From Sages we understand that the direct and immediate means of winning Deliverance is the Quest of the real Self, by turning the mind away from the world – that is, from everything that can be objectified – towards the Self in the Heart.
But we find that this is not easy, because in the mind there are attachments to objects, gross or subtle, and habits of thought, which are mostly latent, but spring into feverish activity one after another, and pull the mind back to the world.
These are mental taints, which are called vasanas, because they have been acquired by intimate contact with objects, and linger in the mind, like the smell of the contents that lingers in a pot after it is emptied. Because these ‘smells’ of things are more in some than others, there is a great difference between one disciple and another.
The Sage tells us that disciples are of four grades, comparable to gun powder, dry charcoal, ordinary fuel, and wet fuel.
The first kind of disciple needs only a word, like a spark, to consume his ignorance at once.
The second kind needs some teaching and personal effort.
The third kind needs a long course of teaching, training and practice.
The fourth kind needs to be made fit for discipleship by practices suitable to his condition.
Hence most disciples would need to persevere in the Quest for a long time, before they could become confident of winning ultimate success. Many might become discouraged at the want of success, and be inclined to give up the enterprise.
What are these disciples to do, so that they may be able to make steady progress towards the goal? The answer is, they must practice devotion to God.
The above excerpt is taken from the book Maha Yoga, Chapter 11