The extravagant wife

There was once a young couple who had been married for several years. The wife was extremely spiritual. She had a Master and she followed a specific path, but the husband was not ready for the spiritual life. He smoked and drank and was a victim to many undivine forces, but he had an extremely pure heart. He realised his teeming weaknesses, and he was all admiration for his wife's spirituality. He used to treasure an idea, a legitimate idea, that just as he was meeting with his wife's expenses on the material plane, so she was meeting with his expenses on the spiritual plane. The husband and wife were extremely close to each other. He was all joy that at least his wife was for God, and he felt that when his time came he would also be a good instrument of God.

The spiritual Master had special fondness for this young man. The wife was undoubtedly one of the Master's favourite disciples. On rare occasions, when the Master held special functions, the husband used to attend, and the Master would show him utmost affection and concern.

The disciples could not account for it. "How is it?" they asked. "He drinks, he smokes, he has many undivine qualities in his nature. Why does the Master go out of his way to show him affection and love?" Alas, they did not know that the husband had a heart of the purest dye.

The Master had quite a few disciples who were good, sincere and spiritual according to their capacity. But even his good disciples, who were supposed to be fully sincere, used to hide incidents from his outer vision. Who could hide anything from his inner vision? The husband's life was an open book to the Master's occult and inner vision, and he saw that the husband had a truly sincere heart.

Now, although the wife had many good qualities and was a very sincere seeker, an exemplary disciple, she had some peculiar habits or propensities. She had a liking for beautiful clothes, saris, jewellery and other expensive things. Every time she went to the Master's ashram, she wanted to wear the most beautiful and most expensive things available on the market. Naturally, the less affluent disciples were jealous of her, and also good disciples who were not poor felt that she was doing something wrong. On the one hand, she meditated extremely well; on the other hand, she indulged in earthly luxury.

Every week her poor husband had to buy most expensive things to please her. Sometimes, when he ran short of money and was unable to buy most expensive, most beautiful things for his wife, a terrible scene would take place at home. She would threaten that she would leave him if he could not supply her with all the clothes and jewellery she wanted. The poor fellow had such love for his wife that he felt he could give his life for her, but there were occasions when he really didn't have money to buy expensive things for her. He felt miserable, but since he was not in the habit of deceiving anybody, he found no way to satisfy and please her.

One day the husband went to his wife's Master and said, "Master, save me, save me. You can read my heart. I am not your disciple, but I have utmost devotion for you. I know my wife is one of your most favourite disciples but, if I may say so she has a bad habit. Every week I have to buy expensive things for her to wear when she comes to your ashram. Some people, I'm sure, admire her, but most of them are probably jealous of her.

"Anyway, I hear from her friends, I hear from her, that she is one of your very best disciples when it is a matter of meditation, dedication, love, devotion and surrender to the Will of the Supreme. I do not know how it is that she can act in two different ways. Sometimes I see that she is totally engrossed in the material life, and sometimes at home when she meditates in front of your shrine, I see no one else in the room but the Goddess herself. So Master, I am really puzzled. This moment, according to me, she is nothing but divine, and the next moment, I see she is materialistic in the worst sense of the term.

"Master, now please save me. I have run short of money. I am not in a position to supply her with most beautiful and expensive things to wear when she comes to your ashram. But she has threatened me a few times that she will leave me. And each time she threatens me, I feel as if I am about to die. It seems as if I am taking my last breath. I want to keep her, to treasure her; I can't part with her. When she comes to your ashram, by your grace, I have the capacity to remain calm and quiet. And when I go to the office, I have to remain without her; it is unavoidable. But when I am not in the office and she is not at your ashram, I am always with her, with all my heart's joy, with all appreciation, admiration and adoration for her spiritual qualities."

The Master said to the young man, "Listen to me, my child. Next time she threatens you and tells you that she is going to leave you, tell her she can do so."

"Oh Master, how can I do this? If she leaves me I don't know what I will do!"

"Don't worry. I assure you, she will not leave you. But you accept her challenge! Tell her that she can leave you if she wants to. But don't tell her that you have come here and sought my advice."

"No, Master, I won't tell."

The next time the wife created a scene and threatened to leave the husband, he said, "Well, if you are really determined to leave me, you can. I don't have the money to buy expensive things all the time just to please you. You may leave me."

It was the first time the wife heard her husband say something like this. She could not believe her ears. She could not believe her eyes. Then her husband went one step ahead. He said, "And if you bother me once more when I can't afford to please you, instead of your leaving me, I shall leave you." When the wife heard this from her husband she lost consciousness and fell to the ground.

The husband was frightened to death at what he had done. He ran to the Master's house and cried, "Master, Master, help me! What have I done? You told me that if she threatens me anymore, I should tell her that she could leave me. I told her, and she was totally puzzled, she was wonderstruck. She got a terrible shock. I don't know what prompted me, but then I went a step further. I told her that if she threatens me anymore, it is I who would leave her. When I said this, she lost consciousness and fell to the floor. I don't know what will become of me. Master, help me!"

The Master said, "My son, I didn't ask you to go to the length of saying that you would leave her."

