There is neither in this world nor the world beyond, happiness, for the one who doubts
-- Srimad Bhagavad Gita
The road to self-realization is laced with some of the most effective deterrents, I believe, often playing it hard on the people who choose to traverse it! It is an ongoing process, quite like living life every day anew until the end, and hence should not be confused with a destination one arrives at, after a length of travel.
I had the good fortune to visit The Ramakrishna and Sharada Math, last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed the call, trying to understand at first hand the people who were part of these illustrious associations and their austere lives engaged in a perpetual and undeterred quest for self-realization!
Perhaps the most difficult thing, for someone such as me, is to renounce material possessions and worldly comforts in the pursuit of spiritual excellence. Therefore, to see people younger than me, having already done so and embarked on such a fruitful journey was unsettling yet promising!
If anything, it is the mind, which is the chief constituent of any decision making exercise, that needs to be reigned in, in order to make free will differentiable from acts as a result of cause and effect - or so I believe!
Leaving these splendid places and returning to the humdrum of my routinated life, having savoured moments of unequaled comfort and solace, the lesson was certainly not lost on me that the knowledge of the self and its realization are known to the one who thinks of them as the unknowable and not to the one who thinks he knows!