Accept or reject, but stick to your principles

Three hundred years ago a very wise spiritual Master lived with about forty selected disciples in a small ashram in India. In those days he was the only Master to accept both men and women as disciples, and he was very proud of the soulful aspiration and dedication of his spiritual sons and his spiritual daughters. One morning in his library the Master was talking with two of the most dedicated men in his ashram.

"I am extremely happy that you two have maintained such a close friendship for so many years," said the Master.

"I have to be sincere with you, Master," said one of the young men. "This friendship is about to come to an end."

The Master was surprised. "Why, my son? What has happened?"

"Sometimes I literally want to kill him," the disciple said. "The human in me becomes uncontrollably angry when I see him mixing with one of the most beautiful girls at your ashram whom I have been secretly fond of for many months. What can I do, Master? When it is a matter of my vital attachment to her, I am helpless."

"Three years ago," said the Master, "you gave up your wife so that, alone, you could run speedily towards your goal. In the case of your friend also, his marriage ended a few months later when his wife left the ashram. At that time, both of you told me in all sincerity that you no longer wanted married life and that you would go alone, running fast, faster, fastest to your goal. You were sincere, and I believed you. Now, how have you allowed yourselves to be caught once again by your emotional lives?"

"Master," said the second man, "you know that human weakness is such that one cannot know what he himself will do next. You cannot trust any human being, not even yourself. I was sincere three years ago when I said that I did not need marriage, I did not need women. But I did not know then the power of my own weakness."

Just then the doorbell rang, and the Master went downstairs to open the door. Two of his dearest daughters had come to give the Master some knitted items he had asked them to make for him. The Master was pleased with their work, but he noticed that one of the young women looked sad and disturbed. "What is the matter, my daughter?" the Master asked, giving her a compassionate smile.

"It is impossible to hide anything from you, Master," the girl replied. Pointing to her friend, she said, "She is the cause of my suffering."

"You are like two sisters — inseparable," said the Master. "Please tell me what she has done."

"Master, I have always been very frank with you. You know that since my marriage broke up seven years ago, I have been tortured by my emotional attachments to other men. At times I even long to have my husband back."

"I know, my child," said the Master. Just last night while everyone else was meditating at the meeting, I saw you drinking in the beauty of your ex-husband."

"O Master," said the girl, "you know my deplorable situation. I am so ashamed, but I am helpless. Now this girlfriend of mine has started mixing openly with a boy I have been inwardly dying for for the last two years. Their relationship is becoming thicker than the thickest. My jealousy is simply killing me."

"Indeed, this is a most deplorable situation," said the Master. He turned to the second girl. "Your marriage also broke up many years ago. At that time you assured me that you had given up men for good. You were genuinely happy that you would not enter into marriage again in this incarnation or in any future incarnations. My daughter, you said these things in utmost sincerity. You wanted to go alone to the goal. How is it that you are now mixing with this boy? I have even seen you trying to make your ex-husband and this other young man jealous of each other when both of them happen to be in the same room."

"Master," the girl replied, "everything you say is true. But how did I know six years ago that emotionally I was so weak?"

"You have to be sincere to yourself," said the Master. "Make your choice. Do you want human love or divine Love? In human love, the story is always changing, starting and stopping. There is no satisfaction there. But the divine Love-story is endless — the Supreme will be your Beloved through out Eternity." The Master asked the two women and the two men to come into his meditation room. "All of you have been very sincere with me today. You and your former husband or wife wanted to march together in the spiritual life: that's why you got my approval and blessings in your marriages. I was one with your joy in union. When you wanted to go alone, you also got my full sanction. In your separation, I was also happy. I want only your happiness."

"But in which way would we have made the fastest progress?" asked one of the young men.

"Both ways are equally necessary, my children. But you have to decide for yourself which way is going to lead you to your goal. You can go with someone, or you can go alone. But you have to make up your mind and then stick with whatever way you choose. Either you go alone or you go together with your husband or wife. But while staying alone, if you think of your ex-wife or ex-husband, or if you become attached to other women or men, you will not make any progress. Again, staying together, but always quarrelling and fighting is also wrong." "Master," said one of the girls, "what should we do now?"

"Both ways are right," said the Master, "but one has to use one path. Otherwise, if you do not do that, you will ruin yourself. It pains me a lot that your mind is now roaming. You have to make up your mind, and then stick to your principles. Either accept a husband or a wife, or think of all men as your brothers and all women as your sisters, and do not be attached to men in a vital, emotional way."

All four disciples bowed to the Master. One of them said, "Master, today you have shown your Concern-Oneness for our weaknesses. Now that we have become sincere with you, we are sure that you will be able to transform our weaknesses into strength so that we will be able to stick to the path we have chosen."