There was once a spiritual Master in India who had hundreds of spiritual children who loved him very dearly. Many of his disciples lived in different parts of the world, but on every plane — physical, vital, mental, psychic — they tried to establish their oneness with the Master. What they needed — Peace, Light and Bliss — their Master gave them. Out of their gratitude they offered themselves to the mission. They thought of their Master’s needs on every plane. They gave their inner and outer loyalty, their dedicated service and their financial help. They felt that the father will give what he has and the daughters and sons will give what they have.
One day a disciple who had been with the Master for three years came to the Master’s home looking very sad. “Master forgive me,” the young man said. “I feel that I have been making a serious mistake since I became your disciple.”
“What is the matter, my son?” asked the Master kindly.
“Master,” said the disciple, “when it is a matter of spiritual need, it is mutual; I feel that I need you and you need me. But when it is a matter of your personal needs or the needs of the mission, unfortunately I don’t think of you at all. I think only of myself. Please tell me how to identify myself with you and your mission on every plane.”
“Please ask me any questions you have, my child,” said the Master. “I shall try to throw light on them.”
“Sometimes I wonder, Master,” the young man said, “why you have entered into so many outer activities. Is it necessary?”
“The Supreme in me inspired me to write poems, and I listened to Him. Then He inspired me to do paintings; I will do this also. Tomorrow if He inspires me to be a sculptor, that also I will do. If people who are following my path have faith in me, they will feel that these activities are another way in which we can inspire ourselves and inspire others. If they are not good disciples, they will say that in the name of the Supreme I am only parading myself and showing off paintings which they feel are useless.”
“Oh, Master,” said the disciple, “I love your paintings. I hope that one day you will agree to let us buy some.”
The Master continued. “To outsiders my paintings are of absolutely no value. They would probably never want to buy them. In your case, however, you want to buy my paintings. Now, when you buy my paintings, you regard them as more than just paintings. You see them as something that your Guru did, as something of his. You treasure my consciousness and you see that something of my consciousness is in the paintings. Of course, you also treasure my books, but thousands of copies can be made of my books, whereas my paintings have only one original. Then the rest are prints.
“Now your Guru is going to brag a little. Right now, as an artist I am unknown. But do you think that I will remain unknown forever? It is not my promise, it is the promise of the Supreme that your Guru will be known all over the world as an artist. I am telling you, after ten years, twenty years, forty years or long after I am dead and gone, I will be known. As a spiritual Master I will be known, as an artist I will be known, as a writer I will be known, as a poet I will be known. But it will take God alone knows how many years.”
“Master,” said the young man, “in my eyes you are already a great artist, a great writer. I am very inspired now to serve you in all aspects of your manifestation.”
The Master gave the disciple a gentle smile. “In as many ways as possible please try to serve the mission. A disciple may feel that if he does good meditation that is enough. Aspiration is enough, dedication he doesn’t need. This is what he may feel. But this is the wrong attitude. Or someone may help us in his own way and buy us things that he thinks we need. Then he feels that he has done enough and he does not do any selfless service. But this is the wrong approach.”
“Master, I understand your philosophy, I am very inspired to do dedicated service, but unfortunately I do not have much capacity when it is a matter of love-offering.”
“Son, don’t worry. Just offer in whatever way you can. When disciples give me something, I know some give according to their capacity and some give according to their willingness. In your case, I know you are giving according to your capacity, but you have to know that your willingness may at one point go beyond your capacity. Again, someone’s willingness may be far below his capacity.”
“What do you mean, Master?” the young man asked.
“I will tell you an incident,” replied the Master, “that happened very recently in one of our Centres. One of our divine disciples, who everybody always calls crazy, had forty-three dollars and some change. Look at this fellow! After the meeting he was going to put forty-three dollars in the love-offering and keep only the change to pay the toll when he drove home. I said no, but he said, ‘I don’t need money. I will get my salary very soon and I can eat free because I work at one of the Divine Enterprises. I said, ‘No, you can’t do this. When are you going to get your salary?’ He said ‘In a day or two.’ Then I said, ‘You can put in thirty-three dollars but I won’t allow forty-three’. Look at his heart! He had forty-three dollars and some change and he wanted to give forty-three. I am not telling you to do this. Far from it. I am just telling an incident about how far the heart goes. Again, if somebody has forty-three dollars and some change, it may happen that forty-three dollars will go home with him in his pocket and the change will be put in the love-offering box. So if there is no willingness, we give just so we will not be embarrassed.”
