One morning after meditation a certain spiritual Master asked his disciples to meditate for two more minutes and then come up to him one by one with their most soulful smile. The Master sat in a chair in his backyard and as each one came before him, he gave him a mark according to his smile. Some people got as low as forty out of one hundred. More than seventy the Master could not give, although he had expected at least one or two to get one hundred. Then he told all the disciples that they could get one hundred out of one hundred if they could smile from the soul. The Master then showed them how they should smile, placing his hand on his heart. One or two disciples started crying and weeping because they did not give a good smile. But the Master said to them, “That is very childish. If you did not do well, so what? Next time you will do better. Just by your crying you won’t be able to get one hundred. It is only in the ordinary school that if you do not do well in your examination that you can go crying to the teacher and persuade him to let you pass. Let me tell you something about one of my disciples. She once told me that after she failed in an examination, she went crying to the teacher and the teacher was kind enough to let her pass. Such a brilliant-student!”
“Please tell us, Master,” said a young man, “how to smile soulfully.”
The Master explained, “You have to feel that if you can’t smile, you have not committed a Himalayan crime, a Himalayan blunder. As children, we learn how to walk only after repeated falls. We stumble and then we get up again. We become a fast runner after losing the race many times. We become good wrestlers by being defeated many times.
“If you can’t smile soulfully today, no harm. Try at least to feel the presence of your heart. The soul is very deep within, true. But easily you can feel the heart. As soon as you place your hand over your heart, you know that it is there. Try to feel inside your heart the living presence of the Supreme. For now, do not go deep within to see or feel the soul, where the Supreme is actually located. Just feel your heartbeat where the life-breath is, and there try to feel the presence of the Supreme. Feel that it is there that the dearest, the sweetest, the only Beloved is. Now, if you show a smile to your dearest and sweetest Beloved, what kind of smile will that be? Automatically a soulful smile will come forward, and this is the soul’s smile. Then the Supreme will be inwardly pleased with you.”
The Master then turned to one of his youngest disciples and said, “Now, this is a serious matter. Please, please smile. This is my most earnest request. You are the only person who doesn’t smile. I am telling you with utmost affection, kindness and love that this is not good. Please smile; otherwise, I will feel very sad. From now on, always try to smile.”
The young girl, who still had a very serious and sad look on her face, said, “What if I don’t feel like smiling, Master?”
“Even it you can’t smile sincerely, at least give me a false smile. I will see through your false smile; I will know that it is false. But that is the way you can start. You can start by giving me a false smile and from there you will go to a sincere smile. It is like this. Before our spiritual life began, we were in the life of desire. Now we have entered into the spiritual life and we see that the life of desire is false, so we give it up. But if we had not started with the desire-life, we would have been like stones — in the stone-consciousness. People who do not have any desire at all and, at the same time, do not aspire, are just like the wall here, with no spark of life at all. They are worse than those who at least have desire. So if one cannot aspire, at least he should live in the desire-world. So, if you cannot smile sincerely, at least give me a false smile.”
The Master blessed his young disciple. Then he turned to the rest of the disciples and said, “Some of you always show me a sad, depressed face, as if I have done something wrong. You act as though I have taken away all your joy and delight and divine qualities, or you are sad because you are not getting the qualities or things that you want. But both ways of thinking are mistaken. If you want to have divine qualities, then certainly you will have them. You are praying and meditating and you are bound to be fulfilled, but each thing has its own time. The farmer does not get a bumper crop immediately; but he plants the seeds and then he waits for the divine Grace that is called water. Then, after some time he gets a crop and his desire is fulfilled.
“Then, you have to know that nothing will be taken away from you. If you have something, I do not take it away. A great spiritual Master was once accused of taking away his disciples’ experiences and all that. His disciples said to him, ‘Master, when we tell you about our experiences, we don’t get them any more. You must be taking them away.’
“So the Master said, ‘Look, you eat a very, very tiny fish and I eat the largest fish. He who can eat the largest fish will not care for the tiny fish. So don’t worry, I won’t eat your fish. I will eat only my fish, which is very big. And one day, when you are able to eat that kind of fish, I will give it to you.’”
“Master, I think that some people think they can please the Supreme or please you by showing a solemn face,” said one disciple.
“It is a very wrong attitude if you think that by showing me a sad, depressed face that you will make progress,” explained the Master. “You only draw my attention, and this is very wrong. Sympathetic attention and blessingful joy and pride are totally different. Those who smile feel that they have accomplished something. They feel that they are on the right path or in the right boat, and that they are doing well. They know that the boatman is there, and even if they cannot appreciate fully the capacity, the concern, the blessings of the boatman, no harm. As long as they are in the boat they feel secure, and this is why they smile.
“So always try to be cheerful. If you are cheerful in the spiritual life, your cheerfulness will be your strength. In your cheerfulness you get determined will, inner courage. But if you are depressed, you have to feel that you have placed a very heavy load right on your shoulders. Then what happens? You put it right in front of me. The mission is going forward, but each time an individual becomes sad and depressed, he is like a heavy load, an obstacle that I have to remove in order to go on. Then, after we remove this obstacle and take one more step, another disciple becomes depressed. Today it is you, tomorrow somebody else, the day after tomorrow a third person. This is going on, going on. Depression has become a contagious disease. Each time we start walking I see very, very heavy loads right in front of us. This is not good at all and it is you who are doing it.”
“Do these heavy loads affect other disciples as well?” asked one young woman.
“Yes,” answered the Master. “When you are sad and depressed, others who are also inside my heart become miserable because they see that you are delaying their progress. They feel miserable because they see with their soul’s light that somebody is blocking the path. Today you are blocking it, tomorrow somebody else is. This depression has to be conquered; otherwise, feel that you are consciously and deliberately standing in everybody’s way.”
“Is this one of our main problems, Master?” asked a young boy.
“Jealousy you can conquer. Depression you can conquer. Doubt you can conquer. But what is actually bothering most of the disciples here, especially the young girls and boys, is depression. I must say that the girls, especially know how to be depressed. With them it goes on, like a relay race: ‘Now for a few hours I shall be depressed, then you start.’ After you have played your role, another will start. This is not good. So dearest ones, no depression from now on. Let us not be depressed. Be happy! If you cherish depression, then tomorrow you will leave my boat. I am millions of miles away when you are depressed. Only my compassion is there, which you are exploiting like anything. Please show me your soulful smile. Then my blessingful pride and gratitude you are bound to feel.”