The following parable of Sri Ramakrishna conveys beautifully man’s real nature.
Once a pregnant tigress attacked a flock of sheep. In that effort she gave birth to a cub, but died on the spot. The cub grew up in the company of the sheep and ate grass and bleated like them. Gradually it grew up to be a big tiger but continued to behave like a sheep. One day another tiger from the nearby forest attacked the same flock. It was amazed to see a grass-eating tiger. The latter tried to run away, but the wild tiger managed to seize it. The grass-eating tiger began to tremble with fear and bleat. The wild tiger dragged it to a water source and forced it to see the reflection of its face in the water. It said, “See, your face is just like mine”. He also managed to thrust some meat into its mouth. Although it was reluctant initially, soon the grass-eating tiger got the taste of blood and started to relish the meat. The tiger from the forest convinced the grass-eating tiger that the latter was also big and mighty like himself and not a sheep. It gave a mighty roar and asked the grass-eating tiger to imitate its action. Soon the latter gave out a huge roar and ran and disappeared into the forest along with the other tiger.
Sri Ramakrishna used to say that man is essentially divine and is of infinite dimension. But, forgetting his real nature, he feels himself to be small, limited, etc and suffers endless agonies like the grass-eating tiger in the above story. If we are to lead a life of joy and fulfillment, we should assert our real nature, we are that limitless, infinite spirit or Atman. Many of the apparent problems and difficulties of life would cease to bother us if we consistently hold on to such an attitude of mind.