The Master's poetry: quantity or quality?1There was a great spiritual Master who was very well known both for his spiritual height and for his literary capacity. The Master had published innumerable books of essays, short stories, plays and poems, which were read and appreciated by his disciples and followers, as well as by spiritual seekers throughout the world. One day a poet-disciple of the Master came to him after reading the Master’s latest volume of poetry.
“Master, you know that I have always been a great admirer of the poet in you. You have written thousands of poems, and still it seems that your creativity will never end. But I know, Master, that it is your spiritual height that is the source of your poetic achievements. For a long time I have wanted to learn about poetry and poetic style from the spiritual point of view. Also, although you write primarily for the seeker in us, I would like to know how the critic in us should read your poetry.”
“Son, first let us define what we mean by style. If it is a matter of metre or poetic rhythm, then I wish to say I knew and still know English metre extremely well. In my earlier poems written in India, I was extremely faithful and devoted to English metre. But each poet has a way of expressing his inner experience, his inner vision; so each one has a style of his own. Right now, living in America, the freedom-loving country, I have begun to take advantage of this ideal of freedom. I now write in a modern style, having discarded the so-called English metrical style that I once used. My present style, though, will not fit into any set pattern, such as the one in which the modern world writes, or what you may call ultra-modern style. I am not able to write in this kind of style.
“About the quantity, my son, I wish to tell you that I will go on writing and writing because the Supreme has promised me that He will be responsible for the quality of my poetry. Since He has told me this, and I believe Him, I shall continue to write. It is my responsibility to create and to offer my creation, and it is His responsibility to inspire excellence in my creation, since He is creating in and through me. If inspiration to write in quantity comes, in one day I may write 360 poems. If it does not come, it may take three or four weeks for me to write the same number. On my last lecture tour, I wrote 1,000 poems in three weeks, apart from giving one and sometimes two talks a day, meeting with disciples, and flying from one country to another. Even during the hours and hours we spent driving in the car, we maintained silence, and I went on writing and writing.”
“Master, what is most amazing is that, with you, quantity and quality seem to go together.”
“As I said before, my son, since it is the Will of the Supreme, I will not refrain from writing and, while I am writing, the Supreme will pay attention to my quality. I have a certain standard of my own. When I write poems, only on very, very rare occasions do they fall below that standard. Otherwise, the poet in me and the critic in me constantly go together; my vision and my justice go together.
“Now, when we come to the question of criticism, we have to be very careful. It is true that there must be some kind of standard, literary or otherwise, but very often critics say things just for the sake of criticising, to make themselves feel important or great. How many great poets, not to speak of others who have gained world-renown, have been mercilessly destroyed by world criticism that was absolutely undeserved. These men may have contributed significantly to Mother Earth, but by its merciless criticism the world has destroyed their lives. The world’s jealousy, doubt, suspicion, self-importance and other undivine qualities have been thrown at many great poets, artists, writers and others, and because of this kind of negative pressure, some of them developed serious diseases and died.
“India’s greatest poet, Tagore, also fell victim to merciless criticism, especially before he won the Nobel Prize for his poetry. The critics could see no value, no meaning, in much of his work. They said it was all absurdity. But when Tagore won the Nobel Prize, the same critics who had previously seen nothing in his poems suddenly found that they were full of significance and contained unparalleled height and depth.
“God knows how many thousands more of poems I shall write if I stay on earth for a number of years. My children will have to bear with me. Some of them may be sick of my poems, I know; but I shall make them even more sick. Some of my disciples never fall sick, though, because they have not tasted this undivine fruit. They are really clever and wise. But some who are neither clever nor wise read my poems and find it difficult to digest them all, so they suffer.”
“Master, you joke about your literary capacity, but you know well how much your disciples read and cherish your poems. We find them a great help to us in our spiritual lives. I am not sick and I will never become sick of your poetry.”
“My child, I am proud of you. True, there are disciples who read my poems and who never become sick of them because, no matter what I write, they try to mould their lives according to my words. They sincerely want to mould their lives according to my will. They feel that no matter what I am — divine or undivine — they want to be my very own. The disciples who have come to this realisation are truly pleasing me in my own way.”
AD 1. 29 July 1974.↩
The capacities of a great man2There was a spiritual Master who in his youth reached unparalleled inner heights. After a few years the Supreme asked this young Master to begin revealing and manifesting his realisation in his outer life. The Master started accepting disciples, giving lectures and holding public meditations; and as he became better known, the number of his disciples and followers grew. Yet even with his increasingly busy schedule, the Master found time to compose music, write plays and try his hand at painting and drawing. One evening the Master was talking about creativity and manifestation with a few of his close disciples.
“You know that I have recently begun painting and drawing again, as I did in my youth,” said the Master. “Although you may not see a thing in my drawings, I give them such bombastic titles that I make you feel I have brought down realisation and many other divine things into the drawings. I simply force my disciples to appreciate my drawings.”
“Master,” said one disciple smiling affectionately, “you are in a joking mood. You know that I have entered some of your earlier as well as your more recent pictures in an exhibition and a competition. Of course you are only joking, but even so, how can you say that we don’t appreciate the artist in you? We certainly do!”
“Yes, but only because you have fortunately or unfortunately accepted me as your spiritual leader,” replied the Master. Then, becoming more serious, he continued, “Although right now I am not well known as a Yogi, if or when I become very well known, not only my own disciples, but also sincere seekers who do not have Masters will hesitate to criticise me. They will say, ‘After all, he is a God-realised soul. What do we understand?’ And there is some inner truth in this attitude. Of course, disciples of other Masters will naturally criticise me because they have their own loyalties.
“Sri Krishna once said that if one really has something to offer in one field, although he may not be as great in other fields, others will not be the losers if they can appreciate what he does in those areas as well. Although from the technical point of view he may not deserve such high appreciation, his consciousness embodies something unique which others do not have. Just to be beside him, to be in his presence, is a blessing.
