The white lie

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.”

The photographer-disciples

One evening a spiritual Master and a few of his photographer-disciples were speaking informally. “Master,” one of them said, “in the movie of you that we took the other day, it was my impression that at one point you had the same expression as in your Transcendental picture.”

“Yes, yes,” said the Master, “I think it happened twice. But you are my spiritual children, so let me brag a little. Four and a half years ago I transcended the Transcendental picture. On the day that happened immediately the picture bowed down and touched my feet. But this consciousness has never been photographed.”

“Master,” asked one photographer, “if you transcended the consciousness of that picture so many years ago, how is it that we never photographed it?”

“Right now,” answered the Master, “although we have a few official photographers, sometimes their consciousness and my consciousness do not go together. Sometimes I laugh inwardly. When I am in my highest, perhaps they are in trance themselves, or perhaps they feel that it is not my highest consciousness but something else. Then, when I come down, when I smile at someone after a blessing, for example — when my consciousness is infinitely lower — at that time they take the picture. When I am in a very high consciousness during the blessing, very often they don’t take a picture. When the blessing is over I give a smile — it is a real smile, not a phony one — but at that time I know where my consciousness is: it has touched the root of the tree. Then I fold my hands when it is time for farewell, for parting, and at that time they take pictures.”

A disciple asked, “Maybe the photographer is afraid to disturb the person you are blessing; but if he takes a picture of the blessing, the picture will last forever, whereas the disciple will be able to maintain the blessing for only a few minutes or a few hours.”

“I think the photographer often waits because he cannot see properly. When I bless someone I cover the face of that person, and since he is trying to take a picture of both the faces, it is impossible for him. But when it is over and I release my hands, at that time he can take a good picture. But when it is a matter of consciousness, your Guru’s consciousness is higher during the blessing.”

“When are we going to get a picture of that consciousness that is higher than your Transcendental consciousness?” asked one young man.

“I have tried a few times to take a picture of myself with a special camera, but what happened? When I pressed the button, when my hand moved, immediately my consciousness went down. Because I am using the physical, the physical hand, the consciousness comes down.”

“There are better machines now, Master,” said one young man. “There are movie cameras that could take the picture without your having to press a button.”

“But it must not make any sound,” the Master warned. “If it makes a noise, it will be impossible. There should not be any sound, just silence. When the sound starts, immediately it ruins everything. If you enter nirvikalpa samadhi, which is lower, much lower than the Transcendental consciousness, you go beyond the sound. There is no difficulty at that time; even if there is an explosion you will not hear it. But in the Transcendental consciousness, the difficulty is that you see everything, feel everything. You are in the highest and, at the same time, you can also be aware of the lowest, though you are not affected by it. In the Transcendental you are embracing everything. So at that time if noise comes, the consciousness goes. In my public meditations it has happened quite a few times that I have gone much higher than my Transcendental picture, even though two or three thousand people are there right in front of me.”

“Are there any pictures around from those meetings?” asked a disciple.

The Master shook his head. “I have not seen any. But again, who is going to believe all this rubbish? If you had seen a picture of me when I was three or four years old, you would say, ‘He is so ugly.’ But when you people look at my Transcendental picture, at that time you cannot say anything about me because there in that picture I am in my highest consciousness, I am one with the Supreme.

“There is one picture of me in which the soul was definitely not there when the picture was taken. Even if the soul is not in the body for a minute or a few minutes or a few hours, the soul’s light can remain; the soul’s light can easily stay for hours and hours. But in that particular picture I had also removed the souls light entirely. You saw what kind of picture it was.”

“You looked so strange in that picture,” a young disciple said. “Your whole body seemed limp and lifeless.”

“Yes,” said the Master. “When the soul’s light leaves the body, there is nothing left. The body-machine may stay alive, but it is nowhere.”

“Master,” said another photographer-disciple, “let us hope that in the future we will take pictures at the right moment. We shall sincerely try.”

The Master smiled and then blessed each of his photographer-disciples.

The three tigers

Two hundred years ago there lived a great spiritual Master who had ashrams throughout India. One day the Master called an important meeting in his oldest ashram, where he usually spent most of his time. For a half hour the Master did not speak at all, but brought down boundless light and peace. Finally he began speaking. He spoke very softly, so that some of the disciples in the rear had to strain to hear him. As he spoke, he seemed very sad. The Master said, “Sometimes people don’t take me seriously, but I wish to tell you that we have just disbanded one of our smaller ashrams and we may disband a few more. If each ashram does well, it adds additional strength to my manifestation. If an ashram doesn’t do well, inwardly it is a very heavy burden on my shoulders. I am prepared to disband all the ashrams if the ashrams fail. I may keep a few selected disciples from all over the world, and the rest will become, my followers, admirers or devotees. Only a few individuals will definitely help me and my supreme manifestation.”

The disciples were very upset at the Master’s words, and everybody remained silent. Finally, the main secretary of the ashram asked, “Master, please tell us what is displeasing you about the ashrams?”

“We thought the ashrams would be like homes,” said the Master, “but now we feel that the only real home is the Heart of the Supreme. In each ashram there is frustration, and it goes on for one, two, four, six, seven years. The progress some ashrams have made is next to nothing. I do not know what is going to happen. But if all of us really try, we can easily make our houses very strong and beautiful, inspiring and aspiring.”

