By force, think of one thing at least as Brahman. Of course it is easier to think of Ramakrishna as God, but the danger is that we cannot form Ishvara – buddhi (vision of Divinity) in others. God is eternal, without any form, omnipresent. To think of Him as possessing any form is blasphemy. But the secret of image – worship is that you are trying to develop your vision of Divinity in one thing.
Shri Ramakrishna used to consider himself as an Incarnation in the ordinary sense of the term, though I could not understand it. I used to say that he was Brahman in the Vedantic sense; but just before his passing away, when he was suffering from the characteristic difficulty in breathing, he said to me as I was cogitating in my mind whether he could even in that pain say that he was an Incarnation, “He who was Rama and Krishna has now actually become Ramakrishna — but not in your Vedantic sense!” He used to love me intensely, which made many quite jealous of me. He knew one’s character by sight, and never changed his opinion. He could perceive, as it were, supersensual things, while we try to know one’s character by reason, with the result that our judgments are often fallacious. He called some persons his Antarangas or ‘belonging to the inner circle’, and he used to teach them the secrets of his own nature and those of Yoga. To the outsiders or Bahirangas he taught those parables now known as “Sayings”. He used to prepare those young men (the former class) for his work, and though many complained to him about them, he paid no heed. I may have perhaps a better opinion of a Bahiranga than an Antaranga through his actions, but I have a superstitious regard for the latter. “Love me, love my dog”, as they say. I love that Brahmin priest intensely, and therefore, love whatever he used to love, whatever he used to regard! He was afraid about me that I might create a sect, if left to myself.
He used to say to some, “You will not attain spirituality in this life.” He sensed everything, and this will explain his apparent partiality to some. He, as a scientist, used to see that different people required different treatment. None except those of the “inner circle” were allowed to sleep in his room. It is not true that those who have not seen him will not attain salvation; neither is it true that a man who has seen him thrice will attain Mukti (liberation).
Devotion as taught by Narada, he used to preach to the masses, those who were incapable of any higher training.
He used generally to teach dualism. As a rule, he never taught Advaitism. But he taught it to me. I had been a dualist before.