The student

One day after morning meditation a spiritual Master asked one of his disciples, a young girl, to come before him. He blessed her and said, "Good girl, how old are you?"

"Fifteen," she answered.

"I saw your progress report," said the Master, "and I am so proud of you. Once upon a time somebody's sister also used to do well. Those who are students, please, please do extremely well. When you do well in your studies, it gives me such joy and pride. Otherwise, you will remain a fool like me. I don't want to add more fools to my spiritual community."

The girl's elder sister raised her hand and said, "Master, I did well in high school, but now I am having trouble in college."

"You have my sympathetic heart," said the Master. "I have come to learn that in America there is a great difference between high school and college. Here students are sometimes good in high school but in college they find it extremely difficult to maintain their standard. In India, however, during the last two years of high school the teachers prepare the children so they don't have any difficulty when they go to college."

Then the Master called a young woman up and read out her graduation certificate. The diploma conferred on her the degree of Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude.

"Come," the Master said, "let me bless you. I am very, very proud of you, dearest daughter. Magna cum laude, very good. What is higher than this?"

"Summa cum laude," she answered.

"Next time you are going to get that. When you get your Master's degree, can't you get these honours?"

The disciple smiled, "Not that I know of, Guru."

"For a PhD, are there no honours or something very high? Don't some people get higher and lower grades?" he asked again.

One of the Master's oldest and most advanced disciples said, "Under the circumstances in which she got her degree, magna cum laude is very good. Her mother is blessing her from Heaven."

"Yes, I am very proud of her," said the Master. "In my next incarnation I will try to go to university. In this incarnation I had to salute high school after three or four years. I could not or did not dare go beyond high school. In my next life I will go to high school and college and get all A's. I will get all kinds of degrees."

"Master," said the older disciple, "we know you were a brilliant student — standing first in the ashram school — but unfortunately the ashram didn't offer a formal degree for higher education. Still, you did continue your studies on your own and many scholars have praised your literary work. Your writings are used as text books in university-level philosophy courses. You really deserve an honorary degree."

"Thank you, my child," said the Master, "but even so, I have not earned the degree in the traditional way. If I have not earned something, I don't get the same satisfaction from it. Instead, I worked hard to realise the Old Man upstairs."

All the disciples laughed, for they saw that their Master was in a light mood.

"Since you had the capacity to get a degree but used your capacity in another area," continued the older disciple, "you can easily accept the honorary degree."

"It is in and through my spiritual children who are teaching at the universities and who are studying at the universities that I shall get my diploma," the Master said. "The father earns money and the children use it. But sometimes the children earn the money and the father uses it. You have a Master's degree?" the Master asked his advanced disciple.

"Yes," replied the disciple. "I could have gone beyond this but at the time I didn't know how I could apply higher degrees toward my spiritual life, so I finally stopped going to school. Now all those who are earning degrees will bring their knowledge into their Master's mission in a direct way, and then the degree will have some meaning, some direct relation to the spiritual life."

"My children's achievement will compensate for my lack of achievement," said the Master. "But those who do not have degrees, don't feel sorry; I am one of you. There are many disciples who are very intelligent and were once very good students, but because of the Divine Will, the Supreme's Will, I have asked them not to study any more. These people should never feel that they are losing something. In some disciples' cases, it is the Will of the Supreme for them to study; in other cases the Supreme does not want them to study. So in no way are they the loser.

"In fact, there are two girls in this room right now who are not students but who easily have the capacity to get their PhD They are brilliant but the Supreme does not want them to go to school. So please don't ever feel that you are inferior if you are not a student; and also please don't feel that you are superior if you are a student. It just depends on what your individual soul wants and on the Will of the Supreme. The way the Supreme Will guides us is the best. Those who are studying and teaching are fulfilling the Will of the Supreme, and those who are doing something else, directed by the Will of the Supreme, are also doing the right thing. My only request to you is that if you study, study well; if you do other things, do them well. This is the best attitude."