My ashram is a miniature world

There was a spiritual Master who had hundreds of disciples, but unfortunately he was dissatisfied with most, if not all, of the disciples. He had spent twenty years with them, but they had made no satisfactory progress. He had offered them advice; he had told them the importance of early morning meditation; he had told them repeatedly the necessity of leading a pure life and the need for self-discipline. He had answered hundreds of questions from his disciples, and he had offered them endless light on their inner queries. But still they had made practically no progress. He was disgusted and disappointed beyond measure.

Finally the Master decided to leave his ashram. He said to himself, “I have spoken hundreds and thousands of times, but all to no avail. From now on I shall observe the vow of silence, and also, since I am fat, unbearably fat, I shall lose some weight. I shall not speak a word and I shall not eat anything.”

So in the small hours of the morning, while his disciples were all fast asleep, the Master secretly left his ashram. He walked far, very far. After travelling about fifteen miles, he came to a village. Just on the outskirts of the village he saw a green field. He sat down in one corner of the field and began meditating. He said to himself, “Here I shall not have to speak to anybody. Here I shall not have to waste any more of my precious time. I shall meditate and drink divine nectar. I have worked hard for mankind, but mankind is not ready for my help or service.”

The Master entered into deep meditation. After about three hours a villager happened to pass by. He saw a spiritual man meditating with his eyes open and fixed on an unknown spot, and he felt that this was a Yogi in deep trance. He was beside himself with joy to see a spiritual man, for he had been looking for a spiritual Master for the last four years.

The villager bowed down to the spiritual Master and pleaded with him, “Please, please, bless me. Bless me and initiate me. I want to be your disciple.” The Master remained silent. The villager went on pleading and pleading with the Yogi, but the Yogi, who was deep in his own meditation, ignored him.

The villager was so moved by the Yogi’s meditation that he thought, “This is the time for me to meditate also. Let me sit beside this Yogi and meditate.” But alas, he got no inspiration. He could not meditate at all. So he said to himself, “Well, I am not a Yogi. I am not even a beginner. I need purity. My mind is enjoying lower vital thoughts, impure thoughts. Let me go home and get some flowers to place in front of me to give me inspiration. Then I shall meditate again beside this Yogi.”

The villager went home and got some beautiful flowers. Then he returned and sat beside the Yogi, placing the flowers in front of himself, and started meditating. In five minutes he found that he had established some purity in his mind. He was absolutely delighted that he had got purity. But then pride entered into him. He began to think, “I am so pure. Nobody is as pure as I am,” and soon he could not meditate at all.

Finally the villager said to himself, “If I want to meditate more, then I need humility. How can I be humble? Let me collect a few blades of grass which grow right in front of my house, and meditate on them. A blade of grass is the symbol of humility. Everybody tramples on this tender grass, but the grass never complains.”

The villager went home and picked a few blades of grass and brought them back and placed them in front of him. Then he started meditating beside the Yogi again. After a while he felt that he had developed humility. He was very happy that he had achieved some humility, and he meditated for some time.

Then the villager said to himself, “Purity I have; humility I have. But purity and humility are not enough to give me intense aspiration. Without intense aspiration, I will not make satisfactory progress in the spiritual life. What can help me to have aspiration? Ah, I shall burn candles and incense while I meditate, and the flame of the candles and the smoke of the incense will increase my aspiration.”

So the villager went home and brought back candles and incense sticks, and burned them in front of himself while he meditated. From this he did get aspiration, and he was very happy. But he could not maintain his aspiration, and after a half hour of meditation he became tired.

When his own meditation was over, the villager observed the Yogi. The Yogi was still in silence as before, in deep trance. The villager thought, “God alone knows when this Yogi started meditating here. But I saw him here over two hours ago and he has not eaten anything during that time. I shall go home and bring him something.”

He went home and returned with some fruit and milk for the Yogi and begged him to eat and drink. But the Yogi would not respond. He just continued his meditation.

“Now what can I do?” thought the villager. “This Yogi is bound to be my Guru. I will not accept anybody else but this Yogi. I have never seen anybody meditating so soulfully and so powerfully for such a long time. When he comes out of meditation I will implore him to accept me as his disciple. I am sure he will take me. I just have to wait.”

Suddenly a new thought occurred to him. “I have heard that robbers come here to share their spoils. If the robbers happen to come here while I am away they may harass this innocent man. They may harm him. What shall I do? I know! I shall bring my dog here. If anything happens the dog will bark and I will be able to come and save the Yogi.”

The villager went home again and brought his faithful dog to stay near the Yogi. Then he went away. But the dog was so faithful to its own master that after a few minutes it returned to its master’s house. The master had to chase him back to the Yogi. This happened several times. For a few minutes the dog would stay beside the Yogi and for some time it would go back home.

After two hours the villager brought a most delicious meal for the Yogi. The Yogi had not eaten anything that day, but still he would not eat. By this time the afternoon was drawing to a close. The villager said to himself, “Let me go and bring my cow to graze here. Since the Yogi is here, I am sure nobody will take my cow away. If the cow leaves the spot, the Yogi can bring it back with his occult power. I am sure he will do me this much of a favour since I am trying to please him in every way. And if somebody tries to take the cow away by force, my dog will bark and I will come here myself.”

The villager brought his cow and left it in front of the Yogi, who was still in deep trance. Then he went off to do some of his work, deciding to come back again before the sun set. When the villager departed, his dog followed him.

Now while the villager was working at home a young man came to the field and saw the cow grazing. He had been looking for a cow to buy, and he felt that the owner of the cow was the man who was meditating. He said to the Yogi, “Enough! Pay attention to your cow. Stop meditating and do your duty first. Are you ready to sell this cow? How much do you want for it?”

