Devotees would often lament that the Shastras spoke about the infinite, birthless, deathless and eternal nature of the atman; yet human beings were entangled in the world of maya and suffer
endlessly. Sri Ramakrishna would answer their queries drawing inference from a commonplace incident.
There was a kitchen in a house whose walls were covered with a thick coating of soot due to smoke.
One day a young man dressed in spotless white clothes came to visit the family living in that house. He wanted to enter the kitchen to get a glass of water for himself. The household warned him about the dark and sooty condition of the room. But, the young man said that he was very careful and would avoid getting stained. In spite of his extreme alertness, when he came out of the room it was found that there were stains of soot on his white clothes.
Sri Ramakrishna would compare the world with such a room.
The people of the world in their true nature are existence, knowledge and bliss. Yet, the life in the world does create some stains in spite of one being extremely careful.
The immortal, birthless and deathless atman when enmeshed in the cage of a human body, in spite of being such a supreme power, gets bound by the fetters of Maya and suffers all kinds of worldly pains and sorrows.
But, with the power of viveka (discrimination) and vichara (proper reasoning), one should remind oneself of one’s real nature.
In spite of endless sufferings and worldly bondages one should never lose track of one’s real nature. Thus, by constant and relentless effort it is possible to get rid of the stains of the world and reach the supreme goal in life.