Advice to Aspirants

From Light, Power and Wisdom, Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Vanity, arrogance, a self-assertive nature and rajasic violence are great obstacles on the spiritual path. They take various forms. It is very difficult for the aspirant to detect them. The Guru only can detect them and show efficient methods to eradicate them. The aspirant vainly imagines that he is advanced on the spiritual path. He resents when these defects are pointed out by others. He never admits his defects. Such an aspirant cannot make any spiritual progress.

The aspirant claims that he is a superior sadhaka with psychic powers and great knowledge of yoga. He thinks that he is free from defects and that he is a perfect yogi. He poses as a yogi with realization. He says that he can influence others and has a large number of disciples, devotees, and admirers. Such an aspirant cannot make an iota of spiritual progress. He is more egoistic and proud than ordinary householders.

If the aspirant is not willing to regenerate his lower nature, he will not be benefited even if he remains for several years with his guru.

Disobedience and indiscipline are great obstacles on the spiritual path. Self-assertion stands in the way of obedience. The ego can be annihilated only by obedience, humility and service. The aspirant has his own ideas, whims, fancies and impulses. He is unwilling to accept any order or discipline presented by his guru. He has his own ways. He promises to be obedient and observe discipline, but the actions done or the course followed is the very opposite of his promise.

An aspirant who conceals facts, who utters falsehood, who is hypocritical cannot hope for the descent of divine light. He does things to keep up his position, to get his own way or indulges in his own habit. He clouds his own understanding and conscience.

It is impossible to correct an aspirant who has the dangerous habit of constant self-justification. He is ready to bring any kind of clumsy argument to justify himself, to keep up his position and prestige.

If an aspirant continues out of self-esteem and self-will or tamasic inertia to shut his eyes or harden his heart against the divine light, so long as he does that, no one can help him.

If an aspirant who is arrogant, vain, untruthful and violent says that he is meditating for two hours nicely, he is a hypocrite, he is a deluded soul. No meditation is possible in one who has such traits. Do not believe this deluded man.

Obey your teacher. Follow his instructions implicitly. Be truthful. Be calm. Be serene. Be humble. Be devoted. Be disciplined. You will attain self-realization now and here. May the Lord bless you all, O sincere seekers after Truth.