There are three steps to spiritual realization: hearing the truth, reasoning upon the truth, and meditation on the truth. What is hearing the truth like? It is like listening to music as the deer does, fascinated by it. He is completely unaware of the hunter aiming at him. To meditate on the truth is to become absorbed—like the legendary cockroach, which gives up its own nature and becomes a caterpillar by constantly thinking of a caterpillar.
We have read different stories that have been written about him; we know the scholars and their writings, and the higher criticism; and we know all that has been done by study. We are not here to discuss how much of the New Testament is true, we are not here to discuss how much of that life is historical. It does not matter at all whether the New Testament was written within five hundred years of his birth, nor does it matter even, how much of that life is true.
The wave rises on the ocean, and there is a hollow. Again another wave rises, perhaps bigger than the former, to fall down again, similarly, again to rise—driving onward. In the march of events, we notice the rise and fall, and we generally look towards the rise, forgetting the fall. But both are necessary, and both are great.
The wise do not teach spiritual precepts unless they are asked to do so; they hide their wisdom. They impart knowledge only when there is genuine earnestness in the seeker. They do not enter into arguments. Spiritual teachers are like physicians: First, they have to diagnose at the disease of the patient, then they administer the medicine.
One must have the inner conviction that whatever happens in this world happens by His will. Success and failure come by His will. The achievements of so many clever people in this world have come to naught! Everything is His will! Do you think the Ramakrishna Mission will last forever? It will degenerate in time, and the Lord will have to incarnate again.