The gift of life

Sri Yukteshwar, who later became the Guru of Paramahansa Yogananda, was a very close disciple of Lahiri Mahashoy. One day his dearest friend Ram was attacked by cholera. Two doctors fought to save Ram's life, but it seemed that all their efforts were in vain. It was a matter of a few hours before Ram would die.

Yukteshwar ran to his Master, crying to him to save his friend's life. Lahiri Mahashoy said to Yukteshwar, "You have doctors. Why do you need me? The doctors will save him. They will be able to do the needful. I do not have to be involved."

Yukteshwar returned to his friend's house full of hope, but gradually Ram's condition became worse. When it was a matter of four or five minutes before he would die, Ram said to his dearest friend, "I will be dead in a few minutes. Please tell the Master that I have a last wish. My last wish is that he come and touch my dead body before it is cremated and thus bless me. This will be my last plea to him." Then Ram breathed his last.

Sobbing helplessly, Yukteshwar went running to Lahiri Mahashoy in order to give him Ram's message. The Master's first question was, "How is Ram?"

"He is dead, Master," replied Yukteshwar. "Please go and see him yourself. This was his last prayer to you: that you would touch his dead body and bless him."

"Then why should I go?" said Lahiri Mahashoy. "He is not dead."

"He is dead," insisted Yukteshwar. "The doctors have pronounced it."

Lahiri Mahashoy took some castor oil from a lamp and said, "Go and put a little bit of this oil into his mouth."

His friend was dead, but this was the command of the Master, so what else could Yukteshwar do? He went and with great difficulty poured a small quantity of the oil that his Master had given him into Ram's mouth.

In a few minutes, Ram sat up and opened his eyes. He said that he had had a dream in which he saw Lahiri Mahashoy, in a most beautiful form. The Master was shining like the sun. The Master had said to him, "Ram, why are you sleeping? Get up and come to me."

So Ram stood up and put on his clothes, and then both the friends walked to Lahiri Mahashoy's house. The Master greeted them warmly and, with twinkling eyes, said to Yukteshwar, "Now I have taught you how to conquer death. From now on, if anybody dies, just take a small quantity of lamp oil and put it into that person's mouth. I have given you the medicine to conquer death!"

Everybody laughed and laughed, because they knew perfectly well that the oil was just an outer gesture, a token, a symbol, whereas the actual gift of life had come from Lahiri Mahashoy.

Spiritual commentary

It is only the omnipotent spirituality that can turn impossibility into facile possibility. But spirituality, out of its sheer magnanimity, tries to adopt outer earthly means so that it can convince the physical mind that the truth-principle can be accessible to the human in us. Otherwise, without the least possible hesitation, one can say that it is the spiritual force that in silence turns the impossible reality into clear and certain possibility. Not only that, but afterwards it turns possibility into practical and inevitable reality.

It was Lahiri Mahashoy's spiritual power that revived his disciple Ram. Otherwise, no matter what kind of oil one puts into a dead person's mouth, will that person revive? Lahiri Mahashoy could have chosen anything. Only to convince Yukteshwar's physical mind with a material substance did the Master tell the disciple to use oil.

That is why spiritual Masters say, "Do this, do that," when somebody is sick. Actually, it is their spiritual power which cures, but they know that some outer remedy will convince the physical mind of the patient so that the patient can believe that the Master has true concern for him.