The aspirant who has decided to reach the goal carries within himself all the sanskaras which he has accumulated in the past, and, in the intensity of his spiritual longing, they remain half-suspended and ineffective for the time being. But, time and again, when there is a slackening of the spiritual effort, the sanskaras which had hitherto been suspended from action, gather fresh strength, and arraying themselves in new formation, constitute formidable obstacles to the spiritual advancement of the aspirant.
This might be illustrated by the analogy of a river. The powerful current of the river carries along with it great quantities of worn-out earth from its source and the banks, and as long as these quantities of earth are suspended in water, they do not hinder the flow of the river, though they may slow it down. But when the current becomes slower in the plains, and particularly towards the river's mouth, these quantities have a tendency to be deposited on the riverbed or to form huge islands and deltas. These not only obstruct the current, but often divert it, or even split it into smaller currents, and on the whole, weaken the former force of the mighty river. Or again, when the river is in flood, it sweeps away all obstacles which it encounters; but when these accumulate to a certain degree, they can become a serious hindrance to the flow of the river. In the same way, the path of spiritual advancement is often blocked by the obstacles of its own creation, and these can be removed only through the help of the Master.
The help of the Master is most effective when the aspirant surrenders his ego-life in favor of the unlimited life which the Master represents. Complete self-surrender is most difficult to achieve; and yet, the most essential condition of spiritual advancement is the reduction of egoism to its minimum. The objective of spiritual advancement is not so much "good works" but quality of life which is in no way curtailed by ego-consciousness. If the aspirant has many great and grand things to his credit, but all the time has claimed them to be his, his ego fastens itself upon his achievements and constitutes a formidable hindrance for the life unlimited. Hence comes the futility of rituals and ceremonies, acts of charity and good works, external renunciation and penances, when they are rooted in ego-consciousness.”