Question: I have been very serious about sadhana lately, but until now had not received any guidance. I am never satisfied by the normal process of worship. Until I actually see God with my own eyes I will have no peace or satisfaction. Please advise me.

If you wish to succeed in sadhana you must have great determination. Practically there is no secret to sadhana. Anyone can succeed and have divine experiences and visions of the Lord. Yet we see that out of thousands of people not a single person has such experiences. Why is this? It is not that the sadhana is hidden or secret, it is available to anyone; but how many people actually take up the sadhana? And out of those who do, how many are able to maintain their sadhana? In the Gita Lord Krishna explains this very nicely. He says:

manushyanam sahasreshu
kashcid yatati siddhaye
yatatam api siddhanam
kashcin mam vetti tattvatah
(Bhagavad Gita 7.3)

“Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.”

Already it is a very rare thing that we have been given this gift of human life. It is only in this human species that spiritual inquiry is possible. In that sense we have already won a lottery of sorts. Out of the millions and millions of living entities, very few have this gift of a human birth. Now we have this opportunity to inquire into what is the self, but how many people are doing this? The answer is practically none. Thus Lord Krishna says out of thousands of men, hardly one even tries for perfection. And of those who make some attempt at spiritual perfection, how many can maintain their sadhana? Very, very few. This is not the fault of the sadhana nor of the spiritual path; the fault lies in our own uncontrolled minds – there is no control of the mind and no determination to stick to the path of the Self. Meditation requires a strong and fixed mind. The people of today have absolutely no control over their own minds. We cannot remain for a single moment without speaking, without watching TV, or without engaging in mundane activities. Thus we are not able to maintain our journey on the path of spiritual sadhana. If we wish to be successful in our sadhana it will only be possible with proper discipline. We must become the master of our own mind and senses.

There is another realm of existence known as the plane of chid-akasha, or the mental space. That world is existing all around us, but because of our uncontrolled minds we are not able to experience it or interact with it. The deities and devas reside on that plane of existence. Through meditation and sadhana you will be able to tune your mind to the subtle realm of existence and experience a parallel reality much more real than the world around us.

The common worship that is performed by man is just a foolish product of greed and fear. Due to greed they pray to God for material gain, and due to fear they pray to Him to spare them from punishment. There is no spiritual benefit from engaging in such ritualistic worship. People go to temples and pray to God to bless them so that they will become rich, or help them to pass their exam, or arrange for them to get married. The truth is God does not care whether you are rich or poor, whether you are married or unmarried, or whether you pass or fail your exam. Material gain is illusory and temporary – it is avidya. God is not interested in increasing our ignorance.

We are all suffering the results of our own karma. If we have done good deeds, we will be rewarded. If we have done bad deeds, we will suffer. God is impartial in giving us our rewards and just results. If I have done bad, simply by praying for material gain and happiness will my bad karma be removed? The answer is no. The material nature will deliver exactly what we deserve, not what we ask for. God is impartial to the illusory good and bad results of this world. Both good and bad are simply the dualities of ignorance. We must rise above both. That is the message of Bhagavad Gita – to be situated beyond happiness and distress.

matra-sparshas tu kaunteya
agamapayino ‘nityas
tams titikshasva bharata
(Bhagavad Gita 2.14)

“O Arjuna, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.”

Thus we must rise beyond arthika dharma (religion for mundane gain) and come to the point of paramarthika dharma, or religion for one’s ultimate spiritual welfare.

To see God will not be difficult provided you have determination and sincerity, but it will not be possible without making some sacrifice. We will have to give up many qualities rooted deep within our heart – kama (lust), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), mada (pride), matsarya (jealousy). These have been our closest friends for many lives, but the time has come to give them up. This is what blocks the sadhakas from perfection. At one point we must choose what is it that we really wish to have, and the majority of the sadhakas turn back to illusion.

In our sadhana, the mantra is what will give us strength to overcome every obstacle. The syllables of the mantra contain the power of the deity in the form of subtle sound. As the yantra is the form of the deity in geometric design, the mantra is the form of the deity in sound. There is no difference between the two: Abhinnatvan nama-naminoh. Because our mind is uncontrolled we are not able to relate to the divine sound manifestation of the deity. Sri Caitanya describes the mantra as follows: namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva shaktih, “Within the name of God is present sarva-shakti, or the complete potency of the divine.” Thus we must strictly follow our vows of mantra upasana and gradually our minds will be cleansed of the six impurities mentioned above. This purity will keep us on the path of self realization, and help us to attain the supreme goal:

narayana-paro yogo
narayana-param tapah
narayana-param jnanam
narayana-para gatih
(Srimad Bhagavatam 2.5.16)

“All different types of meditation or mysticism are means for realizing Narayana. All austerities are aimed at achieving Narayana. Narayana is the supreme object of knowledge, and Narayana is the ultimate goal.”