Finding wisdom for our everyday lives in the words of one of India's greatest saints
(more about Sri Ramakrishna)

From Big Targets to Small

A marksman learns to shoot by first taking aim at large objects; the better he gets, the easier it becomes to hit smaller things. So when the mind has been trained to fix on images with form, it becomes easier to fix it upon images having no form.

See the notes to "A Bell Rings With and Without Form."

From a Scrawl to a Fine Hand

A boy begins to learn writing by drawing big scrawls, before he can master a finer hand. So we must learn concentration of the mind by fixing it first on forms; and when we have attained success at that, we can more easily fix it upon the formless.


See the notes to "A Bell Rings With and Without Form."

A Bell Rings With and Without Form

While a bell is being rung, the repeated "ding-dongs" can be distinguished from each other. But when we stop ringing the bell, then we can only hear an indistinguishable sound.

In the first case, we can easily distinguish one note from the other, as if each distinct note had a certain shape; but in the second, the continued and unbroken sound is as though formless.

Like the sound of the bell, God is both with and without form.


This is the first of several sayings about God being with form and without form.

This is a standard distinction in Indian thought, "Saguna Brahman" being God With Attributes, and "Nirguna Brahman" being God Without Attributes.

Sri Ramakrishna affirms that thinking of God in either way is acceptable, but seems to assert that seeing God With Attributes is provisional, immature; and seeing God Without Attributes is the superior way.

Still, looking back at the previous saying, we can feel assured that either way, God will be pleased.

The Humble Gift

A landlord may be very rich, but nevertheless, when a poor farmer brings a humble gift to him with a loving heart, he accepts it with the greatest pleasure and satisfaction.


Do you remember giving gifts to your mother when you were a child? No matter how ill-made, the gift was praised.

Many of us feel unworthy to approach God, feeling that our "gifts" are not enough. Sri Ramakrishna here affirms that God will be pleased, no matter how small the gift.