“It is not only what is done, but who does it that matters. Two or three times it happened that one of India’s greatest poets needed to raise millions of dollars in order to continue running his university. But how could he get the money? Although he was a famous writer, a singer, an artist — a great man in many fields — these achievements brought him practically no money. Since he desperately needed to make money, he decided to do something extraordinary. At that time he was 76 or 77 years old, but he announced that he would dance for the public. Thousands of people would immediately have gathered to watch him dance, and he could have made as much money as he needed.
“A great politician, however, happened to be his dearest admirer. These two were most intimate friends. The politician used to call the poet ‘Gurudev’, as he was known by many, many people, not for his spiritual height, but for his literary height and inner depth. The politician said, ‘Gurudev, as long as I am on earth, I won’t allow you to dance in public. Please tell me how much money you actually need.’ The poet quoted a very large amount, thinking that since his friend was a son of Mahalakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, this would be almost nothing for him to give. The politician told him that in a week he would bring him this sum. Then what did he do? He gave his poet-friend double the amount that he wanted, just to save him. Otherwise the poet would have danced, and in this way he would have raised the money. Why would people have come to see a dancer whose skill was not only unknown, but also very dubious? Just because he was a famous man in his own field.
“Although this man was not a dancer, as a poet, as a visionary, as a man of inner depth, he was really something extraordinary. Just to be in his presence, even if his dancing had been totally unskilled, would have been inspiration. His inner capacity, his inspiration and his aspiration would have elevated the consciousness of his audience. There are many really good, excellent dancers, but in the matter of inner depth or inner height they come nowhere near the standard of this poet. Of course, I am not criticising other dancers for their lack of inner depth. As artists in their own fields, they may be excellent. But because of what this beloved seer-poet had contributed in the field of poetry, because of what he was as a man, his very presence could elevate the consciousness of his admirers, although he might have been nowhere in the field of dancing. When one is really great in some field, others are not the losers if they spend a few hours with him in another field, although it may be totally foreign to his original area.”
“Master,” asked one of the disciples, “you say that when you become well known as a Yogi, people will appreciate you in other fields as well. Of course, we are your disciples, so whatever you do, we love it; we are caught by our devotion for you. But don’t people who are not in the spiritual life recognise something in you already? Don’t they see something outstanding in you?”
The Master replied, “Let me tell you about something that happened in the ashram where I stayed in my youth. A friend of mine asked me to help him with a paper he was preparing for a particular teacher. He had not been doing well in his studies. Since this was an important paper, he had worked very hard on it, and wanted me to look it over. I agreed, and I made some very minor changes; I did practically nothing. Unfortunately, he received a very low mark on the assignment, and he felt miserable that in spite of the fact that I had helped him, he had still done poorly. He blamed himself, saying that with my help he had had the opportunity to do very well, but because of his own incapacity he had failed.
“I consoled him, and said, ‘Let me take the paper and try something.’ I retyped the paper and kept it for a few months. Then, since I had once had this same teacher and I was still on very good terms with him, I asked the teacher to look over this paper of mine. He accepted the paper gladly.
“The next morning his wife invited me to their house for refreshments, and the three of us sat in their kitchen together. They lavished much affection on me, and then the teacher brought out my paper. I was surprised that he had already read it. Then he carefully went over it with me, praising it highly, saying it was one of the best papers he had ever seen. And in every one of the places where I had made a minor change for my friend, he had written ‘absurd’ and ‘all wrong’. He had circled every one of those phrases that I myself had added to the paper, calling them absurd, but he enthusiastically praised the paper as a whole.
“Now, originally I had not planned to tell my former teacher what I had done, but as I was leaving to show the paper to my friend, I changed my mind and narrated the whole story to the teacher. He did not show the least sign of surprise. He just said, ‘Look, you have to know that there is a little difference between you and your friend. There is a little difference between such an advanced soul as yourself and that particular boy.’ To him, the same article, the same ideas, meant something very different coming from me. So, my son, this teacher did see something in me, and many others have also done so.”
“Master,” said the disciple, “one day the whole world will recognise and appreciate what you are in spirituality and what you are doing in these other fields as well. In the meantime, please remember that your spiritual children love you, and we love the artist in you. I really mean it.”
The Master smiled. “Thank you, my son.”
AD 2. 29 July 1974.↩
How the Master gives experiences3There was a great spiritual Master who had only forty or fifty disciples. One day after a very high meditation, a disciple who had been with the Master for seven years stood up and said, “Master, sometimes we get very, very high inner experiences. But whenever we tell you about these spiritual experiences, we don’t get them any more. You say that we should tell our inner experiences only to you, because if we say anything about them to others, they will be jealous of us and will inwardly try to pull us down. But what happens is that when we tell others who are our fellow disciples, we still continue getting these experiences, but when we tell you about them, at that very moment our experiences come to an end.”
The Master was very sad and disturbed. He said, “Right now, the experiences that you get are like the smallest possible fish, the tiniest fish. It is wrong and absurd for you to think that when you give me your little fish, I don’t give them back but greedily devour them myself, just because I have more power than you. I don’t have to eat your little fish. I have very big fish of my own that I can eat every day.
“What you don’t know is that when you tell me about an experience, that experience enters into me as your possession, and I keep it safe. You may think that you are not getting the same experience back once you offer it to me, but that is because I am keeping it safe for you. And if you do not get further experiences of this nature, don’t think that I am jealous of you, that I have taken away your experience and will not give you any more experiences. It is only that the experience that you have received is now with me, and I am preparing you for a greater experience which will take much time and consideration. When the time comes, I will give you that experience. Then you will see the difference between the experience that you think you have lost and the experience that you have gained.”
“Forgive me, Master,” said the disciple. “Forgive my accusation. Now I understand what you are doing for us. I do not know how I could have made that kind of accusation. Forgive me. But Master, still I am a little curious. Is it true that people are always ready for the experiences that you give them? What would happen if someone was not ready for an experience? Instead of being beneficial, would it not unsettle him and perhaps even hold back his spiritual development?”
