Two strangers: money and light

There was once a great spiritual Master who had all together about twenty disciples. Either he did not care for more disciples or God was not kind enough to give him more disciples. Anyway, he was most pleased with his twenty disciples. As in the case of all spiritual Masters, he had three or four disciples who were very close, very intimate disciples. Among these very intimate disciples there was one disciple whose name was Isabella. She had a spiritual brother named Quentin. According to her simplicity and sincerity, that spiritual brother was very nice. According to her soul’s light and wisdom, perhaps he would have been otherwise. Some other day I will tell a story about Isabella. Today I would like to tell a story about her spiritual brother, Quentin, who was in no way a close disciple of the Master.

Quentin used to go to the ashram regularly. He was always one of the earliest arrivals. The first arrival was another brilliant disciple, whose name was Quincey, who was not too friendly with Quentin. In those days the Master needed some disciples to help him with his filing system. Quentin was very nice about helping. Even now, when the Master sees his handwriting, he blesses his soul. Now Quentin was the poorest, absolutely the poorest of all his disciples. He lived in Brooklyn and, since he didn’t have money for the subway, the poor Guru had to give him money. Sometimes the Guru himself had seven dollars or, if he was lucky, as much as twenty-five dollars in the bank, but the Guru happened to be an Indian rascal with an Indian heart, so he always gave Quentin money for bus fare. Then Quentin used to come to the ashram with filthy, dirty shoes, though perhaps his shoes were cleaner than his feet. Sometimes the Master would discover rat holes in the shoes, and he would give him money to buy new shoes. The Master was dead against long hair, so when Quentin’s hair began to get shaggy around the ears, the Master would give him money to get a haircut. And so it went on. Quentin knew the Master’s poverty, but apparently his own was worse.

On several occasions, when the Master was in his monkey mood, he used to ask Quentin if he knew Isabella. Always the answer was, “No, not at all.” “Have you spoken to her for anything?” “Never, never,” was the invariable reply. One day when the meditation session was over and Isabella had left, the Master was in a joking mood. Whenever the Master saw that his disciples were in other worlds, he became a real monkey. Poor Quentin was desperately trying to get away without being rude, but the Master kept talking to him. But finally he felt sorry for Quentin and let him go. Then the Master looked out his window and saw Isabella cross the street at a green light. After she had crossed and the light had turned yellow, then red, the Master saw Quentin dash across the street against the red light to join her. On that very day, the Master had asked Quentin if he knew Isabella and he had said, “No, I don’t know who she is.” Quentin was certainly not the Master’s most sincere disciple.

In spite of all this, the Master used to help Quentin financially, since he was the poorest of all the disciples. At least the Master could say that he was richer than one disciple. For about a year and a half Quentin went to the Master’s ashram. Then one day he called up the Master and said, “Master, I need an interview with you.” In those days the Master had only a handful of disciples, and a phone call was a rare occurrence. So he said, “Yes, come.”

When Quentin opened the door he burst into tears and fell down at the Master’s feet. The Master could not account for it. “What is wrong with you, Quentin?” he asked.

“Nothing is wrong. You have to forgive me, you have to forgive me,” came the tearful reply.

The Master said, “What have you done that I have to forgive you?”

“I have done everything. If you don’t forgive me, I shall not have a place even in hell.”

The Master reassured Quentin saying, “Don’t worry. Heaven can accommodate you safely, very safely.”

Then Quentin took his bankbook out of his pocket and showed it to the Master. It showed seven thousand nine hundred dollars! The Master buried his head in his hands and contemplated what his disciple had done. “What can I do?” he asked himself.

As if in reply to the Master’s question, Quentin said, “I told you a lie. Now you have to forgive me and take all this.”

“After you have told me this kind of lie? Impossible!”

“Then I will not leave your ashram. If you take this money, only then will it mean that I am forgiven by you and by God.”

“Impossible!” said the Master.

And so it went on, with Quentin crying and insisting that the Master take his money, and the Master refusing. Quentin cried and cried, and even threatened to commit suicide if the Master did not accept his money. He told the Master that he had two thousand dollars in his checking account, in addition to the money in his savings account. So if the Master took all the money from his savings, he could still easily meet with his expenses from his checking account. The Master vehemently protested, but finally he felt sorry for Quentin and agreed that on his birthday, which was about four months away, he would accept one thousand dollars. Eventually Quentin accepted this compromise.

About three weeks later, stories began reaching the Master from other disciples that the Master had told Quentin that he would throw him out of the ashram unless Quentin gave him seven thousand nine hundred dollars. One, two, three disciples brought the Master the same news. The Master defended himself by saying, “How could I have known anything about his savings if he had not shown me his bankbook and offered the money to me? He did do that, but I did not want to accept even a penny.”

