Guru Nanak's best discipleThe founder of Sikhism was Guru Nanak, a very great spiritual Master. Nanak accepted the world and became part and parcel of the world, but he was never bound by the world. He was in the world and for the world, but not of the world.
Guru Nanak had quite a few disciples. Some of them were obedient to him to some extent, while others were completely disobedient. Guru Nanak also had two sons and a daughter. The two sons were disobedient to the extreme. What a wonderful fate he had!
Guru Nanak had a vast plot of land where he performed the work of a farmer. One day he cut some grass and arranged it into four or five bundles. Since he was very advanced in years, he asked his sons to carry the bundles of grass to his house.
Both of his sons simply refused. They said, "No! We are your sons. It is beneath our dignity to do that kind of labour. We will not do it." Guru Nanak then turned to one of his disciples and asked him to carry the bundles. This particular disciple had once upon a time been very, very rich. At one time, he had also been married with children. He had given up everything — his family and his material life — in order to practise the spiritual life.
This particular disciple was so happy that his Guru was asking him to carry the bundles of grass. Very cheerfully, he put them on his shoulders and began walking to his Guru's house.
When Guru Nanak's sons saw this, they said, "You came from a rich family. Why do you have to work like a coolie? It is beneath your dignity."
The disciple replied, "No! If I want to please God, if I want to achieve something for God on earth, then obedience to my Guru must come first. At one time I had everything on the material plane, but I didn't have my Guru's blessings and love. That is what I need most. I don't need anything else."
He continued on his way, cheerfully carrying the bundles of grass to Guru Nanak's house, and Guru Nanak was very, very pleased with him.
On another occasion, in the middle of the night, it started raining heavily. The village was struck by a very severe hurricane, and one of the walls of Guru Nanak's house was completely blown away. That wall happened to be part of the room where Guru Nanak was staying. He had a few rooms in his house, but for some reason he wanted to stay in this particular room. So he immediately woke up his sons and asked them to come to his room and fix the wall.
They both said, "You are crazy to ask us to come at this hour! It is raining heavily and the storm is still raging. Besides, it is not our job to fix walls. We know nothing about it. Tomorrow morning, we shall ask the masons to come and do it."
Guru Nanak thought of the disciple who had carried the bundles of grass. He sent for him and asked him to fix the wall. This disciple knew nothing about fixing walls because he had been wealthy for most of his life, but he said to himself, "My Guru has asked me to fix his wall. I have to do it!"
The poor fellow started fixing the wall. It took him some time, but finally it was done. When Guru Nanak inspected the wall, he said to the disciple, "It is not done to my satisfaction. Break it and try again!"
Without any hesitation, the disciple broke the wall and tried again. Meanwhile, Guru Nanak's two sons were watching the scene. When the disciple had finished fixing the wall for the second time, Guru Nanak again found fault with it: "Here is a mistake; there is a mistake. I don't like it at all. Break it and start again!"
So the disciple broke it and started again. Like this, three or four times the disciple built the wall, and each time his Guru said he was not satisfied.
Guru Nanak's sons began to laugh at the disciple: "How many times are you going to do this? Our father is crazy for asking you to do this kind of thing, and you are crazy for listening to him. It is not your job. Tomorrow morning we will send for the masons and they will fix it to our father's satisfaction. We are giving you sound advice."
The disciple patiently answered them, "No matter how many times it takes, I will keep on trying to please my Master, my Guru."
The disciple was prepared to build the wall again and again, but after he had completed the wall for the seventh time, his Master said, "Now I am satisfied. You have really pleased me with your obedience. You could have been annoyed at me. But no, you kept on sincerely trying to please me. You are truly my best disciple by virtue of your obedience."
Obedience is of paramount importance. In the beginning, we call it obedience. But when our inner being comes to the fore, when our mind, vital and entire physical consciousness are awakened to the Light — at that time we see that obedience is nothing other than our complete oneness with our own highest Self. Our lower self is ignorant; it knows only disobedience and revolt. But once our lower self is awakened to the Light, then there is no longer any question of higher or lower. At that time, there is only oneness. The unillumined self becomes one with the illumined Self and is no longer unillumined.
It is like the mind and the feet. Let us say the mind represents our higher part and the feet represent our lower part. When our mind asks our feet to help us walk and the feet obey the mind, at that time there is no separation between the two. We do not see our mind as higher than our feet. We see both of them as integral parts of our body, and we see both of them playing their respective roles in making it possible for us to walk.
Unfortunately, when people hear the word "obedience", immediately they revolt. When your Master asks you to do something, he is only bringing you messages from your own soul. If those who call themselves my disciples can have obedience to their own souls, then all their problems and all my problems will be solved.