“Master,” the main secretary said, “we are sad to learn that one of our ashrams has been disbanded.”

“Yes,” said the Master, “we started our journey with that ashram. But it has given us a series of experiences which we cannot have repeated in any other ashram. In the inner plane all those whom I have accepted will definitely remain my disciples, but the ashram will be disbanded. I don’t blame any individual; I only blame myself that I don’t have the capacity to deal with my ashrams. My capacity is limited in my ability to cope with my disciples on the physical plane, especially when the physical plane does not respond at all.”

“Are all your ashrams in potential danger, Master?” asked one disciple.

The Master replied: “While I was meditating at the beginning of this meeting, I saw one large tiger and two baby tigers roaming within my vision. I definitely saw three tigers — not only with my third eye but even with my human eyes. I don’t want to see tigers; I would prefer seeing a lion and two baby lions roaring and roaring. The lion represents divine realisation and divine manifestation. The lion takes the divine side and the tiger takes the asura side, the undivine side. All the ashrams are in danger, and you must tell all of them what I have said today.”

“So this also applies to those of us who live in your main ashram,” said one disciple.

“Yes,” said the Master. “I am equally dissatisfied with you. This ashram may be superior to other ashrams, but your superiority is no indication of my satisfaction with you. No ashram can rest on the laurels of confidence. The same rules apply here as elsewhere.

“This brings me to another point. Although this community is superior, I allow other ashrams quite often to mix with you. But when that happens, the other disciples have to know that they are mixing with their elder brothers. At the same time they should not try to surpass their elder brothers by hook or by crook. In a secret way they sometimes come near you people, kick you and try in a very undivine way to surpass you, and then they go. If one wants to be equal or superior to his sisters and brothers, he should adopt divine means, and in a divine way come close to them and then go beyond.”

“Is there really so much difference between your different ashrams?” asked one young man.

“Each ashram has certain characteristics of its own. This oldest ashram has everything from the highest to the lowest. It has the height and, again, it has the breadth. Sometimes in multiplicity, however, you have tremendous problems. Recently, I was speaking about uniformity, but I don’t want to have a military-like uniformity in the ashrams. Each ashram has some good qualities; so also do the disciples. I concentrate on each one’s good quality and try to bring it forward. It is not that I will take one person’s good quality and try to make it everyone’s good quality. No, I will approach you through your good qualities and somebody else through his good qualities. That is the right approach; the other kind of uniformity is useless.”

The Master paused, and said softly, “Even now I am seeing a tiger and two baby tigers. It is up to you to make me see a lion instead. One day you will all become divine lions, roaring lions, to manifest the absolute Supreme.”

“Please tell us how we can best make progress in whatever ashram we live in,” asked one disciple. “We know we are full of weaknesses and imperfections.”

“By telling me a million times in letters or in person that you are impure, insecure, unworthy, and so forth, you can never become pure, secure and divine in every sense of the term,” the Master explained. “Only by working hard both inwardly and outwardly can you become what you want to be.

“There are some disciples in other ashrams — I can count them on my fingertips — who because of their divine approach to me are really as good as the disciples in my older ashram. But in a large family it is very difficult to keep all the members on the same level. I thought all the disciples of this ashram would run very fast. But with some of the disciples I made a mistake. They really should be in one of the new ashrams. You may challenge me and ask why I took them, but I will say that at that time my compassion operated and I was dealing with possibility. But before possibility becomes a divine reality, undivine forces may capture and devour it. Anyway, I take full blame.”

“Master,” said the disciples, “it is your supreme humility and oneness that takes the blame for our shortcomings. Your unparalleled Compassion makes you great and good. It is we who have to live up to your Compassion. ”

“Each soul has its own potentiality, its own capacity,” the Master continued. “Suppose I ask the eldest in the family to lift a heavy load; I have asked him to do something within his capacity. I will not ask the youngest to do the same thing because he is small; I will not expect him to carry the same heavy load. Also, one individual may take my request as a command and another individual will take my request as an illumination coming from some higher part of himself. So I have to know each individual.

“What is the best way to feel that your request is coming from our own highest self?” asked one young woman.

“When my right hand speaks to my left hand and vice versa,” the Master said, “will the left hand feel that the request from the right hand is an imposition? No, because the right hand and the left hand have established their oneness. So the left hand will gladly accept instructions from the right hand and the right hand will gladly accept instructions from the left hand.

“Of course, I will expect only so much from the ashram which is younger in capacity. For example, it is impossible for one of the newest ashrams to fulfil the demands, expectations that I have for you. But if this ashram does not fulfil my inner demands, I am absolutely sad, miserable.”

“Master,” said the ashram secretary, “We are grateful for your frankness with us. This talk has illumined and inspired us. On behalf of the disciples of this community and of all your other ashrams, I pray for your grace so that we can make the fastest progress, inwardly and outwardly.”

The disciples’ gifts

There was once a spiritual Master in India who had hundreds of spiritual children who loved him very dearly. Many of his disciples lived in different parts of the world, but on every plane — physical, vital, mental, psychic — they tried to establish their oneness with the Master. What they needed — Peace, Light and Bliss — their Master gave them. Out of their gratitude they offered themselves to the mission. They thought of their Master’s needs on every plane. They gave their inner and outer loyalty, their dedicated service and their financial help. They felt that the father will give what he has and the daughters and sons will give what they have.

