One of our monks recently made a transition back into the ‘real world’. After some years of monastic discipline he felt it was time to adopt a new lifestyle based around family, career and worldly responsibility. He recently went for an interview. It was his big break. Frustrated, he came back and complained “in this world it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.” No prizes for guessing he didn't get the job! We’ve seen it before - even if one is incompetent, unreliable, temperamental, and all-in-all quite a weak candidate, they may still get the job if they have the right connections. Those who have achieved a sense of competence or recognition in their field can often make up for someone else’s shortcomings.
You may be interested to know that there is a transcendental version of this corrupt system. In our endeavours for spiritual purity, the blessings of saintly personalities can make up for our individual deficiencies and failings. The Catholics have their bishops, the Muslims have their imams, the Hindus have their gurus, and the Jews have their rabbis. We look to the saintly for inspiration, encouragement and recommendation. Based on their intimate connection with God, we trust in their ability to petition Him on our behalf. Through humble words and acts we directly or indirectly implore them - "put in a good word for me." While many are suspicious of investing their faith in fallible humans, others may simply feel their own conviction and endeavours are sufficient. However, the good wishes, blessings and encouragement of the saintly are vital. Just as many lenses within a telescope bring an object within sight, similarly, the more spiritualists we can serve and please the closer our cherished goal will be.
But who is a true saint? The Bhagavad-gita explains that such persons are not stereotyped. They may have an institutional position, or maybe not. They may be recognised by many people and famed in spiritual circles, or maybe not. They may be erudite, scholarly and philosophically astute, or maybe not. They may be renounced, austere and free from worldly responsibility, or maybe not. The one essential quality of the truly saintly person is their enthusiastic, dedicated and unwavering conviction to selflessly serve. They exist to give happiness to others. It is these great souls who we should seek to please, for their spiritual prowess can overflow onto us, and their good wishes can attract divine attention.