Sri Ramakrishna would often explain to devotees the nature of spiritual life. He would tell them time and again that God realization is the only true goal of life and that God alone is really one’s own.
To illustrate this idea he used to narrate a beautiful story. There was a Guru or a holy man and he had a disciple. He found that the disciple was deeply attached to his family and his relatives.
He would tell him again and again that these relationships count for nothing and that God alone is truly dear and near to us. But, the disciple could not be convinced.
So, one day the teacher told him, “I would give you a medicine and if you take it, you would appear to be dead in the eyes of others, but internally you would be fully conscious and be able to see and hear everything.”
So the disciple took the medicine and reached home. Soon it appeared that he was completely dead. His wife and mother and other relatives started weeping and wailing, but he was able to see everything. Just then the Guru appeared there and enquired the people as to what had happened.
They told him that his disciple was dead and they were deeply grief-stricken.
Then the Guru suggested a remedy. He said, “I can give you a medicine which would revive the dead person, but the person taking it would in turn die.” The disciple was watching the reaction of his relatives. The wife who pretended to be so dear to the husband said that after all the husband was anyway gone and there were no one to care for the children and hence she was not ready to take the medicine.
Thus one by one all of them refused the offer of the Guru. At that time the disciple got up and said that he had understood the real nature of worldly relationships. He walked away with the Guru.