Once a spiritual Master was enjoying his morning walk. It was a very, very cold winter day. One of his disciples came running up to him and gave him an expensive, beautiful shawl. Then he went back inside and left the Master. The Master was walking in a meditative mood when he saw a poor old man near him. The old man was also in a meditative mood, so the Master asked him, “Can I interrupt you?”
The spiritual man said, “Yes, certainly, you can. You are a spiritual Master. You have every right to speak to me. How I wish to become as great as you are.”
“Yes, I am a spiritual Master,” he replied, “but I have a little more money-power than you do. How I wish you would take this shawl from me.”
“I need only God,” the old man said.
“Yes,” said the Master, “but God is speaking through me. If you have this shawl, you will be able to meditate better.”
“Is it so?” asked the man.
“Yes,” the Master said, “if you don’t suffer from cold so much, you will be able to meditate better. I have finished my meditation and I am going home. Please take this shawl.”
The poor man finally accepted the shawl and thanked the spiritual Master. He continued praying and meditating.
When the Master returned home, the disciple asked, “Where is the shawl? Such an expensive, beautiful shawl I gave to you!”
The Master said, “Make up your mind. Did you give it to me to carry for you or to have as my own?”
The disciple said, “I gave it to you to have as your own.”
“Then, if you give me something as a gift,” said the Master, “how do you dare to ask me for it?”
“I am not asking for it for myself,” said the disciple, “but for you, so the next time you go out you will be able to use it.”
“Did you give me this to please me or to please yourself? If it was to please yourself, I have the money. I am sending someone to get a more expensive, beautiful shawl and I will give it to you. But if you did it just to please me, for my sake, then keep silent.”
The disciple got the point. “ I gave it to please you, Master.”
The Master blessed the disciple. “Whenever you give something to the Master, you can’t ask the Master to use it in your own way. He will always use it in his own way. That is the right way.”
GIM 175. 20 February 1979↩