One day a disciple who had been with the Master for three years came to the Master’s home looking very sad. “Master forgive me,” the young man said. “I feel that I have been making a serious mistake since I became your disciple.”

“What is the matter, my son?” asked the Master kindly.

“Master,” said the disciple, “when it is a matter of spiritual need, it is mutual; I feel that I need you and you need me. But when it is a matter of your personal needs or the needs of the mission, unfortunately I don’t think of you at all. I think only of myself. Please tell me how to identify myself with you and your mission on every plane.”

“Please ask me any questions you have, my child,” said the Master. “I shall try to throw light on them.”

“Sometimes I wonder, Master,” the young man said, “why you have entered into so many outer activities. Is it necessary?”

“The Supreme in me inspired me to write poems, and I listened to Him. Then He inspired me to do paintings; I will do this also. Tomorrow if He inspires me to be a sculptor, that also I will do. If people who are following my path have faith in me, they will feel that these activities are another way in which we can inspire ourselves and inspire others. If they are not good disciples, they will say that in the name of the Supreme I am only parading myself and showing off paintings which they feel are useless.”

“Oh, Master,” said the disciple, “I love your paintings. I hope that one day you will agree to let us buy some.”

The Master continued. “To outsiders my paintings are of absolutely no value. They would probably never want to buy them. In your case, however, you want to buy my paintings. Now, when you buy my paintings, you regard them as more than just paintings. You see them as something that your Guru did, as something of his. You treasure my consciousness and you see that something of my consciousness is in the paintings. Of course, you also treasure my books, but thousands of copies can be made of my books, whereas my paintings have only one original. Then the rest are prints.

“Now your Guru is going to brag a little. Right now, as an artist I am unknown. But do you think that I will remain unknown forever? It is not my promise, it is the promise of the Supreme that your Guru will be known all over the world as an artist. I am telling you, after ten years, twenty years, forty years or long after I am dead and gone, I will be known. As a spiritual Master I will be known, as an artist I will be known, as a writer I will be known, as a poet I will be known. But it will take God alone knows how many years.”

“Master,” said the young man, “in my eyes you are already a great artist, a great writer. I am very inspired now to serve you in all aspects of your manifestation.”

The Master gave the disciple a gentle smile. “In as many ways as possible please try to serve the mission. A disciple may feel that if he does good meditation that is enough. Aspiration is enough, dedication he doesn’t need. This is what he may feel. But this is the wrong attitude. Or someone may help us in his own way and buy us things that he thinks we need. Then he feels that he has done enough and he does not do any selfless service. But this is the wrong approach.”

“Master, I understand your philosophy, I am very inspired to do dedicated service, but unfortunately I do not have much capacity when it is a matter of love-offering.”

“Son, don’t worry. Just offer in whatever way you can. When disciples give me something, I know some give according to their capacity and some give according to their willingness. In your case, I know you are giving according to your capacity, but you have to know that your willingness may at one point go beyond your capacity. Again, someone’s willingness may be far below his capacity.”

“What do you mean, Master?” the young man asked.

“I will tell you an incident,” replied the Master, “that happened very recently in one of our Centres. One of our divine disciples, who everybody always calls crazy, had forty-three dollars and some change. Look at this fellow! After the meeting he was going to put forty-three dollars in the love-offering and keep only the change to pay the toll when he drove home. I said no, but he said, ‘I don’t need money. I will get my salary very soon and I can eat free because I work at one of the Divine Enterprises. I said, ‘No, you can’t do this. When are you going to get your salary?’ He said ‘In a day or two.’ Then I said, ‘You can put in thirty-three dollars but I won’t allow forty-three’. Look at his heart! He had forty-three dollars and some change and he wanted to give forty-three. I am not telling you to do this. Far from it. I am just telling an incident about how far the heart goes. Again, if somebody has forty-three dollars and some change, it may happen that forty-three dollars will go home with him in his pocket and the change will be put in the love-offering box. So if there is no willingness, we give just so we will not be embarrassed.”

“Will my capacity to dedicate myself ever increase?” asked the young man.

“Capacity comes from necessity,” answered the Master. “Whose necessity? Your necessity and my necessity. If your necessity is to serve the Supreme in me — as it is my necessity — then capacity comes on the strength of your love and concern for me. If you are getting two hundred dollars a week and if you do not have to support someone, you know that your capacity is more than, say, five dollars a month.

“You know, my child,” continued the Master, “that I am not going to buy a helicopter or open up a steel factory or something like that. We are trying to spread our light, the Light of the Supreme, and for that I have to go to different places. Will an airline let me fly for free if I tell them I will give them Peace, Light and Bliss? No, we have to give them what they want.”

“Also, sometimes necessity demands money. If a Centre head is extremely devoted, very dedicated, but does not get any attention from me on the physical plane, then the Centre head must come to see me at least once a year. Some of the Centre heads in foreign lands serve us like anything, trying so desperately to spread the little light that I have. And if they are very poor and cannot afford to visit us, is it not my duty to bring them here to our main family? So I do help some of the Centre heads and also some of the individual disciples who are extremely, extremely, extremely devoted to the Centre and to the mission. There are some disciples who are very close to me inwardly when it is a matter of praying, meditating and serving the Supreme in me. Now, if they have financial difficulty, is it not my duty to bring them here?

