Hundreds of years ago there lived a great spiritual Master, who wanted to know the actual number of his disciples. So he announced that all those who considered themselves his disciples should send him their names within a month’s time. Everybody fulfilled the Master’s demand. His secretaries carefully counted the number: it was ten thousand and one.
The secretaries were extremely pleased that their Master had ten thousand and one disciples. But the Master said, “It will take me another month to know if amongst these ten thousand and one disciples I have a single one whom I can call my perfect, my unconditionally perfect disciple.” The Master concentrated deeply on each disciple in turn and found that each was marred by imperfections. All ten thousand and one of his disciples failed to reach up to his expectation.
Disappointed, the poor Master said, “All right, these are all my disciples. It is true, they have disappointed me, but there are many, many seekers all over the world. I shall go to different parts of the world and look for just one perfect disciple, such as I have not seen so far."
He went to many countries. His search took him to India, Japan, China, England, Germany, Russia, Africa — to all parts of the world. In India I have spent at least seven months thinking that there in the land of spirituality he would surely find at least one perfect disciple. But it was not so and the Master was extremely disappointed. He visited spiritual centres and ashrams and attended many religious functions. Not even one seeker totally satisfied him.
His journey took over a year. In vain all that time he searched for one perfect disciple. He had spent his time and much money in his travels, but to his sorrow and surprise, he did not come across even one unconditionally surrendered and constantly perfect disciple.
Saddened and disappointed, he returned home, blaming himself for his folly in setting out on such a search. It had all been a waste and he had not found anyone to satisfy him. Concerned, he entered into deep meditation. In a profound state he saw right in front of himself his own figure, his own face, his own physical shape in its subtle form. He watched steadily and came to realise that this person who was standing right in front of him could alone be his perfect disciple. The qualities he demanded from others in order for them to be his perfect disciples could be fulfilled only by himself. So he himself was his only perfect disciple.
Now he recognized that he had to be two persons at one and the same time. He had to be both the Master and the disciple. In familiar Indian terms we call the Master ‘Guru’ and we call the disciple 'Chela’. The Master’s name was Pratap. Whenever he needed something done, he used to address himself as Chela Lakshman. If he wanted to drink a glass of water, he would say to himself, "Chela Lakshman, give me a glass of water." Then he would fetch it and drink it. He would obey himself. When he wanted to take the role of the Master, he would sit on his chair and address himself as Guru Pratap. While saying “Guru Pratap” he used to have the confidence and assurance of the Master and he felt that he was truly the lord of his other life — that is to say, his life as the disciple.
At every moment he was separating himself into two. One life was the life of the disciple and the other life was the life of the Master. When he wanted to order something, he would address himself as Guru Pratap; and when he wanted to be pleased by his devoted qualities, he would address himself as Chela Lakshman. Each moment he saw himself as two beings: one being that was connected with the aspiring consciousness of the earth and one being that was supremely illumined in heaven. When he identified himself with his earth-consciousness, he became the perfect disciple; and when he identified himself with his heaven-consciousness, he became the perfect Master. So in this way he was getting the utmost satisfaction from his life. He felt that at long last he had discovered the perfect disciple in himself. He had not to go anywhere in search of a perfect disciple; he was his own disciple and his own Guru.
One day in meditation he went very, very deep within and as he entered into his highest trance he saw God face-to-face.
God asked him, “Are you sure that now you have at long last discovered your perfect disciple?”
He said, “Yes, my Lord, at long last I have discovered my most perfect disciple and it is I myself.”
God said, “My child, you are mistaken.”
The Master said, “Why, my Lord? How?”
God answered, “In order to be a real disciple one has to have unconditional and constant surrender. Now, we see a slave listening to his master unconditionally and constantly. If he listens unconditionally out of fear, or even out of respect, it does not mean that he has become a perfect slave. The unillumined part of yourself is listening to the illumined part unconditionally and constantly. But if cheerfulness or the feeling of inseparable oneness is missing, then perfection never dawns. Perfection comes only in absolute, unreserved, inseparable oneness. The slave has not established inseparable oneness with the master. He listens blindly. A real seeker and perfect disciple is he who can offer himself to somebody recognizing absolute oneness, inseparable oneness, without feeling superior or inferior, without feeling any kind of separateness. In true self-offering there must be oneness, absolute oneness based on joy and delight.
“Only I, God, can cherish absolute, constant, unconditional surrender to your human, earthly desires and to your heavenly Will. It is I who can be and who am your only perfect disciple and not you. Only I, God, can be a perfect disciple to you because it is I who with infinite joy have established My total, inseparable oneness with you. And My oneness is founded on My unconditional love, unconditional devotion and unconditional surrender to you who are My very own.”
So each human aspirant must know that the perfect, real disciple can only be God and no human being — not even the Master. Only God the Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent can be a true disciple, a perfect disciple to a spiritual Master or to any seeker or to any human being.
We shall have to find our real, perfect disciple in God and not in any human being. And we must see that within each seeker is the real Guru, the Supreme. The only Guru is the Supreme. The Supreme alone is at once the perfect disciple and the perfect Guru.