Short story — the foolish, the clever and the wise1

"Master, lately I have been observing something very pathetic and, at the same time, a little amusing. I don’t understand why some of the disciples who have left you are now literally begging to come back. Please tell me, what made them leave in the first place?”

"My son, don’t you understand? It is so simple. Each one has a reason for leaving me. One has left because he has discovered that I am unrealised. Another has left because he feels that, although I do have realisation, I am not going to share it with him. He feels that I am a miser and want to keep my realisation all for myself. A third one has left because he has stayed with me for fifteen years without making any spiritual progress. Since he feels there is no hope of his making any spiritual progress or ever reaching my height, what is the use of staying with me? A fourth one feels that I am extremely partial. He has never seen anybody as partial as I. He feels that I show preference to some disciples who are far inferior to him in spirituality, who are absolutely undeveloped and impure. I show such interest in those people, but I have no time to look at him or even say a nice word to him, even though he is so spiritual and divine. These are some of the many reasons why the disciples leave me.”

“But why do they want to come back again, Master? These disciples who have found so many things wrong with you, why do they feel the need to come back?”

“Because now each one has been blessed with a different realisation. The one who decided that I was not a realised soul now thinks, ‘When I used to meditate with the Master, I used to have very deep meditations. But now that I am meditating alone, I feel nothing. Perhaps he really did bring down Light, Peace and Bliss.’

“And the one who felt that I was not going to give him realisation says to himself, ‘Is it possible for everyone at the Master’s ashram to be a fool? He has so many disciples. I thought that the Master would not give me realisation because he wanted to keep his realisation for himself. But how is it that his other disciples are not coming to this same understanding? If everybody else feels that the Master is a saint and I alone feel that he is a rogue, then I am stupid. The best thing is for me to go back to him again and see if I can receive something from him this time.’

“The one who left because he felt that he was making no progress and would never be able to reach my height now feels a new realisation entering into him: ‘All right, I may never realise my Master’s height, but I may at least get something if I go back to him, whereas since I left him I have not been making any spiritual progress at all. During the period I stayed at his ashram, at the times when I was not depressed or jealous, I used to get some inner nourishment from him.’

“The one who left because he felt I was partial now has gone to another Master. Now his feelings have changed. He thinks, ‘Now that I have gone to another Master, I am not getting even the little importance that I used to get from my previous Master.’ So he wants to come back. Each one thinks that he will get something from me if he returns, and this is why they now want to come back."

“Master, I really don’t understand how spiritual aspirants can behave that way.”

“Well, my son, I can make it more explicit. You see, in this world some people are fools, some are clever and some are supremely wise. People who have left me for various reasons are now coming back to me because they feel that they will get something. These people were fools when they left. Now they are coming back again out of cleverness, because they now feel that they were wrong before, and they will get something from me.

“But some people are wise. They will stay with me forever, just as I will stay with God. These people feel that the Master knows what is best and that the Master will do what is best for them. They feel that they are wise in always listening to the Master. They believe in the Master when he tells them that there is somebody infinitely superior to him, with whom he is in constant contact, and that is the Supreme.

“When they think of doing something wrong, they are terribly afraid that the Master will punish them or show them his indifference. This indifference is just like a death-blow to them. They also feel that if the Master makes a mistake, then his superior, the Supreme, will not fail to correct him, to perfect him and to do whatever He wants to amend the situation.

“It is better to be clever than to be a fool. If you are a fool and leave your Master permanently, you will ruin your life. But if you become clever and return to him again, you will definitely make progress again. But if you remain always wise, then you will get the utmost. Slowly and steadily you will go on making progress. Regularly, every day, you will get something from the Master. Even if you are not aspiring, just because you are with the Master you will get a little every day — even just one spiritual penny. But gradually all your pennies or all your dollars will accumulate and you will be a spiritually rich man.

“If you feel that one cent is nothing or that the coin is counterfeit and you leave the Master, still the Master will go on giving one cent or more every day to all the disciples who remain with him. Naturally their wealth will continue to increase, while yours will soon be entirely spent. So stay with the Master, even if you have no faith or very little faith in him, for you are bound to get at least one cent every day. And if you have real faith, tremendous faith in the Master, then instead of one cent you will receive a hundred inner dollars every day. Then you will make very fast progress and become a multi-millionaire in the spiritual world.

“People come to a Master and very often want to equal him immediately. Overnight they want to become as great as the Master, and they become jealous of him if it does not happen. But if you go to a big store and become jealous of the owner because he has many valuable things, does the owner lose anything or do you gain anything? You may try to steal something, and you may or may not be caught. But if you want to get something by hook or by crook in the spiritual life, it is impossible. You cannot deceive a real Master at all because he is one with the supreme Knowledge, with the supreme Vision. It is far better to be wise. If you can please the owner of the shop, what happens? He may give you what you want at a discount. And if you can please him still more, he may someday give you what you want free.

“The Master is very wise. He tries to please the Supreme, the Highest, all the time. Since he has realised God, he knows that he personally does not have the Infinite. Only the Supreme has everything in infinite measure, so he tries to please the Supreme in His own Way. Then the Supreme gives him the things that he needs. He just asks, and immediately infinite Peace, Bliss and Light pour down on him. And if the Supreme is extremely pleased with him, the Master does not even have to ask.

“If you also try to please your Master all the time, then I tell you he will give you everything in infinite measure — not only beyond your necessity, but beyond your imagination as well. The Master forever stays with his Master, the Supreme, who has infinitely more than he has. And, in turn, he asks you always to remain faithful to him, your earthly Master, who has a little more than you have. Stay unconditionally in the Heart of the Supreme, where you and He will become absolutely one, inseparably one. Do not be a fool and then become clever. Be wise from the very beginning. Once a little wisdom dawns on you, try to acquire more wisdom, abundant wisdom and finally infinite wisdom. Infinite wisdom alone can satisfy your eternal hunger.”

  1. 30 January 1974