“They will do everything for me and then, if they want to come and just see what we are doing here, will I say, ‘No I can’t help you?’ I am telling you frankly; these are the things that we have to do to run a mission. And there are constant calamities: people are sick, they have accidents, they have done things wrong. Here, there, they need money. It is just like feeding hundreds of elephants. And where does the money come from? It comes from you people, from those who love me.”

The disciple said, “Master, I understand fully. Thank you for illumining me. Your generous heart overwhelms me! I never knew how much care and concern you have for all your Centres. Now, may I ask you one more question?”

“Certainly, my son.”

“I love giving you gifts, even if it is just a ballpoint pen. Do you like my humble gifts, Master?”

“My child,” the Master said kindly, “Do you know of any material thing that will add to your inner experience if you are having a very high, sublime meditation? At that time, do you think that if you wear your most beautiful suit it will add to your immediate experience or realisation? Far from it. I think I have realised God. Do you think any material thing on earth will add to my God-realisation? Far from it, far from it! Still, I wish to say that I do welcome your material gifts. Do you know why?”

“Please tell me, Master.”

“Let us say you give me a ballpoint pen. I have literally hundreds of ballpoints, but when I touch yours, I do not see the ballpoint; I see your soul, I see your love for me, I see your oneness with me. As soon as I touch the gift, I immediately know who has given it. I see the soul, I see my oneness with the person. True, oneness is already there, but it is as if the oneness with the individual is renewed. If you give me a T-shirt or a pair of socks, no matter what you give, I don’t see a piece of cloth or the object itself. I see only you — your love for me, your concern for me — you as an individual who wants to please me according to your capacity, according to your understanding or according to your own necessity.”

The disciple shook his head in disbelief. “One ballpoint does all that, Master?”

The Master smiled. “Your material gift may cost only one dollar but it can establish or strengthen your oneness. Or you may give me something just to see me smile. For a disciple to see his Guru smile is the greatest thing. When you give me something, think that when I touch it I will immediately give a smile. Who gets the smile, my blessingful smile? Not the ballpoint, but your soul, which is inside my loving heart. Immediately your soul comes to me. It is like a child coming to the father with a flower. The child jumps in front of the father, saying, ‘I have come, I have come.’ And the father says, ‘My child, come; come talk to me, sit beside me.’

“In my case often I’m not able to thank you outwardly. But do you think that I am not grateful to you? Do you think I am not proud of you? The moment I touch what you have given me, my gratitude enters into you, gratitude because you think of me, because you really love me in your own way.”

“Master, isn’t it best to love you in your own way?”

“Yes, my son, but before someone can love me in my own way, there is only one way to love me and that is in his own way. Today you love me in your own way. Tomorrow you will love me in my more illumined way. But you have to start somewhere. If you don’t start at least in your own way, then what are you going to do? Today you do the thing that you feel is best. Tomorrow you will try to know what I feel is best for your life, and then you will try that.”

The young man bowed to his Master. “You are my ever-compassionate friend and Master. Thank you, thank you, thank you for illumining me.”

The heavy load

One morning after meditation a certain spiritual Master asked his disciples to meditate for two more minutes and then come up to him one by one with their most soulful smile. The Master sat in a chair in his backyard and as each one came before him, he gave him a mark according to his smile. Some people got as low as forty out of one hundred. More than seventy the Master could not give, although he had expected at least one or two to get one hundred. Then he told all the disciples that they could get one hundred out of one hundred if they could smile from the soul. The Master then showed them how they should smile, placing his hand on his heart. One or two disciples started crying and weeping because they did not give a good smile. But the Master said to them, “That is very childish. If you did not do well, so what? Next time you will do better. Just by your crying you won’t be able to get one hundred. It is only in the ordinary school that if you do not do well in your examination that you can go crying to the teacher and persuade him to let you pass. Let me tell you something about one of my disciples. She once told me that after she failed in an examination, she went crying to the teacher and the teacher was kind enough to let her pass. Such a brilliant-student!”

“Please tell us, Master,” said a young man, “how to smile soulfully.”

The Master explained, “You have to feel that if you can’t smile, you have not committed a Himalayan crime, a Himalayan blunder. As children, we learn how to walk only after repeated falls. We stumble and then we get up again. We become a fast runner after losing the race many times. We become good wrestlers by being defeated many times.

“If you can’t smile soulfully today, no harm. Try at least to feel the presence of your heart. The soul is very deep within, true. But easily you can feel the heart. As soon as you place your hand over your heart, you know that it is there. Try to feel inside your heart the living presence of the Supreme. For now, do not go deep within to see or feel the soul, where the Supreme is actually located. Just feel your heartbeat where the life-breath is, and there try to feel the presence of the Supreme. Feel that it is there that the dearest, the sweetest, the only Beloved is. Now, if you show a smile to your dearest and sweetest Beloved, what kind of smile will that be? Automatically a soulful smile will come forward, and this is the soul’s smile. Then the Supreme will be inwardly pleased with you.”

The Master then turned to one of his youngest disciples and said, “Now, this is a serious matter. Please, please smile. This is my most earnest request. You are the only person who doesn’t smile. I am telling you with utmost affection, kindness and love that this is not good. Please smile; otherwise, I will feel very sad. From now on, always try to smile.”

