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Aim Of Life Should Be Complete Freedom From All Things Limited

The Upanishads take a very positive view of life in this world. They deem human life to be an excellent opportunity to unfold our divine nature. The ultimate value of life, according to the Upanishads, is the knowledge of one’s own Self, which results in complete freedom from all things limited. There is no genuine happiness in the trifling objects of the world. Real happiness has to be sought only in bhuma (infinitude, that is, the Divine). The whole of life is meant for achieving this goal. That person indeed is unfortunate who fails to realize the Truth in this very birth.

Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings echo the same idea. He says that a newcomer to a city first secures
lodging and then freely goes about seeing the city. Similarly, after securing one’s eternal resting place in God, a newcomer to this world can fearlessly move about doing his or her daily work. Other-
wise, when the dark and dreadful night of death comes, one will have to encounter great difficulty
and suffering.

According to Sri Ramakrishna, God comes first, then the world. One should live in the world diligently, keeping a major portion of one’s mind on God. The Upanishads go to the length of stressing that all thoughts excepting that of God are to be shunned if one wishes to attain immortality. Sri Ramakrishna gives a practical illustration in this regard: The boat is in the water, but on no account should water be in the boat. In the same way, one should live in this world but not allow worldliness to creep into one’s mind. The mind is of primary importance. While some Upanishads emphasize that the transcendental Reality is beyond the reach of the senses, speech, mind, and other means of knowledge, others are of the opinion that it is through the mind alone that one can attain the supreme Spirit. In Sri Ramakrishna we find reconciliation of these apparently conflicting views. God, according to the Great Master, cannot be attained by an impure mind, but can be reached by a pure mind. In fact, there is no difference between pure mind, pure intellect, and pure Self. The pure mind itself can act like a teacher and take us to the goal.

The Upanishadic sages, as well as Sri Ramakrishna, emphatically stress the point that one can achieve the goal of life even while being engaged in worldly duties. The majority of teachers found
in the Upanishads happened to be kings who were the busiest of people. Many of Sri Ramakrishna’s
disciples were educated men occupying responsible positions in society. Hence, it is naive to suggest
that religious life means otherworldliness.