Ramakrishna said, “All my desires and passions have disappeared, all my thoughts are gone – but for the good of mankind I am deliberately holding on to this one desire for food. It’s like a boat tied down with one last rope. Once that rope is cut loose the boat will move on to its endless journey. I am staying on with effort.”
Perhaps those around him did not give much thought to this at the time. But three days before Ramakrishna’s death, when Sharada entered with a dish of food, Ramakrishna looked at it, shut his eyes, and lay with his back turned toward her. In a flash she remembered Ramakrishna’s words about his death. The dish fell from her hands and she began to weep bitterly. Ramakrishna said, “Don’t cry. You wished I should not crave for food – your wish has come true.” Exactly three days after this incident Ramakrishna died. He was holding on with effort to just a little bit of desire. That little desire had become the support for the continuation of his life-journey. With the disappearance of that desire, the entire support ceased to exist.
Those whom we call the tirthankaras, those whom we call the buddhas, the sons of God, the avataras – they hold on to only one desire. They keep the desire solely out of compassion, for the good and well-being of all mankind. The day this desire is lost they cease to live in the body, and an endless journey toward the infinite begins. After that there is no more birth, no more death. After that there is neither one nor many. What remains after that cannot, in any way, be counted in numbers; hence those who know don’t even say, “Brahman is one, the divine is one.” To call it “one” is meaningless when there is no way to follow it with “two,” when one can’t count any further in the sequence of two and three. Saying “one” is meaningful only as long as two, three and four are also there. “One” is significant only in the context of other numbers. That’s why those who know don’t even say brahman is one; they say brahman is non-dual, he is not two.
They are saying something quite remarkable. They are saying, “godliness is not two; there is no way you can count godliness in terms of numbers.” Even calling it one we are attempting to count it in terms of numbers, which is wrong. But to experience that one is still a long way. Right now we are still at the level of the gross body, of the body which endlessly takes multiple forms. When we enter this body we find another body – the subtle body. Going beyond this subtle body, we attain that which is not a body, that which is bodiless – the soul.
What I said yesterday is not contradictory, is not paradoxical.
Another friend has asked:
Once the soul has left a body, can it enter into another dead body?