Devotees would often go to Sri Ramakrishna and discuss with him the process of spiritual evolution. They would unburden their hearts claiming how difficult it was to progress in spiritual life. After a relentless struggle, a small percentage of sincere seekers appeared to see some light.
The devotees would be curious about how extraordinary spiritual personalities seemed to dive into spiritual experiences easily. Sri Ramakrishna would explain this to them using a beautiful analogy from daily life. He would say that the flower appears on the plant only if it is cared for and looked after properly. The raw fruit appears later and finally ripens. This is the path traversed by normal sadhakas or spiritual aspirants. However, there are special plants where the fruit appears first and then the flower appears to complete the cycle of evolution, albeit indirectly.
For example, in the case of gourd or pumpkin the raw fruit appears first and then the flower emerges. Similarly, in the case of extraordinary souls like avatars, spiritual realization appears very easily in their lives.
Even at a very young age they live a life of extraordinary God-consciousness, but because they have taken a human birth, some of the qualities of the earthly life have to find a place in their lives. That is why they apparently do intense sadhana afterwards. It is not that they have to perform intense spiritual disciplines or austerities to reach the ultimate goal of life.
Just to show the way to the world or to set an example for others, they perform intense austerities. By seeing their lives, spiritual aspirants get their doubts cleared and feel a sense of certainty about spiritual realization.
Thus by emulating the lives of extraordinary souls, ordinary aspirants slowly but surely progress in spiritual life.