The first step in the process of learning anything, whether in the material field or spiritual, is the assumption of ignorance. We go about, however, with a vainglorious pride that we know everything. In spirituality, there is no greater enemy than such pride. To say that it is like the pernicious weed to a field would be underrating its evil efficacy; for, the weed makes itself apparent and can be uprooted, whereas this pride is subtle, unnoticed, and usually unadmitted by a person. There is no telling when it will crop up and make itself felt. It is the main obstruction to purification of the heart. Nothing would be sillier, and more doomed to failure, than to imagine that one could surmount it with one’s own prowess. The only way to overcome it is to go into utter unquestioning surrender to the sadguru, and constantly to pray him to deliver you from its clutches.
A heart thoroughly purged of doubt and desire is like a pit which is filled with good soil and proper manure for planting a tree. The next step is to sow a seed of best quality and perfect purity. Even with all such care, it may happen that the final product is not up to the mark, and the hopes entertained at the beginning are belied. It may happen, besides, that after a certain age, the tree becomes unproductive, or gets a rot of one kind or another. Altogether, a time comes when it ceases to give the pleasure expected in the beginning, and actually proves a nuisance. It would have been better to select a seed which would grow into a tree yielding pleasant fruit for endless time.
Now, does our experience show anything which provides uncloying, unperishing pleasure? The answer must inevitably be in the negative. We are driven to conclude that anything done for a perishable objective is predestined to failure in ultimate fulfillment. Consequently, we realize that the only way to everlasting pleasure and bliss is to do one’s duty with no sensate object in view.
We should fervently pray God to ask of Him the gift of devotion without any objective but Himself, and our effort should be directed to that end. We use the sifting fan to blow away the rotten grain and retain only the pure; similarly we should practise to discard all desire but that for God, and resort to devotion with no object but Him.
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