In spiritual practices the same rule cannot be applied to all. We must know the peculiar tendencies of each individual before any spiritual instruction can be given for his guidance. If the instruction goes against the particular bent of his nature, not only will it do no good, but it may even give rise to harmful consequences. It is, therefore, very essential that the guru should study closely the individual tendencies and peculiarities of his disciples and give instructions in such a form as will readily appeal to their temperaments.
Beyond one or two general rules, no individual can be told in the presence of others what particular path he should follow. I have seen in the case of Sri Ramakrishna how he would take each disciple alone and give him in private the special instructions necessary for him. If you want to ask your guru anything regarding your sadhana (spiritual practice), you must do so in private.
In a general way, the observance of a few rules will be beneficial to all spiritual aspirants. In the first place, you must have firm faith in God. You must be fully convinced that if you realize God and obtain his grace, all the problems of your life will be solved; you will gain the object for which you have taken this birth; and on getting a taste of eternal bliss you will become immortal. . . .
Spiritual practices should not be done in public or for show. If you do them before others, they will be harmful to you. People will mock you, they will offer you advice gratis and give you conflicting suggestions, as a result of which various doubts will arise in your mind and your spiritual progress will be obstructed. . . .
While you are young, you must try hard to get a taste of divine bliss. When once you have got the taste, you can never forsake your sadhana. Even at the risk of your life, you will continue spiritual practices.
– Swami Brahmananda, The Eternal Companion