Obedience and disobedience

Sixty years ago a great spiritual Master and his fifty disciples lived in a small community at the foot of the Himalayas. One day, while the disciples were gathered around their Master, a disciple said, "Master, since the New Year we have rarely seen you smile. We miss your soulful smile."

The Master immediately smiled at all the disciples. Then he said, "Unfortunately, the smile that I have just offered you is not my real smile, my soul's smile, my wholehearted and spontaneous smile. Lately I have been showing you only an occasional smile. Sometimes it is a full smile, sometimes it is a false smile. But you will get the real smile which comes directly from my soul, heart, mind, vital and body — from my entire existence — when you really please me inwardly and outwardly. The terms 'sweetest' and 'dearest' will not be used any more for the disciples until 'sweetest' and 'dearest' are proved in action. Right now, they are not actually coming from my heart or, I should say, they don't deserve to come from my heart."

The disciples were shocked by the Master's outburst. "What is it that you don't like? Please tell us," they begged.

The Master said, "It is your jealousy, hypocrisy, doubt, fear and so many other undivine qualities. But I wish to say that at the root of all this is ego. Ego can be conquered only by one thing, and that is obedience — inner obedience and outer obedience. All of you are lacking obedience in the inner world, and in the outer world most of you are lacking obedience. If you go deep within, you will see if I am correct or not.

"So many things I have told you to do which you have not done; so many things I have asked you not to do which you have done. The New Year has started. I got so many wonderful resolutions, prayers and promises to God from the disciples. Now, today is only the twenty-eighth of January and I wish to say that almost everyone has already failed in his New Year's resolution. And there are still eleven months left in the year. I don't blame you; it is not your fault. I have also failed in my resolution not to scold you. Yesterday, I have to be sincere, I had the unfortunate occasion to scold some of the really dear, close disciples. The very moment after I had scolded them, I said three or four times, 'I have failed, I have failed in my resolution.' But I do hope that I will be successful from now on. I won't scold you under any circumstances. Now I am just giving a talk."

"Can you speak more about obedience, Master?" asked one disciple.

"Those of you who have a little obedience, an iota of obedience, will be successful in the inner life as well as in the outer life. Every time you do a wrong thing, if you are my real disciple, one of my inner beings is bound to warn you that you are doing the wrong thing. Even if you are my worst disciple, if you are my real disciple, you will be warned by one of my inner beings not to do this, not to say this, not to behave in this way. If a person is my false disciple, I cannot say what will happen, but for my real disciples, it is only a matter of listening to me. If you don't listen and if you indulge your own ego-life, your own temptation-life, you will have to take full responsibility for what happens. I have told the newly married couples and others what to do and how to behave in their emotional life and in their outer life. I have said many, many times what emotion means, so I don't have to say it again. Physical or human emotion you know; spiritual and divine emotion you also know. The physical or human emotion is to possess and be possessed; the divine and spiritual emotion is to expand, enlarge and become part and parcel of both humanity and divinity at the same time. You all know what I have said; now it is a matter of obedience. Love, devotion and surrender is the message of our Yoga, or our path. But if there is no obedience, then we cannot even start our journey. So, if you want to follow our path, please start with inner obedience and outer obedience."

"Is this disobedience what has saddened you?" asked another disciple.

"This and other things," said the Master. "Unfortunately, in the inner world we do many, many absurd and unthinkable things. You people don't hesitate to curse me in the inner world and the word 'curse' I am not wrongly using. When your vital demands are not fulfilled, you insult me, scold me and hate me. You even insult my forefathers. What more can I say? Then you come here and sit in front of me with folded hands as if I have not seen or heard anything. There are many who are really displeased with me. Even now I don't know what makes them come to meditate here. They are not doing me any favour by coming."

"Master," exclaimed one close disciple, "it is so shocking to hear these things."

"I even have one disciple who actually wants me to leave the body," said the Master. "I know I have to leave sooner or later. When the Hour strikes, I will be more than eager to leave. But for a disciple to consciously pray for my death is beyond imagination. I forgive that disciple who is thinking of my death, but my other disciples who are really dedicated and devoted to me perhaps will not forgive this kind of disciple.

"About fifteen years ago, a spiritual Master, who happened to have been a woman, got terribly angry with some of her disciples and said, 'Who listens to me? Who is obedient to me? It is I who listen to all my disciples.' It was so hard for me to believe this at the time. I thought that if she asked anything, then immediately the disciples would offer their lives. That was my feeling, but I was such a fool.

"Now I see that unthinkable disobedience is growing in the inner and outer world of my disciples also. Who listens to me? It is I who listen to you; it is I who bow to the disciples. I am now at the mercy of the disciples' demands. Again, I don't want any of you to feel that you are at my mercy; you are only at the mercy of God, the Supreme. There is no anger inside me. I only want all of you to open to the Light. This is what I expect of you.

"Then, one day this other Master said to her disciples, 'I am feeding you both inwardly and outwardly.' She was meeting with their expenses and all kinds of things. 'How is it possible for you people to think of my death, to invite my death?' She had thousands of disciples but a few hundred were dissatisfied with her and were praying to God for her death. When I heard it, I didn't believe it at all. I said, 'Impossible. Even if a person is a bad Master, people will see this and leave the ashram.' But to keep living in the ashram and pray for the Master's death, I thought was absurd.

"O God, this little ashram of ours started only the other day — three or four years ago — but in the inner world people are so dissatisfied with me! What have I done to them? I have not fulfilled their vital demands, emotional desires and the desires for aggrandisement of their egos: that is my mistake. Now, if they are really dissatisfied with me, what makes them stay in my ashram? So, this experience that I once heard about in another spiritual Master's life is now happening in my life. What will happen is that in a few months' time I will unfortunately have to show my justice-light in divine dispensation and say to certain disciples, 'You don't come, you don't come, you don't come.' God knows how many will be asked to leave; perhaps all of you."

"Master, please forgive us," said one disciple. "I wonder if we will ever be able to live up to your expectations."

"I am here as the representative of the Supreme for the disciples only. Others can go on their own way; I have no right to tell them anything and I don't expect anything from them. But from you I expect much, much, much. I feel that if I am considered to be the leader, then I have to have the inner obedience and the outer obedience of my divine soldiers. A government may command soldiers to take part in a particular war when these soldiers don't want to go to war. But here in this battle, in the inner battlefield, I did not come to you; you have come willingly to me to learn to be divine soldiers, to fight against ignorance, imperfection and death. You have come to me and I am trying to be of help to you. It is my inner obligation. When I do something, it is for your own good."

"All that you say is true, Master," one young man said. "We have come to you because we see something in you. We have faith that you can guide us inwardly."

"This is the year of manifestation, but what is being manifested right now is only hostility, doubt, fear, anger, worry and so forth," said the Master. "Many divine qualities — joy, love, peace, harmony, the feeling of oneness — must be manifested this year."

"Master," said the disciples, "with your grace and inspiration we shall manifest the divine qualities and we shall fulfil you in your own divine way."