What priorities would you assign to the duties of a disciple?
Love your family much. This is your great duty. Love mankind more. This is your greater duty. Love God most. This is your greatest duty, the duty supreme.
An aspirant's life is the life that has to perform the duty supreme. His first and foremost duty is to realize God. There is no greater duty than this in his life here on earth. Time is fleeting; time does not wait for us. We have to be wise. We can utilize each moment for a divine purpose. We can utilize each moment in performing our soulful duty.
/Could you tell us what an aspirant's duty to society is, if he has one, and how he should relate to his total society? Should he be withdrawn or should he contribute, and if so, what should be the nature of his contribution?/
It depends. First of all, we have to know the standard of the aspirant. If the aspirant feels that the inner life, the spiritual life, is of paramount importance, that he cannot do without it, then he has to devote most of his time to the inner life, the spiritual life, to God-realization. His inner being will tell him to what extent he can contribute to society. But if the aspirant is just learning the ABCs of the spiritual life, then I wish the aspirant to accept society as something important, needful and significant in his life, something that should be accepted along with the inner life.
Again, I wish to say that if he is a true aspirant, he has to go deep within in order to know how to help society. To help society is a wonderful thing. To be a philanthropist is a wonderful thing, and if that particular philanthropist goes deep within and gets the direct message from the inner being, from God, then only at that time will his help to society be really meaningful. Otherwise, the so-called help or contribution to society by an aspirant will be an act of self-aggrandizement, a feeding of his ego.
In order to realize God, one does not have to leave society altogether for good. If one leaves society, or in the larger sense, humanity, then how can one establish and manifest divinity here on earth? But one has to be wise in his spiritual search. He has to know that God comes first and then humanity. If one goes to humanity first and serves humanity according to his limited capacity or just to feed his ego, then he is not fulfilling God in society or in humanity. So to serve humanity properly, divinely, one has first to go to Divinity and from there, one has to approach humanity. At that time, the help will be most beneficial.