Each of the stories of the sages that we hear or read carries a unique message that will inspire seekers of every level, for they show how even these great realized beings had their moments of doubt and despair—and overcame them. There was Narada, who taught others the art of happiness, only to realize that he was not happy himself. Prince Rama fell into a deep depression and wandered for years in search of inner peace.
When we venture into the unknown, it is reassuring to have a guide.
Parashurama, a great warrior, was consumed with frustration, feeling totally dejected and hopeless. Vidyaranya Yati wondered what was wrong with him because he had not gained direct experience of the truth after more than eighty years of intense practice. Madhusudana Sarasvati, a brilliant philosopher of non-dualism, felt empty inside, and secretly yearned to experience what the devotees did. And Swami Rama kept breaking his practice because he could not always control his anger.
These weary travelers each found the help of a guide who clarified their confusion and inspired them to continue on their spiritual quest. Systematically, step by step, the masters explained how to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way. Be patient, they would say. Train your body, mind, and senses, have faith, study the scriptures, seek the company of the wise, practice non-attachment, meditate. Make all possible effort, and then surrender to divine will. Embrace each moment as it presents itself, seeing it as an opportunity to expand your awareness, until you are fully opened and prepared. Then, when you least expect it, grace will dawn and you will experience oneness with the divine.