Aspiration and Achievement
by Swami Sivananda
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, but unless you are vigilant and diligent, unless you do intense and rigorous Sadhana, unless you guard yourself against lust, anger and greed, 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.
Stern self-discipline is absolutely essential. Self-discipline does not mean suppression, but taming the brute within. It means humanisation of the animal and spiritualisation of the human.
You will have to break the virgin soil before you sow the seed. The seed breaks itself before it sprouts out as a plant. Destruction precedes construction. This is the immutable law of nature. You will have to destroy your brutal nature first before you develop divine nature.
The spiritual path is rugged, thorny, and precipitous. The thorns must be weeded out with patience and perseverance. Some of the thorns are internal; some are external. Lust, greed, wrath, delusion, vanity, etc., are the internal thorns. Company with the evil-minded persons is the worst of all the external thorns. Therefore, shun ruthlessly evil company.
During the period of Sadhana, do not mix much; do not talk much; do not walk much; do not eat much; do not sleep much. Observe carefully the five 'do-not's. Mixing will cause disturbances in the mind. Talking much will cause distraction of the mind. Walking much causes exhaustion and weakness. Eating much induces laziness and sleepiness.