Question: Why could Vivekananda not overcome his doubts about Ramakrishna?

Sri Chinmoy: This is a very significant question. Let us start with doubt. Doubt is a slow poison. If somebody has doubt by nature, it is extremely difficult to remove it from his mind or from his being. Now if one remains most of the time in the heart or in the soul, but not in the mind, then it is easy to remove doubt. A spiritual Master had a disciple who was constantly doubting his Master. The Master had deep affection for that particular disciple. The disciple wanted to know from his Master how to overcome his doubt, so the Master said, "Even if I wrote sixty pages about doubt, even then I would not be able to remove an iota of doubt from your mind, as long as you live in the mind."

Now in Vivekananda's case, there are a few reasons why he doubted Ramakrishna. In the first place, Ramakrishna used to tell Naren (Vivekananda) that he was a great spiritual person: "I see inside you all divinity; I see inside you spiritual Power and at the same time, I see you as the Vibhuti of Lord Shiva." At that time, Naren was only a college student. He did not take the spiritual life seriously. He had an exuberant and external life. He could not believe Ramakrishna. He simply couldn't take Ramakrishna seriously. "One day you will awaken the whole world," Ramakrishna told him, "for you have all spiritual possibilities." Vivekananda's father had died and the son was an ordinary boy at that time. He could not maintain his family financially. He did not have the means to buy even the simplest necessities and he often starved for days together. Then he hears Ramakrishna say that he is a great spiritual person and that one day he will liberate the entire world. He said, "I cannot feed even my own mother! " He used to come home and say, "Mother, I have eaten at my friend's place, so you don't have to cook for me." It was all lies; he was starving but he wanted to save the food for his mother and for the elders of the family.

Another reason for Vivekananda's disbelief was that Ramakrishna's actual experience and assessment of Vivekananda were totally different from the boy's own experience of his life. His Master naturally used to see the highest and the deepest. Vivekananda would only see his ordinary life as a student. Ramakrishna had so many disciples, but in front of them, he used to have Naren stand and he would say, "Naren, Naren, Naren." If Naren did not come to Ramakrishna's place, then the Master would go to his place. If other disciples did not come, Ramakrishna did not care. But if Naren didn't come, he was unhappy. In fact, he got angry with his other disciples if they did not bring Vivekananda back to him. So this is the kind of thing that Ramakrishna did for Naren.

Now if you care for someone, there is always the tendency for that person to suspect that there is some ulterior motive in your love. What is behind it? Why are you not running after someone else? The human mind, no matter how pure the person is, tends to be suspicious. But the soul wants to love the person, not for himself and not for the soul's own benefit, but for the divine in the person.

Once Naren told his Master, "You are, all the time, thinking of me. Don't you know the story of King Bharata? He always thought of a deer and then he had to become a deer. Don't you know the story? " The other disciples said, "Naren, you are insulting Ramakrishna. You always ignore Ramakrishna, calling him mad and all that." But Ramakrishna immediately took Naren's rebuke seriously for he was, after all, a serious student of Western philosophy, Eastern philosophy, the Indian scriptures, etc. So he went and told his Divine Mother, Kali, what Naren had said. Kali told him, "No, you are not running after Naren. You are running after the Divinity that you see in Naren. It is for that you are running. But that Divinity will express itself only in years to come." So Ramakrishna went back to Naren and said, "It is not you that I want; it is the Divinity inside you."

All these things had disturbed Naren's mind. He felt that he was nothing and, at the same time, was worshipped by Ramakrishna who adored him. When he heard Ramakrishna say that he was so great spiritually, at the beginning, he had doubted him. "What is it that he sees in me? " he said. However, when the question of Ramakrishna's realisation arose, he used to say, "Ramakrishna is the Highest, he is the Highest." But at that time, he did not realise what he himself was. Ramakrishna used to say, "The day he realises himself fully, he will not stay on earth." Indeed, when Vivekananda came to know what he actually was, his life was nearly over.

So in one sentence, I wish to say to you that Ramakrishna's vision of Vivekananda's spiritual greatness, Vivekananda could not see or understand. That was the cause of the doubt in his mind.

In our spiritual life, there is only one enemy, a mightiest enemy, and that is doubt. We are always doubting. Either we are doubting ourselves or we are doubting God. In both cases, we limit ourselves. If we doubt ourselves, we never realise God and if we doubt God, then there is only frustration and misery in our life. If you have implicit faith in God then this will be complemented by faith in ourselves. If we have faith in ourselves, then when we go deep within, we see that divine love is embracing us. If we have faith in ourselves, we can solve all our problems. This faith is not the arrogant pride of self-attachment but it is the spontaneous light of wisdom which operates in our very existence.