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Chapter 8: The Decisive Moment Is at Hand

But a Vivekananda does not ask for permission, he asks his question straight.

A short while ago I was in a town, and a young man came to me and asked if he should become a sannyasin. I told him, “So long as you feel like consulting others, don’t take sannyas; otherwise you will only repent. And why drag me into this trouble? It is for you to decide. The day you feel that you cannot postpone it, even if the whole world comes in your way, should be the day of your initiation into sannyas. Only then can sannyas be fruitful and joyous, not before.”

Then he asked, “And what about you?”

I said, “I never consulted anybody. At least in this life I did not have to consult anybody. And if I have to consult at all, I will consult my own inner being.”

Why consult others? And how can you trust what others say? You cannot rely on others’ advice. Whatever you do, you cannot depend on what others advise you to do. And will it make any difference if I say that God is? Did it make any difference for you when you read in a book that Ramakrishna told Vivekananda, “I see God more vividly than I see you”? You can write another book saying that you asked me and I said, “Yes, God is. And I see God more clearly than I see you.” Will it make any difference?

Even if a thousand books say that God is, it is all useless. Unless the answer that ‘God is’ comes from your inner being, all answers coming from others will be of no help. Borrowed answers won’t do. Borrowing can be useful in every other walk of life, but it does not work in the context of the inner search. So why do you ask me? And how will my “yes” or “no” help you? If you have to ask at all, ask yourself. And if no answer comes from yourself, then take it as fate’s will. Then wait for it silently, and live without an answer, live with non-knowing. If you can live with non-knowing, then some day the answer will come your way.

All answers lie within us, if only we know how to ask rightly, if only we know the art of right questioning. And if we don’t know the right way of asking, and go about asking the whole world, it will be utterly useless.

When a man like Vivekananda asks a question and Ramakrishna answers it, it is not the latter’s answer that helps Vivekananda. Vivekananda asks with such intense thirst that Ramakrishna’s answer does not seem to be Ramakrishna’s, but his own, coming from his innermost being. That is why it helps, otherwise it won’t.

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