The supreme opportunity lostThere was a spiritual Master who had quite a few disciples. This spiritual Master happened to be a writer as well. He wrote considerably. Once a brilliant idea flashed across his mind. He asked some of his selected disciples a few questions pertaining to his writings. Consciously or unconsciously he cherished the hope that these particular disciples would be so familiar with his writings that they would be able to answer his questions. So one day he invited six of his selected disciples whom he thought to be authorities on his writings to come and talk with him. He asked each individual disciple separate questions and examined his familiarity with his works. To his utter sorrow and disgust all his disciples, these six disciples, failed. They could not give adequate answers to his questions on his writings.
Then he said to these disciples, "I am sure each of you here knows something from my writings by heart. You have failed me in answering questions from my writings, but you will be able to recite something soulfully from my writings."
The six disciples all said immediately, "Yes, we can easily do that. We can recite quite a few things."
The Master said, "You don't have to recite many things. Only recite four or five lines from my writings, either from the prose or from the poetry. If any of you can recite something most soulfully, I will give him whatever he wants. I will fulfil his heart's desire."
Naturally all of them thought it would be easier to recite something soulfully from the Master's poetry than from his prose, so one by one, they started reciting a few lines of the Master's poetry.
The first one recited. The Master said, "I am sorry, it is not soulful." The second one recited and the Master said, "I am sorry, it is not correct." The third one recited but the Master was dissatisfied. The fourth one, no. The fifth one, no again. Then the sixth stood up and recited something. Although it was not entirely soulful, it was soulful to some extent.
The Master said, "Nobody has recited anything most soulfully, but you have played your part more successfully than the rest. I have to be pleased with you to some extent. Now I wish you to ask for any boon, and I will give it to you."
The disciple was thrilled. "Oh, you will give anything to me? Then please give me your deer."
The Master had a tamed deer. He was very fond of this deer. The disciple thought that this was something that he could cherish all his life. The Master would pass away one day, but the disciple would be able to cherish this deer which was an object of the Master's great love and concern. The deer in spiritual symbolism is the sign of the fastest progress, and the Master's deer would remind him of his spiritual life. So he wanted to have this deer, his Master's deer. The Master immediately gave it to him.
"Yes, you can have my deer, if that is the thing you want and if you consider it to be the most valuable and cherished prize. Naturally if you feel that that will give you the greatest joy, the greatest honour, you shall have it."
The Master gave the deer to the disciple immediately and the disciple was so happy, so thrilled that he had been given the Master's most valued possession.
Then the Master said to the disciple, "I thought that you had more wisdom than what you have evinced right now. When I gave you the opportunity to ask for something, something that would give you the greatest joy and the greatest honour, you could have used your brain. Is there anything that can make a disciple more happy and more proud than to sit upon the throne of the Master whom he represents, or whose representative he would like to be in the future, and whom he wants to imitate? You didn't think to ask for my throne. If you had asked for my throne I would have given it to you, but you didn't."
The Master continued, "If you had asked me for my throne I would have made you sit on it, and that would have been the highest honour and the greatest joy you could have received. But mind you, there is something still greater, infinitely greater than this joy.
"When I asked you to tell me about your desire, the desire that you wanted me to fulfil, if you had at that time said, 'Master, you give me what you feel best for me,' if you said that, then immediately I would have said, 'I place you on the throne inside my heart. You will be one with me. Your life-breath and my life-breath will be united forever through eternity. I place you in the eternal garden of my heart. There is a golden throne for you and there you will be seated through eternity.' If you had said, 'I don't want to make the selection. You make the choice for me,' my heartbeat and your heartbeat would respond together through eternity, and my heartbeat would be your throne forever. The Absolute Supreme, acting through me, would do everything for your ultimate fulfilment."