I’ve been thinking about the concept of the spiritual path. There is only one road. That is surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is only the beginning point in one’s spiritual life, yet it is rarely achieved.
“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.”
- Bhagavad-gita, 7.19
In the preface of the Caitanya Caritamrta, Prabhupada describes the surrendered soul, as delineated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who was Krishna Himself, but who appeared on the earth just to teach us how to surrender. The Lord demands that one surrender unto Him by following six guidelines, one of which is: “A pure devotee is a soul who is forever surrendered to the Lord, just as a child is surrendered to his parents or an animal to its master. In the surrendering process, one should: (5) have no interest separate from the interest of the Lord”
Then there are those who do not take the strait and narrow path of surrender:
“Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons, do not surrender unto Me.”
- Bhagavad-gita 7.15
In the purport to this verse, Prabhupada describes the “mudhas,” or foolish workers, who labor like beasts of burden. “Ignorant of their real master, the foolish workers waste their valuable time serving mammon. Unfortunately, they never surrender to the supreme master of all masters, nor do they take time to hear of Him from the proper sources. The swine who eat the stool do not care to accept sweetmeats made of sugar and ghee. Similarly, the foolish worker will untiringly continue to hear of the sense-enjoyable tidings of the flickering mundane force that moves the material world.”
Those on this path are not rare, and there are infinite paths that people take. The majority of humanity simply works hard for their own sense gratification, not caring about surrender to the real master.
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”
- Matthew 7.13
"Broad is the road that leads to death,
And thousands walk together there;
But wisdom shows a narrower path,
With here and there a traveler."
- Isaac Watts
"Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched."
- Bhagavad-gita 2.41
Those skeptical of this “path” will say it does not exist, or it is imagined, or followed by obeying one’s own mental interpretation of the scripture, or the guru’s instructions. But those who have traveled this path for most of their life will say that it is real, not a mental imagination. It is not a video game or seeing through the haze of one’s mental rose colored glasses. No conditioned soul actually knows what is to be done and what is not to be done, but a person who acts in Krishna consciousness is free to act because everything is prompted by Krishna from within and confirmed by the spiritual master.
This is the only path to freedom, yet it is all inclusive, because God is everything, and is the supremely satisfying state of existence called “samadhi.”
“The stage of perfection is called trance, or samadhi, when one's mind is completely restrained from material mental activities by practice of yoga. This is characterized by one's ability to see the self by the pure mind and to relish and rejoice in the self. In that joyous state, one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness and enjoys himself through transcendental senses. Established thus, one never departs from the truth and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain. Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of greatest difficulty. This indeed is actual freedom from all miseries arising from material contact.”
- Bhagavad-gita 6.20-23
It is foolish to take any other road - and supremely arrogant to think that one is more intelligent than the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If you do veer off the strait and narrow path, you will undoubtedly inevitably find yourself in the ditch.