In all dimensions of life the mode of travel is different. You can cross an ocean with a boat, but you cannot use it to cross the land. No matter how good a sailor you are, no matter how many seas you may have crossed, or how great your knowledge of the ocean, you cannot sail your boat on the road. Now because of this boat your whole journey comes to a halt. You could even have walked and arrived one day on foot, but now you are stuck with this boat around your neck, so to say. You may try to apply your knowledge and experience of sailing to land, you may have crossed vast oceans, but this small bit of dry land will defeat you for your boat is useless on land, and you don’t abandon it.
This is exactly what is happening. The boat of ego is a useful vehicle in the world of sansara, the world of objects. You cannot take a step without the ego. Trying to make your way in life without the ego leads to grief; for it is a race of egos. All striving is in the I. The greater the ego, the greater the success. That this success ultimately turns into defeat is a different matter. But in the material world arrogance wins; the psychosis of arrogance is always victorious for this is a world of maniacs.
If however you begin on the path of God with this ego, you shall err. You may have been successful in the material world, your ego may have made a Napoleon, an Alexander of you, but do not make the mistake of carrying the ego along with you on this journey towards God. It becomes a hindrance that you will be caught and bound by. Having boarded the boat, you will simply sit becalmed in it. It won’t sail. The journey is impossible.
At the first glimpse of him a person realizes that he missed him all this time entirely because of himself, and that the attainment came by his grace. He realizes that all his efforts that had seemed so intense and exhausting were hardly worth the name compared to the gift of attainment. There is no relation between the two – his effort and his grace.
It is just as if a person travels with the help of a needle to realize the ocean. Really, what connection can a needle have with the ocean? All efforts of man are like the needle – small, very small. Until you meet God you cannot weigh your efforts or know what they mean. One man says he worships in the temple. What does he do? He sounds the bell, offers flowers to the image. Granted he is performing a worthy act, but has this anything to do with realizing God? Another man sits for an hour every day and repeats his name. He is mad if he thinks that by repeating his name over and over for an hour a day he can attain him! How will his shouts and cries help? What value is his voice; how far will it reach?
When you arrive, you realize at once how childish, how insignificant were all your efforts. They will seem so trivial – all that going to temples, going to Kaaba or Kashi; all your worship, japa and penance; all the topsy-turvy postures, all the shouting and hollering. How much are they all worth? You undertake these puny efforts, these petty, feeble efforts to attain the invaluable, the priceless – that cannot be had at any price in the market of the world? You work for an hour and earn a rupee; you worship for an hour and you expect to attain God? It is understandable and logical that an hour’s labor can earn you a rupee, but how can you earn God by one hour’s meditation?