The Yogi kept silent, according to his vow. “Stop it!” said the young man. “Break your silence, or I shall take your cow away. This cow is not worth even forty rupees, but I shall give you one hundred rupees, since I am badly in need of a cow.” Then he threw a hundred-rupee note to the Yogi and led the cow away. The Yogi placed the money under his leg.

Soon the villager came. He bowed to the Yogi and said, “Still you are meditating. You have not eaten anything — no food, no milk, nothing.” Then he looked around and saw, to his amazement, that his cow was missing. “Where could my cow have gone?” he wondered. He looked and looked for the cow, but it was gone. He asked the Yogi about the cow, but the Yogi remained silent.

Then the villager became furious. “You are really ungrateful!” he said to the Yogi. “All day I have shown you so much devotion. I brought you food. I paid so much attention to you. And you could not even care for my cow! You are an ungrateful creature!” Then he struck the Yogi.

The Yogi did not move or break his silence. He remained in deep meditation. So the villager said, “This punishment is not enough. I saw a scorpion near my home. I will bring the scorpion here in a box and throw it on you. When the scorpion bites you, then your meditation will come to an end and you will be compelled to speak to me.”

The villager came back with the scorpion and threw it right into the Yogi’s lap. The Yogi began to shed tears.

“I knew it. I knew it,” said the villager. “It is time for you to cry and weep. Now tell me, for God’s sake, where is my cow? Don’t be so ungrateful. Don’t be so mean.”

The Yogi said, “I am not shedding tears because I am afraid of this scorpion. I am shedding tears because this innocent creature was not destined to bite me. But now it will, and it will add to its evil karma. You are the instigator. You have done many things wrong, and you will pay the penalty of your karma. This scorpion has also done many bad things. It has stung many people, but it was not supposed to sting me. You have brought it here and it will sting me. I will suffer, but I am not shedding tears because of my imminent suffering. I feel sorry for the one extra crime this scorpion will commit because of you. But I shall give it a new life. I will not allow this scorpion to bite me. I shall touch the scorpion and do something for it.”

When the Yogi touched the scorpion, it immediately died.

The villager said, “You said that I was cruel, but you have killed a living creature. Who is more cruel? You or I? I have only brought it to you. You have killed it.”

“No,” said the Yogi. “By taking its life away, I have blessed this scorpion. This scorpion was innocent and you brought it to commit a crime. I felt sorry for this innocent creature and, since I am a spiritual person, I wanted to bless it and give it a new life, a better incarnation. In three days you will see this scorpion in a new form. It will come into your own family.”

The villager was horrified. “I will have a scorpion in my family?”

“Yes,” said the Master. “You have a cat and your children are fond of that cat. In three days your cat will give birth to kittens, and the most beautiful one will have the soul that was in this scorpion. It is unthinkable that a man, who is far superior to a scorpion, should cause a scorpion to accumulate more bad karma and delay its spiritual evolution. But I shall make up for your bad intentions. My nature is to bring joy and progress to everyone. That is why I am bringing the scorpion into your family as a cat. You will like the cat, and your children will be extremely fond of it. I am doing you this favour because I am grateful to you for bringing me fruits and milk while I was meditating. This is my reward. Instead of being punished, you will have a beautiful cat in your family.

“I don’t want to remain indebted to you. I don’t want to owe you anything. You brought me fruit and milk, and a most delicious meal. For that I want to tell you that I have something for you. Here is a one hundred rupee note. Somebody came while you were gone and wanted to buy your cow. Your cow is old. You wanted to get rid of it and buy a new one. You thought that you would be able to sell it for thirty or forty rupees, but nobody wanted to buy it even for that much. Now somebody has given me one hundred rupees for it. Take it.

“So you see how a spiritual Master rewards you when you try to serve him. Now I want to give you another blessing. I know that your wife will soon give birth to a child.”

“How do you know?”

“I know everything. In two months’ time you will have a son, a most beautiful son. Your son will really be spiritual, far better than you. He will never strike a spiritual man. When he accepts a spiritual Master, he will serve his Master unconditionally, which you could not do. You wanted to be my disciple and you served me a little. Then you started making demands of me, and when I did not fulfil your demands in your own way, you started torturing me. Your son will not behave like that.”

The villager touched the feet of the Master and prayed for forgiveness.

The Yogi said, “Where is the question of forgiveness? When was I angry with you? Since I was not angry with you, the question of forgiveness does not arise at all. But from now on, lead a spiritual life. If you really want something good to come out of your life, then be kind to an ordinary man whenever you see one and be devoted to a spiritual man.”

The villager said, “I have never seen such a great spiritual Master as you. I want to be your disciple. Please accept me.”

The Yogi said, “Then come along with me to my ashram. I have hundreds of disciples. Early this morning I left my ashram to fast and observe silence because I was disgusted with my disciples’ behaviour and lack of aspiration. I came here so that I would not be bothered by anyone, and here you have bothered me in many ways. Now I have come to realise that my disciples represent the outer world, the world of ignorance. If I can perfect them, then I will begin to perfect the outer world. Everywhere in the world there is ignorance, everywhere. But if I can offer illumination in one place, the other places will also be somewhat illumined. I am going back to my disciples. I have to illumine them. I have to perfect them. I have to fulfil the Supreme in them. When they are fulfilled, the entire world will be fulfilled because my ashram is a miniature world. In the transformation of my ashram will be the beginning of the transformation of the entire world.”

From:Sri Chinmoy,The ascent and descent of the disciples, Aum Press, 1973
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