Sri Ramakrishna would often advise his devotees the need to be steadfast in the pursuit of one’s spiritual goal. The habit of nibbling here and there and trying out various spiritual paths without being steadfast or sticking to one particular path will not result in any worthwhile spiritual progress. To explain the idea he used to narrate a story.
Once, a man wanted to sink a well because he needed water for his household purposes. Someone advised him to dig at a certain spot and he started doing so. But, after digging up to a depth of 15 feet he could not find any water, so he abandoned the pursuit thinking that it was futile to dig there. In the meanwhile, another person came and laughing at his foolish attempt advised him to dig at another spot, which he knew to be best for the purpose. So the man went there and started digging. This time he went to a depth of 20 feet, but again could not find any water.
Soon a third person appeared and asked him to try at another spot. The man went there and this time dug up to a depth of 30 feet and again could not find water. Thus he went on digging at different places and ultimately could not find any water. Had he concentrated his efforts and dug at one place, he would have certainly found water since he would have obviously gone up to a depth of 150 feet. Because he was not steadfast in his pursuit, he could not reach the goal.
Thus Sri Ramakrishna would say that to succeed in spiritual life one should strive hard and diligently for several years adhering steadfastly to the same path. Several obstacles and distractions would confront such an aspirant. One should persevere with tremendous sincerity of purpose. Otherwise, it is not possible to achieve the supreme goal of life.
-by Swami Shantatmananda, Sunday Guardian, 8th Feb 2014