The Two Kinds of Good Company
Good company is inestimably beneficial. We can keep company with a saint in one of two ways: one is physical proximity, while the other is to be in the sadhana advocated by the saint. The former is indeed rare; firstly, we cannot easily recognise a true saint even if we chance to meet one; and, secondly, even then doubts may beset the mind about his genuineness. Besides, if you fall in with a hypocrite, he will definitely lead you to ruin. Physical proximity with a 'saint' is, therefore, fraught with potential risk.
The other kind of company, namely, the sadhana advocated by him, is free from all risk; for, what is advised by him (whether he is genuine or fake) will have to be the correct thing. Even a hypocrite will have to give correct advice, if only to maintain the similitude of genuineness; and such correct advice, if followed sincerely by a seeker, is bound to do good. If you are fortunate enough to locate a genuine saint, however, physical proximity with him is tremendously effective. Just as we travel with the same speed as the vehicle we employ, and all we have to do is not to leave it, to hold on to it, so, if we are fortunate enough to find a real saint, it would serve our purpose even if we just keep in his company. In such company, there is nothing that we need to do beyond associating with him. That removes all scope for pride in us, and also mitigates desires. That is why Saint Tukaram requests God to grant, not money, nor even moksha, but just the company of the godly.
The company of the godly induces us to take nama; and nama alone will maintain steadiness of purpose. It keeps just what is necessary and removes the rest. But it must be taken with absolute faith. It gradually gives steadiness to our thought; and it is only then that we can really avail ourselves of the physical company of the godly, which leads us to God without extraordinary labour or penance. Sadhana gets automatically done along with the things going on there; worship, prayer, listening to good thoughts, chanting nama. Therefore we should make special efforts to keep in good company; we should not cite 'destiny' as an excuse against it.
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