Is the Master to blame?

One hundred years ago in India there lived a spiritual Master who had a small ashram. Each year on his birthday hundreds of disciples from all over the world would journey to the ashram for a puja or spiritual festival. It was a time of great celebration and joy. The festivities would last a few days and then all the disciples would return to their home villages with new inspiration.

One year, after the visiting disciples had gone, the Master spoke to a few of his closest disciples. His face was very sad. "Usually my spiritual children from other parts of the world bring me much joy. But this year was absolutely the worst ever. All the hostile forces attacked me and the ashram. This has never happened before and next year I hope that we won't have this kind of experience. My dearest visitors have come and I am so grateful to them. Some visitors have gone home with gratitude; some have gone home with anger, frustration and other undivine qualities, Why? Because they say that disciples who live in the ashram see me practically every day. They want to know why it is that they can't come and stay in the ashram."

"This ashram is so small. Already it is overcrowded," said one of his disciples.

"One day," said the Master, "we will have an ashram big enough for all my disciples. But right now some of the visiting disciples feel it is my fault or blame me because they were born in other countries, while you people who live here are with me. Everything they say is childish. Who asked them to take birth in another country? It is the soul that is guilty; the soul should take the blame. And who knows, if the soul had taken birth in India, perhaps they wouldn't care for us. I can't tell you in how many ways I have helped them, but these people are so displeased with me because they are not with me. Ingratitude is like that. If they can't get my attention all year around, is it my fault, am I responsible?

"Some disciples who couldn't come to my birthday celebration because of financial difficulties sent me whatever money they had as a love offering. I was so deeply moved. But two or three have cursed me because they could not come. Instead of showing me love, these few disciples have been throwing their ingratitude at me. It is my fate.

"I always scold the near and dear ones to try to be better hosts and hostesses. I see they may not be perfect, but they have tried. Now, if you say a particular host or hostess has not done his or her job, is it my fault? If one or two persons don't take care of their guests and serve them well, why should the guests curse me and my forefathers?"

The disciples said, "Master, we are so sorry that because some of the hosts were not nice, you are suffering."

The Master said, "In one ashram I know of, two disciples had a terrible fight. One of them wrote a letter to the Master saying, 'If you grant so-and-so realisation, then I don't care for your realisation. It is beneath my dignity to have the same thing he has. If you keep such a bad man in your ashram, then there is nothing for me here. I will go away.' The actual person blamed was the Master. Now, if my disciples act like that, then who becomes the loser? By leaving the ashram, you are not going to get realisation."

"I am surprised, Master," said one disciple, "that a few people are so dissatisfied with you."

"Unfortunately, it is true," the Master said. "Someone heard two visiting disciples deliberately talking against me and the local disciples. They say I am the culprit, that I am giving too much attention to disciples in this area. But what can I do? I have to call on them. Otherwise, it is simply impossible to do the work of my Mission. I am trying to catch up with my correspondence, do this and that. I have to have help. But it is only a very small number who feel this dissatisfaction with me. Most visitors are extremely, extremely grateful. Why blame everyone? Everyone is not the culprit."

The Master paused. "Well, my children, let us not dwell on this problem. Ninety-nine per cent of the visitors received joy from us and gave us joy. We are speaking only about a handful of unfortunate disciples. Let us hope they will realise their Himalayan blunder and that next year one hundred per cent of the disciples will return to their home satisfied and inspired."