The spiritual Master1

I am extremely happy to be here with you. All of you are aspiring in your own way, so you have given me ample opportunity to be of service to the Supreme in you. There is only one teacher, one Guru, and that is the Supreme. Since we are all seekers, we are all invoking the presence of our eternal Guru, the Supreme.

Most of you are practising spirituality and yoga. It is not a new subject to you. But I wish to say how I approach this particular subject. To me, spirituality is a box and yoga is the key, while God is the wealth or treasure inside the box. Each of you has this box, this key and this wealth. God is not the sole monopoly of spiritual Masters. Never! He is equally yours. Spiritual Masters come into the world to convince you that God-realisation is your birthright. You can claim God as your very own. You can also say the same thing that Christ said two thousand years ago: “I and my Father are one.” He said this on the strength of his conscious and constant inseparable oneness with his Father. We do not have that constant, conscious, inseparable oneness. There are days when we feel the Presence of God for a long time. Again, there are days when we feel the Presence of God for only a few minutes. And there are days when we do not feel the Presence of God at all. This being the case, how can we dare to say that God and we are one? We feel that we would be telling a deplorable lie. But like Christ, if we pray, if we meditate, if we discover the highest within ourselves, then the day will come when we will be able to declare the same, when each individual will be able to declare: “I and my Father are one.” It is not only possible, not only practicable, but it is inevitable that one day everyone will claim this same realisation.

Yoga is the way to get this realisation. Yoga means union, conscious union with God. Yoga teaches us how we can collect a bumper crop of realisation. This realisation is the realisation of our Divinity, of our Immortality, of the Infinite within us, of the Eternal within us.

According to our traditional Hindu system, there are three major yogas — Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga. Karma Yoga is the yoga of dedicated service. Bhakti Yoga is the yoga of love and devotion. Jnana Yoga is the yoga of knowledge and wisdom. In Jnana Yoga we see an important, most powerful branch called Raja Yoga. In the West, this is what you call mysticism, yoga for the mystics.

There are also other yogas, such as Hatha Yoga and Japa Yoga. Here in the West many people practise Hatha Yoga. This is of great help, supreme help, in keeping the body fit. It relaxes your body and helps you in awakening your consciousness. But you have to know how far Hatha Yoga can take you. In the West, fortunately or unfortunately, many people are under the impression that Hatha Yoga can lead to the destination. But this is not so. Hatha Yoga is the starting point. Practising Hatha Yoga is like studying in kindergarten, whereas concentration, meditation and contemplation are the university courses. Even if you do not study in the kindergarten, you may easily get to the university. There are some good students, brilliant students, who skip some grades. They need not go to kindergarten. They start in primary school and then continue. But if you don’t start, then how are you going to reach your destination? Whatever Hatha Yoga can teach us, we should willingly learn, but we must not give undue importance to this small branch of the great tree of yoga.

If our mind is constantly subject to thoughts and ideas, if the thought-monkey is constantly biting us, then we have to take care. We have to fight against the mischievous monkey, thought. Hatha yoga can be of help in this. But there is another type of yoga called Japa Yoga which is a greater help. Japa Yoga is the repetition of a particular word or name of the Lord — Krishna, Rama, Kali, Supreme, Aum, etc. While we practise japa our mind is focused only on our chosen deity, a spiritual quality, a particular aspect of God, or a manifestation of God in a human body. This practice helps considerably in quieting and controlling the mind.

But if we can practise concentration, meditation and contemplation, then it is like taking a modern jet plane to reach our destination. If we want to go to Rome, we can go in various ways. It depends on how fast we want to reach our destination. We can go with the help of an Indian bullock cart, or we can go with the help of a jet plane. Naturally, the plane will take us to our destination much faster.

Now once we reach our destination, the game is not over. We have something else to do. We have to reveal the Truth, the Light that we have achieved and grown into. After revelation, still the game is not over. We have to manifest on earth the Light that we embody. While manifesting the Light of the Supreme, we are fulfilling the Supreme in His own Way. Before we start manifesting the Supreme in His own Way, we are only preparing ourselves to be the divine soldiers, chosen soldiers of the Infinite. But a day comes when we have realised, we are revealing and we have started manifesting. At that time we can claim to be the chosen instruments of the Supreme, the Inner Pilot.

I have been asked many, many times by seekers how yoga fits in with religion. The ultimate aim of each religion is to realise the highest Truth. Therefore, the goal of all religions is one. Yoga expedites one’s journey in each religion. That is the role of yoga. Yoga has a big heart. It includes all religions and, at the same time, it tells all religions to go beyond their boundaries. Yoga accepts, embraces all religions as its very own and, at the same time, inspires all religions to go beyond, far beyond their limited domains.

