Some of the devotees would express to Sri Ramakrishna their inability to comprehend the idea of Advaita although the idea appeals to them. They would say that they find it difficult to comprehend God with form since in that case they would have to imagine a God having the same qualities as a human being. How to imagine a God with hands and feet and other limbs like a human being? Such a God would also be subject to disease, suffering, etc like human beings. At the same time they would say that they find it very difficult to comprehend the formless aspect of God.
Sri Ramakrishna would explain the idea to them beautifully. He would say that supposing a thorn has pricked your foot and is embedded there. How do you take it out? By using another thorn or something sharp the thorn is taken out and then both are discarded or thrown away. A mind conditioned by, the experiences gathered by the senses cannot easily give up the idea of name and form. Such a mind is normally very restless and it is extremely difficult to control it.
That is why in the initial stages of spiritual life it is advisable or rather necessary to devote oneself to the worship of God with form. This helps the restless mind gather itself and concentrate on one aspect of God, even if it is limited.
Gradually, as the mind goes deeper and deeper, it is able to comprehend more and more the transcendental dimensions of the Ultimate. In advanced stages of spiritual life slowly form gives way to the formless aspect of the Ultimate Reality or Truth. Hence, it is not a wise practice to start one’s spiritual journey directly in the quest of the formless. Slowly through intense spiritual Sadhana, beginning with the worship of any God with form, one can ascend the heights of Non-Dual Reality.