On the path of self-actualization, the devotee must be constant in thought and deed, and there is not a bigger enemy than becoming heedless.
There was a devotee, who spent his time in this world learning and practicing the qualities that are said to grant admission to His presence. He was sympathetic to his fellows, and gave freely to those in need. He practiced patience, and tried not to lose his composure, or submit to the vagaries of anger and greed. He did this despite hardship to self, often for the sake of others.
He had one shortcoming – at times, he became a little careless. A needy person might go unhelped, because he forgot to carry his purse.
At other times, his personal need made him miss opportunities to be helpful and caring. He was fond of sleeping, and many were the times when he missed learning new knowledge, or could not avail of more moments to be helpful – all because he was taking a nap.
He reasoned that heedlessness was only a momentary lapse, but on the whole, his life was good. And one day, his journey in this world was over, and he stood before the gates that would admit him to His presence.
“Be careful,” a voice said, “the gates will open only once in a hundred years.” He settled down, waiting to be admitted. Just for a moment, his heedlessness brought on a little sleep. In that instant, the gates opened, and he was woken only by the sound of their closing.
My teacher would say that He values constancy, and we must strive to be so at all times. The Guru Granth Sahib mentions this as the secret of actualization:
As the elephant submits to the rein, and the anvil to the hammer,
Offer our minds and body to the Guru, in constant service.
Doing so, eliminate self-conceit…