Chapter 1: Once Upon a Time
Vivekananda asked Ramakrishna, “What proofs are there of God’s existence?”
And Ramakrishna said, “I am.”
A strange answer. Vivekananda had not expected that answer. You also would not have expected it, because when somebody is asking for a proof of God, then there are traditional, philosophical proofs. One expects those proofs. Vivekananda must have been thinking Ramakrishna would say, “Everything needs a creator. The world is, therefore there must be a creator. We may be able to see him or not, but the creator must be there because the world is.”
But no, Ramakrishna didn’t say anything like that. He was not a philosopher: he was a Sufi. He said, “I am! Look at me. Feel me! Go into me! I can take you into that reality that you are calling God. What name you give to it is irrelevant. I have been to those heights - I can lead the way for you too. Are you ready to come with me?”
Vivekananda was not prepared. He had come to argue. But this is not an argument. This is going to be risky, to follow this madman. One can never be certain where he will lead you.
Vivekananda hesitated. And Ramakrishna said, “Before you ask a question, you should be ready to receive the answer! Are you a coward or something? Why did you ask in the first place?” And Ramakrishna jumped - he was that kind of madman, like Zusiya - and he touched Vivekananda with his feet on his chest, and Vivekananda fell into a kind of trance.
When after one hour he woke up, he was a transformed man. He bowed down, touched the feet of Ramakrishna, and said, “Excuse me, I am sorry. It was so childish of me to ask such a question. It is not a question - it is an adventure. And thank you! You have given me a taste of something of which I was not aware at all.”
This is the way of the Sufi. He creates a situation. The situation is his lab. In that situation he slowly, slowly persuades you, seduces you, really, to go into the beyond. Yes, it is a seduction - because who will be ready to go into the beyond? The mind wants to cling to the known; the known is familiar. With the known we are skillful, efficient; vie can tackle it. To go into the unknown is certainly risky. And we will be like children. All our expertise will be left behind. All our knowledge will be of no use there. Who wants to go into the unknown? But God is not only unknown but unknowable. God is available only to those who gather courage and go into the unknown.