Disciples, followers, admirers and well-wishers1

“My Lord Supreme, do tell me the difference between a disciple and a follower.”

“My son, the difference is this: a disciple is he who constantly thinks only of his Master’s need. He feels that his very existence on earth is for his Master alone, only for his Master. When the Master asks him to do something for him, he says, ‘Master, I have already done it.’ As a matter of fact, he has done it, for intuitively he has felt the Master’s need long before the Master has asked him on the outer plane to do something for him.

“A follower is he who wants to do what the Master asks him to do, but he will tell his Master, ‘O Master, I will do it, but please give me some time. You have asked me to do something, so definitely I will do it, but what you have asked is not an easy task; therefore, I may take some time. But I assure you, I shall do it. Have faith in me. I shall not disappoint you, not to speak of deserting you. If I do it immediately, I may not succeed, so give me some time. I shall do it without fail.’”

“My Lord Supreme, please tell me the difference between an admirer and a well-wisher.”

“My son, here is the difference: an admirer is he who admires the Master at a distance. He does not want to be involved with the Master’s practical needs. He does not want to be close to the Master or near the Master, for he thinks that his nearness will be exploited by the Master, or he thinks that if he remains near the Master he will see the Master’s shortcomings and lessen his admiration for his Master. He will admire from a distance, but he will not approach the Master, for the Master may ask him for a favour which he may not be in a position or have the willingness to fulfil. Again, he is afraid that if the Master behaves in a human way, then the little admiration for the Master that he does have may not last. So he is afraid of his own life, of his own security, of his own standard, of his own realisation. He does not want to associate with the Master closely, for he feels that the Master in his dream-world is one thing, whereas the Master in the reality-world will be a different thing.

“A well-wisher is he who knows about a spiritual figure and entertains a good opinion of him. He reads about the Master in the newspaper, or sees him on television or hears about him on the radio, and he thinks that the Master is a good person. But the Master, the spiritual figure, never expects anything from a well-wisher; therefore, he and the well-wisher remain at a distance.”

“My Lord Supreme, do tell me something more about them.”

“My son, when the Master sails his boat towards the Golden Shore, the disciple remains in the boat, fully one with the Master’s will. He looks at the Master’s movements and observes how he is piloting the boat, and all the time he is praying for the Master’s inner and outer success and victory. He is all eagerness to see the Master’s victory. He sleeplessly observes the Master’s way of piloting the boat, and is all the time learning from the Master how the Master pilots the boat.

“The follower sits in the boat. He feels that just because he has told the Master that he is following his path, he has given his fee, so he can remain safe. His promise itself is the fee; therefore, it is the Master’s bounden duty to take him to the Golden Shore. Since he has bought the ticket, since he has got a seat inside the boat, he feels that he does not have to watch; the boat will bring him to his destination. On his own he does not have to remain awake; he does not have to be of any help or service — inner or outer. He can remain asleep, he can enjoy himself, but it is the Master’s bounden duty to do the needful, because he has accepted the disciple.

“An admirer is he who comes right up to the boat but is afraid to enter. He is afraid that if he takes the journey, some water animals may capsize the boat or some doubt-hurricane may blow him out of the boat or destroy the boat. He is afraid that he will not be able to survive the journey.

“The admirer watches the journey from the shore. He watches the Master and the disciples and followers in the boat. The Master is navigating from this shore to another shore. The admirer sees and admires, but he is afraid. He thinks that the boat will capsize, so he does not enter into the boat.

“A well-wisher does not even come to see the boat take off on its journey. He hears from others, or reads in the newspaper, or hears on the radio or television that the Master has embarked on a journey to an unhorizoned land. If the Master succeeds, well and good. If he fails, who cares? A well-wisher is nothing in the outer world but a fair-weather friend. If the Master succeeds, he will say, ‘Oh, I know him. He is so great, so good, so kind.’ If he fails, he will say, ‘Oh, I know him. He is useless; therefore, I did not want to follow his path.’ So this is the difference between a disciple, a follower, an admirer and a well-wisher.”

  1. 14 July 1977, 8:40 p.m. — Martin Van Buren High School, Hollis, New York

Sri Chinmoy, Everest-Aspiration, part 2.First published by Agni Press in 1977.

This is the 353rd book that Sri Chinmoy has written since he came to the West, in 1964.


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by Sri Chinmoy
From the book Everest-Aspiration, part 2, made available to share under a Creative Commons license

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