Two strangers

One afternoon a spiritual Master was speaking to a few of his disciples about the need to conquer depression in their lives and in the lives of their brothers and sisters. At one point one young woman asked the Master, "Should we try to show compassion if one of our brother or sister disciples is depressed?"

The Master, who always exercised his endless compassion to help disciples who were depressed for days, months and even years on end, surprised everyone by saying, "Give the person a certain period of time. For fifteen minutes you exercise your compassion. Fifteen minutes is a long time. If the person doesn't snap out of his depression after fifteen minutes, then you exercise your justice-power."

"Shouldn't we wish the person well, Master?" the young lady asked.

"Your goodwill will definitely be there, but you will not be directly involved. The Supreme has appointed you to fight for Him for fifteen minutes. So for fifteen minutes you try. During this time you can feel responsible for helping the person. If you still fail after fifteen minutes, offer your achievements at the Feet of the Supreme. Tell the Supreme, 'I give You full responsibility.' You are still wishing the person well, but now you are letting the Supreme appoint someone else to show compassion. At that time, it is the Supreme's problem."

"Master," one disciple said, "if you know some wrong force has gotten into your own consciousness, should you go to some disciples you feel will make you happy?"

"Yes," the Master replied. "If you are depressed, find someone who is in a cheerful frame of mind. Also, it has to be someone you have faith in. If you don't have faith in that person, you will just go down further. Now, in this situation, the other person has to be very wise. If he feels you are not changing, not listening to his advice, he should just stop the conversation and walk away or, if he is on the phone, he should just hang up."

"I can just imagine, Master," said one young man, "what would happen if I hung up during a phone conversation with my wife."

The Master smiled. "How I wish to have some juicy stories like that in the future. In that way, I can capture some disciples who are placing a heavy load on my head. You have to know that if my head is weighed down, it is primarily from the depression of some disciples."

The young man asked the Master again, "What happens if you are driving with someone in a car and you have to be with them for more than fifteen minutes?"

"In that case," the Master said, "if the person doesn't change his consciousness after fifteen minutes, you should just stop and let him out of the car. No matter where you are, whether you are on the highway, on the way to the Centre, or anywhere, just stop and let him out of the car."

"Master," exclaimed the young man, "how could I ask my wife to get out of the car, especially if she was depressed. I don't think I could do it. I just couldn't leave her on the highway."

"My son, if you let your wife out of the car, will my protection not be there?" The Master turned to the disciple's wife, with a gentle smile. "My daughter," he said, "if you are lucky enough to have money or if your husband is kind enough to give you money, you can take a taxi. When you have to pay forty dollars to get home, you will see what kind of punishment that is!"

The husband interrupted the Master. "If I let her out of the car, I couldn't stop worrying. Even though I believe you, I'd have to go back for her."

"Where is your faith in my God-realisation if you can't listen to me?"

"But she'll feel so miserable," the husband said.

"Although she will feel miserable if you direct her out of the car, who knows, when you go back to pick her up, she may have come to a soulful consciousness and ask you to go away. It won't be because she is angry, but because she knows she did something wrong. If her soul comes forward, she will say, 'I deserve punishment. I want you to listen to Guru. You go on without me because you are violating Guru's wish if you continue to keep me in the car.' In this way she will try to perfect your own weakness."

At this point the husband looked at his wife and said, "Master, I shall do everything you want, except I can't bear to see her tears."

The Master smiled and shook his head wisely. "Look at your sincerity. Your sincerity is based on weakness and attachment. I admire your sincerity, but sometimes sincerity is not the solution. Does sincerity change one's nature?"

"Forgive me, Master," said the young man. "Now I see what I must do." And he glanced at his wife out of the corner of his eye.

"Master, now I understand your philosophy," the husband said.

The Master blessed the couple. "Today I have been begging you to leave your dear ones when they are in a depressed consciousness, but it is for your good that I am telling you this. I want you to love your dear ones, but you have to know whether you are acting out of love or out of attachment. Through your attachment you are only helping your dear ones increase their ignorance. You have to think of the after-effect, the result, because each time you forgive, forgive, forgive, the more strongly your dear ones will take the side of ignorance. You have to know that your friend or your wife is drowning. What will you do? Will you jump into the ocean if you also can't swim? Will you say, 'It is better to drown together'? No, you have to be on the shore so that you can extend your hand and save your dear one. Otherwise, you will both drown."

The Master gave both husband and wife a broad smile, and then rose. It was almost time for evening meditation, and everyone had to go home and shower.

The husband looked at his wife and said jokingly, "Well, do you want to come home with me in the car, or is it too risky?"

The wife said, "It's only a five-minute drive home, so I'm safe. Besides, all my depression is gone. From today, depression and I are two strangers."

But the wife, who was not at all upset by the conversation, turned to the Master and said, "What if it is the driver who is depressed? Who would throw him out of the car?"

"Fifteen minutes is not a joking matter. If you are driving with a friend who remains in an undivine consciousness for more than fifteen minutes, at that time it is real torture. If you feel compassion in your heart, it is in your foolish heart, not in your spiritual heart. I have been hearing stories about the disciples' depression and I have been asked what disciples should do to help others. Now I am giving you the medicine. Remember, fifteen minutes means fifteen minutes. You are not doing anybody a favour — either them or yourself — if you remain with them longer than fifteen minutes."

The husband said jokingly, "If either of us was depressed on a journey of just over fifteen minutes, we could drive faster and arrive at our destination within the time limit.

The Master smiled. "But not if you violate my fifty-five mile per hour speed limit." Previously, the Master had asked his disciples not to drive over fifty-five miles per hour as a safety precaution, for one or two of them had been involved in serious accidents. He also had asked them to meditate for two minutes and pray for the Supreme's Protection before driving off in their cars.

"Please remember," the Master continued, "to do what I have told you. Stay with your wife for fifteen minutes, then leave her, saying, 'I can't stay with you; you are in an undivine consciousness. I have to leave you.' In that way you are really helping your wife, not punishing her. If you allow her to continue in ignorance, both of you will be the losers. After fifteen minutes I will be fully responsible for the person." The wife asked, "What if the person's consciousness has greatly improved in the time period?"

"If you notice that ninety per cent of the depression has disappeared in ten or twelve minutes, then that is an achievement for the person. With that hope, you can go on. If five percent is still lingering, then ask the person to conquer that five per cent. But if he cannot, ask him to get out of the car.

"Today if you can conquer depression in fifteen minutes, then tomorrow it will take only five minutes, then one minute. When you are able to conquer depression in one minute, you will be the happiest person."

The wife bowed. "Thank you, Master."