The first step

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Upon deep reflection and consideration of how nothing of this material world really gives lasting happiness and how nothing can be claimed as belonging to us, one is forced to question our very existence and the purpose thereof in the material world and the true source of happiness and satisfaction, which can rightfully be called ours. This inquisitiveness about life and its true purpose is the first step in the direction of self-realisation and only comes about by great good fortune. The majority of the population, oblivious to the precarious situation they are in, make numerous plans for material prosperity and sense gratification, ignoring the inevitable sufferings one is bound to suffer due to birth, death, old age and disease. It is stated in the Bhagawat Gita that out of thousands of such people, only one is inclined towards self-realisation. Once this inclination and inquisitiveness enters the heart, the jiva desirous of ensuring his ultimate good must approach a bona-fide spiritual master and enquire submissively about the truths of life. One may question, where should one go and look for a bona-fide spiritual master? This question is indeed essential and appropriate, as in today’s world there are numerous pseudo spiritualists acting as Gurus and leading themselves and their followers down the royal road to hell. In such a situation one must sincerely pray and beg for the Lord’s mercy and have full faith that he shall guide us to a proper representative of the Lord. Once having attained the shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Guru, who is as good as the Lord himself, being the manifestation of his causeless mercy, one should start practising the limbs of bhakti, as mentioned in the bhakti granthas, under the direction of the Spiritual master. This process of accepting the instructions of one who is advanced on the path of Bhakti is not very difficult to understand. Even within this world, in order to master a field of knowledge one must take instructions from a person who is knowledgeable and well experienced in that particular field of knowledge. If that applies to education in the mundane sphere then what to speak of the subject matter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One can only know and realise the Supreme Lord under the guidance and with the mercy of a bona-fide representation of the Lord, a pure devotee Guru. Upon receiving instructions from such an exalted personality, one will gradually come to understand the true nature of the self, which is sat-chit-ananda, full of eternity, knowledge and bliss. Then one shall understand the Supreme Lord, the jiva, and the material nature, the three subject matters, without knowing which one cannot know the truth of the situation. In this way one comes to the understanding of matter and spirit and realises that soul is the real self and all things made of matter are temporary and full of miseries. And thus one continues to progress on the path of self-realisation, which shall ultimately lead one to true peace and bliss.