Let Us Define, Knowledge And Ignorance
If you have knowledge, there will be ignorance as well. If you are able to appreciate light, you are aware of darkness, too. Therefore, says Ramakrishna, travel to the space beyond knowledge and ignorance.
God laughs twice, said Ramakrishna, first, when the doctor says that he would save the patient's life and, second, when two brothers fight and place a demarcation indicating each other's share in the property. If the doctor thinks that his efforts can sustain life in his patient he considers himself as the doer and the decision-maker, which is meaningless. He can only put in his efforts, nothing beyond that. We have no claim on the fruits of our action. We cannot afford to have a sense of possession. We are visitors on earth. What we think is ours is only temporary. If life itself is transitory how can possession be permanent?
Interestingly, while overconfidence may come from acquired knowledge, possessiveness comes from ignorance. We are told that life is a movement from ignorance to knowledge. But both have limitations, potential knowledge is unlimited, acquired knowledge is always accompanied by stretches of darkness. Knowledge cannot be absolute freedom. Therefore, Ramakrishna recommended vigyan or science, the space beyond gyan or knowledge and agyan or ignorance.
As long as the sensitivity exists in relation to happiness it is there in relation to sorrow as well. So, eternal joy cannot be experienced. This is where Buddha's middle path becomes important. However, cultivating a sense of detachment comes with great practice, the irony is even then, there could be moments of failure.
One practical way of developing detachment is to analyse pleasure and pain critically. If we are unhappy, we could learn lessons from it and so also when we are happy. When we analyse a particular feeling carefully we may observe that it is only a mental state. It is only a chemical reaction in the mind. You experience loss, but in what sense? If nothing belonged to you, there is nothing to lose. The same logic goes in the case of attainment.
We know all this, yet we forget and this is what is called illusion and attachment. The truth is close to us but illusion casts a spell, creating obstruction. Ramakrishna narrates this story---"Rama, Sita and lakshman are walking in single file in the forest. Lakshman cannot see Rama because Sita, the Mahamaya or grand illusion, is between him and Rama. When he offers sincere prayers to Mahamaya she casts away the spell and shows the way to truth, She may not grant moksha so easily. She may try to offer greater wealth and prosperity like a mother places more toys in the hands of a crying child. But when the child grows absolutely restless and takes no interest in the toys that the mother places before him, the mother leaves all her tasks and picks up the child. Then one realises that Mahamaya is not separate from truth.
The one who is the source of all illusion is also the absolute truth.
After reaching the roof one realises that the material it is made of has also been used in constructing the staircase. What we see as illusion is part of truth.