The young girl, who still had a very serious and sad look on her face, said, “What if I don’t feel like smiling, Master?”

“Even it you can’t smile sincerely, at least give me a false smile. I will see through your false smile; I will know that it is false. But that is the way you can start. You can start by giving me a false smile and from there you will go to a sincere smile. It is like this. Before our spiritual life began, we were in the life of desire. Now we have entered into the spiritual life and we see that the life of desire is false, so we give it up. But if we had not started with the desire-life, we would have been like stones — in the stone-consciousness. People who do not have any desire at all and, at the same time, do not aspire, are just like the wall here, with no spark of life at all. They are worse than those who at least have desire. So if one cannot aspire, at least he should live in the desire-world. So, if you cannot smile sincerely, at least give me a false smile.”

The Master blessed his young disciple. Then he turned to the rest of the disciples and said, “Some of you always show me a sad, depressed face, as if I have done something wrong. You act as though I have taken away all your joy and delight and divine qualities, or you are sad because you are not getting the qualities or things that you want. But both ways of thinking are mistaken. If you want to have divine qualities, then certainly you will have them. You are praying and meditating and you are bound to be fulfilled, but each thing has its own time. The farmer does not get a bumper crop immediately; but he plants the seeds and then he waits for the divine Grace that is called water. Then, after some time he gets a crop and his desire is fulfilled.

“Then, you have to know that nothing will be taken away from you. If you have something, I do not take it away. A great spiritual Master was once accused of taking away his disciples’ experiences and all that. His disciples said to him, ‘Master, when we tell you about our experiences, we don’t get them any more. You must be taking them away.’

“So the Master said, ‘Look, you eat a very, very tiny fish and I eat the largest fish. He who can eat the largest fish will not care for the tiny fish. So don’t worry, I won’t eat your fish. I will eat only my fish, which is very big. And one day, when you are able to eat that kind of fish, I will give it to you.’”

“Master, I think that some people think they can please the Supreme or please you by showing a solemn face,” said one disciple.

“It is a very wrong attitude if you think that by showing me a sad, depressed face that you will make progress,” explained the Master. “You only draw my attention, and this is very wrong. Sympathetic attention and blessingful joy and pride are totally different. Those who smile feel that they have accomplished something. They feel that they are on the right path or in the right boat, and that they are doing well. They know that the boatman is there, and even if they cannot appreciate fully the capacity, the concern, the blessings of the boatman, no harm. As long as they are in the boat they feel secure, and this is why they smile.

“So always try to be cheerful. If you are cheerful in the spiritual life, your cheerfulness will be your strength. In your cheerfulness you get determined will, inner courage. But if you are depressed, you have to feel that you have placed a very heavy load right on your shoulders. Then what happens? You put it right in front of me. The mission is going forward, but each time an individual becomes sad and depressed, he is like a heavy load, an obstacle that I have to remove in order to go on. Then, after we remove this obstacle and take one more step, another disciple becomes depressed. Today it is you, tomorrow somebody else, the day after tomorrow a third person. This is going on, going on. Depression has become a contagious disease. Each time we start walking I see very, very heavy loads right in front of us. This is not good at all and it is you who are doing it.”

“Do these heavy loads affect other disciples as well?” asked one young woman.

“Yes,” answered the Master. “When you are sad and depressed, others who are also inside my heart become miserable because they see that you are delaying their progress. They feel miserable because they see with their soul’s light that somebody is blocking the path. Today you are blocking it, tomorrow somebody else is. This depression has to be conquered; otherwise, feel that you are consciously and deliberately standing in everybody’s way.”

“Is this one of our main problems, Master?” asked a young boy.“Jealousy you can conquer. Depression you can conquer. Doubt you can conquer. But what is actually bothering most of the disciples here, especially the young girls and boys, is depression. I must say that the girls, especially know how to be depressed. With them it goes on, like a relay race: ‘Now for a few hours I shall be depressed, then you start.’ After you have played your role, another will start. This is not good. So dearest ones, no depression from now on. Let us not be depressed. Be happy! If you cherish depression, then tomorrow you will leave my boat. I am millions of miles away when you are depressed. Only my compassion is there, which you are exploiting like anything. Please show me your soulful smile. Then my blessingful pride and gratitude you are bound to feel.”

The disciples’ love-power

There was once a very great spiritual Master who had quite a few disciples. Many of them lived together in an ashram at the foot of the Himalayas. Although the men and women disciples mixed together quite often in ashram activities, there were many activities that they did separately. On certain days the cooks in the ashram would all be men, and on certain days the cooks would be all women. A number of disciples sometimes spent their evenings in selfless service craft projects, but the men worked in one group and the women worked in another group. And so it went on. The Master felt that his disciples would make better progress if the men and women did not mix together too freely.

The men and women were very happy to listen to their Master’s advice. But sometimes the women became jealous of the men or the men became jealous of the women. At those times the Master gave a long discourse on the matter that was bothering them.

One day the Master gathered a group of his men disciples together and said, “I have been hearing from people that you men are making deplorable and false accusations. Whether it is unconscious or conscious, you feel that your wives or other women can love me more than you. You feel that way because I am a man and it is spontaneous and natural for a woman to offer love to a man. You feel it is a feminine love, and that a man cannot have this kind of devotion.

