The Nearer You Come to God

Govinda:  “Revered Sir, why does the Divine Mother have a black complexion?”

Master:  “You see Her as black because you are far away from Her.  Go near and you will find Her devoid of color.  The water of a lake appears black from a distance.  Go near and take the water in your hand, and you will see that it has no color at all.  Similarly, the sky looks blue from a distance.  But look at the atmosphere near you; it has no color.  The nearer you come to God, the more you will realize that He has neither name nor form.  If you move away from the Divine Mother, you will find Her blue, like the grass-flower.  Is Shyama male or female?  A man once saw the image of the Divine Mother wearing a sacred thread.  He said to the worshipper:  ‘What?  You have put the sacred thread on the Mother’s neck!’  The worshipper said:  ‘Brother, I see that you have truly known the Mother.  But I have not yet been able to find out whether She is male or female; that is why I have put the sacred thread on Her image.’

“That which is Shyama is also Brahman.  That which has form, again, is without form.  That which has attributes, again, has no attributes.  Brahman is Shakti; Shakti is Brahman.  They are not two.  These are only two aspects, male and female, of the same Reality, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute.”

Govinda:  “What is the meaning of yogamaya?”

Master:  “It signifies the yoga, or union, of Purusha and Prakriti.  Whatever you perceive in the universe is the outcome of this union.  Take the image of Shiva and Kali.  Kali stands on the bosom of Shiva; Shiva lies under Her feet like a corpse.  Kali looks at Shiva.  All this denotes the union of Purusha and Prakriti.  Purusha is inactive; therefore Shiva lies on the ground like a corpse.  Prakriti performs all Her activities in conjunction with Purusha.  Thus She creates, preserves, and destroys. . . .

“Who is the best devotee of God?  It is he who sees, after the realization of Brahman, that God alone has become all living beings, the universe, and the twenty-four cosmic principles.”

Sri Ramakrishna, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna