The living entity transmigrating through 8,400,000 species of life is sometimes likened to a log gliding downstream on the waves of a river. Sometimes, by chance, a log washes up on shore and is thus saved from being forced to drift further downstream. In this regard there is a nice verse in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.38.5) that encourages every conditioned soul: "No one should be depressed by thinking he will never be out of the clutches of matter, for there is the possibility of being rescued, exactly as it is possible for a log floating down a river to come to rest on the bank." This fortunate opportunity was also discussed by Lord Caitanya. Such fortunate incidents are considered the beginning of the decline of one's conditioned life, and they occur if one associates with the pure devotees of the Lord. By associating with pure devotees, one develops attraction for Kṛṣṇa. There are various types of rituals and activities, some of which lead to material enjoyment and others to material liberation. But if a living entity takes to those ritualistic activities by which pure devotional service to the Lord is developed in the association of pure devotees, then his mind naturally becomes attracted to devotional service. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.51.53) Mucukunda states:
- bhavāpavargo bhramato yadā bhavej
- janasya tarhy acyuta sat-samāgamaḥ
- sat-saṅgamo yarhi tadaiva sad-gatau
- parāvareśe tvayi jāyate matiḥ
"My dear Lord, while traveling in this material world through different species of life, a living entity may progress toward liberation. But only when gets the chance to come in contact with a pure devotee can he actually be liberated from the clutches of material energy and become a devotee of You, the Personality of Godhead."
When a conditioned soul becomes a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, the Lord, by His causeless mercy, trains him in two ways: He trains him from without as the spiritual master, and He trains him from within as the Supersoul. In this connection there is a very nice verse in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.29.6), in which Uddhava says to Lord Kṛṣṇa: "My dear Lord, even if someone lives as long as Brahmā, he would still be unable to express his gratitude to You for the benefits derived from remembering You. Out of Your causeless mercy You drive away all inauspicious conditions for Your devotee, expressing Yourself from outside as the spiritual master and from inside as the Supersoul."