A parable. Suppose.
You know you are a marathon runner, your life entire purpose is to run this 120km marathon. You train relentlessly for ages. You read books on perfect practice and learn from the experiences of the other runners who won. You eat proper diet, you work-out, build your mind, body and soul, practice the strictest austerities. Stick to your schedule, deny yourself the temptations and desires which make you weak or use up your energy. You set your soul on fire, again and again choosing this same path for several lives, making your intention stronger deeper.
You search for the perfect coach. You meet pretenders who try to steal your energy or use your strength for their selfish purposes or try to misguide you. After several such episodes, you finally find the one single perfect trainer. He is the only One. He has run the 120km marathon himself and won spectacularly. The power of his Win is shining in his aura. He tests your resolve and preparation before taking you on as his student. Then he gives you his perfect secret coaching and oversees every aspect of your practice. You practice under his guidance, you know in your inner most heart that this coach and this method is the only way you crack the race.
The big day is here, today is the marathon. The big Win can possibly be in your hands before it is evening. You are aware of the surrounding stands, the track and the final winning line 120km away. You know why you are running, you have trained for this for so many lives, you know the philosophy, you have done the practice. The intention to Win fires your soul. You will keep this Sankalp-intention burning fiercely in your soul as you run. This Sankalp is the only thing that drives you, you burn inside desirous of the Win.
(The track is the spiritual route running within this material creation, it is your way out. At the finish line is the Nirvishesh Brahma. You are the individual soul, the Jiv-atma, the coach is the Sat-guru, the Realised Teacher.)
You start off. Now you are focussed only on your route and your pace. The Win is still 120km away, it feels like it is on the other edge of the Universe. Your muscles start burning, your very pran/ vital energies are burning, you are consuming your potential, converting it to action. You run. Every step is powered by the constant intention, the purity of the Sankalp. You are convinced that this run is the right thing to do.
Your coach is at your side, always available, guiding you as you make your attempt, encouraging you, exhorting you to continue. Pointing out the typical features of the terrain, pointing out the possible pitfalls, helping you avoid them, reminding you of your strengths. So you run and run, doing your rigorous Sadhana. You have now run 119kms, you have burnt your resources in the process. As you run, you emptying yourself.
Now you are in the final 1km. The final moment of this illusion called life, the edge of the manifested Universe. You have trained for this for so very many lives, so much time, so much pain, so much effort, such discipline, it is all going to be worth it now, very soon. You can almost taste the victory. (Does this make you over-confident and careless or even more focussed and alert?, the choice is yours).
This is the most difficult and treacherous section of the course. There are hidden subtle obstacles. A stumble here can prove deadly, your soul is very vulnerable here, your body/ mind have reached the last reserves of your strength. Your coach at your side is very alert. The win is in sight, beckoning you, but you are not there yet. If you fail here, all this effort would be useless. The coach pushes you, encourages you to increase your efforts, to pull out every single drop of energy from your body/ mind/ soul. To focus on the prize but still to be extra alert.
But remember your coach is Shukra-acharya, Venus, the most perfect teacher with the most cryptic tests. This marathon Win is not for the undeserving, it is only for the select few who have consistently proven themselves on every level, every single time. Your coach has run it himself, and he knows its value. In this last section he also will test you, test your soul deeply yet subtly to finally check if you are worthy of the win. He still has to give you his final most secret tip. Do you really have what it takes to receive this highest tip?
A pretty girl waves at you from the stands at the stands in the side-lines. Your attention from your spiritual route is diverted. You look at her, smile back, stumble and fall. Your attention caught by the material world again. You see your parents, your nephews/nieces, your buddies. You see a vision of you getting married, having children, being a big businessman, doing everything necessary for the family. You stop running and walk out of the race track, transfixed by the waving girl. You have made your choice.
Your coach has a cryptic look on his face, inscrutable. He vanishes. The finish line fades away and the race track gets obscured.
It is ‘game over’ for the spiritual route now. You lost your focus, you lost the test of Intention. Sankalp-shudhi, the clarity and purity of purpose was lacking internally. You got diverted by the materialistic desire outside the spiritual track, you failed the most subtle test, you lost and lost spectacularly. You have created karma and that too at the very end of the race!