All seekers should follow their own respective paths, and feel that each path is like a boat. You have a boat of your own, I have a boat, she has a boat and he has another boat. If you remain in your boat, sooner or later you will reach your goal. But if you try to keep one foot in one boat and the other foot in another boat, or if you constantly jump from one boat to another, you will soon be drenched in the sea of ignorance, and you will never reach your destination.

But if you have no confidence in your boat, that is a different matter. You have been in school for some time and you feel that you are making no progress. The teacher is not satisfying you. Naturally you have every right to leave the school and find a school that satisfies you. Similarly, if you are not satisfied with your boatman, that is to say, your spiritual leader, you have every right to change the boatman and the boat.

Unfortunately, some seekers are not serious or genuine enough to discover this fact. They start their journey out of curiosity. When they start their spiritual journey out of curiosity, they are misled by outer things. The moment they hear that so-and-so has ten thousand disciples, immediately they want to become disciples of that particular Master. He is very great, they feel, otherwise how can he have ten thousand disciples? These curious seekers tend to accept a Master unwisely, with no proper sense of discrimination.

I wish to say that even though a particular teacher may have ten thousand disciples, he may not be your proper teacher. Your teacher may be somebody who has only two disciples. You may be his third disciple, and then perhaps he will not accept any more. But again, who knows? Your own Master may have thousands of disciples. There is nothing wrong in it. Even though he has thousands of disciples, he can easily have you in his boat, and he can carry you to your destined Goal.

Everything depends on your sincerity. Even after you have accepted a spiritual Master’s path, please feel that at every moment you have to play your role, you have to play your part. Some seekers say, “Now that I have a Master, a path, I don’t have to do anything. I can sleep day in, day out, in the boat.” But it is not like that. Each day you have to offer your own aspiration consciously, devotedly, intensely. Only then is it possible for the Master to give you his Peace, his Light, his Bliss. You have to give to the Master your aspiration, which is your achievement, and the Master has to give to you his achievement, which is his realisation. You have to give what you have, and the Master has to give what he has.

In this way the Master and the seeker, the Master and the disciple, become inseparably one. Your aspiration is of paramount importance and the Master’s realisation also is of paramount importance. With your aspiration and his realisation you and the Master are fulfilling the Divine, manifesting the Absolute on earth. You are giving something to the Master which is of infinite value, and on the strength of it he is manifesting the Absolute, the Infinite on earth. The Master and the disciple are of equal importance as players in God’s Cosmic Game.

But the seeker needs to have constant faith in his Master, as the Master has faith in him. Once he accepts someone as his disciple, the Master has boundless faith in that particular seeker. But the seeker, the disciple, quite often loses faith in the Master and in himself. Now if he loses faith in his Master, his progress will be delayed but not ended. He can go to some other Master. Perhaps the second one is actually his real Master. So naturally he will make progress. But if the seeker loses faith in himself, then his spiritual life has ended. In the spiritual life, if one loses faith in oneself, then he is lost. He is a babe in the woods. At that time he is not only helpless, but also hopeless.

The Master is your friend, your eternal friend, who helps you to realise the highest in yourself. He helps you to open your inner treasure chest with your key — not his key — and shows you your own treasure. Once he shows you your own treasure, his part of the game is over. In the ordinary life, if you take help from someone to accomplish something, you are under obligation to give that person some fee or compensation. But in the spiritual life, you do not have to give the Master anything but aspiration. When he helps you in your God-realisation, your very aspiration is his fee. You have aspired to find your inner treasure, and he has been of help to you. He feels that if you have accepted him to be of service, that in itself is his fee. The joy of serving God in you is sufficient salary for the Master.

A spiritual Master is he who constantly plays the eternal Game and swims across the sea of ignorance, carrying seekers to the shore of Light and Delight. A spiritual Master is an elder brother, the eldest son. Being the eldest in the family, he knows a little more than his younger brothers and sisters, so he leads or carries the younger ones to the Father. Once he shows his younger brothers and sisters where the Father is, his role is over.

So dear friends, dear seekers, dear sisters and brothers, we are all aiming at the same Goal. We have all started the journey. We have launched into the spiritual path. We are no longer at our starting point. We are on our way to our destination. It is up to us whether to run slowly or to run fast. If we want to run fast, faster, fastest, then we have to simplify our outer life, our life of confusion, our life of desire, our life of anxiety and worry. And at the same time, we have to intensify our inner life, our life of aspiration, our life of dedication and illumination.

  1. MRP 23. Oakland High School, Mansfield, England, 21 June 1973.