Question: Sometimes I feel that I'm not only making no progress, but actually going backwards in my spiritual life.

Sri Chinmoy: Unfortunately, some people run a little, then they become tired. In fact, they become so tired that they allow ignorance to pull them backwards. Once you have started to run on the spiritual path, if you grow tired and give up the spiritual life, you will not be able to remain in one place. The forces of ignorance will just attack you mercilessly and pull you back into the sea of ignorance. But the path of the soul's evolution goes only one way. The progress that you have made during your life of aspiration will not be lost. The ignorance of the physical world and the vital world covers the soul to such an extent that the soul finds it extremely difficult to cast off its heavy load of darkness and ignorance. The soul becomes covered with a dense veil of ignorance, but once the veil is removed again, all the soul's wisdom gained in its short-lived life of aspiration comes to the fore. The soul always keeps the quintessence of its previous progressive experiences. Then again, in the process of inner evolution, the soul carries forward the mind, vital and body along with it to a more illumining and more fulfilling state of consciousness. On rare occasions human souls enter once more into an animal incarnation, but this happens very seldom, and usually only after the first or second human incarnation, when the undivine, undeveloped vital still wants to enjoy the world of passion. For a few months a human soul may go back into the animal kingdom again before it returns to the human kingdom permanently. But we are not of that low animal standard.

You have the capacity in run. You don't have to crawl; you don't have to stumble; you don't have to walk. What you need is obedience. If there is inner obedience, then there is nothing that we cannot do, absolutely nothing. But almost everybody is lacking inner obedience. Our path is the path of love, devotion and surrender. Unfortunately, even before love can grow, what is necessary is obedience. This obedience must be based on inner faith. Otherwise, why should you obey me rather than some body else? Why have you come to me? Because you have some faith in me. If you cultivate that faith, you will soon grow into obedience. When you do what I ask, the result comes in the form of either success or failure. You have to offer both at the Feet of the Supreme. But if you don't play your part, then the Supreme has every right to feel that you have deceived Him and deserted Him. He must not be deceived; He must not be deserted. It is only your disobedience, your ignorance, which keeps you from fulfilling your role and making the utmost progress.