So ask you must, but only when you are prepared for it. Come to me when you are ready to ask the question and take the answer – because the matter will not rest with question and answer alone. After Ramakrishna had answered him, Vivekananda ceased to be what he was before he had put the question. He had gone as Narendranath, and after Ramakrishna’s answer he became Vivekananda. Ask you must, but then you will have to be prepared for such a radical change, a transformation of your whole life, and you can have the answer.
But remember, Narendranath did not return home as Narendranath, because when Ramakrishna said, “God is, and I see him more clearly than I see you; for once I can say that you are not real, but I cannot say so in regard to God,” Vivekananda did not say, “Yes sir, your answer is fine, and I am going to quote you in my answer paper.” He simply could not go back home as he was; that answer finished him as he was; Narendranath was finished.
You can have the answer; I will have no difficulty whatsoever in giving you the answer. But it is you who will be in difficulty, real difficulty. So come when you feel passionately about it. And it would be beautiful if you come in an outlandish manner, in the dead of night, and grab me by my collar. But remember, by the time you grab me by my collar, you will already be in my net, and then you cannot run away. It is not a scholarly discussion where the matter ends with questions and answers. That is nothing.
It is a matter of life and death. You will have to stake your life itself.
Another friend asks:
When we sow a seed, it takes time to sprout. And you say that man is a seed, seed of consciousness, and that it can sprout this very moment, instantly. Will you please explain this seeming contradiction?
Certainly I say it. When we sow a seed, it takes time to turn into a sprout. But in fact it does not take time to sprout, it takes time only to disintegrate and dissolve as a seed. Sprouting happens in a moment; the seed explodes into a sprout. But it takes time, of course, for the seed to disintegrate and dissolve as a seed. So I don’t say that you will not take time to disintegrate as an ego, but I do say that consciousness never takes time, it arrives in a moment. For instance if we boil water, it takes time to reach the boiling point, to boil to the extent of one hundred degrees. But once water touches the boiling point, it turns into steam in no time. It is a leap; as soon as water reaches the boiling point, it takes a leap; it disappears as water and becomes steam. It is not that water will turn into steam gradually, piece by piece; no, it turns into vapor in a sweep, in a jump. Of course, water takes time to reach the boiling point. It is still water until it touches the point of no return – the hundredth degree. Even at ninety nine degrees it remains in the form of water.
Consciousness is an explosion – a leap. It is the exploding point. Until you reach that point, you remain a man, even if your efforts, like water, have reached ninety nine degrees. When you reach the boiling point, you will become conscious, godly. Where you end, godliness begins.