The Master explained patiently, “When one is ready for it, at that time it is good to give him an experience. When one is not yet ready, the Master can give it to him, but it will only be wasted. The nephew of one of India’s greatest spiritual Masters used to complain that he had served his uncle for so many years, yet his uncle had given him nothing. But when his uncle touched him and gave him the highest experience, his pride came forward. He said, ‘O Uncle, you and I are one.’ It was not his ultimate realisation but his pride that spoke, saying that now he didn’t have to touch his uncle’s feet, he didn’t have to bow to him or serve him. He even became angry because his uncle had so many disciples while he himself had none. His pride came to the fore, instead of the realisation of inseparable oneness, because he was not inwardly prepared for the experience he had received. But when the Master saw what his nephew was doing, he gave him back his old ordinary consciousness and saved him.
“If you do anything untimely, the experience will be useless. Instead of being beneficial, it will simply be wasted. That is why we always say that there is an hour, God’s Hour. If the father is a multimillionaire, he can give his young child all his money, but it will be wasted. When the same child grows up, however and becomes mature, if his father gives him money it will be wisely used.
“If inner wealth is given in a very large quantity, the seeker may be frightened to death. One spiritual giant in India was frightened to death when his Master gave him Nirvikalpa Samadhi. ‘What are you doing, what are you doing?’ he cried out. Immediately he thought of his earthly, human father, and reminded his spiritual father that, after all, he was really the son of his human father. If a great spiritual giant like this was frightened when his Master gave him Nirvikalpa Samadhi, you can imagine the power of the experience although his Master gave it to him as easily as one gives a glass of water. When Krishna gave the same experience to Arjuna, although it was so easy for Krishna to do so, when Arjuna got it, he was immediately frightened. After some time, when Arjuna asked Krishna to give him that same experience once again, Krishna said, ‘How is it that you have forgotten that experience? Why should I give it to you again? Go and ask your brother Bhishma to tell you about this particular experience. He will not have forgotten it. If you had really accepted it as you should have done, you would have been another person today.’ ”
“Master,” said the disciple, “this may be my curiosity again, but do spiritual Masters follow any kind of cosmic rule or law when it is a matter of giving their disciples inner experiences or inner light?”
The Master said, “What I give you, I could use for myself or I could squander. But this would not be divine. It is not as if I am obeying a law that says that when you give me one dollar, I have to give you ten dollars. It is not like that. But just because you have got joy by giving me what you have, I feel that I should now give to you what I have. If what I have is beyond your capacity to receive, then I will give you according to your receptivity. But if I see that you can achieve or receive the amount that I would like to give, then naturally I will be able to give it to you. When a father and child play together, the child gives his utmost capacity. But if the father shows the child the father’s utmost capacity on the physical level, for example, the child will not be able to bear it, and he will be injured. The child has to be made strong before his father can show him his own full strength.”
The disciple bowed to the Master and said, “Master, you have fed my curiosity, you have illumined my heart and soul. Your patience and compassion are also inner experiences for us — very special and very necessary experiences.”
AD 3. 30 July 1974.↩
Move on, move on!4“Master, please tell me how I can conquer lethargy.”
“Do you find it very difficult to get up in the morning and meditate?”
“Yes, Master, I have to admit that it is a problem for me.”
“My child, you know that there is something called fear. Once we have come to the spiritual life, it is of paramount importance to conquer fear. If we don’t conquer fear, then we cannot make any progress. But, on the other hand, sometimes a kind of fear can be of help to us. Let me explain what I mean.
“Before we accepted the spiritual life, we had nothing. Now that we have accepted the spiritual life we have something, but we feel that this thing we may lose at any moment. This feeling is what I am calling fear. Do you understand?”
“Before, when you were a beggar, you worked and amassed some money. But now you are not working; you are just using the money that you have already earned. Naturally, this money may one day be all used up.
“You have to be very alert and conscious. If you don’t get to work by nine o’clock in the morning, your boss has the right to fire you. When you have accepted a spiritual path, you also have a boss and a job. The boss in the inner world is your Inner Pilot and the job He gives you is to pray and meditate. If the Inner Pilot sees that you are not getting up early in the morning to do His Job, that is, to pray and meditate, then He may dispense with that job and take away your inner wealth, which is the aspiration He has given you. When you lose your outer job and no longer get any salary, you are at the mercy of others. And when you don’t have aspiration, you are at the mercy of ignorance and all the hostile forces. Wild ignorance will lord it over you, and then you will be totally ruined. Then you will feel that nobody is a worse beggar than you, that you are helpless and hopeless. Why do you have to become hopeless and useless when once upon a time you were aspiring, running and realising?
“Five or ten years ago you didn’t have this aspiration or inner wealth at all. Now you have it, but if you do not continue to earn it, then you will use it up and your supply will run out. But if you have some fear of losing your inner wealth, you will try your best to keep it. This is not ordinary fear, like the fear that somebody may come and strike you, but rather a feeling that you may lose something that is most precious to you.
“We have come into the world to gain something, but not in the ordinary human way of amassing possessions. We want to increase our inner capacity and potentiality; we want to make progress. If, when you first entered the spiritual life, you were able to get up early in the morning to meditate, but now you can’t, this means that you are regressing. If two years ago you were able to get up at six o’clock, now you should get up at five o’clock. Then a few years later you should get up at four o’clock. This is progress.
“You may wonder how it is possible that a person who could once aspire and run towards the goal can all of a sudden lose his capacity. It is possible just because he has made friends with idleness, with ignorance, with darkness. If you mix with lethargy, an idle fellow who says, ‘I won’t get up’, you won’t get any inspiration from him. Again, if you make friends with sincerity, sincerity will immediately press you onward. Sincerity will create in you an inner urge to get up early in the morning and pray and meditate. But if you are not sincere, then immediately dark forces and ignorance will give you their lethargy.
“The spiritual life is not like the ordinary life. In the ordinary life, if you have come to a particular point and do not want to go further, you can just stay there. But in the spiritual life, if you have come to a point and then do not continue ahead, you cannot remain where you are; ignorance will pull you back. In the ordinary life, if you have come five steps, you can stay there for three months and then, if you want to continue your journey, you can. But in the spiritual life, if after taking five steps you wait for five days, immediately you will be pulled back to your starting point, because ignorance is only one step behind you all the time waiting to grab you. In the spiritual life, my child, you always have to be on the move.
