In his ‘Thought for the Day’ Sri Easwaran has provided the comments by Buddha and Sri Ramakrishna about the role and responsibility of a teacher and of the follower in ones pursuit of spiritual progress. The two stages of this journey as described by Sri Ramakrishna are worth keeping in mind. I have inserted below the “Thought”.
The Buddhas do but tell the way, it is for you to labor at the task.
– THE BUDDHA
Spiritual teachers are like signposts pointing the way to immortality, but it is we who must make the journey. This is quite reasonable. After all, when we pass a signpost on the freeway, we don’t expect it to get into the driver’s seat and do the driving while we lie down in the back to take a nap. On the first half of the spiritual journey, we cannot expect other people to pick us up and carry us along. It is up to us to meditate regularly, and practice the allied disciplines.
Sri Ramakrishna says that the first part of the trip is the “way of the monkey.” The little baby monkey has to hold on for dear life while his mother swings from tree to tree. If the little one loses his grip, he’ll fall and hurt himself. But the second half is the “way of the cat.” The little kitten just sits there on the road looking cute and helpless, saying, “mew, mew, mew,” and the mother cat picks it up by the scruff of its neck and takes it to safety. It is only on the second half of the journey that we are carried by a power higher than ourselves.