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The Gospel of Ramakrishna (excerpts). What unity consciousness means and doesn’t mean (English)

The following excerpts are part of The Gospel of Ramakrishna (edited by
Swami Abhedananda) (1). They bust some myths concerning unity consciousness and unconditional love (see a recent post of mine: Misconceptions about Oneness).

My notes are in regular text.


The Bhagavân laughed and said: (…) You should love everyone; no one is a stranger; God dwells in all beings; without Him nothing can exist (…)

In our relation with men all that we can do is to take heed to ourselves that we mix with good people and avoid bad company. It is true, however, that God resides in bad people also, yes, even in a tiger; but surely it does not follow that we should embrace a tiger. It may be asked: Why should we run away from a tiger when God is dwelling in that form? To this the answer is that God abiding in our hearts directs us to run away from the tiger. Why should we not obey His will? (…)

In a certain forest there lived a sage who had a number of disciples. He taught his disciples the truth: “God dwells in all things. Knowing this, you should bend your knee before every object.” One day a disciple went out into the forest for wood. On his way he saw a man riding a mad elephant and shouting: “Get out of the way, get out of the way! This is a mad elephant.” The disciple, instead of running away, remembered his master’s teaching and began to reason: “God is in the elephant as well as in me. God cannot be hurt by God, so why should I run away?” Thus thinking, he stood where he was and saluted the elephant as he came nearer. The driver (Mâhoot) kept on shouting: “Get out of the way!” but the disciple would not move, until he was snatched up by the mad elephant and dashed to one side. The poor boy, bruised and bleeding, lay on the ground unconscious. The sage, hearing of the accident, came with his other disciples to carry him home. When after some time the unfortunate pupil recovered consciousness, he described what had happened. The sage replied: My boy, it is true that God is manifest in everything. But if He is in the elephant, is He not equally manifest in the driver (Mâhoot)? Tell me why you did not pay heed to the warning of the driver?

The Bhagavân continued: In the sacred Scriptures it is written, “God dwells in water”; but some water can be used for divine service, or for drinking purposes, some for bathing or washing, while dirty water cannot be touched even. In the same manner, although God resides in all human beings, still there are good men and bad men, there are lovers of God and those who do not love God. We should recognize Divinity in all, but we should not mix with bad people or with those who do not love God. Our relation with them must not be very close. It is wise to avoid the company of such people.

Narendra: What attitude should we hold when wicked people come to disturb our peace or do actually offend us?

Bhagavân: A person living in society should have a little Tamas (the spirit of resisting evil) Resistance of for purposes of self-protection. But evil this is necessary only for outward show, its object being to prevent the wicked from doing harm to you. At the same time you should not do actual injury to another on the ground that he has done injury to you.

There was a large venomous snake in a field. No one dared to go that way. One day a holy man (Mahâtmâ) passed by that road and the serpent ran after the sage to bite him. But when the snake approached the holy man, he lost all his ferocity and was overpowered by the gentleness of the Yogi. Seeing him, the sage said: “Well, my friend, think you to bite me?” The snake was abashed and made no reply. At this the sage continued: “Hearken, friend; do not injure anyone in future.” The snake bowed and nodded assent. The sage went his way, and the snake entered his hole and thenceforward began to live a life of innocence, without attempting to harm anyone. In a few days all the neighborhood concluded that the snake had lost his venom and was no longer dangerous; so everyone began to tease him. They pelted him with stones or dragged him mercilessly by the tail, and there was no end to his troubles. Fortunately the sage again passed that way, and seeing the bruised and battered condition of the snake, was very much moved and inquired the cause. “Holy Sir,” the snake replied, “this is because I do not injure anyone after your advice. But alas! They are so merciless!” The sage smilingly said: “My friend, I simply advised you not to bite anyone; but I did not tell you not to frighten others. Although you should not bite any living creature, still you should keep people at a distance by hissing at them.” And Srî Râmakrishna added: There is no harm in “hissing” at wicked men and at your enemies, showing that you can protect yourself and know how to resist evil. Only you must be careful not to pour your venom into the blood of your enemy. Resist not evil by causing evil in return.



(1) The excerpts are copied from here:

Further reading

A more dualistic view on good and evil: M.Scott Peck – People of the lie

A nondualistic view on the same topic: Amanda Ellis – Red Pill, Blue Pill, Violet Pill – Good and Evil & Duality