“You were staying with ignorance, but then one day you left while ignorance was sleeping. As soon as ignorance woke up and saw that his friend had left, he started running after you. So all the time he is running, running, running behind you, but he finds it difficult to catch up. However, if you stop to take rest, he will come and grab you and say, ‘Where are you going?’ On the other hand, if you continue running, then you will be able to reach the goal one step ahead of ignorance. And once you touch the effulgence of Light and enter into its flood, ignorance won’t dare to come near you. As soon as he sees the Light, he will be blinded. Then he will go back to his home to see if there are others still sleeping at the same place, and he will make friends with them.
“There is a saying in the Sanskrit scriptures: Charai veti, ‘Move on, move on!’ This was the realisation of our Vedic seers. If you don’t move on, you will be caught by ignorance. So always be alert, cautious and careful, and move on, move on, move on. If you move on, one day you will reach the Goal, where ignorance will not dare to touch you.”
AD 4. 30 July 1974.↩
The Master's prasad5There was an Indian spiritual Master who had lived and taught in the West for many years. One evening after a meditation meeting, the Master wanted to offer his disciples some very special prasad that had been given to him by a seeker who had just returned from a visit to India. But when the Master went downstairs to tell his disciples that he was about to distribute prasad, everybody was talking so loudly that nobody heard him. A few disciples noticed the Master by the door and went to take prasad from him, but most of them paid no attention to him. They were eating and talking to their friends. Finally the Master became furious and asked some of his close disciples to direct everyone back upstairs to the meeting room.
When everyone was seated, the Master said, “In India when we receive prasad from the Master, it is the best form of meditation, the greatest blessing. Taking prasad means an immediate increase of devotion. It is a great help to the seeker’s life of discipline and to his inner progress. Seekers cry and pray for days and months to be able to go to the temple to receive prasad from their favourite deity. When they finally do get prasad, they take it as the highest blessing and grace. But here, when I offer prasad, the correct inner attitude is missing on the part of my disciples. Prasad is not something to be taken lightly, for you to accept or reject at your sweet will.”
“But Master,” one young man said, “I have never understood why food prepared by human beings can be so special.”
The Master made no attempt to conceal his annoyance with this question. “How many times have I told you that when food is soulfully offered to a deity, the food becomes blessed and purified. Even if someone has quarrelled or fought while cooking it, since he has faith in that particular god, that particular god blesses him and his food. Here in the West we do not have that kind of implicit faith. After we cook, we could ask God to purify the food, but we do not even think of offering it to the Supreme for protection, purification or extra grace. We should, but we don’t do it.”
The wife of the young man stood up. “Master, you have made everything very clear to us. From now on, I shall consciously offer the food that I cook to the Supreme for His blessings. But why are you so annoyed with my husband’s question?”
The Master said, “For years I have been offering you people prasad, but when I am giving it to you, the husband will send his wife, like a proxy, to take the blessing for him, and the parents will send their children. Now, the reason that these people cannot come is not because they are doing something most urgent or important. No, they are gossiping downstairs, they are indulging in the most ordinary kinds of conversation; but they can’t come upstairs for the prasad. Sometimes, to catch everyone, I stand by the stairs as everyone is leaving the meeting room, but even then, some people don’t take it from me. They don’t give it any importance.”
One disciple protested, “Master, today was an unfortunate exception. Usually most of us take it from you.”
“Yes,” the Master said, “there are many who come, who do take it from me, but they do not take it seriously and soulfully. They receive prasad casually, while looking at somebody else or talking or eating. In every possible way they show disrespect. Out of sixty or seventy, hardly three or four persons receive prasad from me devotedly.
“But Master,” one disciple asked, “how is it that many people look extremely, extremely devoted to you at that time, and you still say that we don’t show enough respect?”
“Yes, some people are clever; they show false devotion as much as possible. Their hands literally tremble when they come to receive prasad. They are showing others that they are about to collapse at my feet. But I wish to tell you people that devotion has nothing to do with the hands; it is a matter of the heart.”
All the disciples felt miserable that they had been disappointing the Master in this matter for so many years. An older disciple said, “Master, you are right and we are sorry that we were so ignorant. But in a way you have to forgive us. We are so unfamiliar with your Indian customs such as prasad, which you have just explained to us, or other things you sometimes mention, such as the correct way to take something from the Master.”
“True,” said the Master. “When it is a matter of taking prasad or anything else from me, I have told my disciples again and again not to use the left hand. You can say anything you want to, you can call me superstitious or ignorant, but I know that if you cannot use both hands — which is what I prefer — it is better to receive something with your right hand. Left and right hand are equally God’s creation, true; everything is God’s creation. But why do I use my head and not my feet to touch the feet of my Master? I know that it is the best in me, and it is this that I want to humbly offer to the Master.”
One young girl said, “Master I am left-handed. Will that make any difference in what you just said?”
The Master couldn’t help smiling. “What am I going to do with my Western children? If you are left-handed and you happen to have an Indian Master who wants you to use your right hand when you accept something from him, please listen to him. You should feel that the Master is working very hard to please you, to bring down Peace, Light and Bliss in abundant measure. The Master’s task is much more difficult than your task, which is to use your right hand instead of your left hand. Since this request is so simple for you to follow, you should feel that you must try to please your Master at least in this way. How many requests I have made to my disciples to use either both hands or their right hand, but still it is too difficult for them to remember.”
“Master,” one disciple said, “part of the reason we may forget is that this is so foreign to our culture.”
“It is not a matter of custom or culture,” the Master said. “It is a matter of devotion and soulfulness. Even a child, when he remains in the soul, knows what is the best thing to do. He knows what devotion is. Last week I was playing with a four-year-old child for about half an hour. Suddenly he came and stood in front of my chair and said ‘I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you only.’ Then he took my foot, lifted it to his face and kissed my big toe. Now look, instead of lifting my foot to his face, the child could have played football with my leg or just kicked me. Children often do things like that when I am playing with them. But this child, when he became one with his soul, knew the meaning of devotion.”
