The point is that we, being wonderful, have been caught in this mess, and we want to get out of it. That’s the problem. It is really the greatest tragedy that a wonderful being has been caught. If we were not wonderful, if we were really miserable creatures and a miserable state were really ours, then there would not be such a tragic sense. If a fool, a congenital fool, behaves like a fool, you are reconciled to it. But if you have known a very intelligent person and he or she suddenly becomes an idiot, your heart will be deeply saddened. Great persons we are, all of us! Yet we have been caught in the ignominy of this miserable finite life. That is the tragedy. Therefore we should see this life as Buddha and all great teachers have taught us to see it: it is not worth living; we should rise above it. If we see life in this way, we can get free of our desires to a great extent.
I shall come later to a further discussion of the ways and means by which this intensity of longing for God can be achieved, but let me here go on with a description of that state. It has been said in one of our holy books, the Srimad Bhagavatam, that the lowest class of devotees are those who worship the Lord on an altar or in a symbol with great devotion; formal worship they do, but they. have no particular attachment for the devotees of God, they are indifferent about them. The middle class are those who worship God and respect and appreciate every form of worship. They have great love for devotees; for good people who may not be devotees they have friendship; and towards those who are not good they are indifferent. The highest class of devotees are those who recognize God in any form; to everyone their love goes good and bad, devotees and those who are not devotees; they feel the presence of God in everyone, and therefore they love everyone. As Sri Ramakrishna said so nicely and strangely, Well, am I suffering from jaundice?’ You know when a person suffers from jaundice everything looks yellow to him; so he said, Am I suffering from jaundice? Wherever I look I see God.’ Isn’t it a wonderful way of saying such a tremendous thing?
Of the person who is first feeling this tremendous longing for God, we may say that he belongs to the middle group; he has not yet reached that state where he sees God everywhere; he still sees little distinctions. If he meets a great devotee, he becomes excited about him. He does not want him to leave. If the devotee goes away, his heart is broken. Tulasidas, a great saint, once said, Both these kinds of people cause me misery the wicked by their wickedness and the saintly by their saintliness, because when I am separated from the saintly my heart breaks.’ Yes, that is the way it is: he deeply loves the devotees. It is not a binding love, not the love of worldly people, but there is the same intensity of feeling. Towards all good people his friendship goes, and from those who are worldly, he shrinks away.
A very great poet, who was living a worldly life, once came to visit Sri Ramakrishna and asked him to please give him some advice. Sri Ramakrishna could not speak to him. Later he said, I tried hard to speak to him; a power seized my tongue, would not allow it to move.’ To a small extent that is the kind of thing that instinctively comes to a devotee. This may not sound nice, but I am giving a description of that state, and this is a symptom. You can make of it what you want; you may like it, you may not like it, but that is what it is. There is no egotism nor hatred involved in it; it is just an instinctive reaction, without judgement. If you accuse such people of being critical of others, they would be horrified. The devotee is not aware of good or bad; he just bows at the feet of everyone. To him everyone is the child of God.