The spiritual life is full of paradoxes. One of the most puzzling of them is the scriptural declaration that if we want God-realisation we must make great effort, supreme effort. At the same time, they adamantly declare that we are already what we are seeking. Our common sense objects. If we are already what we are seeking, why do we have to make extreme effort? And indeed, there are some teachers who ridicule normal spiritual practices and say, “Just realise that you are already free.”
But that is not what, for example, the Yoga Vasishtha tells us to do. The whole first section of the Yoga Vasishtha is dedicated to self-effort. That not what Gurudev said. He constantly urged us to make effort. And in Pujya Swami Chidanandaji book, Ponder These Truths, 74 of the 75 talks urge us to make effort of one sort or another.
One morning here Swamiji suggested an analogy for this paradox. He said, “It is as if a poor man is living over a treasure. One day a sage tells him that ten feet under the small plot of land where he is sitting, a treasure is buried. That means that the poor man is actually very wealthy. But until he digs down those ten feet, he is as poor a man as he ever was. Even if he digs 9 feet 11 inches he is still poor. It is only when he has dug the full ten feet and puts his hands on the treasure that he is wealthy beyond his fondest dreams.