The perfect book

There was once a young, beautiful spiritual Master who had only forty disciples. One night the Master had a dream. In the dream his Beloved Supreme came to him and asked him to write a book about the spiritual life so that seekers all over the world could receive his unparalleled spiritual light and wisdom. The Supreme also told the Master that this book should represent his disciples' soulful and dedicated love and service to the Supreme in their Master and to the Supreme in humanity. This was to be the perfect book.

The next morning the young Master called his disciples together to tell them what was to take place. "This book will satisfy and fulfil the Supreme in me and the Supreme in you only if we work in the right consciousness, in the Supreme's own Way. So that we can serve correctly, I will now share with you my supreme secrets of selfless service. These secrets apply, of course, to all kinds of dedicated work, but if we can apply them here, my children, then this book will be inwardly and outwardly perfect.”

The Master appointed different disciples to carry out the jobs necessary to bring the book to completion. Then he said, "The first secret is your love for me. If you really love me, if you really care for me, then you will do my work with true love and concern.

"If love is there, how can mistakes occur? And even if someone else has overlooked an error, your own care and concern will find it and you will correct it. The saying, 'Everybody's business is nobody's business,' does not apply here. You will all claim the book as your very own and strive to make it perfect in every way you can."

First the Master spoke to the disciples who would be typing from what he dictated or wrote in his own handwriting. "Like all the other groups, I wish this group to work soulfully and devotedly. I wish to see sincerity and dedication in your work. Remain always alert, whether you are trying to read my handwriting or to read back your own notes. And if you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to ask me. Make sure that each word is correct and be careful not to fabricate anything of your own."

"We are very happy that you have chosen us, Master," one of the girls in the group said. "We shall do everything to please you.”

The Master blessed the five disciples. Then he turned to the seven disciples who would be categorising and arranging his writings. "Above all, this book will have my consciousness. When I read any line of the book, I will be able to breathe in the breath of my consciousness. In rare instances, you may have to edit a word or phrase to keep the flow."

"Why would we want to change anything, Master?" asked one girl. "To us, everything you do is perfect."

The Master explained, "If there were time for me to write everything out myself, then there would be no need for you to do any editorial work to prepare the book for publication. At most there might be a punctuation mark missing from time to time or you might have to add a word here and there. But writing things out takes time and often the pressure of my work will not allow me to accomplish much if I have to write everything by hand. So out of necessity I will be dictating most of the material and your dedicated service is needed to prepare it for publication."

The Master smiled. "English is not my native tongue; I have my own Indian form of expression. You can call it charming or awkward, but it is my very own way of expressing things. I know that with your dedicated service, every page of the book will have my own flavour."

Next the Master spoke to the girls who would be typing the manuscript. "I always say that speed in the spiritual life is of paramount importance. But here, speed does not mean getting something done in the twinkling of an eye. It means giving something utmost importance, first priority in your life. You have to be sincere to yourself in order to know whether you are giving a particular job due importance. Speed will come if you give my work priority. I don't expect you to type one hundred and twenty words per minute; I expect you to type with devotion. Do not think that I will be pleased only if you go very fast. No! I will be pleased if you are careful, concerned and dedicated. Type slowly if necessary, to make as few mistakes as possible. Naturally you won't start the job and then spend hours on the phone or do errands every five minutes. You will complete the job as soon as you can without making countless mistakes.”

"May I say something, Master?" one boy asked. "I myself am the world's worst typist, but I would like to say that I find it very inspiring and refreshing to work from a clean, neatly typed copy."

"That is absolutely true," said the Master. "I always say that cleanliness and tidiness, love and devotion go together. Do not sacrifice accuracy and neatness for speed. Remember that one person's love and devotion can go to the next person. Every step of the way you will find love, devotion and surrender in this book."

The Master turned to the disciples who would be typesetting the book. "The Supreme has blessed us with a very good machine to do the final typesetting. When you enter the room where we keep the machine, please feel that you are approaching something that is very delicate and that you must use it with utmost care. When you touch the machine, feel that you are touching me. You know how devotedly and lovingly you will touch me when the necessity arises and how soulfully you receive my blessings. So please give all your love and concern to this machine also."

One girl said, 'That will be very inspiring, Master. I shall feel that I am touching you and I shall feel you blessing me as I work.”

"I am very proud of your attitude, my daughter. And if all of you want to get the utmost benefit from your dedicated service, then keep your mind on me at all times. While you are typing, think only of me and concentrate on what you are typing. Do not allow your mind to roam to all corners of the world, thinking of this person or that person, or thinking of who will do the proof-reading or make the corrections. And do not allow insecurity to capture you. Do not think that others are closer to me or that you are inferior to others. No, just do your job well. Keep your mind and heart on me, me alone. Be as spiritual as possible while you work. Then in the inner world I will feel and receive your dedicated service as you work."

"Master," said one girl in this group, “what you are asking us to do is true sadhana, true meditation. Working in this way certainly requires utmost discipline in the body, mind, heart and soul."

"This intensity, this one-pointedness, is what the Supreme wants from all of us," said the Master. Turning to those who would do proof-reading, the Master said, "You must exercise real concentration and total alertness at all times. From you the book will go to the press, so you are responsible for its outer perfection."

The Master blessed each disciple. "What I have said to each group is the ideal. As you work on this book, always strive to be inwardly and outwardly perfect. Then we shall undoubtedly succeed in offering the Supreme the perfect book."

Sri Chinmoy, A Galaxy of Saints, Sri Chinmoy Lighthouse, New York, 1974