“That’s quite remarkable,” one disciple said.
“Yes,” the Master replied. “The other night I had a very different experience. When I was blessing a five-year-old child, she put her hand on my head as if she were returning my blessing. Look at her consciousness. Unlike the young boy, she did not show any devotion. Devotion has to be spontaneous. I wish all my spiritual children to cultivate inner and outer devotion.”
The director of the Master’s ashram stood up and bowed to the Master. “Master, you have made everything very clear to us,” he said. “Please forgive our past insensitivity and ignorance. From now on we will show you the inner and outer devotion and respect that you deserve.”
Then the disciples came up to the Master one by one and devotedly received his blessing and prasad.
AD 5. 30 July 1974.↩
Outer devotion and inner meditation6There was once a spiritual Master of the highest calibre who used to hold large public meditations several times a year. After one very successful meditation, a close disciple asked the Master if he would care to meet two of his friends who he felt were extremely spiritual. Because the Master was very fond of this particular disciple, he agreed, although the Master did not usually speak to visiting seekers. When the disciple introduced his friends, the Master meditated with them a moment and then asked, “Is there anything that you would like to ask me?”
The two seekers hesitated a moment and then one of them said, “Master, I can see that you are very great, and I know that my friend is a very sincere disciple of yours. But, forgive me, it seems to me that your disciples were acting like idiots or sheep, folding their hands and bowing to you all night. And you seemed to enjoy all this.”
The disciple was shocked and mortified that anyone could have said such a thing to his Master. Inwardly he cursed himself for bringing this seeker to the Master but outwardly he just signalled to his friends that it was time to leave.
But the Master stopped them and said, “Wait, let me answer his question. When my disciples fold their hands during meditation, the physical in me does not gain anything. At that time, my physical is like a dead body. It is not that I am a greedy fellow who wants my students to fold their hands or bow to me. I do not gain anything from such displays. But when they do these things, their devoted, soulful qualities come forward and they can receive more from me. When I am in my highest consciousness, my soul is flying through many worlds and my consciousness is flooding the hall.”
The close disciple bowed soulfully to his Master and was about to leave with his two friends, when the one who had so far remained silent also folded his hands and bowed to the Master. The first seeker then blurted out, “What happens if we fold our hands just because we see others doing it?”
The Master turned to him and replied, “It all depends on your inner feeling. If you don’t feel it spontaneously, you should not fold your hands at that moment. Why should you imitate somebody else? Why encourage hypocrisy in your life?”
The other seeker said quietly, “Master, I folded my hands in the hope that I would also feel what my friend was feeling.”
The Master smiled, “That is absolutely right. If you fold your hands, the physical has a more devoted consciousness, and you may receive the same inspiration, the same inner feeling, that has prompted somebody else to fold his hands. The outer can help the inner. I am most proud of your aspiration.”
Then the Master turned back to the first seeker. “Just for the sake of imitation, it is not good to keep your hands folded if there is no feeling of devotion behind it. True, if somebody puts his hands up during a meditation and you follow his example, his inspiration may enter into you. But how do you know that he is not doing it just because someone else has done it? And that person may also have been imitating someone else. So you can see how ridiculous this can become.”
The seeker who had folded his hands was looking at the Master with love and joy. “Master, several times during the evening you looked at me and I felt a tremendous inner force. But since this was my first meditation with you, I wasn’t sure whether or not I should fold my hands.”
The Master looked pleased, “I am so happy that you have received from me. When I look at you during meditation, offering you my Peace, Light and Bliss, at that time if you fold your hands, your physical will actually be able to receive more from me. Your physical mind, your vital, even your heart will be able to receive more from me if you can have a respectful outer consciousness.”
“Master,” the seeker said, “I was happy when you looked at me, but I must admit that I wished you could have meditated on me more often. Of course, there were many, many people here tonight, so I know that it would have been impossible for you to give me any more attention.”
“Here you are making a mistake,” the Master said. “At public meditations and at my regular meetings, my consciousness is permeating the room. Some people, when they think that I am looking at the person next to them and that their turn is coming up, immediately fold their hands and become all alertness, eagerness, devotion and aspiration. Then, as soon as they think their turn is over, they stop aspiring and stop meditating. They relax and wait for their turn to come around again. But sometimes I am tricky. I look away for a moment or two, and then I look back at a disciple. At that time he is caught.
“Also, although I may be looking at someone in the first or second row and my full outer attention is on that person, at that same moment I may also be concentrating inwardly on someone in the back row. The poor people in the back are thinking, ‘When will our turn come? He will never get to us.’ But they should know that I do think of them and meditate on them. I may be looking at those in the first few rows, but my inner concern and guidance is for all. You people don’t realise that I can do many things at once. My concentration is on many things.”
The Master’s disciple said, “Master, I always thought that when you look at someone your full concentration and concern is on that individual. Could you explain what you actually meant just now?”
“When I look at a person,” the Master explained, “my full concentration, love and concern is on that person, but somebody else who is looking at me can easily receive from me more than that particular disciple is receiving because his aspiration, devotion and receptivity are more intense. It has happened many times that someone near the person I am meditating on, who is looking at me at that time, is receiving my Light in abundant measure. During the entire meditation, each seeker should aspire to receive the infinite Peace, Light and Bliss that I am offering to everyone at every moment.”
The seeker said, “I wish I had known that before.”
“Master,” the other seeker said, “I always thought that we are supposed to meditate with our eyes open, and I saw some of your disciples meditating with their eyes closed.”
“Sometimes people are very clever,” said the Master. “When I look at someone they don’t like, someone they consider to be their enemy, they close their eyes very tightly so that they don’t see me concentrating on him. Then, when they think their enemy’s turn is over, they open their eyes again. Or if they see that I am about to look at someone they are jealous of, they close their eyes and wait a few minutes until they think his turn is over.
“But one should meditate on the Master at all times. Why meditate on the back of the person in front of you and try to get your realisation that way? Or why keep your eyes closed and remain in your own world? You are not going to give yourself realisation. If you could, you would not have come to me. Meditate on the Master and enter into his world, his divinity.”
