Sri Ramakrishna (1836 to 1886) was and is a spiritual teacher for all generations. I came to his teachings in a roundabout way as I loved the teachings and vibration of his wife and consort, Sri Sarada Devi. I lived near the Vedanta Temple, perched on a mountain side in Montecito, California, where I went to visit with the Sarada convent nuns who ran the bookstore and took care of the grounds of the temple. The view from the front stoop looks over the Santa Barbara coastline and ocean, with the smell of the surrounding eucalyptus trees and sage doing their part to uplift the visitor.
The message I’ve always received from Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Sarada Devi is practical spirituality. The lessons I’ve taken from his book, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna translated into English by Swami Nikhilananda, are how to incorporate spirituality at the purest and highest level into daily living. After all, what good is it to read spiritual teachings if we can’t figure out how to apply the lessons. Fortunately for me, when I met my husband the book was already handily installed on his bookshelf.
Here is where the gospel comes to the rescue: the lessons are given through the interactions of Sri Ramakrishna and his disciples and visitors. In this way one can assimilate more easily how to act rightly in the highest manner with others and our world.
The book is divided into 52 chapters and also includes text to devotional songs, a summary of the Master’s life, a glossary and index.
The serious and scholarly student has plenty of material to mull over. But, as I and maybe more frequently the case, the devotional student need only open the book to any page to receive universal spiritual teachings applicable for all tastes and tempers. It is an ultimate divine reference manual.
Here is a quote and explanation of one of his songs:
“As is a man’s meditation, so is his feeling of love;
As is a man’s feeling of love, so is his gain;
And faith is the root of all.
If in the Nectar Lake of Mother Kali’s feet
My mind remains immersed,
Of little use are worship, oblations, or sacrifice.”
“What is needed is absorption in God - loving Him intensely. The ‘Nectar Lake’ is the Lake of Immortality. A man sinking in it does not die, but becomes immortal.” Passage from page 108.
A must read for spiritual seekers!
Details - Hardcover: 1062 pages; Publisher: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center (June 1, 1985); Language: English; ISBN-10: 0911206019; ISBN-13: 978-0911206012; Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.9 inches
Review by Susan Helene Kramer