Many devotees would approach Sri Ramakrishna regarding their doubts about spiritual life. They would lament with deep anguish that they are unable to experience the ultimate truth about their real nature in spite of spiritual striving. They would express a deep sense of dissatisfaction that the knowledge that they were the ever pure, ever blissful and undying Atman seemed only theoretical and that they feel overwhelmed by the idea of body and mind. Sri Ramakrishna would clarify their doubts using a beautiful analogy. He would say that, “to separate the kernel of coconut is practically impossible, but once the milk inside is completely evaporated, the kernel would separate of itself coming free and rolling around inside.”
In the same way, normally human beings gather all their experiences from the senses alone. This further strengthens the idea that they are nothing but the body and the mind. Again, the gathering of experiences is related to the Vasanas or desires in the mind. It is extremely difficult to get rid of the idea or association with one’s physical nature. But it is not impossible. One needs to practice spiritual disciplines or Sadhana. Sri Ramakrishna would further emphasize the need to spend time in solitude and in Satsang or in the company of the holy. Due to such striving, one first gets a glimpse of something transcendental. One tends to believe that it is possible to go beyond the idea of the body and the mind. This in turn leads one away from a life dominated by Vasanas or the desire to enjoy. As one progresses in spiritual life, the milk of Vasanas start drying up. Then the idea that one is beyond the body and the mind and in essence the undying spirit slowly gains strength. Finally, after unrelenting and intense Sadhana the experience that one is the eternal Atman comes to a genuine spiritual aspirant.