Experience is what causes change in a person. Someone has very aptly stated:
"No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or emotional appeal." Opinions, facts, arguments, or emotional appeal do not produce changes in a person's behaviour or thoughts because the gate of change "can only be opened from the inside." Experience is the sole key to unlock the gate of change. For instance, do health warnings on cigarette cartons and bottles of alcohol really deter buyers from purchasing such detrimental items? No! The only way users stop from taking in such intoxicants is when their lungs, heart, liver, or any vital organ suffers. Hence, experiencing the injurious effects produces the necessary change.
St. John proclaims: "God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all." 1 John 1:5. Seeing the divine light of God from within is the ultimate experience needed to transform a person into a self-recognised spiritual being. The direct experience of God is further spoken of in the book of Corinthians: "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of the darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." Corinthians 4:6. Through the grace of the Christ-like Perfect Master, the doors to the inner world are opened and one begins to gaze at the visions present inside. We are familiar with only one reality - the external. But, we know so very little about what lies within, what God is waiting to show us. Saint Kabir has said, "In this body lie lush gardens, in this body lies the Supreme, in this body lies the shimmering diamond necklace, and in this body lies my Perfect Master."
As a person with external vision can change his appearance to make it more appealing or can enhance his understanding of certain trades, professions, subjects through the use of his organs of sight (which feed information to the brain), likewise, an individual with internal vision, the divine eye, can change himself for the better. He can see himself in the effulgent light of God. Without such a vision, he would be handicapped and rendered unable to uplift himself from the doldrums and superficiality of material existence. Upon the opening of the divine eye, the first transformation that takes place is that one practically sees that he is spirit, not body. Swami Vivekananda illustrates this idea. He says, "Here I stand and if I shut my eyes, and try to conceive my existence, 'I,' 'I,' 'I,' what is the idea before me? The idea of a body. Am I, then, nothing but a combination of material substances? The Vedas declare 'No.' I am a spirit living in a body. The body will die, but I shall not die." Spiritual aspirants, when blessed with the grace of a Spiritual Master, have spontaneous visions of the immortal spirit through the Divine Eye, reinforcing the perennial fact that we are, in reality, the part and parcel of the Almighty, who resides within us as the luminous soul. Lord Krishna says in the Gita, "Ishwara sarvabhootanaam hrdesh arjun tishthti." - "O Arjuna! I am the Supreme, ever-shining in the chambers of all hearts!"
During the course of meditation on the internal light, spiritual growth also takes place. Through diligent practice, a person begins to transform by sharpening his power of discrimination, rising above selfishness, pride, and falsity. He develops the ability to shake off envy, greed, attachment, etc. because he views life with a broader vision - seeing beyond the pettiness, egotism, and over-extensive passions of this world.
Having the visions of light blessed by the Perfect Master is the first life-altering experience, as it eventually leads one to coming transformations. One should note that victories in moral behaviour without seeing the divine light of God are good, but small in comparison to the undivided bliss that one experiences when in communion with the light of the inner-world. That bliss creates a saint out of a sinner, as one realises his own purity and strength and inspires others to fashion their life in righteousness as well.
Most importantly, our transformation rests solely on our own shoulders. We bear the onus of self-growth. The divine light and the merciful hands of the Perfect Master give us the stamina and hope for refinement, but will should come from us, as we are responsible for no one but our own selves. Swami Vivekananda puts it brilliantly: "How will you behave if a little baby is put on your hands? Your whole life will be changed for a moment; whatever you may be, you must become selfless for a time being. You will give up all your criminal ideas as soon as responsibility is thrown upon you - your whole character will change. So if the whole responsibility is thrown upon our own shoulders, we shall be at our highest and best; when we have nobody to grope towards, no devil to lay or blame upon, no personal deity to carry our burdens; when we are alone responsible, then we shall rise to our highest and best. I am responsible for my fate, I am the bringer of good unto myself, I am the bringer of evil."
Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan has documented cases of hard-core criminals who have attested to their changed behaviour through Spiritual Knowledge imparted to them behind bars. Thousands of acquitted and released prisoners have laid a new foundation for themselves, and many have taken on the responsibility of keeping themselves on the track of righteousness and actively helping others to give up the life of crime. We too can produce important changes in our lives through the grace of the Perfect Master. Changing our perception from body to soul, from aggression to compassion, from ego-centricity to humility will enliven, enlarge, and enrich us as human beings. The experience of the divine light awaits us.