Devotees would often ask Sri Ramakrishna to prescribe the appropriate medicine for their spiritual illness. They would complain that they seem to be unable to progress in spiritual life and are suffering from some illness and they need the correct remedy. Sri Ramakrishna would explain the matter to them using a beautiful analogy.
There lived a farmer in a village and the area had not seen rains for a long time. He had already sown seeds and the fields had to be watered soon at any cost. He had to connect his field to a canal at quite some distance and he started digging it in right earnest.
It was noon time and still he was working very hard unmindful of the heat. His wife first sent her daughter asking her to inform her father that it was time to come home, have a bath, lunch and then go back to the fields. The farmer simply sent the daughter back. After some time the wife herself came to persuade her husband. She said, “You always overdo things”.
But, he chased her with his axe in hand saying, “There is nothing to eat and the children would die and you are calling me without any sense of proportion. Go away immediately.” The wife ran away in fear.
The farmer worked till sunset and then linked his field to the canal. He heard the gurgling sound of the water entering his field and was satisfied. Then he went home and asked his wife to prepare a smoke for him and then he took bath and food and slept snoring.
Thus Sri Ramakrishna would say that during the initial years of spiritual life, one should do intense Sadhana. A lukewarm effort will not produce any meaningful result. Thus intensity is the watchword in the initial years of Sadhana.