Two hundred years ago there lived a great spiritual Master who had ashrams throughout India. One day the Master called an important meeting in his oldest ashram, where he usually spent most of his time. For a half hour the Master did not speak at all, but brought down boundless light and peace. Finally he began speaking. He spoke very softly, so that some of the disciples in the rear had to strain to hear him. As he spoke, he seemed very sad. The Master said, “Sometimes people don’t take me seriously, but I wish to tell you that we have just disbanded one of our smaller ashrams and we may disband a few more. If each ashram does well, it adds additional strength to my manifestation. If an ashram doesn’t do well, inwardly it is a very heavy burden on my shoulders. I am prepared to disband all the ashrams if the ashrams fail. I may keep a few selected disciples from all over the world, and the rest will become, my followers, admirers or devotees. Only a few individuals will definitely help me and my supreme manifestation.”
The disciples were very upset at the Master’s words, and everybody remained silent. Finally, the main secretary of the ashram asked, “Master, please tell us what is displeasing you about the ashrams?”
“We thought the ashrams would be like homes,” said the Master, “but now we feel that the only real home is the Heart of the Supreme. In each ashram there is frustration, and it goes on for one, two, four, six, seven years. The progress some ashrams have made is next to nothing. I do not know what is going to happen. But if all of us really try, we can easily make our houses very strong and beautiful, inspiring and aspiring.”
“Master,” the main secretary said, “we are sad to learn that one of our ashrams has been disbanded.”
“Yes,” said the Master, “we started our journey with that ashram. But it has given us a series of experiences which we cannot have repeated in any other ashram. In the inner plane all those whom I have accepted will definitely remain my disciples, but the ashram will be disbanded. I don’t blame any individual; I only blame myself that I don’t have the capacity to deal with my ashrams. My capacity is limited in my ability to cope with my disciples on the physical plane, especially when the physical plane does not respond at all.”
“Are all your ashrams in potential danger, Master?” asked one disciple.
The Master replied: “While I was meditating at the beginning of this meeting, I saw one large tiger and two baby tigers roaming within my vision. I definitely saw three tigers — not only with my third eye but even with my human eyes. I don’t want to see tigers; I would prefer seeing a lion and two baby lions roaring and roaring. The lion represents divine realisation and divine manifestation. The lion takes the divine side and the tiger takes the asura side, the undivine side. All the ashrams are in danger, and you must tell all of them what I have said today.”
“So this also applies to those of us who live in your main ashram,” said one disciple.
“Yes,” said the Master. “I am equally dissatisfied with you. This ashram may be superior to other ashrams, but your superiority is no indication of my satisfaction with you. No ashram can rest on the laurels of confidence. The same rules apply here as elsewhere.
“This brings me to another point. Although this community is superior, I allow other ashrams quite often to mix with you. But when that happens, the other disciples have to know that they are mixing with their elder brothers. At the same time they should not try to surpass their elder brothers by hook or by crook. In a secret way they sometimes come near you people, kick you and try in a very undivine way to surpass you, and then they go. If one wants to be equal or superior to his sisters and brothers, he should adopt divine means, and in a divine way come close to them and then go beyond.”
“Is there really so much difference between your different ashrams?” asked one young man.
“Each ashram has certain characteristics of its own. This oldest ashram has everything from the highest to the lowest. It has the height and, again, it has the breadth. Sometimes in multiplicity, however, you have tremendous problems. Recently, I was speaking about uniformity, but I don’t want to have a military-like uniformity in the ashrams. Each ashram has some good qualities; so also do the disciples. I concentrate on each one’s good quality and try to bring it forward. It is not that I will take one person’s good quality and try to make it everyone’s good quality. No, I will approach you through your good qualities and somebody else through his good qualities. That is the right approach; the other kind of uniformity is useless.”
The Master paused, and said softly, “Even now I am seeing a tiger and two baby tigers. It is up to you to make me see a lion instead. One day you will all become divine lions, roaring lions, to manifest the absolute Supreme.”
“Please tell us how we can best make progress in whatever ashram we live in,” asked one disciple. “We know we are full of weaknesses and imperfections.”
“By telling me a million times in letters or in person that you are impure, insecure, unworthy, and so forth, you can never become pure, secure and divine in every sense of the term,” the Master explained. “Only by working hard both inwardly and outwardly can you become what you want to be.
“There are some disciples in other ashrams — I can count them on my fingertips — who because of their divine approach to me are really as good as the disciples in my older ashram. But in a large family it is very difficult to keep all the members on the same level. I thought all the disciples of this ashram would run very fast. But with some of the disciples I made a mistake. They really should be in one of the new ashrams. You may challenge me and ask why I took them, but I will say that at that time my compassion operated and I was dealing with possibility. But before possibility becomes a divine reality, undivine forces may capture and devour it. Anyway, I take full blame.”
“Master,” said the disciples, “it is your supreme humility and oneness that takes the blame for our shortcomings. Your unparalleled Compassion makes you great and good. It is we who have to live up to your Compassion. ”
“Each soul has its own potentiality, its own capacity,” the Master continued. “Suppose I ask the eldest in the family to lift a heavy load; I have asked him to do something within his capacity. I will not ask the youngest to do the same thing because he is small; I will not expect him to carry the same heavy load. Also, one individual may take my request as a command and another individual will take my request as an illumination coming from some higher part of himself. So I have to know each individual.
“What is the best way to feel that your request is coming from our own highest self?” asked one young woman.
“When my right hand speaks to my left hand and vice versa,” the Master said, “will the left hand feel that the request from the right hand is an imposition? No, because the right hand and the left hand have established their oneness. So the left hand will gladly accept instructions from the right hand and the right hand will gladly accept instructions from the left hand.
“Of course, I will expect only so much from the ashram which is younger in capacity. For example, it is impossible for one of the newest ashrams to fulfil the demands, expectations that I have for you. But if this ashram does not fulfil my inner demands, I am absolutely sad, miserable.”
“Master,” said the ashram secretary, “We are grateful for your frankness with us. This talk has illumined and inspired us. On behalf of the disciples of this community and of all your other ashrams, I pray for your grace so that we can make the fastest progress, inwardly and outwardly.”