Devotees would often unburden their problems before Sri Ramakrishna. They would ask him, why in spite of their genuine intent they are unable to progress much in their spiritual life. Sri Ramakrishna, who was extremely sympathetic towards his devotees, would point out the real impediment or difficulty. He would explain the idea using a powerful example.
Once, a man was invited by his friend for a feast. Since the friend was very rich and capable of feeding him sumptuously with a variety of dishes, the man was very excited about the feast. With great enthusiasm he reached his friend’s house and after exchanging some pleasantries sat down to eat. As expected, the host had made elaborate arrangements and had prepared a lot of delicious dishes. As soon as the guest sat down, all the dishes were served. With great delight he started eating. But, before he could consume even a single morsel, he had to spit out whatever was there in his mouth. He had sensed that there was a strand of hair in the food which he was about to consume. He could not eat anything and had to get up hungry. Thus Sri Ramakrishna would say that in spite of one’s genuine intention, all the Sadhanas or spiritual disciplines would come to nothing if there are desires in one’s mind. Desires are the greatest enemies of spiritual progress. Whatever progress one makes in spiritual life is completely annulled by indulging in enjoyments due to desires. Every time the aspirant tries to progress in spiritual life, he is pulled down by desires. That is why when someone asked the Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi about the belief that those who die in Benaras would be liberated, she answered that it was true, but added that if one desires liberation or Mukti in this very birth i.e. even while living in the body, one should become desireless.