(If you get caught in the material net, when you are very high up in your spiritual practice, you get more subtly and deeply entangled. The seed of this new karma, this loss of intention, when you have advanced so deeply into yourself, gets linked very deeply in your causal and astral bodies (post here). The deeper you travel within, you are required to be all the more alert, intense, focussed, steady, hold on tightly to your deepest Desire to know yourself)
This is a solo race, no one else can help you, but can only divert you. Did you think that girl would help you run your race? No she cannot, no one can. Your coach can guide but you have to run yourself. The girl in the sidelines stole your attention ie your energy and you lost, at the very last lap, so high up in the spiritual path! Running well for the initial 119kms is of no use, a waste, if you fail at the very last step and cannot win at the 120km finishing line.
But you are oblivious to all these repercussions. You go with the girl, create even more karma. Then you work through all those further inevitable results of that karma too. And so many lives pass in oblivion. (But internally the soul of the marathon runner is in deep torment. Self-castigation. It is praying for a chance to run again.)
Till one day you read a book on the Marathon and the Win. You realise that you are a marathon runner. Your soul is hopeful again. You want to run again, the desire to Win is lit within. You now have to re-start from point zero. You have burnt out all your accumulated resources remember? You have to gather everything again. Start from scratch, prepare yourself, convince your coach to take you on again, rebuild your body, mind and soul. Again several lives are used up in this process.
So much time, so very many lives have passed since your past ill-fated attempt. Now you are finally ready for your second attempt. This time you have specially trained your mind to maintain the purity of purpose, Sankalp-shuddhi. The day arrives, you start your run. You know what had happened in the past attempt, so this time you are solidly focussed. You run well, your coach guides you well, you intently listen to all his spiritual guidance. You are alert, you are in full control of your mind. Everything that will help you run well registers in your mind and you absorb it, use it. You reach the crucial last lap. Your last reserves are now being burnt.
Venus, your coach will now pose his final cryptic test. So this time he himself points out the girl in the side-line stands waving at you. But now you are so focussed on the spiritual track and the finish line that you do not hear his these words which are linked to the material realms. You have attained Sankalp-shuddhi, the purity and clarity of intention. Nothing in the material world in whatsoever form holds any attraction whatsoever for you. Not even the words uttered by your coach which are linked to the material. You do not allow anything from the material to touch you in any way whatsoever. You pass the final test. The illusions of the material have stopped existing for you. You are committed to the spiritual route and your intention is unshakeable. Shukra-acharya now smiles, you have satisfied him, passed his final test. He now gives you his highest secret tip and his highest blessings. This you listen and act on. You touch the final line and cross over into the Nirvishesh Brahma.
You can never be ‘satisfied’ with your spiritual practice. If you say you are satisfied, it is stagnation, it is a dead end. Once you start running, you cannot be satisfied with the way you are running. You have to remain alert, not complacent. The objective is to reach the final finish line. Till then anything can happen which can make you stumble and lose. Only when you have the Win in your hands, you have the solid permanent happiness and satisfaction, Param-anand and Param-trupti. If you are satisfied with your running style for the 119.9km, get complacent at the sight of the finish line, lose your single-point focus in the last 100m, trip, fall and break your ankle, would you be satisfied with your performance? Have you gained your objective?
It is all or nothing here in this solo marathon. Once you start running and until you Win your Realisation, you cannot be Satisfied. If you utter the word ‘satisfaction’ in between do re-check on what your Sankalp is really, how deep is your intention?
No Sat-Guru will ever tell you that that he is content with your practice. My Sat-guru would always tell us to practice even more Dhyan, to increase the Dhyan, to focus more and deeply on ‘Soham‘. Even he himself, till he finally achieved Moksh, ie Sadyo-mukti and became a Jivan-mukt, would sit in Dhyan day/night. Spiritual practice by itself is not a source of satisfaction, it can never be. There is only one Eternal source of Satisfaction. And the soul who has started running towards this Source cannot ever stop till it finally reaches it, Moksh.