Question: What is the nature of the love between a spiritual Teacher and his students?

Sri Chinmoy: Let me tell you a true story. An Indian spiritual Teacher who was living in the West one day went to the hospital to visit a student who had met with a serious car accident. Although the student was in much pain and could hardly move, he was overjoyed to see his Teacher. He said, "I feel that I have been helped considerably since my accident by your spiritual healing power. I feel that this accident was worth every moment of pain for the experience it gave me. For the first time in my life, I really felt and realised how much love you have for me. I saw that this love you have is infinite and all-encompassing."

"This is absolutely true, my son," said the Teacher. "I am always telling you and the other students that I love you infinitely more than you love yourself. Your mind may not believe it, but it is true."

The student asked, "How is it possible for you to love us more than we love ourselves?"

The Teacher replied, "When you think of yourself, you think of all your anxieties and worries. You think that your life consists of what you have to do — whom you have to speak to, what you have seen and so forth. But in the Eye of the Supreme, that is not your life at all. Your life is your receptivity — how much of His Love, Peace and Delight you are capable of receiving.

"One of my students said to me the other day, 'I can believe that you love me and I love you, but when you say that you love us more than we love ourselves, is it not just something nice that you are telling us? ' Then a few days later that student had a dream that with all the incidents in his life, with all that he had done and achieved, he had built a house. But gradually, gradually this house began to crumble; everything fell away from him and he saw how meaningless all these incidents were. He felt totally lost. Then he saw me standing there with my love for him. Only when he had become totally one with me and I had become totally one with him did he feel any joy, peace or fulfilment.

"Everyone feels that his life is made of these incidents — his daily routine — but I wish to say that these things are merely experiences that we have while we are living on earth. In order to live in God, something else is necessary. In order to live in God, we have to know how much Love we can receive, how much Light we can receive from the Supreme."

"But," said the student, "I still do not understand exactly why you can love me more than I love myself. I am sorry. I know you do, but I am not sure exactly how."

"My son, the reason is this. You see yourself as a human being, full of ignorance. So when you think of yourself, you think of ignorance. You do not see yourself as another God; you see yourself as half-animal. When you are insincere, you think you know everything, and when you try to be sincere, you think that you are full of ignorance. But you should know that what God is, you also are. Only when you are in your absolutely highest consciousness do you think of yourself as a chosen instrument of God. This knowledge of who you really are is what you are now crying for. I love you constantly and infinitely because I always know who you are. I know you not only as an instrument of the Supreme, but as the Supreme Himself There are times when I am looking at you and the other students when I am not seeing the Supreme in you; I am seeing the Supreme Himself. You will not believe it, but I see you not as a human being with the Supreme inside you, but as nothing other than the Supreme. I see this with my human eyes, without even using my third eye.

"I love the Supreme, who is your real Reality, infinitely more than you can love the human being you consider yourself to be. So if I see you as the Supreme, how can I not love you as the Supreme? You may think that you are your problems, that you are the details of your life, and so you cannot love yourself most devotedly. You will be able to love yourself only when you are in your highest, when you feel my presence inside your heart. But I am loving you constantly. Here is the proof. Most of the time you are thinking of something else — your job, your wife, your children — but I am constantly thinking of you. You think you are loving yourself — your family and all that constitutes your life — but your attention is divided. Always you are thinking of other things. But my attention is never divided. It is constant love for you."

By now the student had totally forgotten his pain. He asked, "Does the secret of being conscious of this love lie in gratitude?"

"Yes, absolutely. But the unfortunate thing is that our human mind feels that gratitude is something inferior. We feel that when we offer gratitude to God because He offered us something first, we are doing something inferior. If someone has done something for us, naturally we will show him our gratitude, but we feel that the power of gratitude is inferior to the power of giving.

"But God sees Himself and us as one. He feels that He is giving us what He has — Love and Compassion — and we are giving Him what we have — gratitude. Our power of gratitude is every bit as strong as His Light and Love-Power, but we feel that it is inferior because He offers us His Light and Love first. In the beginning of the Game, He gave us what He wanted to give us, which is gratitude, and He kept for Himself His Light. His role is to offer us Light and our role is to offer Him gratitude. He is playing His role, but we are not playing our role. Now, if we return to Him what He has given us, we are playing our role, and if He offers to us what He has kept for Himself, He is playing His role. Our role is in no way inferior to His role. When you feel gratitude, feel that a flower — a lotus or a rose — is blooming inside you, petal by petal, and when you feel tremendous gratitude, then feel that the flower has totally blossomed."

The student said, "O Master, I am deeply grateful for this experience, for I have learned and received so much from you in and through it. I know now that your love-power is the only thing on earth that can totally fulfil me and I pray that one day my gratitude-flower will totally fulfil you. "

Sri Chinmoy, Love, Agni Press, 2006