Scriptures speak of the four aims/needs for human beings — Artha (wealth) Kama (love, desire), Dharma (practice of righteousness) and finally Moksha (liberation). These signify a hierarchical ascent leading to spiritual fulfilment.

But these goals of life are the cause of desires and aspirations. Desires arise naturally since our senses impel us to experience the many attractions in the world. It is not easy to cast aside desires, though spiritual teaching stresses on renouncing worldly desires and pitching in for the highest goal, liberation. To reach that end is the greatest challenge for us. The mind which runs after the worldly objects and the experiences has to gradually realise that all external objects are ephemeral. It is likely that this dissatisfaction urges it to look inwards for appeasement. patience

Sri Ramakrishna emphasised that Sadhana has to be done with tenacity and determination, and with the firm belief that God is always our anchor, said Swami Gutamananda in a lecture. Much patience is called for and tremendous effort too. Gradually, when our attitude to life changes, our priorities too change accordingly.

The mind plays a very important role in this regard. Meditation is advocated. We could choose to meditate on a name or a symbol to start with. The entire reality is too subtle to be caught within the reaches of human mind. From an external symbol we have to leapfrog to the transcendental level. Knowing about God and His infinite greatness also helps to focus our mind in the act of meditation. The Upanishads that teach meditation ask us to begin from the gross to the subtle.

Our own personality, our leanings, etc., also become hurdles. Only with great effort and God’s grace can we be successful in our attempt. Even great sages have been subject to hurdles and have succumbed.

Spiritual effort does not go waste. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that every Jivatma gets a chance to get ahead in spiritual attainment through successive births. That explains the different levels of spiritual attainment in different individuals

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