The seeker who had first spoken to the Master said, “Master, forgive my ignorance. You have been very patient with my questions and for that I am most grateful. I have never been able to understand why seekers show so much outer devotion to their Masters, but now I think I finally understand.”
“Both of you,” the Master said to the two seekers, “have received my Light according to your capacity. I am most pleased with you.” Then the Master bowed slowly to the three friends and walked away.
AD 6. 30 July 1974.↩
Love creates perfection7One morning during sports practice at his ashram, a spiritual Master was approached by the child of one of his disciples. “Master, Master,” said the little boy excitedly as he ran up to him, “my mother just told me that you are perfect. Is it really true?”
The Master gave the boy a sweet smile and blessed him affectionately. “Perfection is in love, my child. The mother loves her youngest child, and to her he is always perfect, although he may be at the age where he constantly breaks things, makes noise and causes problems. Your mother is one of my most devoted disciples. Since your mother loves me, since my spiritual children love me, to them I am all perfection. When my disciples come to me full of love and devotion, as you are doing now, at that time they feel that I am all perfection. But when they are angry or displeased with me, at that time they feel that I am all imperfection, totally undivine.
“In order to see through the eye of perfection we have to see with our heart of love. The capacity of your little finger is very limited when you compare it with the strength and capacity of your thumb. But if you don’t have as much love for your thumb as you have for your little finger, you will just look at your little finger and appreciate it and appreciate it and appreciate it. You will feel that your little finger is perfection itself.”
The little boy was studying his fingers very intently. The Master explained further. “Let us take a family in which the youngest boy is three years old, and his brother is seven years old. Now, in the mother’s eyes, the little brother who is three years old may be all perfection, but his older brother may be all imperfection. Why? The seven-year-old is more grown up and independent, so the mother has more love for the little one, although he is constantly crying and breaking things, and at every moment creating a holocaust. Still the mother feels that the little brother is perfect and the older child is imperfect, because the mother has more love for her little son. Of course, in your family this does not apply; I know that your mother has all love for all her children.
“When we talk about perfection, it is all in our love. When we love an individual, at that time that person is perfect for us. When we love a thing, that particular thing is perfect. Our heart comes forward and identifies itself with the reality of that thing and makes it perfect. If the heart cannot identify, no matter how many judges, how many witnesses say that this person or thing is the best, since the heart does not respond, for us it is not perfect at all.”
The Master paused. “Are you learning arithmetic, my child?”
The boy nodded.
“One day you will also learn geometry. In geometry, very often we are asked to draw a certain figure: a straight line, a triangle or perhaps a circle. Now, if we do not draw that particular figure, if we are asked to draw a straight line but we draw a circle instead, that is not perfection. If we are supposed to draw a triangle but we draw a square instead, that is not perfection. We may draw a perfect circle or a perfect square, but our teacher will not think our paper is perfect because what she wanted was something else.
“So, have you understood my philosophy?” the Master asked.
“Yes, Master. Thank you.” The little boy smiled, and then ran off to tell his mother everything the Master had said.
AD 7. 30 July 1974.↩
The missing disciples8There was once a spiritual Master who lived near the Himalayas. Twice a week he would meditate with his disciples at his own house and share with them his highest meditation. One evening, as he was sitting with his disciples, one of the disciples came in late. The Master looked at him and said, “Rakhal, why are you so angry? Is this why you are late?”
Rakhal looked totally amazed that the Master could read his thoughts. He took his seat, speechless with astonishment, and fixed his eyes on the Master.
The Master turned to the other disciples and said, “I can see your subtle bodies. If a person is planning something destructive, I see this destructive force in its subtle form before it manifests itself on the physical plane. Or if someone is very angry or displeased with me, I see it before he can say or do anything.”
“But Master,” said one disciple, “why should any of us ever be angry or displeased with you?”
“All the disciples throw their negative forces into me,” replied the Master. “I am the culprit for everything. Now, why is Rakhal angry with me? I have not even seen him today. But he is cursing me because he has quarrelled with another disciple. He is not projecting his anger into the person he fought with. He is projecting it into me instead. The disciple who has just quarrelled with another disciple says to me inwardly, ‘Why have you accepted such a rascal as your disciple? He is so undivine.’ I am sitting at home in my chair and I haven’t even seen that person during the day, but his subtle body comes to me and I see anger in the subtle body. Then, a few hours later, I see the disciple and I see the same anger on his face.”
“Master,” asked the same disciple, “how can it happen that part of us becomes angry or part of us does something, not only without our outer knowledge but also without our consent, as it were? How can we be so divided?”
“My son, it is quite possible. You know, sometimes it happens that the subtle life has accepted the spiritual life, but the physical mind is all the time doubting. Acceptance and faith are there in the subtle, but for the physical it takes time. It may accept my path two days or two months or two years later. All this time, the person comes to me regularly and devotedly just because his heart and soul have accepted me, even though his mind has not.
“Inner faith you people already have. Otherwise, you would not be following the spiritual life. But it is outer faith that many of you still need. Outer faith is not just a mechanical thing. You all have inner faith, but the faith that is needed in all your outer activities is lacking. Unless and until we have faith in every plane of our being, we cannot realise the Truth.
“Sometimes disciples tell me things inwardly, but they don’t tell me outwardly. Communication takes place on the inner plane, where they are receptive to my Light. Some receive my Light inwardly, because their inner being receives, but most of the time they resist. There are other disciples who have developed a very good receptive capacity. Even if I don’t speak to them they receive Light from me. But there are many to whom I speak on the phone or in person for hours, but even then they don’t receive my Light. Even if I tell them outwardly that I want to give them some Light or help, they don’t accept it. They have the same problems again and again.”
“Master,” began one of the disciples, “it seems to me that if we don’t want to give you problems all the time, we have to strive to be happy. Isn’t that right? I am happiest when I see you as often as possible, so I come to all the meetings and other functions we have. But, Master, very often I see that my brother and sister disciples don’t come, and I don’t think they have a very good reason for staying away.”
