About thirty years ago there lived in the United States a very well-known spiritual Master, who had several hundred disciples. He used to travel from place to place, and a number of Centres devoted to his path were formed in various cities. One day, while the Master was visiting his Centre in California, a young girl about nineteen years of age approached him.
“I am very interested in the spiritual life and want to become your disciple,” she said, “but my mother is opposed to it. She tells me that your path is wrong. She tells me that I have to go to church, for only then will God be pleased with me. Master, what should I do? My soul wants to follow your path, but I can’t always be fighting and quarrelling with my mother.”
The Master concentrated inwardly and saw quite clearly that this particular girl was receiving some inner nourishment by coming to his Centre, whereas she was not getting anything when she went to church. Now, the Master knew that some people would have just the opposite experience — they would get nothing from him but would get spiritual nourishment from their church or from some other Master. But in this girl’s case, it was different.
So the Master said, “If your soul is making you feel that by coming to a particular place, your inner being is being nourished with light and you are running towards God, then when your mother stands in your way and tries to hinder your progress, what will you do? When she asks if you have been to church, if you tell the truth and say, ‘No, mother, I didn’t go to church,’ she will simply not allow you to come to our Centre at all. So, just to keep peace and harmony, you have to tell a so-called white lie.”
“But Master,” the girl said, “isn’t it wrong to lie? Won’t it bring me bad karma?”
“Not in this case. In this case, when you say that you have been to church, God will protect you because you are sincerely trying to go to Him. When you go to a spiritual teacher and follow his path, then you are going toward your real goal. I am not saying that the church does not have a real goal. No. It is only that unfortunately you are not finding your goal there. The church does have a goal and millions and billions of people feel that they will find it there, but you are finding your goal somewhere else. You are walking towards your goal along another path and there God is waiting for you.
“If you truthfully say to your mother, ‘Mother, I went to the Centre instead of going to church,’ she will be angry and she will make you feel totally miserable. So you have to see what you are aiming at. If you are aiming at the ultimate goal, you have to make yourself feel that walking toward the goal at every moment is of utmost importance. So you can tell an innocent lie in this case. God is there to forgive you since you are trying to reach Him in the way God Himself has inspired your particular soul to come to Him.”
“But isn’t it at all possible to tell the truth?” the young girl asked.
The Master replied, “Yes, you can tell the truth to your mother but then you will be unable to come to the Centre, and you will be unable to make progress in the way your soul wants. Which is more important: to listen to your inner being, to your heart’s cry, or to listen to your mother? You have to see that so-called truth has to be transcended; otherwise, it will be extremely difficult for you to make any progress. But if your mother is also involved in the spiritual life, or if she allows you to come to the Centre and says that it is up to you whether you go to church or to the Centre, then you don’t have to tell lies at all. You can and should tell her the truth.
“Let me give you an analogy. One man with a knife is chasing after a second man in order to kill him. The man who is being chased takes shelter in somebody’s house. When the fellow with the knife arrives, he asks the owner whether his victim has taken shelter there. Now, what can the owner do? If he says, ‘Yes, he is here,’ then the man with the knife will definitely kill the one who is hiding. But if he says, ‘No, he has not come into my house; I haven’t seen him,’ then, although he is telling a lie, he is also saving a person’s life.”
“But Master, doesn’t the world then have the right to call the owner a liar?”
“Morality will say that he is a liar. But your inner being will say that he has done the right thing. What is right in these circumstances? To go deep within and ask God what to do. If God says, ‘Yes, tell the man that he is inside here,’ then you do it and your part is over. But if you don’t have direct access to God, immediately you will try to preserve God’s Reality. This Reality is a reality of protection and not a reality of violence and destruction. If you want to follow human morality, you will be allowing violence to take place and a person will be killed. But you have to apply the truth in a way that pleases God and fulfils humanity.”
The girl still seemed uncertain, so the Master continued, “On the spur of the moment, somebody with a quick temper may declare in front of hundreds of people that he will kill someone because he is terribly angry with that person. Now, when he calms down he may say to himself, ‘It is a wrong thing for me to kill this person,’ so he does not keep his promise. Peace, love and compassion have dawned on him, so naturally he will forgive the other person. Now, from the mental level, this person is a liar, because he has not kept his promise. But in God’s Eyes he is a great victor. God’s Light and Compassion have come to the fore and he has really won a victory.
“In our day-to-day life we will always try to tell the truth. But we have to see if there is a higher cause that will be protected by telling a lie. You feel that you should walk along a specific path to reach your goal. If somebody that you are afraid of or whom you want to please stands in your way, then you are starving your soul’s possibilities and potentialities if you surrender to that person’s wishes. This is a crime against your own soul. It is infinitely worse than telling a white lie.”
“Master, how can we tell which truth to follow and how to apply it in our life?” the girl asked.
The Master smiled and said, “The truth that will energise you, the truth that is going to eventually immortalise you, the truth that will take you to your ultimate, absolute, destined Goal — that is the truth you have to aim at. Otherwise, if you constantly make friends with the so-called truth of a lower level, then your spiritual life of highest height will never dawn.”
Some other disciples and seekers were listening to the conversation, seeing how it applied to their own lives. The Master turned to them and said, “You young boys and girls will never be able to come to a spiritual Master or spiritual path in any form if you are always afraid. If you listen to your parents all the time, you may have to wait millions of years to realise God because their way of approaching God is different from yours. They tell you, ‘Do this if you want to be close to God.’ But they themselves have not yet realised God, so how are you going to realise God by following their instructions? If somebody knows the Truth himself, then only should you have belief in that person.”
A new disciple then said, “But others have realised the Truth the way that our parents are suggesting.”
The Master offered this new disciple a sweet smile and said, “True, God is realising Himself, expressing Himself, in millions of ways. But God wants you to realise the Truth in a different way. If the message comes from within to follow a specific path, you have to follow that path and you have to be fully prepared to meet resistance from your parents or superiors. You want to reach the highest Goal which is based on God’s Truth, not on the so-called human or moral truth. That does not mean that I am asking you people to be immoral. Far from it. But at times the so-called moral truth stands in opposition to the highest, absolute Truth. That is why our Upanishadic seers used to say to God, ‘I surrender to You all my morality and my immorality, my darkness and my light.’”
While the Master was speaking, even though he wasn’t looking at her, the young girl began to feel that his words were entering into her very heart. Her whole countenance and expression began to change, and suddenly she threw herself at the Master’s feet.
“Master, Master,” she cried, “I wish to belong only to you. For nineteen years my physical parents have lovingly guided my outer life, but now it is time for you, my eternal father, to guide my inner life. Please accept me as your disciple.”
The Master placed his hand on her devoted head and said, “My child, you shall be my disciple always. To you I offer my soul’s deepest concern and love.”