The Master's burden

There was a spiritual Master who always used to cut jokes. On his path, he liked to use humour to a great extent. He would pray and meditate with his disciples but, after the meditation was over, he would entertain them by cutting jokes or by asking the disciples to say amusing things. This spiritual Master was always cheerful, self-giving and very, very happy.

Finally it came to pass that the Master fell ill. He was running a high temperature and all kinds of diseases attacked him. Day by day, his case got progressively worse. The disciples asked him, “Master, Master, what has happened to you? Why are you suffering so much?”

In a weak voice, he said, “Do you think it is an easy task to take on the burden of four men? Do you think it is an easy task to give away the burden of four men?”

To the disciples, it seemed that the Master was talking in riddles. They could not understand him at all. With each passing hour, they became more and more alarmed at the Master’s condition. That very day, he left the body.

Now, this particular Master had only four disciples. They placed his body on a stretcher to carry it to the place of burial. As they all grasped the stretcher, they suddenly realised the meaning of the Master’s words. He had carried them; he had taken their burden. Then he wanted to give up the responsibility, but he found it difficult to unburden himself. It was too much for him to carry the burden of these four disciples. Finally, he left the body and they were compelled to take care of themselves.

So many spiritual Masters have developed serious illnesses from taking on the burden of their disciples. Sri Ramakrishna declared that he developed cancer because of the imperfections that he had taken from sixteen disciples. The Saviour Jesus Christ also took on the sins of his twelve disciples.

Sometimes the disciples do not believe that the Master has taken on their weaknesses and imperfections. Even if they are attacked by a headache, they say, “Here is the proof that you have not taken away all my problems. If you have really taken them, why am I still suffering?”

What can the poor Master do with this kind of disciple? Sometimes he escapes by saying, “You do not realise that you would have suffered infinitely more. Because of my intervention, your sufferings were much, much less than they would have been.”

And what does God do? He hears from Above the Master’s story and the disciple’s story. Then He says to the Master, “You rogue! It is I who have taken away all your disciples’ problems, not you.” And God tells the disciples, “You are also rogues! Can you not see that your sufferings are next to nothing in comparison with what you deserve?”