Attraction towards Flesh and Attraction towards Gold are One
What is meant by ‘woman’ when Shri Ramakrishna says, “Souls enmeshed in worldliness cannot resist the temptation of ‘woman and gold’ and direct their minds to God, even though these things bring upon them a thousand humiliations.”
Acharya Prashant: It is not possible to go through this reading and not be astonished as to what Ramakrishna really means by ‘women’. In our time and age, it comes as a bit of a shock that a holy man, a wise man, is nullifying one particular gender, right?
But that is not really the case.
When Ramakrishna says ‘woman’, what he means is ‘Prakriti’ — everything that appears, moves, can be seen, can be touched. And when he says ‘you must be cautious of women’, what he means is that you, the one you are, the individualized eye, has the tendency to ‘not to watch Prakriti’, ‘to not to have a healthy relation with it’ but to rather acquire it and exploit it. This tendency is called LUST.
Lust is the tendency of the individualized self, the ego, to seek salvation in the material world. The material world is being referred to as woman by Ramakrishna. So, woman is not really a gender here nor is the woman a danger! Neither is woman a danger nor is even the Prakriti or the material world a danger.
What Ramakrishna is repeatedly warning against is our own tendency, not somebody outside of us. He is warning us against ourselves. He is not warning us against somebody else. He is warning us against our desire, our inclinations to be attracted to Prakriti, which is material, which is world, which is flesh, in the hope that we will get peace there. Seen in that light, woman and gold are one. When the ego is attracted to material flesh, then it is attraction to women. When the ego is attracted to insentient material, non-living material, then it is attraction towards gold.
Fundamentally, attraction towards flesh and attraction towards gold are one and the same thing. The incomplete ego raises a hope, builds a story that something outside of it, something visible, something material, something sensual, will give it peace, will give it…