“I wish to tell you that you are totally mistaken! It is not true that women can more easily offer love to me because it is more spontaneous for them. Disciples who are all love for their Master love him because he is their Master, not because he is a man. Sri Chaitanya’s dearest disciple was all love and he was a man. Ramakrishna’s closest disciple was Vivekananda, a man; Sri Aurobindo’s dearest disciple was a man; Sri Krishna’s dearest disciple was Arjuna, a man; the Buddha’s dearest disciple was Ananda, a man. All men! ”

“How is it that they conquered the hearts of their Masters?” one of the disciples asked.

The Master smiled and said, “Through love, through devotion, through surrender. When you say it is difficult for you to offer love to your Master and that it is easy for your wife to offer love to the Master, you have to know that you have the same power to love that your wife has. Love is not the monopoly of women. God has also given men this quality of divine love. The only thing is that a man ignores this divine quality in himself while, at the same time, he demands it from others, especially from women. You don’t use your love-power, your heart-power. You use more of your vital power aspect — your ego — than your love aspect. That is why the women are making faster progress.

“When I was much younger,” the Master continued, “I lived in the ashram of Sri Ananda. I had a few sincere, absolutely dedicated admirers among the men. They were all ten or twelve years younger than I, but I tell you, the love that they showed me then, that they show me even now, is beyond your imagination. They are Sri Ananda’s disciples in this incarnation, so they can’t accept me as their Master. But if they could, I assure you that their love and devotion would show you that your belief in this matter is absolutely false!”

“Guru did the men and women mix together very much when you were at Sri Ananda’s ashram?” another disciple asked.

“Not at all! I didn’t have any friends at all among the women. I didn’t have anything other than my life of aspiration and inner discipline. My sisters can’t believe it now when they see me talk to women. They say ‘Impossible! Here you stayed for twenty years and you didn’t speak to any girl.’ Even with my sisters I would not speak in public except on rare occasions. I wouldn’t even walk with my sisters in the street. Only during the last three or four years before I left did I speak to them freely.”

One of the younger men listening to the Master then asked, “Do disciples in some of your ashrams in other countries have more love for you than we do?”

The Master said, “At my ashram in Puerto Rico I believe we have five or six girls and about thirty young boys. If you go to Puerto Rico you will see what love is. You ask Manju. She visited there just last year and saw how those young boys — twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two years of age — have such love for me. She has seen how her Puerto Rican brothers and sisters love me unreservedly. Ten months of the year I stay here with you and hardly two months I stay there. What makes those young boys stay on our path? It is their love for me.”

“Why do we find it so difficult to love you, Master?” one of the older disciples asked.

“Why? If you go to the root you will have the answer: obedience is lacking. Those who have no obedience will never love me. If you don’t have inner and outer obedience, you will never be able to develop love for me. If you don’t have any love for your Master, then you have to feel that you are a failure on his path. My path is one of love, devotion and surrender. If you people don’t have love, how can you expect to be able to follow my path? If you can’t step on the first rung of the ladder, how are you going to step on the second rung, devotion, and on the third and ultimate rung, surrender?

“If you obey me and listen to me, you have to feel that this is what the divinity within you wants and needs. I knock at the door of your inner divinity, but it doesn’t come to the fore; it is still fast asleep. When I try to open the door, a tremendous reluctance — an unwilling, obstinate feeling — is what I receive. So, my sweet children, please try to cultivate your love aspect, your devotion aspect, for it is only through love and devotion that your own inner divinity will be awakened. And inside your divinity the Supreme, who is your real Guru, is looming large.”

The Master then called each of his men disciples up to him one by one and, placing his hand on their chests, filled their hearts with love. Many burst into tears, touching his feet and all were deeply moved. Then, with one final smile that touched each disciple in his innermost self, the Master slowly rose and walked away.

The disciples’ married life

One hundred years ago in India there lived a very wise spiritual Master who accepted both men and women as disciples. The Master encouraged both the single disciples and the married couples to run the fastest in the inner life. Those who were single could run like deer, he said; those who were married could feel that they had two hearts, two souls, four legs, four arms to help them make the fastest progress.

One afternoon the Master gathered all his married disciples around him. “I wish to make something very, very clear to you all,” he began. “For the last two and a half years I have been receiving letters from some of you about having children. And in the inner world some of you have been begging me to allow you to have children. Sometimes even right after a marriage has taken place, you approach me inwardly and beg me to allow you to have children. For your own good, all this time I have been pleading with your souls and with your emotional vitals not to have children. But what good does it do? Still you write me letters or beg me inwardly.”

“But Master,” said one young man, who had recently joined the ashram, “why do you not wish us to have children?”

The Master gave this disciple a gentle smile. “I have said many times why I do not wish my disciples to have children at this particular time. You can ask some of the others afterwards. The only thing is that when you have children, I know definitely that you will not be able to meditate or concentrate on the Supreme in me as you otherwise would have done. Sometimes I cut jokes with some of the mothers about how their children are their gods. But I tell you there is truth in what I say. During a twenty-four hour period, how many times does a mother think of God and how many times does she think of her child? All the times she thinks only of her child. Her child is her Supreme.”

The young man’s wife looked puzzled. She said, “Master, does that mean that you want us never to have children?”

