In The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, M[ahendranath Gupta] records a Sunday afternoon with some visitors to Dakshineswar in the winter of 1883. One of the visitors was well versed in the shastras [the sacred Hindu scriptures], and the conversation caused M. to fall into a pensive mood. Having some knowledge of Vedanta, he later asked Sri Ramakrishna, “Is the world unreal?”
In ancient days, long, long, ago, a sage of the Upanishads declared: “I have known that supreme Being who is beyond the ocean of infinite darkness, by knowing whom only one can conquer death. There is no other way.” Perhaps that is the earliest document still in existence of a person who came face to face with the ultimate reality.
In India, when a disciple comes to a teacher, the teacher tries first of all to give the student a firm faith in himself or herself, and a feeling that weakness and cowardice and failure have no part in their true nature. Almost the first words that Sri Krishna says to his disciple in the second book of the Bhagavad Gita are: "What is this weakness? It is beneath you. . . . Shake off this cowardice, Arjuna. Stand up!
As for those who depend upon God and have faith in Him, well, that itself is their spiritual practice, sadhana. God is one’s very own. It is an eternal relationship. One realizes Him in proportion to the intensity of one’s feeling for him. Don’t be afraid. Always remember that somebody is protecting you.