Devotees would often come to Sri Ramakrishna and openly confess their inability to overcome anger, hatred, etc in spite of their spiritual orientation.
Sri Ramakrishna would explain to them how they can get rid of such negative emotions, using a beautiful analogy. A sword normally is used for fighting and causing grievous injuries to others including death. This is the natural or the normal use to which a sword is put to. But, there is a belief that if the sword, which is made out of iron, comes into contact with a philosopher’s stone, it is turned into gold. No one would use a golden sword for such destructive purposes. It is treasured and carefully preserved. Although externally the golden sword also looks like the sword made of iron, yet the similarity ends at the external level. In the same way, Sri Ramakrishna would say that human beings are usually full of emotions such as lust, anger, etc. The reason for such tendencies is explained in the Shastras as due to the effects of the Karmas of the past lives. Due to the wrong actions performed in the previous lives, one carries forward such bad tendencies. But, human beings are also endowed with good Samaskars or spiritual tendencies. Making use of these if one performs intense Sadhana or spiritual discipline such as prayer, japa and meditation, it is possible to slowly overcome the effects of bad tendencies. At one point of time just as the philosopher’s stone converts iron into gold, people who thought of themselves as worthless and wicked would suddenly find a miraculous change in their nature.
Although they might still retain some of the external characteristics of their bad Karmas, still they would no longer be capable of real anger or hatred towards anybody. The change would be permanent and long-lasting. Thus their spiritual journey in the right direction would have begun and they would slowly and surely reach the ultimate goal of life.