Many devotees used to go to Sri Ramakrishna and unburden their tales of woe and suffering. While giving them a patient hearing and sympathising with them from the core of his heart, Sri Ramakrishna would gently point out to them where exactly the difficulty was. He would also show them the way to conquer sorrow and suffering. To illustrate this idea he used to narrate an incident which happened in his room at Dakshineshwar in the precincts of the well-known Kali temple.
Once, two sadhus, who were related to each other in their pre-monastic life as father and son, came to meet Sri Ramakrishna. The son was an illumined soul and had attained the knowledge of Unity of Existence. But the father had not progressed that far. Both of them were sitting in Sri Ramakrishna’s room and talking to him. Suddenly, a cobra came out of a rat-hole from somewhere nearby and bit the son. Seeing this, the father became terribly frightened and began to shout for help. But the son was sitting quietly and this greatly puzzled the father.
When questioned, the son laughed and asked in return, why was there such a great commotion and who had bitten whom? He had scaled the peak of Advaita and had realised the unity of existence. Hence, he could not make any distinction between the snake and the man.
Of course, this does not mean that the knower of Brahman is not aware of existential matters. The only difference between him and an ordinary man is that he is so above the idea of body that he is not bothered by any pain or suffering. Thus, Sri Ramakrishna would explain that if one has to truly conquer sorrow and suffering, one should attain true or Ultimate Knowledge of Advaita and realise the unity of existence. Once all distinctions or differences vanish, man is free from all bondages.