Ramakrish Paramhansa taught of God residing in every man. Indeed, he saw the Divine Presence in all things, everywhere in the world. But he would have nothing to do with worldliness. Once he shared his vision with disciples by beginning with a story:
A barber was passing by under a tree that was haunted. Suddenly he heard a voice ask, “Will you accept seven jars full of gold?” The barber looked around, but could see no one. The offer of seven jars of gold, however, roused his greed, and he cried aloud, “Yes, I shall accept the seven jars.” At once came the reply, “Go home, I have carried the jars to your house.”
So the barber ran home in great haste to verify the truth of this strange announcement. And when he entered his house, lo and behold, there were the seven jars. With eager hands, he opened them and found them full of gold, except the last one which was only half full.
A strong desire now arose in the barber’s mind to fill the seventh jar also; for without it his happiness was incomplete. He therefore melted all his orments into gold coins and put them into the jar. But the mysterious vessel remained unfilled as before. This exasperated the barber. Starving himself and his family, he saved some money, converted it into gold and tried to fill the jar. But still the jar was not filled.
The barber now humbly requested the king to increase his pay, saying his income was not sufficient to maintain himself. The king at once doubled his pay, as the barber was one of his favourites. All this pay the barber saved and put into the jar, but the jar showed no sign of filling.
At last the barber began begging from door to door. The income from his work and the money he got from begging - all disappeared into the insatiable cavity of the jar. Months passed. The condition of the miserable and miserly barber grew worse every day.
Seeing the barber’s plight, the king asked him one day: “What is the matter with you? When your pay was half of what you now get, you were happy, cheerful and contented; but with double that pay, I see you morose, care-worn and dejected. You have got the ‘seven jars’, haven’t you?”
The barber was taken aback. With trembling voice, he replied, “Your Majesty, how have you come to know about this? Who informed you?” The king then said: “Don’t you know that these are the signs of the person to whom the Yaksha confers the seven jars? He once offered me too the same jars, but I asked him whether the gold is to be spent or merely hoarded. No sooner had I asked this question, than the Yaksha ran away without any reply.”
The king continued, “Do you not know that no one can spend that money? It only brings with it the intense desire to hoard it. Go at once and return the seven jars.” The barber was brought to his senses by the wise king’s advice. Going straight to the haunted tree, he implored, “Take back your gold, O Yaksha.” And the Yaksha replied, “All right.”
When the barber reached home, he found the seven jars had disappeared as mysteriously as they had once appeared. But along with the jars, his lifelong savings had vanished too.
Concluding his story, Sri Ramakrish told his disciples that those who do not understand the difference between real expenditure and real income, lose all they have. Work is worship; and the entire world is a place of worship. But once the mind is taken up with worldly goods and joys, it is like bringing home the jar of desire that never fills.
It is not that greed is inherent in gold or any other object; rather greed is an idea of the impure mind. A mind entangled in worldliness is like milk getting easily mixed with the water of the world. Once divine wisdom dawns and inner churning begins, the milk is transformed into butter and floats over the water. The mind then dwells in the world, unpolluted by worldliness.