a person excels in singing, music, dancing, or any other art, he can also quickly realize God provided he strives sincerely.
"Just as you practise much in order to sing, dance, and play on instruments, so one should practise the art of fixing the mind on God. One should practise regularly such disciplines as worship, japa, and meditation.
"Are you married? Any children?"
ACTOR: "Yes, sir. I had a girl who died. Another child has been born."
MASTER: "Ah! A death and a birth, and all so quickly! You are so young! There is a saying: 'My husband died just after our marriage. There are so many nights for me to weep!' You are no doubt realizing the nature of worldly happiness. The world is like a hog plum. The hog plum has only pit and skin, and after eating it you suffer from colic.
"You are an actor in the theatre. That's fine. But it is a very painful profession. You are young now; so you have a full, round face. Afterwards there will be hollows in your cheeks. Almost all actors become like that; they get hollow cheeks and big bellies. (Laughter.)
"Why did I stay to watch your performance? I found the rhythm, the music, and the melody all correct. Then the Divine Mother showed me that it was God alone who acted in the performance in the roles of the players."
ACTOR: "Sir, what is the difference between lust and desire?"
MASTER: "Lust is like the root of the tree, and desires are branches and twigs.
"One cannot completely get rid of the six passions: lust, anger, greed, and the like. Therefore one should direct them to God. If you must have desire and greed, then you should desire love of God and be greedy to attain Him. If you must be conceited and egotistic, then feel conceited and egotistic thinking that you are the servant of God, the child of God.
"A man cannot see God unless he gives his whole mind to Him. The mind is wasted on 'woman and gold'. Take your own case. You have children and are occupied with the theatre. The mind cannot he united with God on account of these different activities.
"As long as there is bhoga, there will be less of yoga. Furthermore, bhoga begets suffering. It is said in the Bhagavata that the Avadhuta chose a kite as one of his twenty-four gurus. The kite had a fish in its beak; so it was surrounded by a thousand crows. Whichever way it flew with the fish, the crows pursued it crying, 'Caw! Caw!' When all of a sudden the fish dropped from its beak, the crows flew after the fish, leaving the kite alone.
"The 'fish' is the object of enjoyment. The 'crows' are worries and anxiety. Worries and anxiety are inevitable with enjoyment. No sooner does one give up enjoyment than one finds peace.
"What is more, money itself becomes a source of trouble. Brothers may live happily, but they get into trouble when the property is divided. Dogs lick one another's bodies; they are perfectly friendly. But when the householder throws them a little food, they get into a scrap.
"Come here now and then. (Pointing to M. and the others) They come here on Sundays and other holidays."
ACTOR: "We have holidays for three months, during the rainy and harvest seasons. It is our good fortune to be able to visit you. On our way to Dakshineswar we heard of two persons — yourself and Jnanarnava."
MASTER: "Be on friendly terms with your brothers. It looks well. You must have noticed in your theatrical performance that if four singers sing each in a different way, the play is spoiled."
ACTOR: "Yes, sir. Many birds are trapped in a net; if they all fly together and drag the net in one direction, then many of them may be saved. But that doesn't happen if they try to fly in different directions.
"One also sees in a theatrical performance a person keeping a pitcher of water on his head and at the same time dancing about."
MASTER: "Live in the world but keep the pitcher steady on your head; that is to say, keep the mind firmly on God.
"I once said to the sepoys from the barracks: 'Do your duty in the world but remember that the "pestle of death" will some time smash your hand. Be alert about it.'
"In Kamarpukur I have seen the women of carpenter families making flattened rice with a husking-machine. One woman kicks the end of the wooden beam, and another woman, while nursing her baby, turns the paddy in the mortar dug in the earth. The second woman is always alert' lest the pestle of the machine should fall on her hand. With the other hand she fries the soaked paddy in a pan. Besides, she is talking with customers; she says: 'You owe us so much money. Please pay it before you go.' Likewise, do your different duties in the world, fixing your mind on God. But practice is necessary, and one should also be alert. Only in this way can one safeguard both — God and the world."
ACTOR: "Sir, what is the proof that the soul is separate from the body?"
MASTER: "Proof? God can be seen. By practising spiritual discipline one sees God, through His grace. The rishis directly realized the Self. One cannot know the truth about God through science. Science gives us information only about things perceived by the senses, as for instance: this material mixed with that material gives such and such a result, and that material mixed with this material gives such and such a result.
"For this reason a man cannot comprehend spiritual things with his ordinary intelligence. To understand them he must live in the company of holy persons. You learn to feel the pulse by living with a physician."
ACTOR: "Yes, sir. Now I understand."
MASTER: "You must practise tapasya. Only then can you attain the goal. It will avail you nothing even if you learn the texts of the scriptures by heart. You cannot become intoxicated by merely saying 'siddhi' over and over. You must swallow some.
"One cannot explain the vision of God to others. One cannot explain conjugal happiness to a child five years old."
ACTOR: "How does one realize the Atman?"
MASTER (to the actor): "You asked me about Self-realization. Longing is the means of realizing Atman. A man must strive to attain God with all his body, with all his mind, and with all his speech. Because of an excess of bile one gets jaundice. Then one sees everything as yellow; one perceives no colour but yellow. Among you actors, those who take only the roles of women acquire the nature of a woman; by thinking of woman your ways and thoughts become womanly. Just so, by thinking day and night of God one acquires the nature of God.
"The mind is like white linen just returned from the laundry. It takes on the colour you dip it in."
ACTOR : "But it must first be sent to the laundry."
MASTER: "Yes. First is the purification of the mind. Afterwards, if you direct the mind to the contemplation of God, it will be coloured by God-Consciousness. Again, if you direct the mind to worldly duties, such as the acting of a play, it will be coloured by worldliness."