“I never tell anybody that he or she cannot have children at all during this lifetime. If you say I don’t want you ever to have children, I will be the first person to deny that. But some of you have entered into the spiritual life without a spiritual background. If for a few years you can assimilate divine light, peace and power, then when you do have children, you will be better able to guide them. When you were ready for marriage, I told you. So please feel that when you are ready to have children, I will also discuss that with you.

“Two years ago I told all the married couples to wait for two or three years before having children. I thought that you would make considerable progress during these two years. If you people had really made very fast progress in the past few years, it would have been wonderful for you to have children. But now I am seeing that the progress I had expected you to make has not been made. This is my real sorrow. It is still my hope that you will make that kind of progress.

“The love that you are offering to the Supreme in me will never remain the same if you have children at this stage of your development. After four or five or ten years, if you have made considerable progress, then if you have children, perhaps you will be able to still maintain the same love for the Supreme in me, because for twenty-four hours your mind will be thinking of me.”

“Master,” one young woman said, “it seems that you have spoken to us many times about this, but still we don’t seem to understand your philosophy.”

“Two years ago I warned all of you not to have children,” said the Master. “Yet that very night some people were begging me in the inner world to be allowed to have children. Can you believe it! Two hours I had spent talking to you about this, and this is the kind of obedience I get. In one case I told the parents that I would throw them out of the ashram if they had children. They did not listen to me, but my compassion is more powerful than my justice-light. It is my compassion that has the power to illumine the disciples.”

Then the Master turned to the couple who had disobeyed him. “How much you have suffered only through this one act of disobedience. Sometimes I don’t even ask you why you are so sad, because I know that something inside you has told you the reason, and talking about it on the outer plane will not help. I don’t blame you, but when I look at your face inwardly, I cry. I fully forgive you for the mistake you have made. Here is the father’s compassion when the son and daughter have done something wrong. But if you had listened to me, how happy you would be now.

“I have told you and your wife to do many things which you have not done. There has been much outer disobedience, and in the inner world every couple has disobeyed me. For the last eight or nine months both of you have been suffering like anything. You may think God does not feel sad. This is not true; He does feel sad. Outwardly, even if I give both of you interviews, I won’t be able to help because it will only pass from one ear out the other ear. ”

The Master turned to the rest of the couples. “How much these parents are suffering. They love each other wholeheartedly and purely but the children pull them this way and that way, not allowing them to go on loving each other in the same way. How they suffer! Who is the cause? The child, who needs attention, attention, attention. No matter how sincerely and devotedly you want to please a child, he won’t be pleased. Yet this child has the message of God. Why can’t he be pleased? Because you don’t have enough light, peace, poise and other divine qualities. That is why these problems arise. To raise a child is a most, most difficult thing to do. It is only a little less difficult than God-realisation. ”

“It is true,” the husband said sadly. “What the disciples see is only the good part of having children. At the ashram, when the children come with the parents to the meditation hall, they see the joy and see you blessing the children. But the hard times with the children they don’t see. And there is much more work and hard times than joy.”

The Master said, “A child brings a piece of candy to the father and the father is so proud. But the father knows that the child can also bring him a heavy load to carry. Bringing a child into the world is a very serious matter. It is most difficult. Some of you are not in a position to settle your own life. Some people have strange ideas that when they are called ‘Mother,’ they will be something — they will be secure because somebody is crying for them. But they become more insecure. They are already helpless and with children they become more helpless. After consciously accepting the spiritual life, if you expect your children to be divine, then you must work very hard to help them.”

“But Master,” asked a young woman, “isn’t it necessary to have children to keep the ashram growing?”

“No, my daughter,” said the Master. “Last month I had a terrible fight with one mother on the phone. Why? Her daughter is still just a child, yet she wants me to marry her to someone. I was simply furious. I said, ‘I am your spiritual father; I show you such affection. Is this the time for your young daughter to get married?’ The mother feels that when her daughter gets married, she can have spiritual children for the ashram. I told her that on Mother Earth there are countless souls who won’t accept the spiritual life, and they will provide the world with new souls. So she doesn’t have to worry. Right now we do not want to increase the number for the sake of the number.

“Hundreds of times I have given my philosophy, but either you are unable or unwilling to listen to me. inwardly and outwardly you beg me and beg me to allow you to have children. I have tried and tried, but it does no good.

“But this is all in the past, and the past is dust. Today I am giving all of you permission to have children. From today, if you have children I will not be displeased. I give you full sanction. If you feel that with children you will have the capacity to run as fast as you are now running, or if you feel that in some way you can maintain nearly the same speed, or even if you fall far behind, I will still claim you as my disciples. But don’t blame me if you begin to have problems. I give the responsibility to you. After you have children, if you say that your attention is roaming or staying only with your children, and if you don’t make as fast progress in your spiritual life and you fail to maintain your inner height, then please do not come to me at that time.

“So, dear ones, you have to know what kind of progress you want to make. If you do have children, I will never be angry with you. But I tell you, sooner or later, you will come to realise that you were making more progress without them. When you are in dazzling light, you don’t appreciate the light. But when you go out of the ashram to the office, then you appreciate the meditative mood you find here. Only when you are with unaspiring people do you fully appreciate aspiring people.

