Eternity is vertical, that’s why it is eternal now: there is no future to it. If you move in a line there is future: if you move from A to B, the B is in the future. When B becomes the present, A has gone into the past and C is in the future. You are always between past and future, your present moment is just a passing phase: the B is turning into C, the D is turning into E; everything is moving into the past. And your present is just a cut line, just a small fragment. By the time you become aware, it has moved into the past. A soul which becomes perfect moves in a different dimension altogether: from A to A1 to A2 to A3, and this is eternity. It lives in the eternal now. That’s why it disappears from this world.
To enter into this world you have to be imperfect. It is said in old scriptures that whenever a man comes near perfection – many times it has happened – he will leave something imperfect in order to come back again and help people, otherwise there is no way to come back.
It is said of Ramakrishna that he was addicted to food, just obsessed, as if the whole day he was thinking of food. He would be talking to his disciples and whenever he got a chance he would just go into the kitchen to ask his wife, “What’s new? What new thing are you preparing today?” Many times even his wife was very embarrassed and she would say, “Paramahansa Deva, this doesn’t suit you.” And he would laugh.
One day his wife persisted, saying, “Even your disciples laugh about it and they say, ‘What type of liberated man is Paramahansa? He is so addicted to food!’” Whenever Sharda, his wife, brought food, he would immediately stand to look in the thali and see what she had brought. He would forget everything about Vedanta, the Brahman, and sometimes it was very embarrassing because there were people there, and they had never thought, they could never conceive…
So one day his wife persisted, “Why do you do this? There must be some reason.”
Ramakrishna said, “The day I don’t do it, then you can count three more days that I will be alive. The day I stop, that will be the signal that I will be here only three more days.”
His wife laughed, the disciples laughed. They said, “This is no explanation!” They couldn’t follow what he meant.
But it happened this way. One day his wife came in and he was lying on his bed resting. He turned aside; usually he would have jumped out of the bed to see. And his wife remembered that he had said that he would live only three more days the day he showed his indifference toward food. She couldn’t hold the thali; the thali dropped and she started crying. Ramakrishna said, “But you all wanted it to be so. Now, don’t get worried about it. I am here for three more days.” And on the third day he died. Before dying he said that he had been clinging to food just as a part of something imperfect in him, so that he could be here and serve them.