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Sleeping While Awake – Story

Once, a king suddenly declared in his court that he would give half of his kingdom to anyone who could make him understand how to prepare puffed rice. The next day several people explained to the king how to prepare puffed rice, but the king said, ‘I don’t understand.’

Then someone brought rice, a stove, a pan and other accessories and demonstrated how to make puffed rice. But the king repeated the same thing: ‘I don’t understand.’

If he had said ‘I have understood’ he would have lost half of his kingdom.

Our condition is also the same. God is real and the world is unreal — if we are fully convinced of this, we would renounce the unreal for the Real. But we are reluctant to sever our attachments. That is why we are sleeping while awake.


At present we are like prisoners. We may get a glimpse of freedom now and then, but the world falls upon us when we are off our guard and drags us back once more into our prison cells. As soon as a man finds out, however, that these little pleasures of the flesh are nothing compared with the infinite pleasures of the Spirit, he wants to renounce; not for the sake of renunciation, but because he has found something higher. (Swami Ramakrishnananda)


Even the lowest shoeblack, if he gives more concentration, will black shoes better; the cook with concentration will cook a meal all the better. In making money, or in worshipping God, or in doing anything, the stronger the power of concentration, the better will that thing be done. This is the one call, the one knock, which opens the gates of nature, and lets out floods of light. This, the power of concentration, is the only key to the treasure-house of knowledge. (Swami Vivekananda)


When paper is wetted with oil, it cannot be written upon. So the soul stained by the oil of vice and luxury is unfit for spiritual devotion. But when the paper wetted with oil is overlaid with chalk, it may be written upon; so when such a soul is ‘chalked’ over with renunciation, it becomes fit again for spiritual progress. (Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna, 171)