“Will my capacity to dedicate myself ever increase?” asked the young man.
“Capacity comes from necessity,” answered the Master. “Whose necessity? Your necessity and my necessity. If your necessity is to serve the Supreme in me — as it is my necessity — then capacity comes on the strength of your love and concern for me. If you are getting two hundred dollars a week and if you do not have to support someone, you know that your capacity is more than, say, five dollars a month.
“You know, my child,” continued the Master, “that I am not going to buy a helicopter or open up a steel factory or something like that. We are trying to spread our light, the Light of the Supreme, and for that I have to go to different places. Will an airline let me fly for free if I tell them I will give them Peace, Light and Bliss? No, we have to give them what they want.”
“Also, sometimes necessity demands money. If a Centre head is extremely devoted, very dedicated, but does not get any attention from me on the physical plane, then the Centre head must come to see me at least once a year. Some of the Centre heads in foreign lands serve us like anything, trying so desperately to spread the little light that I have. And if they are very poor and cannot afford to visit us, is it not my duty to bring them here to our main family? So I do help some of the Centre heads and also some of the individual disciples who are extremely, extremely, extremely devoted to the Centre and to the mission. There are some disciples who are very close to me inwardly when it is a matter of praying, meditating and serving the Supreme in me. Now, if they have financial difficulty, is it not my duty to bring them here?
“They will do everything for me and then, if they want to come and just see what we are doing here, will I say, ‘No I can’t help you?’ I am telling you frankly; these are the things that we have to do to run a mission. And there are constant calamities: people are sick, they have accidents, they have done things wrong. Here, there, they need money. It is just like feeding hundreds of elephants. And where does the money come from? It comes from you people, from those who love me.”
The disciple said, “Master, I understand fully. Thank you for illumining me. Your generous heart overwhelms me! I never knew how much care and concern you have for all your Centres. Now, may I ask you one more question?”
“Certainly, my son.”
“I love giving you gifts, even if it is just a ballpoint pen. Do you like my humble gifts, Master?”
“My child,” the Master said kindly, “Do you know of any material thing that will add to your inner experience if you are having a very high, sublime meditation? At that time, do you think that if you wear your most beautiful suit it will add to your immediate experience or realisation? Far from it. I think I have realised God. Do you think any material thing on earth will add to my God-realisation? Far from it, far from it! Still, I wish to say that I do welcome your material gifts. Do you know why?”
“Please tell me, Master.”
“Let us say you give me a ballpoint pen. I have literally hundreds of ballpoints, but when I touch yours, I do not see the ballpoint; I see your soul, I see your love for me, I see your oneness with me. As soon as I touch the gift, I immediately know who has given it. I see the soul, I see my oneness with the person. True, oneness is already there, but it is as if the oneness with the individual is renewed. If you give me a T-shirt or a pair of socks, no matter what you give, I don’t see a piece of cloth or the object itself. I see only you — your love for me, your concern for me — you as an individual who wants to please me according to your capacity, according to your understanding or according to your own necessity.”
The disciple shook his head in disbelief. “One ballpoint does all that, Master?”
The Master smiled. “Your material gift may cost only one dollar but it can establish or strengthen your oneness. Or you may give me something just to see me smile. For a disciple to see his Guru smile is the greatest thing. When you give me something, think that when I touch it I will immediately give a smile. Who gets the smile, my blessingful smile? Not the ballpoint, but your soul, which is inside my loving heart. Immediately your soul comes to me. It is like a child coming to the father with a flower. The child jumps in front of the father, saying, ‘I have come, I have come.’ And the father says, ‘My child, come; come talk to me, sit beside me.’
“In my case often I’m not able to thank you outwardly. But do you think that I am not grateful to you? Do you think I am not proud of you? The moment I touch what you have given me, my gratitude enters into you, gratitude because you think of me, because you really love me in your own way.”
“Master, isn’t it best to love you in your own way?”
“Yes, my son, but before someone can love me in my own way, there is only one way to love me and that is in his own way. Today you love me in your own way. Tomorrow you will love me in my more illumined way. But you have to start somewhere. If you don’t start at least in your own way, then what are you going to do? Today you do the thing that you feel is best. Tomorrow you will try to know what I feel is best for your life, and then you will try that.”
The young man bowed to his Master. “You are my ever-compassionate friend and Master. Thank you, thank you, thank you for illumining me.”