The real success of the Master and disciples

There was a great spiritual Master in India who lived in a very modern city. His disciples tried very hard to manifest their inner progress and light in their outer lives, but very often they felt that the little spirituality they tried to offer was just swallowed up by the complexity and sophistication of living and working in a big city. The Master encouraged them to persevere in their efforts for manifestation, and he tried to strengthen them inwardly so that they could become divine soldiers in the outer as well as the inner life.

From time to time the Master would take his students on excursions in order to bring forward their childlike spontaneity and joy, and to take their minds off their problems and tensions. One day the Master invited several of his disciples to go for a walk in a nearby forest. He was delighted to notice that one of his oldest disciples was talking and mixing freely with his young disciples. The Master couldn't help remarking to one of his close disciples walking near him, "In her case, the adult age has surrendered to childlike qualities. When she mixes with the disciples, you can see her childlike enthusiasm and spontaneity. She is over sixty, but the question of age does not arise at all with her.

"And frustration is not in her dictionary," the Master continued. "She is so hopeful with all the people she tries to sell her needlework to. She never loses hope that a large company will buy one of her designs and give her enough money to make her Master a multimillionaire."

"I admire her optimism, Master," the disciple said. "But do you think her efforts will ever bear fruit?"

"After two or three years," the Master said, "if she gives up her efforts to sell her needlework, saying these things are unnecessary and that she has just wasted her time, then all her efforts and hopes will be nullified. But if she continues with her sincere desire, then in this incarnation or in her next one she will definitely have her wish."

"But Master, she has been trying to sell her work for so many years. In a case like this, is it better for someone to keep persevering or to be very detached?"

"It is better to go on. But each time you get a blow, each time you meet with failure, you have to be detached. You know you are doing the right thing, so just because you get an experience of failure, you don't give up. You have to go on. Then, if you know that you have tried your best, and there is no more you can do, or if you get a message from within that you have played your role and the Supreme wants someone else to try now, you will stop. Or if you get an inner message that the task is no longer necessary, you will stop your efforts with complete detachment. Otherwise, if you do not have detachment and do not work with the correct attitude, in God's Eye, you will not be a success in anything whether you have outer success or not."

"Thank you, Master. You have explained very clearly the relationship between perseverance and detachment. But forgive me, Master, if I am sincere I have to say that I envy her enthusiasm."

"I bless your sincerity," the Master said, "When most of us start something, if it takes more than two weeks to complete, we cannot retain the same enthusiasm, joy, determination. But in this disciple's case, for how many years has she been trying, and with the same enthusiasm!"

The Master paused. "You do have great perseverance, my son. You and all my disciples who write articles and books about the spiritual life and about your Master are continuing your efforts to get them published with such perseverance. You know that you are doing the right thing in trying to share what you have found with others, yet you are detached from the fruits of your labours. If we are trying to do the right thing, we will accept any challenge, but of course if it is something wrong, we will not try at all."

"It is true, Master, that I know I am doing the right thing. But I confess that I am often discouraged and disheartened if I am not successful. Lately it seems that I am failing badly to get anything at all published."

The Master consoled him. "In the beginning, too much success is very harmful, even dangerous. If repeated failure comes, only then will you value the success or the progress you get. Otherwise, you will feel that success is your due, or that you are bound to get it, and you will expect immediate success in everything. It is not an easy thing to be successful in everything, and if success comes too easily, you will have no idea what its value is."

It was late morning by now, and the Master and his disciples had been walking for a long time. The Master knew his spiritual children were getting tired and hungry, so he called his disciples together for a short meditation before lunch. After the group settled for meditation, they noticed that the Master was nowhere to be found. The disciples wondered why the Master was not meditating with them, but after a while the beauty of the forest inspired them to go deep within, and each individual tried to have his best meditation. In about half an hour the Master joined them, and all meditated in silence for another fifteen minutes. After the meditation, the Master told his disciples that he was very pleased with their meditation.

One young boy said, "I think you had something to do with that, Master."

The Master was to some extent amused by his disciple's comment. "You see that I am smiling, but I wish to say that at our regular meetings and at other times as well, it is good if you people meditate before I come. Then when I start meditating and enter into my highest consciousness, you immediately see how I raise your consciousness."

"Meditating in your physical presence makes all the difference," the young boy said. "But wouldn't it be better, Master, if you were there right from the beginning? Like today, why did you wait such a long time before joining us?"

The Master explained, "True, I helped you; however, you made the preparation. If you came to meditate here and then just sat and wasted your time looking to this side and that side, you would not have felt that you contributed to your success, and you would not have valued it. But you participated, and we always value something when we offer our conscious participation."

"But what we contribute," the boy said, "is practically nothing."

"Just because we have contributed one percent," said the Master, "we know the value of the total achievement. True, if I had come there with you or before you, as soon as you started meditating, it would have been very easy for you to enter into a high consciousness. You would have been lifted like magic. But if you got such immediate success in your meditation each time, you would always expect it, and you wouldn't give it enough importance."

"Yes, Master, I can see you are, as usual, perfectly right."

The Master continued. "There are some people who are lucky — their parents are multimillionaires, and they have tremendous wealth. But if these children go to work and get a little money to add to their family fund, that is the best thing they can do. The parents may have much money, and the children will inherit their property, but they will not value it unless they contribute at least a small fraction. So success will come, but if we do not contribute to our success, then we will never value it."

The disciple who had been speaking with the Master before the meditation then said, "Master, during our walk we were speaking of perseverance and success and failure. Since today seems to be the day for talking about these things, could I ask you a question about failure? You say that failure has its own place. But why is it that I become so discouraged by my own failures?"

"Repeated failure is not good," said the Master. "If you get constant failure, you may give up, whereas if you are occasionally successful, you will be encouraged to go on. But I believe in the theory: 'Failures are the pillars of success.' In boxing or wrestling this is especially true. The more the boxer falls down, the more determination he develops and the stronger he becomes. In the spiritual life also, I am trying to strengthen my spiritual children by requesting them to fight against ignorance, limitations and imperfections. I want them to stand up to ignorance and darkness face to face and not to run away, no matter how many times ignorance is victorious."

"Master," said the disciples, "we shall aspire to be your divine warriors, your divine instruments. This beautiful forest has refreshed and inspired us outwardly, and you have illumined and inspired us inwardly. We shall return to our lives in the city, to our inner and outer work, with a new perseverance, a new understanding of success and failure, a new inspiration and aspiration to manifest the Supreme in you. This will be our real success."

"You have received my light," said the Master, "so I can call today my true success as well. Together let us try and cry. We shall have the real success."

July 30, 1974