Progress1

Dear seekers, dear sisters and brothers, I wish to give a talk on progress. Since we are all seekers, we should know the difference between success and progress. Success is a never-ending temptation, whereas progress is an ever-increasing illumination. A man of pleasure wants success, continuous success. A man of aspiration wants progress, soulful progress. A man of success is always hungry for name and fame, for material wealth and possessions. But there comes a time when he realises that even though he satisfies all his teeming desires, still he does not feel even an iota of solid satisfaction. A man of outer success only can never expect a life of satisfaction. But a man of progress dives deep within in order to discover his inner wealth, his inner treasure. He and satisfaction become bosom friends. A man of success cannot distinguish between the finite and the Infinite. But a man of progress knows how to separate the finite from the Infinite. He embraces the Infinite in the finite with a view to growing into the Infinite.

A man of desire wants God the Giver, but a man of progress needs God the Receiver. A man of aspiration says to God, "O Lord, take me. What I have is for You. What I am is for You. What I have is an inner cry, and what I am is unlimited ignorance. O Lord, take what I have and what I am." A man of desire prays to God for earthly wisdom, material possessions and the fulfilment of his desires. Immediately God tells him, "Take whatever you need, then." But when a seeker prays for inner progress, God tells him that he has to work hard for it. That does not mean that God will deny us progress. No! He will rain down His Compassion, but we have to make our inner vessel vast, vaster, vastest, so that we can hold His infinite Bounty.

Success is an experience of pleasure and stimulation. Progress is an experience of joy and fulfilment. Pleasure's future names are frustration and destruction. Joy's future names are satisfaction and illumination. Success finds its existence between the doubting mind and the strangling vital; progress has its reality between the aspiring heart and the dedicated life.

Progress is our inner assurance of a deeper manifestation. Progress is founded upon evolving experience and manifesting experience. When we cry for God the Absolute Reality, we grow into the evolving experience. When we, as divine lovers, become inseparably one with our supreme Beloved, we become the manifesting experience.

Human progress and divine progress. Human progress wants to see more and more of the world; it wants to understand the mystery of the world. Divine progress wants to see more and more of God in each human being. Human progress feels that slow and steady wins the race. Divine progress teaches us that Grace is the swiftest way to the Goal.

In the spiritual life we deal with Eternity: Eternity's past, present and future. In Eternity's past, we made considerable progress. God inspired us and commanded us, "Arise, awake!" and immediately we listened to His inner dictate. In Eternity's present, we are still making considerable progress. We are running very fast towards the ever-transcending Beyond. And in Eternity's future, we shall see and feel that the Goal itself is running toward us. We are like hungry children Although we know not where our mother is, we run here and there in search of her. But when our mother hears us crying, she immediately runs to us. We cry to the Supreme because we have an inner hunger, and the Mother Supreme runs to feed us. The seeker who makes real progress always preserves the divine and transforms the undivine. How does he preserve and how does he transform? When he ascends the Reality-Tree to the highest realm of consciousness, he acquires the capacity to preserve the divine within him. Then, when he climbs down the Reality-Tree and brings back the smile of the transcendental Beyond, he is able to transform the undivine.

Since we are all seekers, we are supposed to make progress at every moment. But there are two things that prevent us from making progress: self-love and self-indulgence. Self-love makes continuous mistakes and Himalayan blunders, while self-indulgence is a Himalayan blunder itself. Now, there is one way for us to make constant and conscious progress, and that is through God-love and God-service. God-love does everything perfectly, and God-service is nothing short of perfect Perfection.

Progress is movement, and movement is progress. Thousands of years ago, the Vedic seers offered their divine message, Charai veti, charai veti — "Move on, move on!" Again, the seers of the Upanishads taught us to be dynamic and not to fear action. If we do disinterested action, this action cannot bind us or claim anything of our existence. Action cannot claim a man of devoted and dedicated service. Lord Krishna taught us the supreme truth: "Thou hast the right to action, but claim not the fruits thereof."

As seekers, at every moment we are devotedly doing selfless service. The result can never be of importance to us. It is only our attitude, our motive, that concerns us. The result will come in the form of failure or success, and both of these experiences we have to offer at the Feet of the Lord Supreme with equal joy and delight. In this way we can make the fastest progress.


  1. MMT 9. University of Ottawa, Pavilion Tabaret, Ottawa, Ontario, 22 March 1974