Aspiration or manifestation: which comes first?1

In a very poor village in India, there lived a spiritual Master who was so poor that he could not afford to have a place large enough to hold his meetings. So he and his disciples very often meditated in a field near the Master's home. The Master had written considerably and many of his writings had been published, but he had received practically no money from his books. One day the Master was approached by two disciples who had been with him for only a month.

"Master," one of them began, "we would like to do something to serve your mission."

"I am most grateful to you," said the Master.

The second disciple said, "We would like to know what you think of our idea to set up a library of your writings in the village."

The Master showed them a sad face.

"What is the matter, Master?" the disciples asked. "Why do you look so sad?"

"First of all," said the Master, "we do not even have a place of our own. Right now we are not in a position to have a place for our meetings. We are like beggars. Some days we are given a hall in the village; other days this room is not available and we are forced to meditate in a field. What we need now is a place to hold our meetings. Then, naturally, there will come a time when our ashram is fully established and at that time we shall set up a library. But right now the library is not of primary importance."

"We are sorry that we asked you about this in the first place," one of the boys said. "We should have known better."

"What is of real, immediate need," said the Master, "is more aspiration, more dedication. In no way am I throwing cold water on you two. You are sincere, but I wish to say that you can be more sincere, you can be more dedicated, you can be more aspiring. I see that you are sincere, but your sincerity can be increased; your dedication can be increased. As there is no limit to our aspiration and realisation, so also there is no limit to our sincere dedication to the Supreme. Your first month with me is ending. You have to have more aspiration and more dedication towards our mission. So instead of thinking of a library, please think more of your own dedication and aspiration."

"How can we increase these qualities, Master?" asked the other boy.

"The answer is this. In the ordinary life when you want to do something, you often do it by hook or by crook. But in the spiritual life that is not possible. We shall not do anything by hook or by crook. We shall achieve what we want to achieve only through sincere aspiration, intense aspiration, illumining aspiration and infinite aspiration. If today's aspiration is not enough, then we shall increase it tomorrow and the following day until ultimately we reach the Highest. Of immediate need is aspiration and dedication. Then there must be oneness with our mission. And finally we can think of manifestation."

"Master," said the first boy, "I know and feel that in the fleeting month since you accepted us as your disciples, we two have already made significant progress. Our sincere cry now is to become pure and perfect instruments for your divine manifestation on earth. With your illumining love, this aspiration of ours can blossom and bear fruit to please you in your own way."

The Master smiled and said: "I am smiling because you have sown a new hope-seed inside my heart. I am smiling because I have offered a new promise-fruit to your soul.

  1. GRP 7. 19 December 1973.