Spiritual advancement begins when there is a radical change in the outlook of the worldly man. The worldly man lives mostly for the body; and, even in those pursuits which do not seem to have a direct reference to the body, the ultimate motive power of those pursuits is, in the last analysis, to be found in the desires connected with the body. For example, he lives to eat; he does not eat to live. He has not yet discovered any purpose which is clearly transcendent of the body; and he, therefore, naturally allows the body and its comforts to become the center of all his pursuits. But when he discovers a value in which the soul is predominant, the body is at once thrown into the background. The very maintenance of the body now becomes for him merely instrumental for the realization of a higher purpose. His body, which hitherto had been a hindrance to the true spiritual life, comes to be subjugated for the release of higher life; and it becomes, after this change in the point of view, less and less of a hindrance, until it becomes merely an instrument. At this stage, a man tends to his bodily needs, not with any special feeling of self-identification, but in the same spirit as that of the driver of the railway engine, who fills it with coal and water, so that it may be kept going.
The very beginning of spiritual advancement is conditioned by a searching quest for that goal for which man lives—the goal for which he unconsciously loves and hates, and for which he goes through life's variegated joys and sufferings. But, though he may be stirred by the pull of this incomprehensible and irresistible divine destiny, it may take a long time before he arrives at the mountain top of Truth-Realization; and the Path is constantly strewn with pitfalls and slippery precipices. Those who attempt to reach this mountain top have to climb higher and higher; and, even if a person has succeeded in scaling great heights, the slightest mistake on his part might cause his falling from those very great heights, so that he may have to start again from the beginning. Therefore the aspirant is never safe, unless he has the advantage of the help and guidance of a Perfect Master, who knows the ins and outs of the Path, and who can not only safeguard the aspirant from a possible fall, but lead him to the goal of Realization itself, without unnecessary relapses.