Initiation and the Master

Initiation and the Master

The word initiation is at once sweet and most significant. In India the first thing that one aspirant asks another aspirant is, "Are you initiated?" And then he asks, "Who is your Guru?" If there is no initiation, then the purification of the body, vital, mind, heart and soul will be a painfully slow process. One has to be initiated in order to realise the highest Goal.

The Sanskrit word for initiation is diksha. Diksha means offering, the offering of oneself. The Guru gives the disciple a portion of his life-breath and the disciple gives the Master his soulful promise that to the end of his life he will be totally faithful to the Master and serve the Master unconditionally. In initiation, the Master accepts consciously the lifelong ignorance of the disciple whom he initiates; and the disciple offers to the Master a solemn promise that after he has become purified and transformed, he will be a conscious, devoted, fully surrendered instrument of the Master. The Master during initiation will give him the promise: "I shall make you realise the highest Truth, God." Then the soul of the disciple will make a spiritual promise to the Master: "After I have attained my spiritual perfection I shall manifest your Light, the Light of the Supreme, on earth. You make me perfect in my realisation and I shall fulfil you in your manifestation." The Master finally says, "Whether you manifest me or not, my role is to make you realise the Highest."

If God wants to, he may appear before a seeker during the seeker's meditation or in a vision or a dream. He can take a luminous human form and tell the seeker that He is initiating him or He can give him a mantra. This is direct initiation, but it is very rare. Usually, initiation has to be done by a living Master.

The Upanishads, the sacred scriptures of India, speak of three different ways of initiation. In one kind of initiation, the disciple has to come and prostrate himself before the Master. He must be freshly bathed and clean-shaven. Sometimes he has to practise celibacy for a couple of months or years beforehand. He brings rice, coconuts and a few other traditional things. He also has to give a sacerdotal fee in the form of money or service. Then the disciple sits at the feet of the Guru and the Guru whispers a mantra in his ear. This mantra may be a word or a few words or even a few sentences. Then, according to the traditional way, the Guru touches the forehead, back and heart of the disciple in rhythm with the disciple's heartbeat. The aspirant has to practise this mantra all his life. He has to repeat it sincerely, devotedly and soulfully every day without fail. Along with the mantra, the Guru gives him instruction about how to sit properly for meditation, how to pray and how to worship God. This is the traditional Indian way of giving initiation.

Last year in Puerto Rico I initiated a child who was only a few months old in this traditional way. I whispered a particular mantra in her ear and spoke inwardly to her soul in the soul's language and told her what she should do when she grows up. This is the only initiation I have done in that way.

In the second method of initiation, the Guru exercises his own inner power to lift up the consciousness of the disciple, no matter what consciousness the disciple may be in at the time. The disciple may be in a very low consciousness or a very high consciousness. But the Guru injects his spiritual power into him and, on the strength of his power, lifts the disciple much higher than he was. I have done this kind of initiation quite a few times.

The third way is initiation through compassion. Here the Guru slowly and steadily lifts the disciple up to the highest plane of consciousness through boundless, unconditional compassion. I have done that kind of initiation several times.

A spiritual Master can also initiate a disciple through the eyes or by touching him physically, by blessing him on the head and placing a hand on his heart. I have often used these methods. I have also initiated people occultly from miles away while they were in a very high state of consciousness during meditation in their home. But this I have done only a few times. But whatever approach I use, in each case a portion of my Oneness-Breath with the Supreme I offer to those whom I accept as disciples.

While I was working at the Indian Consulate, I read in The New York Times about a disciple who was initiating twenty or thirty aspirants under the auspices of a certain spiritual teacher. He was giving out mantras and initiating people while smoking a cigarette. This kind of initiation is nothing short of a crime. It is not possible to give one's life-breath while smoking a cigarette and it is not possible to give initiation by proxy. If a disciple is a realised soul, then certainly he can give initiation. But if the Master knows perfectly well that the disciple is not realised and if the disciple himself knows it, then if the Master tells him to go and initiate others it is a terrible mistake. If a Master is thousands of miles away from the seeker, he should initiate him directly on the occult plane. If he cannot do this, then he has no right to call himself a spiritual Master. Initiation by proxy is wrong and worthless.

If a disciple wants to have a conscious initiation, the first thing that is expected of him is humility, utmost humility. Let me tell you a story.

Once a seeker went to a spiritual Master and said, "Please initiate me." He was a great seeker, but unfortunately he was quite proud.

The Master said, "I am willing to initiate you tomorrow, but you have to bring me something or someone who is less worthy than you."

The seeker was happy. He thought this would be easy, since he felt that there were many people and many things infinitely inferior to him. The following day, he brought a blade of grass to the spiritual Master and said, "Here is a blade of grass. I am sure I am superior to this blade of grass."

The Master said, "You are a fool. Look at this blade of grass: How vast is the heart of this blade of grass! Would you allow anybody to walk on your chest? You would be furious. But this blade of grass allows you to walk on its very heart! This blade of grass is infinitely superior to you. Bring me something else."

The seeker was dumbfounded. He thought, "You have played a trick on me. Now I am going to create some embarrassment for you." The next day he took some night-soil to the Master and said, "Undoubtedly this is inferior to me."

But the Master meditated on the night-soil and entered into the very heart of it, finally reaching its source. The source had been a beautiful apple. The apple spoke through the Master: "You are such an ungrateful fellow! When I was so pretty, so beautiful, so charming, so tasty, you took me and devoured me with all your greed. Now look at the transformation of my life: how beautiful I was and how ugly I have become. Who is responsible? You! And who allowed you to devour me? I did, out of my compassion, concern and love for you. So you are not superior!"

This time the seeker realised that there was nobody and nothing on earth which could be really inferior to him. He fell at the feet of the Master and said, "Master, here is the one who is really low. There is nobody on earth as worthless as I am, but please accept me."

The Master said, "Today I am crowning you with initiation because you have become true humility. If you are humble, then your goal is really near. If you are proud and arrogant, then your goal will always remain a far cry."

The disciple comes to the Guru and enters into the Guru with what he has and what he is. What do you have? You have a soul. What are you? You are the soul. When you have the feeling that you have a soul and you are the soul, then what you have and what you are, are the same thing. Your achievement is not at all different from what you are. With that understanding, with that knowledge, with that wisdom, if you enter into me, then you are not giving me anything, for at that time you will see and feel your total oneness with me.

You have to feel that what you call yourself is just another name for your Master. A feeling of indivisible oneness must be established between the Guru's consciousness and the disciple's consciousness. You may say that what you have and what you are, you are giving to the Guru. But if you are living inside the Guru, then there is no giving and no taking. There is nothing to give and nothing to take. There is only the feeling of growing inside the Guru's heart.

Please stay inside me as long as you can, or I should say, forever. There is no time when your soul need be separated from my consciousness. Remain inside me with what you have and what you are, not in the sense of giving but in the sense of belonging. Feel that you belong to me and I belong to you. Let us sing together the song of oneness.