At the end of the next meditation meeting, the Master said to Quentin, “Is it fair of you to say I have threatened to throw you out of the ashram if you do not give me all your savings? How many hours I protested against taking even a cent! Stay with me if you want to. I care for your soul, so you may stay. But I will never accept any money from you.”

A few days later the Master heard that Quentin was now telling people that the Master had set a deadline — that if Quentin did not give the Master his savings and checking accounts by the Master’s birthday, then the Master would throw him out of the ashram. At this point the Master got disgusted with Quentin and the next time he came to the ashram, early of course, the Master said, “Leave my ashram. I can’t bear you any more.”

During the year and a half that Quentin had come to the Master’s ashram, he had given the Master two gifts: a tiny statue of the goddess Saraswati, and a book written by Paramahansa Yogananda, called Whispers from Eternity. When the Master asked him not to come to his ashram any more, Quentin said to the Master, “Give me back my statue.” The Master immediately gave it to him.

“Now give me my book!” said Quentin.

“I have seventy or eighty books here on this shelf, and I do not know where it is. I will find it later and send it to you. The disciples will soon be coming for meditation, so please leave now and I will mail it to you.”

But Quentin said, “No, I will not go. I will not leave the place until you give me my book.”

So the Master had to use his occult power to find the book quickly. He gave it to Quentin and said, “Now go.”

“No, I am going to call the police and tell them that you are throwing me out when I have done nothing wrong. I shall file a complaint against you.”

At this the Master became absolutely furious. Luckily enough, the strongest member of the ashram was climbing up the staircase just at that moment. The Master said to him, “Gregory, I have asked Quentin to leave, but he refuses to go. Will you please help him down the stairs.” Gregory just showed his muscles, and Quentin felt that if he offered any resistance his hours would be numbered, so he very peacefully left.

A few days later the same old story began circulating again. Quentin was telling the disciples that the Master threw him out of the ashram because he would not give him all his savings. Then one day the Master received a letter from Quentin saying: “I have a gun and my mother says that I am insane, so I can do anything I want to with my life and with others’ lives without being responsible. I wish to say that I will use my gun on you.” The Master did not answer this letter. A few days later another letter arrived from Quentin. This time the story had changed. Quentin said he was ready to take his own life if the Master did not accept him again.

The Master went deep within and got no response. He went still deeper trying to see if it was the divine Will that he accept Quentin again. During his meditation the Master saw inwardly that Quentin would not take his own life, and that he should not accept him again. Afterwards, he was inspired to write a few things about money for his other disciples. This is what he wrote: “Traditionally, money is considered to be the root of evil. But if money is used for a divine purpose from the beginning it is not a curse. If you have money, but want to deceive the Master into thinking that you are suffering very much financially, your deception will one day be exposed. If you have money, no harm. You can have millions of dollars if you want, and the Master will never expect a penny from you. He will have only good wishes and concern for your material wealth and spiritual wealth. But if you tell the Master you have no money and ask him for financial help, a day will come when your Inner Pilot, not the Master, will punish you. You will eventually be compelled to be sincere. At that time if your sincerity is deep and earnest, you will be forgiven. But if your sincerity is eclipsed by worldly thoughts, greed and more insincerity, then the death of your spiritual life begins. Money properly used is a blessing. Money used in an undivine way or money consciously concealed from the Master will sooner or later prove to be a curse.”

The Master saw that insincerity and spirituality cannot go together. Never! As soon as insincerity enters into a disciple, he is lost. If a disciple has peace of mind or love or concern for others, but out of false modesty says, “I don’t have peace, I don’t have love, I don’t have joy,” this false modesty is a curse. It is as bad as jealousy, fear and doubt. Real modesty is exploited by false modesty. When the Master appreciates a disciple, modesty is good, but it must not be carried to extremes. Inside the very depth of your heart you know that what the Master says is true, but when he appreciates you, you feel that if you show modesty he will be pleased, and you carry your false modesty so far that you refuse to accept the Master’s appreciation at all. This is wrong. The Master’s appreciation must be accepted with deep and sincere gratitude.

In the spiritual life we have to be very careful of how we use what we have, whether it is spiritual wealth or material wealth. Every kind of wealth has to be used in a divine way; otherwise all of us will one day act like Quentin. If you have something, it is wonderful. You are under no obligation to give your wealth, inner or outer, to others. But if you say that you don’t have any wealth and ask others who have far less than you to give you some of theirs, then you are doing something very bad. You have no right to exploit others by making them feel that they are far better off than you. That is not fair. If you have money or if you have Peace, Light or Joy, do not say, “I don’t have anything.” Your Master or your Inner Pilot will soon be disgusted with you, and they may take away even the little Joy, Love and Peace that you have. God has given us all some inner wealth, aspiration. If he has given us outer wealth as well, let us not sacrifice our inner wealth, which is infinitely more precious, in trying to keep our outer wealth secret.