Praise be to Sri Ramakrishna for his teachings which have inspired so many to deepen their spiritual lives in this great age of materialism and spiritual decline. His teachings are desperately needed in the Christian West, which has lost a living, breathing tradition of mysticism straight from the wellspring of Incarnation.
Let Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s teachings bring a New Age of living mysticism to the West!
Let the phenomenon that was his spiritual life be a reminder of the direct experiential power Christ’s spiritual life had on those who more closely witnessed His Incarnation. Praise be to Sri Ramakrishna for teaching the harmony of all religions and showing us how to blow the dust and cobwebs off the pews of the Western Church!
Sri Ramakrishna and the Divine Mother
If Sri Ramakrishna gave any spiritual teaching by means of demonstration of his own personal life it is the great power of loving the Divine Mother.
If you are like me, of a philosophical-rational bent, then one is constantly tempted to heroically slice and dice your way to the bliss of the Absolute through the sheer power of discriminative spiritual knowledge.
This path, the path of philosophical knowledge, is indeed valid as a path to God and Sri Ramakrishna says as much.
But he also says that the pure path of knowledge is very difficult indeed, especially for us ordinary mortals, for even if we do reach the heights of the Absolute in meditative absorption attained through pure discriminative knowledge, we must eventually come back down to the Earth and live the bulk our lives in the midst of everydayness where the sword of knowledge gets stuck in the thick sludge of common duality.
Thus, Sri Ramakrishna wisely recommends we take the path of love, with knowledge sprinkled in, and learn to see the Absolute in the everyday through the power of intense desire and love.
He tells us to cry out to God, just as we cry out to our mother. Is a mother not obligated by duty as a parent to answer our cry?
Sri Ramakrishna thus reveals that the key to finding God in the everyday world, for the vast majority of seekers, is not through dry philosophical reasoning or reading an endless pile of scholarly works on theology, but through overwhelming passion and love for God.
He uses the metaphor of someone who has lost their job. Their whole mind is now devoted to finding a job, going from office to office and asking if there is a vacancy, their mind totally consumed with the plight of not having found a job, not resting one minute until financial security is achieved.
And how much more urgent we must be to find God! to love God, to cry out in unceasing prayer for Her Grace. For as mere mortals, we cannot find God but by Her Grace. So we must plead for Her Grace at all times, our desire for the divine made manifest in our smallest thought and action.
So while, ultimately, Sri Ramakrishna does recognize the nondual truth of Advaita Vedanta and doesn’t dismiss the power of discriminating between the Real and the Unreal, he cautions us mere mortals against a narrow focus on just the path of knowledge without reliance on the Grace of God.
He says the path of knowledge is like climbing up the stairs one step at a time to reach the exalted roof of the Absolute and contrasts it with another spiritual seeker who notices that the stairs are made of the same bricks as the roof.
That is to say, the transcendent divinity of the Absolute is fully real in the everyday reality of duality and it is in this world that we must also focus our thoughts on God, focus our love on God, and cry out for Her love.
It is well and good and deeply spiritual to know the reality of Brahman. After all, he says the only true Guru is Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.
But he also likens the paradoxical duality of the transcendent Brahman and the world of duality to fire and its power to burn. They imply each other. Transcendence implies immanence and vice versa and you cannot have one without the other.
Moreover, an important part of Sri Ramakrishna’s spiritual life is the recognition that this “burning power” of the Absolute is feminine. It is the Divine Mother. The power of Brahman is decidedly feminine and he grounds this in the religious tradition of Hinduism, with his own special devotion to Kali.
Unfortunately, in the Christian West, for the past 500 years, we have lacked a sense of the Divine Feminine and our spirituality has suffered greatly for it.
There is much evidence both in the Bible and the early Church that a sense of the Divine Feminine has always been there embedded deeply into the beating heart of Christianity. For details see this excellent YouTube series by Dr. Tim Bulkeley.
But the purpose of this post isn’t to go into such evidence in a scholarly manner. Others can do that better than I.
Rather, I want to attempt something I rarely allow in my writing, which is to wax purely poetically for the lost Divine Femininity in Christianity, inspired by Sri Ramakrishna’s all-inspiring love for the Mother.
A Hymn to Christ the Bride, Christ the Mother
O Christ, why are You just my Bridegroom?
Can You not also be my Bride?
Or why not both in the holy matrimony of androgyny?
O Christ, You call out for Your Father
But where is Your Mother?
Have You lost her?
O Christ, You say you want to act as Mother Hen to Her children
Am I not allowed to take this seriously?
Must it be a mere metaphor?
Why should I not desire Your Motherly love?
Why should I not cry out for Your tender care?
When You tend to Your flock, are You not tender as a mother to Her children?
Do You not say that to enter the Kingdom of Heaven one must have the mind of a child?
As a child, I cry out for my Mother!
Where are You? I have lost You!
Are You looking for me, as a Mother looks for Her missing child?
O Christ, how I wish Your loving presence would ease my tears of longing
O Christ, I love You with the same desire a child has for their Mother’s milk
Will Your Grace not quench my thirst and give me everlasting peace?
Who is more content than a child in their Mother’s lap?
If I am born again, who is my Mother?
Is it You, Christ?
This water of baptism feels familiar, like a subtle memory from the depths of Your womb
But O how I also long for You, my Bride! How intense is my love for You!
Is it sacrilegious to say that You are beautiful?
Is it sacrilegious to admire the beauty of your body?
Then so be it! I will be sacrilegious!
Better I be damned by the defenders of orthodox than lose the intensity of this love for You
If I see my own transsexual body reflected in your Holy capacity to transcend the limitations of gender,
How trifling it is to cast off accusations of blasphemy!
Mother. Father. Son. Daughter. Are you not Holy beyond such limiting binaries?
Then how can I not see my nonbinary form reflected in this Holy Matrimony?
They say You are ineffable. That You are without form.
Then why do preachers limit Your form to only one-half of human beauty?
To me that is blasphemy!
To deny you of the Creative Powers of Femininity
To deny you the burning power of fire!
How dare they!
How dare they cut You off from Your fullest manifestation in the spectrum of glorious Life!
How dare they cut You off from the fertile potential of androgyny!
How do they not sense the great power and beauty they are missing in Your Motherhood?
Do they not know you as Sophia?
Do they not read their own Holy Scriptures?
How limited their minds must be to not sense your feminine Wisdom emanating from every nook and cranny of this Cosmos!
O Wisdom, I know You were there at the beginning. You helped the Father with this Great Divine Work.
Nay, the Father helped You! For are You not the One with the power of ultimate creativity?
Are You not the One who breathes Life into Her children?
Are You not the burning power of fire?
O Christ, I beseech You.
I cry out to You.
Lord Jesus Christ, daughter of God, my Bride, my Mother, have mercy on me