I have studied a good many scriptures. I also indulge in preaching about spirituality, religion, the inner life and so forth. But personally, I feel a barren desert within me. I get no satisfaction at all from what I am doing. I feel I am wasting my own precious time and that of others. Could you possibly enlighten me regarding this?

I fully sympathies with you. You are not alone. There are a good many human souls sailing in the same boat. The study of books and scriptures can give us information to quote and a certain understanding. It can give us, at most, inspiration, but nothing more. By borrowing others' ideas, we can never be truly enlightened in our inner life. It is by studying the eternal book of Truth within us, by listening constantly to the Voice of the inner Self, that we can become spiritually illumined. It is then that we will find joy in our outer life. We must see God first, and then we can become Godlike. If we want to be truly Godlike, our talking must give way to becoming. Let me tell you a true story.

In a certain village in Bengal, India, a rich man's servant went to his master's house every day by crossing a river in a ferry boat. One day there was a violent storm. The ferry could not cross the raging river and the servant, who was forced to go many miles out of his way to a foot bridge, was late in arriving. His master was furious. "You fool," he shouted, "if you utter Krishna's name three times, you will see that you don't need a boat. You will be able to walk across the river!"

That afternoon, as the storm showed no signs of abating, the poor servant was threatened with the same situation. But, in his simple faith, he obeyed his master's instructions. From the very depths of his heart he uttered the name of Krishna. Lo, the miracle of miracles! He felt a power propelling him towards the water, and he was able to walk upon the very waves. Thus he crossed the river. When he heard the story, the master's joy knew no bounds. A swelling pride rose in his heart. Was it not his advice that had brought about the success? "I never knew that my advice had such great power," he thought. "Let me enjoy this miracle myself."

So he went to the river, which was now calm and serene, and uttered Krishna's name three times. Then he began to cross. But fear and doubt tortured his whole being, and although he shouted the sacred name hundreds of times, his attempt was fruitless. He drowned.

Now what do we learn from this story? The servant had sincere faith in his master. He also had an implicit faith in Lord Krishna. It was this absolute faith in a divine power that saved him and proved the power of Krishna's grace.

Similarly, a speaker, in spite of his own lame faith, can inspire a genuine faith in his listeners. But it is by being truly spiritual himself that he can help others most significantly. If we want to convince others of the Truth, our highest authority comes only from direct knowledge of Truth and not from any scripture. In the divine Play unillumined authority plays the role of the lamp, while Truth-in-realisation plays the role of the Light.