Question: What is initiation?

Sri Chinmoy: The Sanskrit word for initiation is diksha. Now what does diksha mean? It means 'giving,' or 'the offering of oneself.' When the Master initiates someone, he gives that person a portion of his life-breath, and the disciple gives his soulful promise that to the end of his life he will be totally faithful to the Master and serve him unconditionally.

At the time of initiation, the Guru makes a solemn promise to the individual seeker and to the Supreme that he will do his best to help the seeker in his spiritual life, that he will offer his heart and soul to take the disciple into the highest region of the Beyond. The Master says to the Supreme, "Unless and until I have brought this child to You, I shall not leave him; my game shall not be over." And to the disciple, he says, "From now on, you can count on me, you can think of me as your own."

At the time of initiation, the Master actually takes on the disciple's teeming imperfections, both from the present incarnation and from past incarnations. Of course, there are real and sincere spiritual Masters, as well as false Masters. Here I am speaking about the true Masters. Some Masters who are very sincere only initiate one disciple a month. After they initiate the disciple they fall sick and suffer terribly, because they have actually taken on the disciple's imperfections. This is true initiation. Again, there are some spiritual Masters who are able to initiate many disciples without suffering, because they have the capacity to throw the imperfections into the Universal Consciousness. But again, there are some false Masters who initiate fifty, sixty or a hundred disciples at a time or who initiate by proxy. Initiation is not like pills coming out of a factory thousands and millions at a time. This kind of mass initiation is an absurd deception.

The Guru can initiate the disciple in various ways. He can perform the initiation in India's traditional way, while the disciple is meditating. He can also initiate while the disciple is sleeping or when the disciple is in his normal consciousness, but calm and quiet. The Guru can initiate the disciple through the eyes alone. He will look at the disciple, and immediately the person will be initiated, but nobody will know. A Master can also perform a physical initiation, which is to press the head or the heart or any part of the body of the disciple. At this time, he tries to make the physical consciousness feel that initiation has taken place. But along with this physical action, the Guru will initiate the disciple in a psychic way. At that time the Guru sees and feels the soul of the disciple and acts upon the soul. Initiation can also be done by occult processes.

Initiation can also be done in a dream. If there is no spiritual Master available at the time, God Himself can take a very luminous human forth in your dream or during your meditation and can initiate you Himself. But this is very rare. Most of the time initiation is done by a Master.

My disciples do not need to ask me to initiate them outwardly, because I know what is best for them; that is to say, I know whether or not the outer initiation will expedite their inner progress. Very often I initiate my disciples through my third eye, which I feel is the most convincing and effective way. Many times you have observed my eyes when I am in my highest consciousness. At that time, my ordinary eyes, my human eyes, become totally one with my third eye and they take Light from my third eye. These two ordinary eyes receive and imbibe infinite Light from the third eye, and this Light from my divinely radiating eyes enters into the aspirant's eyes. Immediately the Light enters into the aspirant's whole body and scintillates there from head to foot. Then I see the Light, my own Light, the Light of the Supreme, glowing in the disciple's body. My Light enters into the disciple's ignorance, and that ignorance offers its gratitude. It says, "Now that I have become yours, now that you have made me yours, I shall be yours forever." I become responsible for illumining your ignorance, and you become responsible for my manifestation.

Now, just because I have initiated you, this does not mean you can go initiating somebody else. It is not as if I have told you a Truth and now you can tell it to somebody else. Very often I hear that a Master has initiated someone, and then the disciple feels that he knows the truth, so he goes on initiating somebody else, and then that person goes on to still another person-like family descendants. But this kind of initiation has no value. True initiation always has to be done by a God-realised Master; it cannot be done by proxy. If a Master has the spiritual power to initiate a disciple directly in the occult plane, that is all right. But if he says he can initiate someone through a disciple who is still a beginner, that kind of initiation is absurd. When we see people here in the United States who say they have been asked to initiate others by their spiritual Master who is in India, then rest assured that this is no initiation at all; it is only deception. Initiation has to be done directly by the Master, either on the physical plane or in the inner planes.

When the Guru initiates a disciple, he accepts the disciple unreservedly and unconditionally. Even if the disciple goes away after initiation, finding fault with the Guru, the Guru will act in and through that disciple forever. The disciple may even go to some other Guru, but the Guru who has initiated him will always help that particular seeker in the inner world. And if the new Guru is noble enough, then he will allow the original Guru to act in and through the disciple. Although the physical connection with the original Guru is cut off, and physically the Guru is not seeing the disciple, spiritually he is bound to help him because he has made a promise to the Supreme. Even if the disciple does not go to any other Guru, but simply falls from the path of Truth, still his original Guru has to keep his promise. The disciple may drop from the spiritual path for one incarnation, two incarnations or even many incarnations, but his Guru, whether he be in the body or in the higher regions, will constantly watch over the disciple and wait for the opportunity to help him actively when the disciple again turns to the spiritual path. The Guru is truly detached, but just because he made a promise to the disciple and to the Supreme in the disciple, the Guru waits indefinitely for an opportunity to take the disciple to the Goal.

Some of my disciples who at one time followed my path most sincerely have also left me most sincerely. But if they are my disciples in the inner world, if I had already accepted them and they were my real disciples, then I wish to say that I have not forgotten them. They may take one, two, five or six incarnations to come back to the life of aspiration, but no matter how long they take, I shall help them in their march towards God-realisation.

The main purpose of initiation is to bring the soul to the fore. If there is no initiation, the purification of the body, mind, heart and vital can never be complete. If there is no initiation, then the Highest Goal can never be realised. Those who are close to me have felt the actual flowering of their initiation the moment they have wholeheartedly dedicated to the Supreme in me their entire life-body, vital, mind, heart and soul. This flowering of the initiation is really more than initiation. It is the revelation of the disciples' own inner divinity. At this moment they feel that they and their Guru have totally become one. They feel that their Guru has no existence without them, and that they have no existence without their Guru. The Guru and the disciple mutually fulfil each other and feel that this fulfilment is coming directly from the Supreme. And the greatest secret the disciple has learned from the Guru is this: that only by fulfilling the Supreme first can he fulfil the rest of the world.

How can the Guru fulfil the Supreme? The Guru plays his part by taking the ignorance, imperfection, obscurity, impurity and unwillingness from the disciple and carrying them faithfully and devotedly to the Supreme. The disciple fulfils the Supreme by constantly staying in the Guru's boat and in the inmost recesses of the Guru's heart, and by feeling that he exists only for the fulfilment of his Master. Him to fulfil, him to manifest is the only meaning, the only purpose, the only significance of the disciple's life.