Sadhana is a lifelong process. Every day, every hour, every minute, is an onward march. Obstacles are innumerable in this great voyage. But, so long as you hold God as thy guide, there is nothing to worry about. You are sure to reach the other shore.
You must have interest and liking in your sadhana. You must understand well the technique and benefits of sadhana. You must select a sadhana that is suitable for you. You must have the ability and capacity to do Sadhana. Then alone you will have joy in doing the sadhana and full success in it.
Good intentions alone will not do. They must be backed up by good actions. You must enter the spiritual path with the best intention of attaining Atma-Jnana (Self-knowledge), but unless you are vigilant and diligent, unless you do intense and rigorous sadhana, unless you guard yourself against lust, anger and egoism and selfishness, the good intentions alone will not enable you to achieve success. Moral purity and spiritual aspiration are the first steps in the seeker’s path. Without a strong conviction in moral values, there can surely be no spiritual life, or even a good life.
The spiritual path may, in the beginning, appear to be very hard, thorny, precipitous and slippery. Renunciation of objects gives pain at the outset. If you struggle hard to tread the path, if you once make a strong determination and firm resolve, then it becomes very easy. You get interest and new joy. Your heart expands. You have a broad outlook of life. You have a new, wide vision. You feel the help from the invisible hands of the Indweller of your heart. Your doubts are cleared by themselves by getting answers from within. You are backed up at all times by a mighty power that works everywhere in the cosmos. Therefore you have nothing to fear. Take care of the details in sadhana. The major factor will take care of itself.
Self-realization is not like a six-year post-graduate course. It is the result of intense protracted sadhana. There is no short-cut in the spiritual path. There is no royal road to the kingdom of immortal bliss. There is no half-measure in the divine path. Strict, hard discipline is wanted. Then alone you can conquer maya. Only then can you control the mind.
Spiritual progress is slow, as the spiritual sadhana is difficult and laborious. It is like the spiral. In the beginning, great striving is needed. Gradually, the circle becomes smaller and smaller. So also, the striving becomes less and less. The aspirant gains spiritual strength slowly. He marches faster and faster. Finally, he does not go by furlongs after furlongs. He proceeds by mile after mile. He gallops and gallops. Therefore, be patient; be persevering; be steady.
Act now. Live now. Know now. Realize now. Be happy now. Waver not. Fear not. Doubt not. Do something substantial in the path of sadhana instead of wasting your time in idle pursuits and lethargy. You have infinite strength within you. There is a vast reservoir of power within you. Therefore, do not lose heart. Obstacles are stepping stones to success. They will develop your will. Do not allow yourself to be crushed by them. Defects remind you of perfection. Sin reminds you of virtue. Choose the positive path.
Source: Excerpted from Sadhana by His Holiness Sri Swami Sivananda.