Richard (now Radhanath Swami) was also disappointed to see a yogi use his mystic powers to earn money so that he could get married. Richard realized that mystic powers are not spiritual; they can also be a distraction from the goal of God consciousness. Richard had seen this man crush a live bulb to powder and swallow it with a cup of Ganges water. He also pierced his eyes with an iron pole and revealed to his dazed audience that his eye was undamaged. Although his feats were superhuman, the purpose was shallow and insubstantial. That left Richard unimpressed.
Radhanath Swami reveals that spiritual life can present temptations that distract us from our goal. One should not practice spiritual practices for either monetary gain or for worldly popularity. The real bliss of spiritual life will be missing from our lives if we succumb to pursuing ephemeral goals of wanting prestige and power in this material world.
Radhanath Swami narrates examples of great saints who strictly avoided worldly fame lest it distracted them from their spiritual goal. One such example that Radhanath Swami quotes is of a nineteenth century saint Gaura Kishor Das Babaji who performed his meditation and prayers in a dirty public toilet so that people would leave him alone and not trouble him for material blessings. Radhanath Swami warns that these examples are not to be imitated but we can take inspiration on how many great souls abhorred glorification and material power. Another example Radhanath Swami often speaks about is a fifteenth century saint Bhugarbha Goswmai. To avoid material distractions, Bhugarbha Goswami would perform his worship to God in a cave. Because of this, he received the name Bhugarbha (bhu means “earth,” garbha means “cave” or “hidden place”).
Radhanath Swami reveals that the time and age we are living in beset with unlimited temptations and distractions that threaten to pull away a sincere seeker from his or her spiritual quest. Therefore we need to guard against these negative forces and practice spiritual life sincerely. On the basis of revealed scriptures, Radhanath Swami presents that the senses which include the mind are so strong and so impetuous that they forcibly carry away the intelligence even of a man who is endeavoring to control them. “That’s what yoga is about. It is not simply about having a healthy body or living many years. Yoga is about controlling the mind and the senses” says Radhanath Swami and this requires us to be focused against all obstacles, distractions and temptations. Radhanath Swami assures that this can be done if we simultaneously focus our mind on God.
But I often wonder that it is difficult to fix my mind on God. The solution Radhanath Swami offers is simple; association of like-minded seekers. Association can help us overcome temptations on the path of spiritual life. Even if we occasionally slip from our spiritual standards, the association of strong and sincere spiritual aspirants helps us come back on track. Temptations are unavoidable but how we respond to them depends on how much we have taken shelter of God. This shelter becomes strong in the association of strong devotees.