“It is true, my son, that many do not come to all the meetings and functions even though they can. I want everyone to be happy, as you say. If staying at home and sleeping makes them happy, that is up to them. If coming makes them happy, so much the better. But I wish to say that some do not come to different functions just because they are not participating. Just because it is others who are taking part and not themselves, they stay at home. What are they doing at that time? I don’t think they are meditating and raising their consciousness at home. If they stay away to do some other work that I ask them to do, that is another matter. But there are many, many who do not attend quite a few functions because of their jealousy. They know that others are performing on these days and that those people will get appreciation from me. I am sure that some are sick, but not so many people fall sick at the same time.
“I must add, too, that it is mostly women who do this kind of thing. Men have wonderful limitations, countless defects, but when it comes to going and watching a function, they will at least go. They will go, and then criticise it and curse themselves for wasting their time. But the women won’t go right from the beginning, not because they were working late the night before, nor because they lack interest, but because they lack inner oneness. Many people say they do not go to plays because they have seen the play before. But if I saw someone portray a certain character two years ago, is that any reason why I should not see him again now? This is just lethargy or jealousy.
“Some people are under the impression that if they don’t go, no one will notice, because so many others are there. But many have the same idea and, as a result, thirty or forty don’t come. Then all the culprits are caught.
“My children, I don’t want to spend my time endlessly scolding you, but I want you to know what will really make you happy and make me happy. If sleeping or resting really made you happy, then I would ask you to do it. But it is only oneness, soulful participation, that can really create happiness and joy in your life of aspiration. Please don’t fight with each other; don’t be jealous of one another any more. You are all in the same family and it is your inner harmony and oneness that will help to unite you the fastest with the Supreme.”
AD 8. 30 July 1974.↩
The Master's indifference9“Master, Master, today I have discovered something unique.”
“What is your discovery, my child?”
“Master, I have discovered that when you are indifferent to me, when you withdraw a little from me, I make better progress. Others say that I am your most favourite disciple. At times I agree with their feeling; at times when I cherish the thought that I am your most favourite disciple, I am bloated with pride. Yet other times I feel that I am only one of your favourite disciples. Again, there have been occasions when I felt that I am not even one of your favourite disciples, but just an ordinary disciple. Anyway, Master, I wish to tell you one thing which you already know — that your disciples are all undivine.”
The Master said with a smile, “Including yourself, I believe.”
The disciple said, “Of course. I have been exploiting your compassion and love. So, Master, I want you to withdraw from me from time to time so that I can make good progress. I feel this is the only way for me to make rapid progress.”
The Master replied, “You fool! Why do you want to realise God in a negative way, in a way which will take you such a long time? Always try to adopt the positive approach. Accept the right path, walk along the right path.
“You are a seeker. That means you are hungry. You need Peace, Light and Bliss. In your ordinary life, suppose you need three pieces of bread to satisfy your hunger. Now if you get only two pieces of bread, what will happen? You will feel weak, and you will not be able to function well. In the spiritual life, you have to feel that the amount of love, joy and compassion that I give you is necessary for your inner growth. If I give you less than this amount of love, joy and compassion, then you are bound to feel weak.”
“But Master, in my case — and I have also observed in others’ cases — when you give us joy, love, blessings and concern in abundant measure, we exploit you. We feel that you need us; our vital feels that you run after us because you need us. But when you give us less than we normally get, that is to say, when you withdraw, or become serious, or get angry or displeased with us for any particular reason, we are scared to death. We feel that our whole world will be shattered. So we try to behave well and please you in every possible way; we try to become unconditional disciples of yours. At that time we feel that it is we who need you, and not vice versa. So, Master, this is why I want you to withdraw from me from time to time.”
The Master said, “You fool, why do you have to cherish the idea that it is only you who need me and that I do not need you? If you cherish the idea that only you need me, the human in you may one day revolt. Your vital pride may come to the fore and say, ‘Why do I have to be a beggar to him? Why is it that I don’t have anything to offer him which he needs desperately?’
“In this world, we should play the game of mutual acceptance, mutual self-giving. Now, if you feel that I do not need you, but you need me, then there will come a time when you will feel that it is a hopeless case. You will say, ‘I need him, true, but he may not give me what I actually want, or he may not give me everything to the fullest extent. If I want to have abundant Light, he may not give it to me, precisely because he does not need anything from me in return.’ But if you feel that the Master also needs something from you, then you have some confidence in yourself. But you have to know what the Master needs from you. The Master does not need millions of dollars from you. He needs an iota of sincere love, an iota of sincere devotion, an iota of sincere surrender from you. If you can give him these things, you can rest assured that they will form the foundation of his divine Transcendental Building on earth.
“I do not want to punish you. The right way to bring a disciple closer to Truth and Reality is not through punishment, but through love, by making the disciple feel that he and the Master need each other. If you receive my Love-light and gradually, gradually enlarge your heart-vessel so that I can pour in more Love, more Light, more Bliss, then you will be able to manifest the divine Truth, Light and Bliss on earth.
“Withdrawal is not the answer; the answer is to increase your capacity. You take three pieces of bread to strengthen yourself and keep your body fit. Then, when you become strong and develop greater hunger, you take four or five pieces — not out of greed, but out of necessity — so that you will gain more energy, more strength, a stronger life-force to work and accomplish things here on earth. In the spiritual life also, when you have developed inner hunger and enlarged your heart’s receptivity-vessel, I shall pour into you Peace, Light and Bliss from Above in abundant measure. And the more you receive, the more you will be able to manifest the divine Truth, the Light of the Supreme on earth.
“So, my child, do not instigate me to do something wrong. I cannot and will not withdraw from you, but I expect you to do the needful, the right thing, at every moment. Do not exploit my boundless love, concern and compassion for you. Each time I show you special attention in the form of concern, love and blessings, you have to feel that what you are getting has to be manifested in and through your life, through your loving service and dedicated oneness with me and with all human beings on earth.
“Again I tell you, withdrawal is not the answer. The answer is for you to increase your receptivity; the answer is for you to cry consciously and constantly for the embodiment of infinite Light and Truth and for its revelation and manifestation here on earth.”
