Devotees would often approach Sri Ramakrishna and ask him about the nature of divine grace. They would lament that in spite of their sincere struggles, they are unable to see any sign of God’s grace. Sri Ramakrishna would assure them that God would certainly bless them, but then would caution them that the spiritual struggle and the journey involved are long and arduous. He would explain this idea using a beautiful analogy.
An explorer heard about a cave situated in a deep forest. In spite of his best efforts he could not gather much information about the cave. However, he started his journey. First he reached the outskirts of the forest and once again enquired the people there about the cave. Still, he could not gather any definite idea about the cave. He was very brave and bold and he entered the forest fully determined to locate the cave. It was a thick jungle and he had to struggle hard to progress in his journey. With great determination he continued his search for months. Most of his supplies like food, water, etc were almost exhausted.
Fortunately, his torch was still working. Then, one dark night, the flash of his torch revealed the cave which he had been searching for so long. It was a dark and abandoned cave and had not been lit up for may be a thousand years. But, the moment he focused his torch light on the interior of the cave, the beauty and the grandeur of the cave was totally revealed to him.
Thus, Sri Ramakrishna would say that a Sadhaka has to struggle long and hard retaining his faith on God. No one can say with certainty how long one has to struggle. But, if one is sincere and persistent, suddenly in a flash the grace of God would descend on such a devotee and all the spiritual truths will be revealed to him.