A reader posted the following comment:

There are observations I would like to share with you. Your writings have been really great and are helping people who are following you.
First observation: “The probability of success will increase multifold if you are aware of the path before you start treading it.”
On the path of self-realization as well we have to calculate success and probability like in the materialistic world. This path is also known as the path of the unknown; so how can a journey towards the unknown be known beforehand? Isn’t it paradoxical?

The first question is actually a good one. I am assuming the first sentence after the quotes to be a question and not a statement.

The path of self-realization is like any other in many ways. When you work towards any goal, clearly you ought to tread some path. Whether the path is known to you beforehand or if it is unfolding as you go along can make a marked difference in your own confidence, conviction, and conformity. It is not about calculating, it is about knowing what you are signing up for. If you plan to spend a day at the beach, you tend to take your swimming costume with you.

Calculation is a function of intellect and intelligence. The goal of self -transformation is to rise above intellect to experience your true nature. Just like two pieces of wood are used to ignite fire but the same fire consumes the very wood that created it in the first place; similarly, an awareness of the path, intellect, and intelligence are used to spark the fire of self-transformation. Upon your discovery, the newly found inner peace and knowledge will consume intellect and discrimination helping you gain that transcendental state of mind.

Regarding your second statement:

What do we mean by the journey? And how do we differentiate between journey and path? The path is your blueprint, the journey is actually treading it. Let us say you have to travel from London to Manchester. The path is comparable to going online for getting directions; the journey is more like hopping in the car and driving to Manchester. You may have unexpected detours while en route but because you know your destination, your journey becomes somewhat easy.

I once heard somewhere that if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there. The destination may be known only intellectually or conceptually from such sources as books or other people until you arrive at it. Once there, it is unknown no longer. Non-knowledge of the destination does not make the path unknown. Let me illustrate with an example:

You have a toothache and you decide to visit a new dentist. You get directions to his clinic. You have never been to this dentist or his clinic; it is unknown. Based on the driving directions, you do know how far you need to travel and which motorways you may take. There may be diversions, a breakdown, or a pit stop while en route but since you have a specific destination, after any diversions you get back to the road that leads to the clinic. And because you know the path, you can also ascertain the requirements; that is, a car, a driver’s license, an appointment, a health card, and so forth.

Each path, be it bhakti, yoga, saṃkhya or any other, has a set of requirements. The knowledge of such fundamentals helps you monitor your progress and track your path. That is how I see it!

Peace.
Swami