AD 9. 10 August 1974.↩
The ambition-deer10A young man of twenty-three one day went to a spiritual Master with a letter from his mother, who was a close disciple of the Master. The Master read the letter and said to the young man, “Please sit down. I shall definitely give you a short interview.”
The Master meditated on the young aspirant for about ten minutes, and then said to him, “You have a very good soul, an extraordinary soul, although I don’t think you are aware of it. I am very pleased with your heart’s inner cry.”
The seeker gave the Master a sweet smile and said, “Master, I have three questions to ask you.”
“Let us deal with your questions one by one,” said the Master. “What is your first question?”
“Master, my mother has been practising Yoga for many, many years, and my father has recently joined her. You have a number of disciples. Some of them are close to you, while others are on the periphery. My mother wants to be your closest disciple. Needless to say, I am most grateful to her for bringing me to the spiritual life, but I wish to tell you that no matter how close she becomes to you by virtue of her aspiration and dedication, I wish to surpass her. Right from my childhood, I have had a strong sense of competitiveness. I always want to surpass my parents, my friends, even my acquaintances, in everything. So I want to surpass my mother in the spiritual life.”
The Master gave the seeker a broad smile and said, “I am extremely proud of your mother’s soaring aspiration and glowing dedication. But I do not see any reason why you cannot surpass your mother, provided you take to the spiritual life most devotedly and soulfully.”
The seeker said, “I am so glad that you have given me the assurance that I have the capacity to surpass my mother. Now by my actions I will prove myself to you. Let me not bind myself with feeble promises.”
The Master blessed the young man and said, “Try, my son, try. If you sincerely try, you are bound to succeed.”
“Master, here is my second question, or rather, my fervent wish: I want to equal you in spirituality. I want to be as great as you are in God-realisation.”
On hearing this, the Master showed the youth a sad face.
“I knew it, I knew it!” the seeker cried. “After all, who wants to be equalled by somebody else? Master, please forgive my audacity. I do not want to equal you. I shall just surpass my mother most strikingly, and become absolutely your dearest disciple.”
“My child,” said the Master, “unfortunately, you have not read my mind correctly. I showed you a sad face not because you wanted to equal me, but because you didn’t have the inner inspiration and aspiration to surpass me, as you wanted to surpass your mother. A real father gets tremendous joy when his son surpasses him. Of course, I have no idea about American fathers and American sons. But being your spiritual Father, I know I shall be the happiest person when either you or any other of my spiritual children far surpass me in spiritual height. Why? Because when I accept a disciple he and I become inseparably one. As I feel he has every right to claim my spiritual height and depth and my divine treasures as his very own, even so, his loftiest successes, his progress and his achievements, without the least possible hesitation, I claim as my own.”
The young man said, “I see, I see. That is a nice philosophy.”
“You say it is a nice philosophy. I think it is a great discovery,” said the Master.
“Master, now I have a third question. It is actually a serious problem. I am now throwing myself heart and soul into the spiritual life. But I have a girlfriend, who I am afraid will strongly and vehemently object to my new course of life. What shall I do now? If you want me to do away with our friendship, if you want me to be totally out of her life, I am prepared to do so. Just tell me what I should do.”
“My child, give her a chance. Tell her all about the spiritual life and all about me. It may turn out that she will accept your new life wholeheartedly. One never knows what is going to happen. Anyway, give her a chance. Let us see what happens. As you want to realise the highest Absolute in this life, she may also want to realise the Highest in this life of hers. Morning does not necessarily show the day, or the future. There are exceptions. Her case may be a complete exception. What you do not see in her today, that very thing you may see in her tomorrow. Not only that, but she may become that very thing, the highest Light. And there is every possibility that she will realise the Highest. I may almost assure you that she will. Now, what about your sister? What do you think of her spiritual life?”
“She is not meant for this kind of life, at least not right now.”
“So, according to you she is a useless case?”
“I think hopeless would be a better word,” said the young man. “Master, why do I see something strange in your eyes? Something within me is telling me that my sister will far surpass me if she takes to the spiritual life. Master, Master, please don’t allow it to happen! Let me surpass my mother. Let me become your dearest disciple. Let me equal you. Let me far surpass you. Let me offer all my light to the world at large. Let me leave my body, and when I start living in infinite Peace, Light and Bliss, when I am all settled in Heaven, then she can become your dearest disciple. At that time, she can even surpass me. I will have no objection. Master, I am sure you will listen to my heart’s cry!”
The Master gave him the broadest smile and said, “Let us see what happens to your sister.”
Then the young man said to the Master, “Is it necessary or indispensable for me to stay near you physically in order to make the fastest progress?”
“It is not indispensable,” replied the Master. “The main thing is how much inner connection you want to establish with me. It has happened many times that the physical proximity of the Master has been badly exploited. In such cases, physical proximity is not a blessing, but a veritable curse, or at least a tremendous disadvantage. But if it is the Will of God, some disciples who are entrusted with God’s Light in abundant measure must manifest that Light at a place quite far from the Master’s physical presence. Of course, if physical nearness is not exploited, the disciple gets additional advantage in the form of inspiration to run the fastest. If you are destined to remain physically away from your Master because of unavoidable circumstances, that is perfectly all right. In your case, your studies will take you away from my outer presence. But let your outer studies and your inner studies go together. From your outer studies you will get information. From your inner studies you will get illumination. Right now you need information in order to have a full grasp of the world situation and world life. But a day will come when you will need only inner illumination. At God’s choice Hour, you will become aware of this.”
“Master, how I wish that Hour would strike at my heart’s door this very moment. What I really need is illumination. What I eternally need is God.”
The Master blessed the seeker with his transcendental Pride and said, “What I really need is the soulful aspiration and the fruitful realisation of your vision so that I can expedite my God-manifestation on earth. You are my true joy; you are my true gratitude; you are my true pride.”
AD 10. 14 September 1974.↩
Editor's preface to the first editionThis group of ten short stories was written by Sri Chinmoy between 29 July and 14 September, 1974. Many are based on the Master’s own personal experiences with his disciples, either in the outer plane or in the inner world.