“So I give the responsibility to you. If you feel that you won’t mind going slowly, no harm. But if you want children just to bring more people into the ashram, I wish to say that long before your children grow up, I will no longer be on earth. I am not going to stay on earth indefinitely, because the suffering I am going through only I know. Have children, but if you do not make progress, I will say nothing. With regard to that particular part of your existence I will be totally indifferent.”

“Couldn’t children create a more brotherly and sisterly feeling between husband and wife?” asked one of the husbands.

“In most cases'” explained the Master, “I have told the married couples to restrict their vital life. Because you are using your will-power, you increase your will-power. If you can restrict yourself, in restriction is freedom. Then, when your desire diminishes, ultimately the attitude is one of brotherly-sisterly feeling. Right now, see how much you can curb the need of your vital. As you purify and minimise it, then automatically in time you come closer to establishing a brotherly or sisterly feeling.”

“Master,” a newly married young man asked, “if we do decide we would like to have children, is it true that you can go into the soul’s world and bring down a special soul to be born into our family?”

“I have done this in the past,” the Master replied, “and now I am trying to help these souls. But I will no longer guarantee that I will bring down a soul for the parents.

“A spiritual Master can do many things, if it is the Will of the Supreme. In one case, the Supreme asked me to change the sex of a baby. Can you imagine? In a tiny room near the mother’s room, such occult power I had to use! I won’t tell you why, but the Supreme wanted this for a special reason. And the person is not even a close disciple.

“But these are all stories,” the Master said, smiling. “You can call them cock-and-bull stories. ”

“Master,” asked an older man, “do many of your unmarried disciples want to get married?”

“Unfortunately, some of the unmarried boys and girls think only of the married couples. The grass is always greener on the other side. The unmarried girls envy the married girls and the married girls envy the unmarried girls. I always say that if you remain unmarried, you can run like a deer. But in some cases, when people remain unmarried, they don’t make any progress at all. Their mind roams and they think absolutely the worst type of undivine things. But when they marry, at least some purity enters into them on the gross physical plane. The mind, the vital, the body have a faithfulness now; the consciousness has become faithful. Now, is that not progress? So marriage has helped them in that way. ”

“Could you explain a little further?” one young woman asked.

“Before you only thought of other girls or boys, but now when your mind roams, you immediately think, ‘What will my husband or my wife think of me?’ Suppose the wife prepares a nice breakfast for the husband or says something nice. If the husband’s mind starts to roam, at that moment the good thing that the wife has done will come forward. Before, who was there to guard? So all of you have really made progress in this way. Again, there are some disciples who do not need marriage and are trying in another way to make this same kind of progress. So, you have made progress; now if you don’t want to complicate your life, don’t have children.”

“What about mixing with other men and women once you are married?” asked one woman.

“Indians have done many silly things,” the Master said, “but God gave them some sense. In an Indian family, husband and wife try to go everywhere together. If the wife is not there, the husband pretends he is sick and vice versa. They are doing the right thing, for in this way they are keeping the family close. Otherwise, unconscious irritation begins. Why do you have to create this kind of uneasiness in your wife’s life or your husband’s life? Whom do you have to please most? If you feel that you have to please your husband most or your wife most, good. Become one with each other and then try to please me most. Ultimately, it is the Supreme in me whom you have to please most. I want you to be together and become one. If you cannot become one, if you are quarrelling and fighting all the time, then you are pleasing no one. If together you can please me, however, on that day you can please even your worst enemy.

“The human mind is full of suspicion, I tell you. So what happens if married women mix too much with unmarried or married men? If you are a husband mixing with someone else’s wife, your wife will not read your heart to see whether you have the capacity to have a friendship on a brotherly level, and she has every right to suspect you. The same is true when a wife is mixing with someone else’s husband. If you mix with others, unconsciously you are making problems for the other married partner. Mixing may not bring you down from your spiritual height, because you know you are pure. But if your husband or wife observes you, in his or her weaker moments he may be full of suspicion. So if you have to mix, mix when you are together.

“In the inner world I sometimes get complaints from the husband that the wife was unfaithful and vice versa. I feel these are such delicate situations both outwardly and inwardly. That is why I am telling you this today. Why create problems? You know that you can mix with others, but there should be a limit.”

“Master,” another disciple asked, “will you take responsibility for more divine marriages?”

“On the contrary,” said the Master, “in the future I will relinquish my responsibility for divine marriages. These have given me the pain of ten incarnations. I have been trying through the divine marriages to do something new which other Masters didn’t allow. Some Masters have said women are not meant for discipleship and the spiritual life because they are earthbound. Then, there was one spiritual Master, a woman, who said that all men are vulgar. She believed that women definitely have their part to play in spirituality.

“Sometimes it’s necessary to talk like this. Each time I speak like this to a group, immediately everybody’s consciousness goes up. Forgiveness was long ago granted. The next thing to do is to keep the consciousness as high as possible. Now, I wish all the couples to act like heroes. If you utilise marriage properly, under my guidance you will have four eyes, four hands. But you don’t. Instead you are killing each other, and while killing each other, you are aiming arrows at my heart. And they really stick there.”

The Master paused. “I have all hope in my spiritual children. But as you expect things from me, I also have high expectations of you. You have given me much and I have given you much. But there is no end to our giving. So let us try to please each other in every way.”

The Master then became silent and entered into meditation for a few minutes. Afterwards, he called each of the married couples up to him and blessed them.