“Few Seek It, Fewer Attain It”

Lao Tzu

There’s one aspect of what’s happening today which we could easily overlook and that’s that very few seek enlightenment and fewer attain it. Yet today we see and hear that countless thousands are seeking it by desiring Ascension and, apparently, hundreds of thousands of early risers are attaining it.

Let’s listen to terrestrial sages discuss the matter. Sri Krishna said, in the Bhagavad Gita:

“Who cares to seek
For that perfect freedom?
One man, perhaps,
In many thousands.” (1)

Swami Brahmananda, one of Sri Ramakrishna’s small band of disciples and a companion of Sri Krishna’s tells us that “out of thousands, perchance one desires for God” (2) on one occasion and on another, “only one in a million sincerely longs for God, and few sustain that longing.” (3)

Few sustain the longing. In other words, they may feel a burst of desire to attain God on one day and then move to another desire the day after. Our lives are a constant and eternal cycle of desire in which the desire to realize God is only one among many competing wants.
The Upanishads depict our situation this way:

“To many it is not given to hear of the Self. Many, though they hear of it, do not understand it. Wonderful is he who speaks of it. Intelligent is he who learns of it. Blessed is he who, taught by a good teacher, is able to understand it.” (4)

Writing in the code that he was famous for, Lao Tzu (later incarnated as the ascended master Dhjwal Khul) said that:

“In all the world but few can know
Accomplishment apart from work,
Instruction when no words are used.” (5)

To accomplish “apart from work” implies remaining in the stillness associated with samadhi, a state which I actually have experienced for perhaps an hour in my lifetime. It was not permanent for me but a fleeting experience. Only with sahaja samadhi or Ascension does it become permanent.
And God is prior to words; again only in samadhi is God known. So Lao Tzu is saying “but few” know God and exist in the state that results.


Sri Krishna

Krishna who had said that only “one man, perhaps, in many thousands yearns for God goes on to say:

“Then tell me how many
Of those who seek freedom
Shall know the total
Truth of my being?
Perhaps one only.” (6)

And later in the same work, Krishna tells us that:

“Fools pass blindly by the place of my dwelling
Here in the human form, and of my majesty
They know nothing at all,
Who am the Lord, their soul.” (7)

What Krishna calls “fools,” which we would call ordinary folk, haven’t the slightest suspicion that God lives in the heart and fail to seek Him/Her/It there.

This desire to acquaint us with our real situation was probably the reason why Jesus said: “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (8) Many are given God’s calling cards (revelations, visions, etc.), but only a very few purify themselves so that they’re fit to realize the Father.

He went on to add that “strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (9) By “life” here he means not eternal life per se, which we all have regardless of our desires, but liberation from the need to be reborn into physical life, which we’ll attain upon Ascension.

Sri Ramakrishna

In the Gnostic Gospels, Jesus is quoted as saying “I shall choose you, one from a thousand, and two from ten thousand.” (10) So again: very few.

Richard Rolle, a medieval sage, tells us that “this mystery is hidden from the many, and is revealed to the few, and those the most special. So the more sublime such a level is, the fewer – in this world – are those who find it.” (11) Sahaja samadhi, the level associated with Ascension, would have been to Rolle a very high level.

His near contemporary, the blessed Henry Suso, agreed: “Not many succeed.” (12) Nisargatta put a number to it: only “one in a million understands all this play of consciousness [and] transcends it.” (13)

Sri Ramakrishna also attached a number to the success rate: “Out of a hundred thousand kites, at best but one or two break free; and Thou dost laugh and clap Thy hands, O Mother, watching them!” (14)

He describes why so very few among householders have succeeded historically:

“A few [householders] succeed in [spiritual life] through the grace of God and as a result of their spiritual practice. But most people fail. Entering the world, they become more and more involved in it; they drown in worldliness and suffer the agonies of death. A few only … have succeeded, through the power of their austerity. … Therefore spiritual practice is extremely necessary; otherwise one cannot live rightly in the world.” (15)

So we may simply accept statements like thousands ascended early or many ascended masters are appearing in our midst but these are not at all usual occurrences and are themselves proof of what’s happening today.


(1) Sri Krishna in Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, trans., Bhagavad-Gita. The Song of God. New York and Scarborough: New American Library, 1972; c1944, 70. [Hereafter BG.]

(2) Swami Brahmananda in Swami Prabhavananda, The Eternal Companion. Brahmananda. Hollywood: Vedanta Press, 1970; c1944 , 127.

(3) Ibid., 194.

(4) Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester, trans., The Upanishads. Breath of the Eternal. New York and Scarborough: New American Library, 1957; c1948, 17.

(5) Lao Tzu, The Way of Life. The Tao Te Ching. trans. R.B. Blakney. New York, etc.: Avon, 1975, 96.

(6) Sri Krishna in BG, 70.

(7) Ibid., 81.

(8) Jesus in Matthew 22:14.

(9) Matthew 7:14.

(10) Jesus in Meyer, Marvin W., The Secret Teachings of Jesus. New York; Random House, 1986, 24.

(11) Richard Rolle, The Fire of Love. Trans. Clifton Wolters. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981; c1972., 51.

(12) Blessed Henry Suso in Frank Tobin, trans. Henry Suso. The Exemplar, with Two German Sermons. New York and Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1989, 130.

(13) Nisargadatta Maharaj, Consciousness and the Absolute, The Final Talks of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Edited by Jean Dunn. (Talks recorded, 1981). 1994, 70.

(14) Paramahansa Ramakrishna in Swami Nikhilananda, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 818.

(15) Ibid., 154.

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