"I know, Master. That was my own unpardonable folly. But Master, will you not forgive me? Will you help her to regain consciousness?"

"Certainly I shall. I am using my occult powers. But I wish to tell you that you have done the right thing: you have not done anything wrong."

The young man said, "I have not done anything wrong? I am the worst culprit! My heart simply bled when I saw that she fainted."

"No, my son, you have done the right thing. Go home now. When you reach home you will see that she is all right, and is eagerly expecting you."

The Master's vision was infallible. When the husband got home, his wife was anxiously waiting for him. As soon as he came in, she ran up to him and said, "For God's sake, I shall never ask you for expensive things anymore. Never, never, never! The only thing I want is for you to remain with me. We shall stay together. Master has told me repeatedly that you have a very pure heart. I don't want to lose you. In the spiritual life, what we need most is a pure heart."

The husband said, "Let us go to the Master together. I have a few things to tell your Master."

The wife was frightened to some extent when she heard this. "You want to come to the Master? What for? You don't care for my Master."

"No, I do care for him. Come with me. Let us go together. I have something special to tell your Master."

So both of them went to the Master. The Master pretended that he was quite in the dark about what had happened with the wife. The young man said, "Master, please accept me. Today is the time for me to accept you as my Master. Today I am giving up smoking and drinking. Today I am giving up all my undivine qualities."

The Master said, "Why this sudden change, my son?"

Then the husband narrated the story of what had happened between himself and his wife, but the Master still pretended he knew nothing. He showed utmost curiosity and sympathy. When the story had all been told, the Master said to the wife, "You are undoubtedly one of my most favourite disciples. Now how is it that you have been torturing your husband all this time for expensive clothes and jewellery? Why do you do that?"

She said, "Master, your philosophy says that it is not the thing that we wear which is important, but where our consciousness is. You have said many times that I do the best meditation. Anyway, you have given us the feeling that I am one of your most devoted, surrendered disciples. So I have come to the conclusion that what I wear does not matter at all, and that wearing beautiful clothes does not affect my meditation. So, since these beautiful things give me joy, I wear them."

"Yes, my daughter, you have understood my philosophy, and I have full faith in your capacity. You wear expensive things, most beautiful things, but it has not lowered your consciousness at all. They have not created pride or vanity in you."

"I am so grateful to you, Master. Since these things do not diminish my aspiration, I wear what I have."

The Master said, "Here I must correct you. True, when you wear expensive clothes, your consciousness does not descend. But how do you get them? At the expense of somebody else. You make your husband's life miserable in order to please yourself. You should wear what comes to you under normal circumstances, and not what you get by begging your husband or by threatening him until he is forced to satisfy your demands. Even your real needs should be satisfied in a normal and natural way. You have pleaded with your husband, and for certain things you have threatened him. This is not the right way. The right way is to let things come to you in the normal course. If your husband gives something to you on his own, or if he gives you money and you can afford to buy things according to your satisfaction, you can wear these things. But forcing him and pleading with him is not natural."

"Master, Master, please do not find fault with my wife. She is so dear, so close to me. I will not be able to endure her suffering. Now I see she is sad. I can have all the world's suffering in my own heart, but I cannot stand to see her sad face. My wife's sad face has the power to destroy all my happiness. So Master, please forgive her.

"And now, Master, I wish to say, I am yours. I wish you to accept me as your disciple. And here is my promise to my wife: I shall not smoke or drink anymore. I shall not do any undivine things. I shall be totally devoted to my wife and please her in every way."

The wife said, "Devoted to me? You don't have to please me anymore. I was a fool. I wanted material things from you. It was the height of my stupidity. You don't have to please me. I was wrong."

The husband said, "No, you wanted me to accept a spiritual path, your path. I want to please you in that way. And I want to be devoted only to you."

At this point the wife became furious. "Never utter these foolish words!" she cried. "If you really want to please me, please my Master. If you please him, then rest assured that you have also pleased me. But by pleasing me, if you think that you are going to please my Master, that is absurdity itself. You should see me inside the Master, and try to please him in his own way as I am fully determined to please him in his own way. Let us make ourselves feel that we belong to our Master alone. You and I do not belong to ourselves; we have no right to claim each other. Let us claim the Master, only him, as our very own. We shall remain together, but we have to feel that he is our Source, he is our all."

The Master blessed both the husband and wife together. The husband said, "Master, you are my all because in you I see my all, my wife."

Again the wife became furious. "Who do you think you are pleasing with your foolish obstinacy?" she asked. "You are not pleasing me and you are not pleasing my Master. You are only pleasing yourself! Master, you are my all because in you I see my real Reality, who is the Supreme."

"Master, will you give me another chance?" asked the husband. "Another chance? I will give you as many chances as you want," the Master said, blessing him once again.

"Master, you are my all precisely because in you I see what I eternally am."

"Please tell me what you mean by this," said the Master.

"What I eternally am is ever-mounting aspiration and ever-descending compassion. Ever-mounting aspiration I feel and become when I enter into your heart. And when I look at your eyes and become one with your eyes, I see that I am an ever-descending compassion. Your eyes are infinite compassion. Your heart is eternal aspiration."

August 10, 1974