The two kinds of devotees and the two kinds of Yoga

Sri Ramakrishna: “There are two kinds of devotees: One kind has the nature of a kitten – absolute dependence on what the mother may do. It only knows how to meow. It doesn’t know where it is going, or what it will do. The mother cat sometimes puts it in the kitchen and sometimes on a bed. In the same way, a devotee gives the power of attorney to God. Having given God the power of attorney, he is free from any anxiety.
“The Sikhs said, ‘God is kind.’ I said, ‘He is our mother and father, why say He is kind? If after giving birth to children, shouldn’t the parents bring them up? Should the neighbours do it? This kind of devotee really believes that He is our own mother and our own father.’
“There is another class of devotee. They have the nature of a young monkey. A young monkey holds onto its mother with all its strength. These devotees feel they have some duty to perform – to go on pilgrimage, to practice japa and spiritual disciplines, to worship with sixteen items – and that only then will they be able to hold onto God. This is their attitude.
“Both types are devotees. (To the devotees) The more you proceed towards God, the more you will see that God Himself has become everything, that it is He who is doing everything. He is the guru and He Himself is the spiritual ideal. It is He Himself who has granted you spiritual knowledge and love for God.”

-Sri Ramakrishna

There are two paths of Yoga, one of tapasya (discipline), and the other of surrender. The path of tapasya is arduous. Here you rely solely upon yourself, you proceed by your own strength. You ascend and achieve according to the measure of your force. There is always the danger of falling down. And once you fall, you lie broken in the abyss and there is hardly a remedy. The other path, the path of surrender, is safe and sure. It is here, however, that the Western people find their difficulty. They have been taught to fear and avoid all that threatens their personal independence. They have imbibed with their mothers’ milk the sense of individuality. And surrender means giving up all that. In other words, you may follow, as Ramakrishna says, either the path of the baby monkey or that of the baby cat. The baby monkey holds to its mother in order to be carried about and it. must hold firm, otherwise if it loses its grip, it falls. On the other hand, the baby cat does not hold to its mother, but is held by the mother and has no fear nor responsibility; it has nothing to do but to let the mother hold it and cry ma ma.If you take up this path of surrender fully and sincerely, there is no more danger or serious difficulty. The question is to be sincere. If you are not sincere, do not begin Yoga. If you were dealing in human affairs, then you could resort to deception; but in dealing with the Divine there is no possibility of deception anywhere. You can go on the Path safely when you are candid and open to the core and when your only end is to realise and attain the Divine and to be moved by the Divine.

– The Mother

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