It is only upon attaining some degree of detachment from the world that faith can develop and it is only then that meeting a Saint will bear fruit. For someone to benefit from a doctor and accept him as such, he has to first admit to being a patient. You might say that everyone knows that he is a victim of the diseases of lust, anger, greed and so on. Everyone does know, but no one admits it.
The few people that are aware of their diseased condition feel the need to cure themselves. They accept the Saint as a doctor for their mental diseases and take his medicine in the form of spiritual practice. The rest of the people, who half-heartedly accept the Saint as a doctor, are careless in taking the medicine which is practicing the prescribed spiritual discipline. Therefore, they are deprived of the real benefit of a Saint’s association.
We need to have genuine faith and we also need to surrender to a genuine Saint. Only then will we attain our goal. Thus, Tulsidasa declares, shatha sudharahin sata sangati pai (Ramayana) Just as a touchstone can convert iron into gold, even the most wicked person can be reformed if he follows the instructions of a Saint with complete faith. The touchstone converts the iron into mere gold, but the association of a Saint makes his faithful disciple a touchstone itself, i.e. a Saint like himself. However, if the touchstone and iron have not properly come into contact with each other, or if the iron is impure or the touchstone is not genuine, then the transformation does not take place.
An extract from:
Prema Rasa Siddhanta - Philosophy of Divine Love
Chapter Six, The Saint, p. 164-5
Originally written in Hindi by Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj