The ascent and descent of the disciples

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The ascent and the descent of the disciples

In ancient times there lived a great Yogi. This particular Yogi had thousands of disciples, but he had only twenty disciples whom he considered his first class disciples. Aside from them, he had second class, third class, fourth class, fifth class, sixth class and seventh class disciples. But, unfortunately, even the first class disciples did not always remain first class. Some days they would drop to second, third or fourth class disciples.

One day some of his former first class disciples, who had fallen to fourth class, went to the Yogi and most fervently asked him a few questions. Their first question was, “How is it possible for us to descend from the peak? Is it due to our mistakes or are you just sick of us since you always seem to favour new life and new inspiration?”

The Yogi said, “No, I am not sick of you people. Had I been sick of you, I would have asked you to leave my ashram. And I am not fonder of the new. I am fond of the eternal, which is everlastingly new.”

Then the fallen disciples asked the Yogi, “Is it true in your case that familiarity breeds contempt? Since we have been close to you for a long time, is it possible that you no longer find us charming, inspiring or encouraging?”

The Yogi said, “No, you are wrong. In the ordinary human way, familiarity breeds contempt. But in the case of a spiritual Master and his disciples, it is through familiarity that the Master carries his disciples to the highest height. It is through familiarity, the Master feels, that one day the chosen disciples will become totally part and parcel of his realisation and manifestation.”

Then the disciples asked another question. “Is it possible for the Master to smile outwardly at a disciple but inwardly to have no feeling for him?”

The Master said, “No! If the Master smiles that means he still has compassion for that particular disciple.”

“Is it possible,” they asked, “for a sixth class disciple to come up to first class?”

The Master said, “It is quite possible. As with a ladder or a tree, you can climb up and you can fall down. But you must remember that climbing up the tree or the ladder is infinitely more difficult than falling down.”

Then the disciples asked, “Will this always happen in the same way? Now we are washed away by other disciples. Will those disciples one day be washed away too?”

The Master said, “Why not? If they misbehave, if they disappoint me as you have done, naturally they will also be washed away. I am walking along the eternal path. People who become tired on the way leave me. We walk together for a while, and when they are tired either they leave me or they begin to descend the ladder. Then they travel very slowly.”

“What compels us,” asked the disciples, “to descend?”

“Insecurity, jealousy, fear, doubt and self-indulgence,” the Yogi replied.

“And what can take us back to our original status?” they asked. “What will enable us to travel with you again at the fastest speed?”

The Yogi said, “Constant gratitude to the Master for having accepted you as his disciples and for allowing you to remain his disciples will give you this capacity. Even if the Master does not give you anything — not even an iota of Peace, Light or Bliss — even then his very acceptance of you is something vast, infinite and fulfilling. If you take it in this way, then you can come back to your previous standard.”

The disciples asked another question: “Master, you had some very close disciples who have left you. How is it that they now seem quite happy? When they were with you, although they were close to you, they were unhappy. Why were they unhappy?”

The Master said, “Although they were my close disciples, jealousy did not leave them. Fear, doubt, insecurity, anxieties, worries did not leave them. That is why they were unhappy.”

“Then why did you make them first class disciples in the first place?” asked the fallen disciples.

The Master said, “It is a matter of standard. First class disciples have insecurity, jealousy, fear and doubt, but in comparison to other disciples it is much less. In spite of their imperfections, they are wholeheartedly and implicitly ready to follow my path; whereas others who have these imperfections are not fully ready to follow the path. The first class disciples are fully aware of their imperfections, but they know that these difficulties must one day be overcome. But in the case of the disciples who left me, their undivine qualities overcame them before they could overcome these qualities.”

“Do you consider it a failure, an utter failure for you, that people who have received so much concern, blessing, love and attention from you have now deserted you?” the disciples continued.

The Master said, “Who has deserted whom? If you say that they have deserted me, on the physical plane you are right. But on the spiritual plane I am sorry to tell you that peace has deserted them, divine fulfilment has deserted them. What you call their happiness or what you take to be their happiness is only a sham. It is not real happiness. When their souls come to the fore, they feel a barren desert in their hearts. Inwardly they burst into tears at every moment, feeling what they were and what they are now, what they had and what they have now. Previously they tried to play the role of sincerity, but now they are playing the role of self-deception.”

Then the disciples asked their last question: “Do these close disciples who leave you hurt your mission in any way?”

The Yogi said, “To a very limited extent. Nobody can destroy the divine manifestation of a spiritual Master, but if some close disciples who have been with the Master for many, many years leave him, then they delay his manifestation. When they were like a tiny seed, the Master sowed them. When the seed germinated, the Master nourished them and cared for them until the tiny plant began to grow into a tree which could nourish and shelter others. But then if the tree collapses through ignorance, or if the tree is struck down before it can fully mature, naturally it is a loss. But luckily the Master has the capacity to sow another seed, and hopefully this new seed will germinate well and finally grow into a giant Banyan tree.

“The divine mission can never be destroyed. If the chosen instruments fail, if they disappoint the Master, this only delays the victory. But the ultimate victory is bound to come. And who knows but that the new instruments will perhaps offer more shelter, more peace, more love, more consolation, more light to the world at large than the others would have. There is no defeat, no failure; only temporary setbacks. The ultimate victory is bound to dawn.”

Pride, humiliation and illumination

There was once a young man who was very spiritual. He used to pray and meditate most soulfully every day. He had a Guru who was of a very high order, and his Guru had quite a few disciples.

This young man used to go to his Guru’s ashram at the same time he was going to college. Now the Prince of that particular Kingdom happened to study at the same college, and he and the student became very close friends.

One day the Prince said to his friend, “How is it that I who have everything — material wealth, comfort, pleasure, everything that one can imagine or desire — am still not happy? But I see that you, who come from a poor family, are happy all the time. What makes you so happy?”

His friend said, “There is someone who gives me constant happiness in my life.”

“Who is that? Can I meet this person?”

“Yes, I can take you to his ashram. He is my spiritual Master. But you are a Prince and you expect respect from everyone. Even though you are my friend I show you tremendous respect. Even the professors show you respect because you are the Prince. But my spiritual Master may not show you any respect. He is above all that. You are most welcome to see my Master, but I have no idea what he will do and how he will receive you. If you think that you will not be offended, then you are most welcome to come.”

“All right. Tell me where he lives. Tomorrow I shall go there. But should I bring him anything?”

“It depends on what kind of attitude you have. If you are going to him with aspiration, with an inner cry for everlasting Peace and Bliss, then you should take some fruits and flowers to offer to him. This is what a seeker does when he goes to a spiritual Master. The Master then distributes these things to others. We call it prasad, sanctified food. But if you are going only out of curiosity, you don’t have to bring anything.”

The following morning this particular student and his brother and sister disciples were meditating most sincerely and devotedly in front of their Master when the Prince came in. The Prince brought fruits and flowers with him. But since he also wanted to show that he was not an ordinary person but was the Prince, he kept a sword hanging from his side. Unfortunately, everyone was deeply absorbed in the spiritual Master, and nobody paid any attention to him. Even his most intimate friend did not look at him or even notice him.

For about half an hour the Prince stood near the door, but neither the Master nor the disciples paid any attention to him. At last he became furious. “Do you know that I am the Prince?” he shouted. “Do you know my power? I am going to kill everybody here. One by one I shall kill you all! ” But when he tried to draw his sword he could not remove it from his sheath. He tried with all his force to unsheathe his sword, but it simply would not come out.

The Prince became more furious than ever when he found himself so badly embarrassed. Bursting with rage he glared at the Master, but the Master showed him a compassionate smile. Then the Master began speaking to the Prince. When the Master spoke to him, all the disciples turned their gaze on the Prince. The Master said, “You thought that we were all fools because we didn’t pay any attention to you. But these are my spiritual children. They came here to see me, not you. You also came here to see me. But then your pride came forward and you wanted to kill us. We are all innocent people. We are only interested in praying and meditating. You came here with a sincere motive, but you should have been more sincere. You should have come here with the idea that you would participate. When we go to a restaurant, we eat. When we go to a school, we attend classes. In an ashram, we pray and meditate. If you had been sincere enough you would have joined us in our prayer and meditation. But you wanted to show that you are the Prince, and when you saw that nobody was paying any attention to you, your undivine ego came forward and you became so angry that you wanted to kill us all. Luckily, my occult power prevented you from doing so, for the karma you would have reaped would have been unspeakable. But even so, you shall still be punished. Prince, I see with my occult vision that in sixteen days you will have a fatal attack of cholera. You will never be King. Your younger brother will get the throne.”

The Prince and his friend and all the other disciples were terribly shocked. The Prince finally said, “If you are a spiritual man, how can you curse me like this?”

“I have not cursed you,” said the Master. “It is your own soul that has cursed you because you were going to take away our lives. We were meditating on God, on Peace, Light and Bliss, and you wanted to kill us because we didn’t pay attention to you. Now your soul is disgusted and wants to leave the body.”

The Prince was terrified at the prospect of his imminent death, and begged the Master to save him.

“There is only one way that you can be saved,” said the Master. “If any one of my disciples comes and touches you on the day that you are destined to die of cholera, you will revive and that disciple shall die in your place. You will be all right, but I shall lose one of my disciples. Now if there is anyone among my disciples who is willing to sacrifice his life, please stand up.”

Immediately all the disciples stood up. “We are all ready,” said one of the disciples. “You make the selection.”

The Master said to the Prince, “Look, you wanted to kill them, but they are ready to offer their lives for you. This is the difference between spiritual people and ordinary people. These are my spiritual children. Each one, without an exception, is ready to give his life for you.”

The Prince said, “Everybody is ready to give his life for me now, but when the fatal hour strikes, I don’t know where they will be.”

“Prince,” said the Master, “in sixteen days the fatal hour will strike, and I assure you that among my disciples none will disappoint me. I have that much faith in my disciples.”

On the sixteenth day the Prince was attacked by cholera as the Master had predicted. The King and Queen became practically insane with grief. None of the doctors could revive him; it was only a matter of hours before the Prince would die. At this time, the Master and all the disciples who had been at the ashram sixteen days ago came to the palace. The King listened to their story and was deeply moved that so many people were ready to give their lives for his son.

The King said, “We have to make a selection. I shall give half of my Kingdom to the family of the person who sacrifices his life to save my son — that is, if the Master’s prophesy comes true.”

The Master said, “Of course my prophesy will come true. Now make the selection. There are many people here.”

The student who had invited the Prince to come to the Master’s ashram said, “Your Majesty, please choose me. All this is my fault, so it is I who deserve to die. I would be so grateful to you if you granted me this opportunity. I am just an insignificant creature. Who will cry for me? But if the Prince dies, the entire Kingdom will mourn his loss. Let the Prince, my intimate friend, remain on earth.”

When it was decided that the student would give his life, and as he was about to touch the Prince, the Master said, “So it is all decided. Your son will not die, but my dear disciple will die. But I want to say that there is one way to save both your son and my spiritual son.”

Everybody was delighted. “Tell me how,” said the King. “I will gladly do anything you say.”

“You have to wash the feet of all my spiritual children,” said the Master. “If you are willing to wash the feet of all my disciples who are here, then your son will be saved and my spiritual son will also be saved.”

“I have to wash the feet of all these people? I am the King. I am their Lord. How can I touch their feet? I can touch the feet of the one person whom we selected to give his life. But it is impossible for me to touch the feet of all your children.”

Then the Master said, “It is beneath your dignity to touch the feet of my spiritual children, but all of them are most willing to give their very lives for your son. This is the difference between spiritual people and ordinary people. Ask any one of my disciples here, and without the least possible hesitation he will sacrifice his life for your useless son. This is the difference between you and them. If you knew the meaning of love, you would gladly wash the feet of every man in your Kingdom in order to save your son. And if you knew the meaning of gratitude, you would do the same to save the life of someone who had offered his own life to save your son.”

“All right,” said the King. “I am ready to wash your disciples’ feet.”

The King’s servants brought water, and the King washed the feet of all the Master’s disciples, one by one. Then he said, “Are you satisfied now? I have touched the feet of all your disciples.”

“I am satisfied, but you have to know that you did all this only to save your son. If your son’s life had not been at stake, you would not have done this.”

“What do you want of me? My son is dying and I have already accepted so much humiliation. I have touched the feet of all your disciples. But if you feel that there is something greater than this I should do, I am ready to do it.”

“If you had been really spiritual,” said the Master, “you would have said, ‘The time has come for my son to depart. This boy who wants to offer his life also has parents. The suffering, the loss that I would undergo in losing my son, his parents would also have to endure. I cannot be so cruel. My son has done something wrong, and if it is time for his soul to leave the body, then I am ready to accept my loss.’ If you had had that kind of attitude, then I would have said that you are not only a King in the outer world, but also an Emperor in the spiritual life.”

Lo, cholera left the Prince. He was fully recovered. Both Prince and King, embarrassed but awakened; humiliated but illumined.

I want only one student: heart

There was once a spiritual Master who had hundreds of followers and disciples. The Master often gave discourses at different places — churches, synagogues, temples, schools and universities. Wherever he was invited, and wherever his disciples made arrangements for him, he gave talks. He gave talks for children and for adults. He gave talks for university students and for housewives. Sometimes he gave talks before scholars and most advanced seekers. This went on for about twenty years.

Finally there came a time when the Master decided to discontinue his lectures. He told his disciples, “Enough. I have done this for many years. Now I shall not give any more talks. Only silence. I shall maintain silence.”

For about ten years the Master did not give talks. He maintained silence in his ashram. He maintained silence everywhere. He had answered thousands of questions, but now he did not even meditate before the public. After ten years his disciples begged him to resume his previous practice of giving talks, answering questions and holding public meditations. They all pleaded with him, and finally he consented.

Immediately the disciples made arrangements at many places. They put advertisements in the newspapers, put up posters everywhere to announce that their Master was going to give talks once again and hold high meditations for the public. The Master went to these places with some of his favourite disciples, who were most devoted and dedicated, and hundreds of people gathered together to listen to the Master and have their questions answered. But to everyone’s wide surprise, the Master would not talk at all. From the beginning to the end of the meeting, for two hours, he would maintain silence.

Some of the seekers in the audiences were annoyed. They said that it was written in the newspaper and in the posters that the Master would give a short talk and answer questions as well as hold a meditation. “How was it that he did not speak at all?” they asked. “He is a liar,” said many, and they got disgusted and left the meetings early. Others remained for the whole two hours with the hope that perhaps the Master would speak at the end, but he closed the meditations without saying anything. Some of the people in the audiences felt inner joy. Some stayed only because they were afraid that if they left early others would think that they were not spiritual, and that they could not meditate at all. So some left, some stayed with great reluctance, some stayed in order to prove themselves to others and very few stayed with utmost sincerity, devotion and inner cry.

It went on for three or four years this way. There were many who criticised the Master mercilessly and embarrassed the disciples, saying, “Your Master is a liar. How do you people justify putting an advertisement in the paper that your Master is going to give a talk, answer questions and hold meditation? He only holds meditation, and we don’t learn anything from it. Who can meditate for two or three hours? He is fooling us, and he is fooling himself.”

Some of the close disciples were very disturbed. They felt miserable that their Master was being insulted and criticised. They pleaded with their Master again and again to give just a short talk and to answer a few questions at the end of the meditation. The Master finally agreed.

Now on the next occasion, the Master did not actually forget, but he changed his mind. He went on meditating, and this time instead of two hours, he conducted meditation for four hours. Even his close disciples were sad. They could not get angry with their Master, for it is a serious karmic mistake to get angry with the Master. But they were afraid that someone from the audience would actually stand up and insult the Master. In their minds they prepared themselves to protect their Master in case some calamity took place.

When four hours had passed and there was no sign that the Master would either talk or close the meeting, one of the very close disciples stood up and said, “Master, please do not forget your promise.”

The Master immediately said, “My promise. Yes, I have made a promise to you people, so now it is my bounden duty to give a talk. Today my talk will be very short. I wish to say that I have given hundreds of talks, thousands of talks. But who heard my talks? Thousands of ears and thousands of eyes. My students were the ears and the eyes of the audience — thousands and thousands of ears and eyes. But I have failed to teach them anything. Now I want to have a different type of student. My new students will be hearts.

“I have offered messages at thousands of places. These messages entered into one ear and passed out through the other, all in the briefest possible moment. And people saw me giving talks and answering questions. Just for a fleeting second their eyes glimpsed something in me and then it was totally lost. While I was speaking about sublime Truth, Peace, Light and Bliss, the ears could not receive it because the ears were already full of rumour, doubt, jealousy, insecurity and impurity which had accumulated over many years. The ears were totally polluted and did not receive my message. And the eyes did not receive my Truth, Peace, Light and Bliss because the eyes saw everything in their own way. When the human eyes see something beautiful, they immediately start comparing. They say, ‘How is it that he is beautiful, his speech is beautiful, his questions and answers are beautiful? How is it that I cannot be the same?’ And immediately jealousy enters. The human ear and the human eye both respond through jealousy. If the ear hears something good about somebody else, immediately jealousy enters. If the eye sees somebody else who is beautiful, immediately the person becomes jealous.

“The ears and the eyes have played their role. They have proved to be undivine students, and I could not teach them. Their progress has been most unsatisfactory. Now I want new students and I have new students. These students are the hearts, where oneness will grow — oneness with Truth, oneness with Light, oneness with inner beauty, oneness with what God has and what God is. It is the heart-student that has the capacity to identify itself with the Master’s Wisdom, Light and Bliss. And when it identifies itself with the Master, it discovers its own reality: Infinite Truth, Peace, Light and Bliss. The heart is the real listener; the heart is the real observer; the heart is the real student who becomes one with the Master, with the Master’s realisation, with the Master’s vision and with the Master’s eternal light. From now on, the heart will be my only student.”

Pass your Master's test

There was once a great spiritual Master who had many disciples. One day the Master was meditating with about fifty of his disciples. They were all looking at him most devotedly with folded hands. A Yogi happened to walk by. He was not of the same calibre as the Master; he was far inferior. But he was most sincere and he admired the Master’s inner stature. He saw the disciples meditating very devotedly on their Master, and he decided to meditate with them. The Master was most happy to see the Yogi and greeted him very warmly. The Yogi said, “You have such wonderful, devoted disciples. I have never seen a Master with so many devoted disciples as you have.”

Outwardly the Master agreed, but inwardly he was amused to some extent. He said to the Yogi, “I shall show you what kind of disciples I have. Please stay at my ashram until tomorrow.” The Yogi was very happy to be given the privilege of staying at the ashram and he gladly accepted the Master’s invitation.

The next day the Master said to the disciples, “Today I am going into the forest. All of you are invited. But there will be no spirituality, no prayer, no meditation. It will be for sheer amusement. We shall dance and sing and play.”

Immediately three or four disciples said to themselves, “Oh, Master has fallen! He has entered into the life of pleasure. Master has always said that prayer and meditation is most important. We want to meditate, we want to live a spiritual life. It won’t be possible for us to go with him.” So these disciples stayed at the ashram. Among these three or four was the Master’s own son.

About forty disciples agreed to go with the Master, but most of them only went because the Master had invited them, and not with utmost inner joy. Now to those who wanted to go with him, the Master said, “You won’t be allowed to take any food or money. We shall just go into the forest to amuse ourselves.”

They started walking. The Master and the Yogi were in front and the disciples were following. Soon the Master entered into an ecstatic mood and began to dance. The disciples were surprised that their Master was dancing, for he had never done that before. They also began to dance. They were embarrassed, but they danced with the Master.

After they had covered a long distance, many of the disciples were very hungry and thirsty. But they had not brought any food or drink. Suddenly they saw a mango tree laden with hundreds of ripe mangoes. Some of the disciples could not control themselves and without taking the Master’s permission they climbed up the mango tree and ate to their hearts’ content. Although the Master saw them eating, he ignored them. The Master and the Yogi went on.

After the disciples had eaten the mangoes and were satisfied, they knew that the Master would be furious, so instead of continuing, they returned to the Master’s ashram. About fifteen remained with the Master.

After travelling along the road for another few hours, they suddenly saw hundreds of gold coins scattered all over the road. Some of the disciples were tempted and began picking up the coins and putting them into their pockets. They filled their pockets and then they went back to the Master’s ashram.

Now only five disciples remained with the Master and the Yogi. Soon they entered into the thick, dense forest, which was full of wild animals. About forty feet away they saw a tiger sleeping under a bush. The five disciples and the Master and Yogi stopped. The disciples were petrified with fear.

Then the Master said, “This is your final test. I invited you people to come with me today for amusement. Some of my disciples would not even come out of the ashram. They failed immediately. About thirty of my disciples came along with me, but on the way some of them ate mangoes, and some of them gathered up gold coins. They have all gone back to my ashram. So most of my disciples have failed me already. Now only you five remain. This is your final test. You have to go up to the tiger, not in pin-drop silence, but very smartly, in military fashion. You have to go up to the tiger and in the presence of all of us you have to bite its tail. Whoever can do this, I shall publicly declare as my best disciple.”

Everyone was shocked. They were all scared to death. Nobody was ready to sacrifice his life.

The Master turned to the Yogi and said, “Yesterday you said that my disciples were so devoted, but look, not one is willing to go.”

The Yogi said, “Yes, but this test is extremely difficult. It is a most serious kind of test. Even I would have found it most difficult.” The Yogi thought that no spiritual Master could have a disciple devoted enough to be willing to sacrifice his own life for the Master.

Meanwhile, one of the disciples was preparing himself inwardly, preparing his mind and heart, to go and bite the tail of the tiger. “Wait,” said that disciple. “I am ready to go.”

The other four disciples admired him but they were afraid for their own lives. “Yes,” they said, “you will go, but we shall also reap the consequences of your act. When you wake up the tiger, we will also have to go to the other world.”

The Master praised the disciple and said, “I am most proud of you. When you come back I shall reward you.”

Inwardly that disciple was saying, “Yes, but I shall be in the other world,” but he marched over bravely and bit the tail of the tiger. To the wide surprise of everybody, the tiger disappeared, and in its place were two most delicious jackfruits. The disciple immediately started eating the jackfruits and, since the other disciples were very hungry, they also came over and started eating the jackfruits. The Master and the Yogi joined them.

The Master praised the brave and obedient disciple, saying that on their return to the ashram he would declare him his best disciple. The Master also said that since he would soon be leaving the body this disciple would take over his mission and run his ashram.

Then the Master, the Yogi and the five disciples returned to the Master’s ashram. During their absence, the other disciples — those who had not come and those who had returned early — had become embarrassed that they had failed the Master, and almost all of them left his ashram. Only the Master’s son and two other disciples remained. These so-called good disciples were at the ashram. The Master then announced that this disciple would carry on the mission and run the ashram when he left the body. He said, “I offer him all my wealth, all my spiritual wisdom. He will run my ashram when I am no longer on earth. Not only that, but he will run the ashram in my presence for a few days, and I will observe him. Then, when I am gone, he will inherit my spiritual mission.”

The Master’s son immediately protested, “I am your son. It is I who should inherit your spiritual wealth, your position and duties. It is I who should inherit your ashram and run your mission.”

The father said, “No! You are my son, but there is a difference between the physical son and the spiritual son. You did not come with me when you were invited. It is the spiritual son who inherits the Master’s spiritual wealth, not the earthly son.”

The son replied, “I did not go because you always advocate meditation and spirituality, and you said that this was strictly for amusement.”

The father said, “You are a fool. Being with me is the best meditation. When the Master invites you to go somewhere with him, no matter what the activity, you should go. Being with the Master is a far better meditation than staying at home and doing your individual meditation. When the Master invites you, that is not the time for you to sit in your room and meditate. Who gives you your realisation? The Master or your own meditation? What the Master says is the best meditation, and not what the disciple thinks is best.

“You have failed me, but I am sure this disciple of mine will forgive you and accept you as his disciple. In the future, you will be given another chance to become the best disciple.”

Two strangers: money and light

There was once a great spiritual Master who had all together about twenty disciples. Either he did not care for more disciples or God was not kind enough to give him more disciples. Anyway, he was most pleased with his twenty disciples. As in the case of all spiritual Masters, he had three or four disciples who were very close, very intimate disciples. Among these very intimate disciples there was one disciple whose name was Isabella. She had a spiritual brother named Quentin. According to her simplicity and sincerity, that spiritual brother was very nice. According to her soul’s light and wisdom, perhaps he would have been otherwise. Some other day I will tell a story about Isabella. Today I would like to tell a story about her spiritual brother, Quentin, who was in no way a close disciple of the Master.

Quentin used to go to the ashram regularly. He was always one of the earliest arrivals. The first arrival was another brilliant disciple, whose name was Quincey, who was not too friendly with Quentin. In those days the Master needed some disciples to help him with his filing system. Quentin was very nice about helping. Even now, when the Master sees his handwriting, he blesses his soul. Now Quentin was the poorest, absolutely the poorest of all his disciples. He lived in Brooklyn and, since he didn’t have money for the subway, the poor Guru had to give him money. Sometimes the Guru himself had seven dollars or, if he was lucky, as much as twenty-five dollars in the bank, but the Guru happened to be an Indian rascal with an Indian heart, so he always gave Quentin money for bus fare. Then Quentin used to come to the ashram with filthy, dirty shoes, though perhaps his shoes were cleaner than his feet. Sometimes the Master would discover rat holes in the shoes, and he would give him money to buy new shoes. The Master was dead against long hair, so when Quentin’s hair began to get shaggy around the ears, the Master would give him money to get a haircut. And so it went on. Quentin knew the Master’s poverty, but apparently his own was worse.

On several occasions, when the Master was in his monkey mood, he used to ask Quentin if he knew Isabella. Always the answer was, “No, not at all.” “Have you spoken to her for anything?” “Never, never,” was the invariable reply. One day when the meditation session was over and Isabella had left, the Master was in a joking mood. Whenever the Master saw that his disciples were in other worlds, he became a real monkey. Poor Quentin was desperately trying to get away without being rude, but the Master kept talking to him. But finally he felt sorry for Quentin and let him go. Then the Master looked out his window and saw Isabella cross the street at a green light. After she had crossed and the light had turned yellow, then red, the Master saw Quentin dash across the street against the red light to join her. On that very day, the Master had asked Quentin if he knew Isabella and he had said, “No, I don’t know who she is.” Quentin was certainly not the Master’s most sincere disciple.

In spite of all this, the Master used to help Quentin financially, since he was the poorest of all the disciples. At least the Master could say that he was richer than one disciple. For about a year and a half Quentin went to the Master’s ashram. Then one day he called up the Master and said, “Master, I need an interview with you.” In those days the Master had only a handful of disciples, and a phone call was a rare occurrence. So he said, “Yes, come.”

When Quentin opened the door he burst into tears and fell down at the Master’s feet. The Master could not account for it. “What is wrong with you, Quentin?” he asked.

“Nothing is wrong. You have to forgive me, you have to forgive me,” came the tearful reply.

The Master said, “What have you done that I have to forgive you?”

“I have done everything. If you don’t forgive me, I shall not have a place even in hell.”

The Master reassured Quentin saying, “Don’t worry. Heaven can accommodate you safely, very safely.”

Then Quentin took his bankbook out of his pocket and showed it to the Master. It showed seven thousand nine hundred dollars! The Master buried his head in his hands and contemplated what his disciple had done. “What can I do?” he asked himself.

As if in reply to the Master’s question, Quentin said, “I told you a lie. Now you have to forgive me and take all this.”

“After you have told me this kind of lie? Impossible!”

“Then I will not leave your ashram. If you take this money, only then will it mean that I am forgiven by you and by God.”

“Impossible!” said the Master.

And so it went on, with Quentin crying and insisting that the Master take his money, and the Master refusing. Quentin cried and cried, and even threatened to commit suicide if the Master did not accept his money. He told the Master that he had two thousand dollars in his checking account, in addition to the money in his savings account. So if the Master took all the money from his savings, he could still easily meet with his expenses from his checking account. The Master vehemently protested, but finally he felt sorry for Quentin and agreed that on his birthday, which was about four months away, he would accept one thousand dollars. Eventually Quentin accepted this compromise.

About three weeks later, stories began reaching the Master from other disciples that the Master had told Quentin that he would throw him out of the ashram unless Quentin gave him seven thousand nine hundred dollars. One, two, three disciples brought the Master the same news. The Master defended himself by saying, “How could I have known anything about his savings if he had not shown me his bankbook and offered the money to me? He did do that, but I did not want to accept even a penny.”

At the end of the next meditation meeting, the Master said to Quentin, “Is it fair of you to say I have threatened to throw you out of the ashram if you do not give me all your savings? How many hours I protested against taking even a cent! Stay with me if you want to. I care for your soul, so you may stay. But I will never accept any money from you.”

A few days later the Master heard that Quentin was now telling people that the Master had set a deadline — that if Quentin did not give the Master his savings and checking accounts by the Master’s birthday, then the Master would throw him out of the ashram. At this point the Master got disgusted with Quentin and the next time he came to the ashram, early of course, the Master said, “Leave my ashram. I can’t bear you any more.”

During the year and a half that Quentin had come to the Master’s ashram, he had given the Master two gifts: a tiny statue of the goddess Saraswati, and a book written by Paramahansa Yogananda, called Whispers from Eternity. When the Master asked him not to come to his ashram any more, Quentin said to the Master, “Give me back my statue.” The Master immediately gave it to him.

“Now give me my book!” said Quentin.

“I have seventy or eighty books here on this shelf, and I do not know where it is. I will find it later and send it to you. The disciples will soon be coming for meditation, so please leave now and I will mail it to you.”

But Quentin said, “No, I will not go. I will not leave the place until you give me my book.”

So the Master had to use his occult power to find the book quickly. He gave it to Quentin and said, “Now go.”

“No, I am going to call the police and tell them that you are throwing me out when I have done nothing wrong. I shall file a complaint against you.”

At this the Master became absolutely furious. Luckily enough, the strongest member of the ashram was climbing up the staircase just at that moment. The Master said to him, “Gregory, I have asked Quentin to leave, but he refuses to go. Will you please help him down the stairs.” Gregory just showed his muscles, and Quentin felt that if he offered any resistance his hours would be numbered, so he very peacefully left.

A few days later the same old story began circulating again. Quentin was telling the disciples that the Master threw him out of the ashram because he would not give him all his savings. Then one day the Master received a letter from Quentin saying: “I have a gun and my mother says that I am insane, so I can do anything I want to with my life and with others’ lives without being responsible. I wish to say that I will use my gun on you.” The Master did not answer this letter. A few days later another letter arrived from Quentin. This time the story had changed. Quentin said he was ready to take his own life if the Master did not accept him again.

The Master went deep within and got no response. He went still deeper trying to see if it was the divine Will that he accept Quentin again. During his meditation the Master saw inwardly that Quentin would not take his own life, and that he should not accept him again. Afterwards, he was inspired to write a few things about money for his other disciples. This is what he wrote: “Traditionally, money is considered to be the root of evil. But if money is used for a divine purpose from the beginning it is not a curse. If you have money, but want to deceive the Master into thinking that you are suffering very much financially, your deception will one day be exposed. If you have money, no harm. You can have millions of dollars if you want, and the Master will never expect a penny from you. He will have only good wishes and concern for your material wealth and spiritual wealth. But if you tell the Master you have no money and ask him for financial help, a day will come when your Inner Pilot, not the Master, will punish you. You will eventually be compelled to be sincere. At that time if your sincerity is deep and earnest, you will be forgiven. But if your sincerity is eclipsed by worldly thoughts, greed and more insincerity, then the death of your spiritual life begins. Money properly used is a blessing. Money used in an undivine way or money consciously concealed from the Master will sooner or later prove to be a curse.”

The Master saw that insincerity and spirituality cannot go together. Never! As soon as insincerity enters into a disciple, he is lost. If a disciple has peace of mind or love or concern for others, but out of false modesty says, “I don’t have peace, I don’t have love, I don’t have joy,” this false modesty is a curse. It is as bad as jealousy, fear and doubt. Real modesty is exploited by false modesty. When the Master appreciates a disciple, modesty is good, but it must not be carried to extremes. Inside the very depth of your heart you know that what the Master says is true, but when he appreciates you, you feel that if you show modesty he will be pleased, and you carry your false modesty so far that you refuse to accept the Master’s appreciation at all. This is wrong. The Master’s appreciation must be accepted with deep and sincere gratitude.

In the spiritual life we have to be very careful of how we use what we have, whether it is spiritual wealth or material wealth. Every kind of wealth has to be used in a divine way; otherwise all of us will one day act like Quentin. If you have something, it is wonderful. You are under no obligation to give your wealth, inner or outer, to others. But if you say that you don’t have any wealth and ask others who have far less than you to give you some of theirs, then you are doing something very bad. You have no right to exploit others by making them feel that they are far better off than you. That is not fair. If you have money or if you have Peace, Light or Joy, do not say, “I don’t have anything.” Your Master or your Inner Pilot will soon be disgusted with you, and they may take away even the little Joy, Love and Peace that you have. God has given us all some inner wealth, aspiration. If he has given us outer wealth as well, let us not sacrifice our inner wealth, which is infinitely more precious, in trying to keep our outer wealth secret.

Not Krishna, but you, Master

There was once a great Yogi who used to meditate twelve to fourteen hours a day, in spite of the fact that he had already achieved God-realisation. He felt this was necessary to keep the inner vessel always clean so that he could receive infinite inner wealth and offer it to the world at large. This Yogi was simplicity incarnate, purity incarnate, beauty incarnate, divinity incarnate. He was blessed with tremendous occult power and solid spiritual power.

One night, or rather, in the small hours of the morning around three o’clock, an old disciple knocked at the Yogi’s door. When the Yogi opened it, he saw his disciple crying bitterly. The disciple showed the Yogi a telegram, which said that the disciple’s only son had had a heart attack, and that it was only a matter of a few hours before he would die. This son lived in a city quite far away, so the father was beside himself with sorrow that he would not be able to see his son again. The disciple started begging the Yogi to cure his son. “Please, please,” he cried, “don’t let my son die.”

“Repeat the name of Krishna. Just say ‘Krishna, Krishna, Krishna’ over and over again,” said the Yogi.

The disciple said, “Master, Krishna will not do anything for my son. It is you who will have to do that.”

The Master replied, “If you insult my Krishna, my Guru, then your son will immediately die. You have to repeat ‘Krishna, Krishna, Krishna’. Krishna is the only medicine.”

“You have all faith in Krishna, Master. But I have no faith in him.”

“How is it that you do not have faith in Krishna? Krishna is my own Guru.”

“I do not have it. What can I do?”

“If you don’t have it, then right now create it. Repeat Krishna’s name and your son will be cured.”

“No! Krishna will not hear my prayer. I have done millions of absurd, undivine things, and I have never prayed to him or worshipped him. Why should he listen to me now? If I call on Krishna only at a time of danger or difficulty, why should he listen to my call?”

“Krishna knows all human weaknesses. At least you are ready to call on him at the time of your difficulties. There are many who do not call on God even when they are beset with difficulties. There are many who say, ‘If you are so kind, how is it that I am in difficulty?’ Already God has proved to them that He is cruel, so they say, ‘Why should I pray to Him? I won’t pray to Him.’ But I will not accept this attitude in my disciples. If you cannot call on Krishna, then please leave my house.”

“Master, I am ready to leave your house, but first please do me a great favour.”

“What is it?”

“You cure my son. Please repeat Krishna’s name on my behalf. I will stand in front of you with folded hands.”

“All right. I agree to your proposal. Now for fifteen minutes you stand in front of me and feel that your son is my concern, your son is Krishna’s concern.”

He said, “Master, I can’t believe in Krishna’s concern, but if you say my son is your concern, I believe you.”

“If you feel that he is not Krishna’s concern, then I will not be able to cure him.”

“All right, I shall feel that he is Krishna’s concern. I will listen to you.”

Then the Yogi began to repeat Krishna’s name. All of a sudden there was a knock at the door. The Yogi opened the door, and the disciple’s servant came in and delivered a telegram to his master. The disciple said to the Yogi, “Look, Master, it is all your grace, not Krishna’s grace. The telegram says my son will live. You have cured my son.” The Yogi said, “It was neither Krishna nor I who cured your son. It was your faith in me that cured him. You do not have faith in Krishna, so Krishna did not want to cure your son. I do not have the power to cure your son. It was your faith in me that cured your son.”

Then the Yogi gave some sound advice to his disciple. He said, “Even if you can’t pray and meditate regularly, do it whenever you have difficulty. At least at that time you can pray and meditate. When you pray to God when you are in difficulty or in danger, or during a catastrophe, if you get God’s blessing then, you will feel a sense of gratitude and inner remorse that you have been neglecting God and ignoring Him for so long. If you pray only at the time of necessity, there is no harm. God will not misunderstand you. God will not think that you are an opportunist or an insincere fellow. He will think that you are wise to come to Him for help when you are in need.

“If you do not come to Him at the time of necessity, then you are a fool. You are offering your stupidity to God for a second time. When you don’t pray to God regularly, that is your first stupidity, utter stupidity. And if you do not think of Him, pray to Him, meditate on Him, when you are in danger or difficulty, then you have made the same mistake a second time. The first time you are ignorant, so God will forgive you. The second time you are arrogant, and God will not forgive you so easily. God will forgive you if you offer your ignorance to Him, but if you do not offer your ignorance either at the beginning or in the middle or at the end, then God will not be able to help you or save your dear ones.

“It is never too late to pray to God. When you start, that is the right moment for you. When you start walking along the right path that is the right moment for you. But the sooner you start, the sooner you will reach the goal.”

The message of divine freedom

There was once a spiritual Master who was very kind, very affectionate to his disciples. He used to use his occult and spiritual power to help them in every possible way. Very often he took on himself illness from the disciples who were close to him. He knew that if he accepted the punishment which they deserved according to the cosmic law, then his disciples would remain safe. So hundreds and thousands of times he took on his own body the punishment that belonged to his disciples.

One day the Master fell down and he broke his knee while descending a staircase. He was taken to the hospital immediately. The doctors did what they could, but the pain was excruciating. The spiritual Master was given chloroform, and he had to go through some surgery.

Many disciples came to the hospital to see the Master, but the doctors did not allow them in. Only one or two selected disciples were allowed to go into his room. The Master remained in a coma for quite a long time.

Now at one point, during a brief interval when there was nobody in the Master’s room, not even a nurse, it happened that the Master disappeared. The doctors and disciples searched all over for him, but the Master was nowhere to be found.

“Where has he gone? The Master was in a coma and he had a broken knee. How could he disappear?” they all asked one another. “We don’t know,” was the invariable answer.

The Master had used his occult power to return to his own house, and when the disciples who had been at the hospital finally returned there, they were astonished to find the Master in his own bed giving sermons to some of his disciples. Three of the disciples who had been at the hospital asked the Master, “How and why did you do it? Since you have such capacity, why did you allow yourself to break your knee in the first place? Why did you allow us to take you to the hospital? And why did you disappear in this occult way?”

The Master said, “First I made an experiment with my spiritual oneness. Then I made an experiment of my human oneness. Finally I made myself one with my spiritual reality again.”

The disciples could not understand this, and they asked the Master to be more explicit.

The Master said, “I allowed my knee to be fractured because I had to save seven close disciples. Two or three of them would have been in the other world, and the rest would have committed serious blunders and immediately fallen to the level of my seventh class disciples or I would have had to ask them to leave my Centre at once, if I had not hurt my knee. In order to protect and save them, in order to fight against their ignorance, I had to break my knee and take all their karma.

“Then the natural course is to go to a doctor. With my spiritual oneness I saved them, taking their punishment on myself. And then, because of my oneness with medical science, with human knowledge, I allowed myself to be taken to the doctor. The doctors helped me according to their own capacity. I take spiritual help from within to help my disciples, and I take human help, medical help, from without to save myself.

“When I knew that I had suffered enough and the law of karma was over, then I used my spiritual power, spiritual capacity, spiritual light, spiritual reality, again. We start with spiritual oneness, then go on to human oneness, then go back to the oneness where nothing is affected, where it is all Light and Delight, and the message of divine Freedom is omnipresent.”

'God' leaves the Master's ashram

There was once a spiritual Master who was a real fake. Nowadays we talk of fake spiritual Masters, but I wish to say that this fake Master topped the list. No spiritual Master was as unillumined, imperfect and undivine as this one. He did not have even an iota of the realisation of Truth, but he had the realisation of deception in infinite measure.

This Master had a small ashram at the foot of the Himalayas. There were ten or twelve disciples living there. One of them was extremely beautiful. Perhaps he was the most beautiful young man on earth. His beauty was overwhelming. The Master could not bear to see it go to waste, and he often wondered how he could put it to good use.

One day a brilliant idea struck the Master’s mind. He thought that he would be able to play a trick on all the sincere and insincere seekers in the countryside, and make a lot of money. So the Master proclaimed that he would be able to show God to anyone, regardless of how many years or how many months or how many days that person had practised Yoga. He claimed that he could show the Face of God to anyone — on one condition, of course: that the seeker would pay a rather large sum of money in advance. The fee he settled upon was one hundred rupees.

Every evening the Master showed ‘God’ to those seekers who were able to pay the fee. What he did was this: In a dark room he had his most beautiful disciple, arrayed in gorgeous attire, stand behind a screen. One person at a time entered the darkened room. Then the Master chanted “Aum” a few times, and “Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva” a few times. Then the Master lit a very dim light, and the disciple stepped out from behind the screen. There in the flickering candlelight, surrounded by flowers and burning incense, about twenty feet away, they saw a being so beautiful that they did not doubt that it was the living Presence of God. The unimaginable beauty of the young man convinced everyone. This deception went on for many months, and the Master accumulated a large fortune. Every day twenty or thirty people came to see ‘God’ face to face, and from each person the Master himself collected one hundred rupees. The Master gave the disciples who helped him arrange everything a very small amount of money to keep them quiet. And they believed that their Master knew what he was doing, which he did, indeed.

“The Master knows what is best,” the disciples always said. “If he deceives people, what does it matter? They are fools to think that they can see God without following the spiritual life. We should maintain faith in our Master.” This was their conclusion.

The disciple who posed as God naturally got a little more money than the other disciples. The other disciples helped the Master create the proper atmosphere, but of course the beautiful disciple was the indispensable one.

After almost two years had gone by, the false ‘God’ became a little bit conscience-stricken. “How long am I going to deceive the world?” he asked himself. “I am not making any spiritual progress or even any worldly progress. I am only making my Master rich. Since my spiritual life is a failure, let me take some money from my Master and go away from here.”

The next day he went to the Master and said, “I don’t want to deceive the world any more. Please give me some money and let me go away.”

The Master said, “Money? Why should I give you money? You will take away my little savings and leave me here to starve. You ungrateful creature! After all the things I have done for you! After all the money I have lavished upon you!” The disciple replied, “And where did this money come from? It came from me, from my beauty.”

“No, it is my occult power that brings people, and it is my occult power that makes people see in you the Presence of God. It is all my occult power.”

The disciple did not believe it. “All right,” he said, “if it is your occult power that makes others see God in me, then use your occult power to make them see God in somebody else. Meanwhile, I shall walk around the countryside and show myself to everybody, and they will see how badly they have been deceived by you.”

The Master said, “No! You must leave here. You must go very far away!”

“I will leave,” said the disciple. “If you give me a large amount of money, I will go away peacefully and quietly. If not, I will expose you.”

“No! You must go away immediately!” the Master shouted. “And I will not give you a single rupee!”

“Then I am going to stay around here and tell people what you have done. You are a fake and I was a fool. Now I know, and I will expose you to the world. If you don’t give me two thousand rupees, you will soon lose everything.”

“Don’t threaten me,” said the Master. “Tonight I shall use my occult power and make you leave here tomorrow morning.” The disciple laughed. “All right, you use your occult power. In three days if you cannot get rid of me, then you will be ruined.”

The next morning arrived and nothing happened. The Master could do nothing with his occult power. Reluctantly, the Master said, “I am ready to give you one hundred rupees.”

“No,” said the disciple. “I have changed my mind. You have to give me at least four thousand rupees. If you don’t, I will tell the world about your deception. I am not God. God knows how many incarnations it will take me to see God, now that I have become such a rogue by mixing with you. I have delayed my own spiritual progress by mixing with a fake like you.”

The Master grew furious again. “Don’t call me a fake! Get out of my ashram! Get out! If you don’t get out today, I will use all my occult power tonight and destroy you!”

“Destroy me,” said the disciple nonchalantly.

Nothing happened that night. The following day the disciple went to the Master and said, “Master, be sincere at least once in your life. You have no occult power. Admit it. Confess that you have nothing and that you have deceived the world badly. God will forgive you, I am sure. But I will not forgive you. I have wasted my time with you for six or seven years. Now please give me the four thousand rupees and I will go away peacefully, without telling anybody about your deception.”

Then the Master said, “I can make you leave this place immediately. Come here. I have something to tell you.”

“There is nothing you can tell me that will compel me to leave. If I want to leave, I will leave, but I want money from you first. If you do not give it to me, I will not leave this place.”

But the Master insisted, “Come here, come here, I have to tell you something.”

The disciple finally came and the Master whispered something in his ear.

The disciple turned pale and began to tremble. “Inhuman! My mother! Unthinkable! Unbearable! How foul your tongue is! I can’t stand the sight of you! Keep your money, you rogue, you scoundrel. I can tolerate anything in this world, but how can a son hear such bad things about his mother from a spiritual Master? You came into the world with an unbearable nature, unbearable character, unbearable life, but of all your unthinkable, unbearable, undivine qualities, the worst, absolutely the worst, is your tongue. I leave you! I leave you for good. Your occult power could not destroy me, but your evil tongue-power has literally destroyed me. My mother, the soul of beauty, the soul of purity, the soul of love, the soul of compassion, Mother of everything, I am returning to you — my mother, my all.”

With these words, the disciple left the Master’s ashram and was never seen in the vicinity again. But the Master was soon seen in the vicinity and, in fact, all over India sporting flashy clothes and expensive jewellery, cruising up and down the coast in a luxurious yacht and speeding around the countryside in a custom-made sports car. The money that the Master did not immediately lavish on material possessions, he invested in a prosperous steel factory. And so he lived comfortably to a ripe old age, supported by the ignorance of thousands of lazy, idle and curious seekers who were ready to do anything for their God-realisation except work for it.

The telephone blesses the Master

There was once a very great spiritual Master who had many disciples of all ages. Unfortunately, all of the disciples had problems, and the Master used to spend a lot of time talking on the telephone. This Master did not sleep very much. In the small hours of the morning, when his disciples were all home in bed, he used to meditate on them and on the Earth consciousness.

At midnight one night, the Master’s telephone rang. He picked up the phone and heard an elderly lady saying, “Mary, Mary, how many times did I tell you not to marry that guy?” Then she hung up.

The Master knew it was a wrong number, but he felt sorry that this woman’s daughter had made a bad marriage. So the spiritual Master prayed, “O Mother of the Saviour, do take care of Your namesake and protect Your sacred name.”

At three o’clock that morning the Master’s telephone rang again. This time the caller was a middle-aged man. “Why don’t you die at this very moment so that I can have my children back?” he shouted at the Master. “Why don’t you have children of your own and play with them? Why do you have to play with my children?” Then he hung up.

The Master used his occult power to find out who the man was, and the next day he told the man’s children to go back to their father.

The children said to the Master, “Master, we shall go back to our parents, although we have done nothing wrong to you. It is our parents who have insulted you. But since you have asked us to go back to them, we shall go. And we shall forgive your injustice. But we shall not forget the love and compassion which you have shown us on so many occasions.”

That night, the Master got a phone call at four o’clock. A young girl said to him, “Did God tell you that you have realised Him, or is it your own imagination that says so?”

The Master said to the girl, “God didn’t tell me of His own accord, but I forced Him to say that I have realised Him and that it is not my imagination. It is my declaration through God’s lips that I have realised God.”

At five o’clock in the morning the telephone rang again. A young man’s voice said, “Why do you think of yourself as God? What is wrong with you?”

The Master used his occult power and saw that the youth was a hippie and a drug addict. Then he answered, “Nothing is wrong with me. I don’t consider myself God; I consider myself God’s lion and God’s dog. When I stand before a person like you, I feel that I am God’s roaring lion. When I stand in front of my devoted disciples, I feel that I am God’s faithful dog.”

At six o’clock the Master got another call. This time it was from a young, arrogant disciple of his, who said to the Master, “What right have you to talk about marriage? My wife and I got married long before we came to your path. You have no right to break up a happy marriage.”

The Master replied, “True, I have no right to break up a happy marriage, but I have every right to break up your loveless, heartless, baleful and baneful marriage. For that is what your souls want, and that is what God wants.” Then he hung up on the disciple.

The telephone disturbed him again at seven o’clock. A young girl disciple said to him, “Master, please do me a favour. I really want to marry Roger. I desperately need him. Please tell him to marry me.”

The Master said, “Have you asked Roger whether he needs you desperately, as well?”

“I asked him,” the young girl replied, “but he said that the one he needs desperately is you, and not me. What am I going to do?”

“My child, please be just,” the Master said. “Since he needs me desperately, and I also need him, please allow me to have him. Since we want each other, we deserve to get each other. And if you want to please him, then try to please me. For that will please him most.”

At eight o’clock the telephone rang again. An elderly lady said to the Master, “How dare you ask my daughter to marry a Jew! We are all staunch Catholics. You are simply throwing my daughter to the dogs! It is like asking me to give a pound of flesh right from my chest! You are the Shylock of the twentieth century!”

The Master replied, “True, I am the Shylock of the twentieth century, but where is the Portia of the twentieth century to save you?”

At nine o’clock the Master got another call. An elderly man said, “You unthinkable, incredible impostor! How dare you ask my son to marry a Christian girl? I tell you, even your Jesus Christ would not approve of this match. For my sake, for Christ’s sake, stop this marriage! If you don’t, you will definitely go to hell!”

The Master said, “I am so happy to hear that you are ready to send me to hell. I wish to go there immediately, for the place I am living in now is infinitely worse than hell!”

At ten o’clock the telephone rang again. This time the Master did not answer it. When it stopped ringing, he immediately called the telephone company and asked them to remove the telephone from his house.

The seeker-writer

There once was a seeker who had some sincerity in him. He was also a writer who had written many books. Of his most important books, the first one was about animals, the second one was about man, the third one was about himself and the fourth one was about God. Animals, man, himself and God — these were the subjects of his four most significant books.

He said to himself, “Now that I have written these books, let me go and read them aloud to the most powerful among the animals, to the highest among men, to the best inside of myself and to God.”

So he went into the forest and climbed up a tall tree. After he settled himself, he started reading out the portion from his animal book that dealt with the lion. “Lion, you are the king of the animals. You are the most powerful, and at the same time the most beautiful. You are always majestic. You do not kill other animals except when you are hungry.” His book went on to appreciate the many fine qualities of the lion, for whom he felt great admiration.

Suddenly, to his horror, a lion started roaring nearby. He exclaimed, “Look at this ungrateful animal! I appreciated him highly, but instead of being pleased and grateful, he wants to kill me.” The seeker-writer was totally disgusted with so ungrateful an animal, and he waited in silence for the lion to go away. After one full hour, the lion left. When he was quite sure the lion had left him, he climbed down and went away, muttering, “Absolutely ungrateful animal!”

When he had recovered a little, he said, “Among men, who is the highest? The King.” So he went to the King’s palace and said, “O King, I have something to read to you. I have written extensively about human beings but I know that you are the highest, you are the greatest among men. And now I would like to read out what I have written about you.”

The King nodded in agreement, and the writer began to read from his book. “You are the most powerful King, and have conquered all other Kings. We are very proud of you. To see you is to see the Face of God. Because you are the highest among men, you represent God on earth.” Reading like this, he flattered the King for several minutes.

When the King had heard all that was written, he said briefly, “Thank you.”

The writer became angry and indignant. He said to himself, “I have given him such high appreciation, admiration and adoration in my writings, and he just says, ‘Thank you.’ What an ungrateful King!” But he did not dare to say it out loud. Only to himself he said, “Look at this ungrateful man!”

When he reached his home he said, “Inside me my soul is my best possession. So now let me speak to my soul.” He started reading out in front of his soul. “O Soul, you are the purest, you are the best in me. You are the most beautiful. Without you I would not exist. You are indispensable. It is you that I always need, not the body.”

The soul gave a broad smile.

Once again the writer was angry. “For fifteen minutes I have appreciated you, admired you, saying that you are by far the best member in my family, and you just give me a smile.” He grew angrier yet, and said, “The soul is simply useless. It does not know at all how to accept appreciation and offer gratitude.”

Then the writer-seeker went to God. Standing in front of Him he said, “O God, You are so kind. Look at Your vast Creation. You are all Compassion. It is only because You exist on earth that we are all on earth. Everywhere Your Compassion reigns supreme.”

God said very simply, “It is all right.”

“Oh God! For such a long time I have appreciated You, and You just say that it is all right? What an ungrateful God You are! You should have blessed me and said something nice about me. I have appreciated You, I have admired You, I have adored You, I have worshipped You, but alas, You are still another ungrateful person on earth.”

Puzzled and disgusted, the writer said to himself, “Since all the highest and most superior are so ungrateful, let me go to the simpler ones who are a little inferior. I shall show the superior ones something about appreciation by going to those below them.”

So once again he went into the forest. To himself he said, “Now, next to the lion is the tiger.” He climbed up a high tree and when he was settled he started speaking highly of the tiger: “O Tiger, you have such great strength. I feel you are too modest. You can easily defeat the lion. When I look at you I get tremendous joy, because your face shows solid strength. The lion has no strength compared to you. The lion only knows how to roar.” In this way he belittled the lion.

The tiger heard and was very happy. He was being given such praise while the lion was getting only criticism. So the tiger started roaming around, feeling proud and happy, and as he moved here and there he noticed a ring. He put it into his mouth only to discover that it was something not edible. He did not know, of course, that it was a gold ring, or even what gold was. All he knew was that the ring was not edible. So he dropped the ring on the ground and moved off into the forest. As it happened, he dropped it at the foot of the tree in which the writer was sitting.

When the tiger had left, the writer came down safely and saw the gold ring. It was a beautiful and most expensive ring. Delighted, he exclaimed, “Look at the appreciation of this animal. The tiger has listened to my praise and has given me this beautiful gold ring. I can sell it for hundreds of rupees. At last I have found one grateful creature.”

Then he went to the Minister at the King’s palace. Next in importance to the King is the Minister. The writer started praising the Minister highly. He said, “You know, soon you will become the King, but already you are the greatest person on earth. There are so many things you have done for the King, but the King himself takes all the glory. You have worked so hard, but just because the King is above you, he takes all the glory. Actually it is you who deserve it.” The writer lavished much appreciation and admiration upon the Minister.

The Minister was greatly flattered. He looked carefully around to make sure the King was not there, and then he gave the writer one thousand rupees. The writer was thrilled and said to himself delightedly, “See, the superior people are so ungrateful, whereas the ones who are just a little inferior are so grateful.”

After he reached home he said, “Now, next to my soul is my heart.” So he started speaking to his heart. “O my Heart, you are so nice; you are so kind. You always feel for others. We talk so much about the soul. But where is the soul? You are the one everybody can see and feel. Doctors can see you and feel you. When we breathe in we can feel a palpitation, and it is all inside you. You are so kind, affectionate and compassionate. Without you we can’t exist. When you fail, when you stop functioning, we die. So you are the only indispensable one in my life.”

To his consternation, the heart started crying.

Astonished, the writer asked, “Why are you crying?”

The heart said, “I am crying because you are a fool. I am not indispensable. It is only the soul that is indispensable. You have to give the soul its proper value. You must know that the soul is infinitely more beautiful than I am. The soul has a divine spark, a divine light. I only feel sorry for your stupidity. You are appreciating the wrong person. It is the soul that deserves this kind of praise and admiration, not I. Never!”

The writer said, “Look how nice the heart is. I am appreciating it so fully and it gives all the credit to the soul, the soul that was so nasty.” He was very touched, and he deeply appreciated the heart’s nobility and generosity.

Next he went to one of the minor cosmic gods. He stood in front of him and said, “Oh, who cares for God? We go to Him, we appreciate and adore Him, we praise Him, and He just says, ‘It is all right.’ Now I say it’s all wrong. It seems to me that God has become old and does not talk sensibly. He does not know how to appreciate even an ordinary being. God is not doing anything well. O minor god, your beauty surpasses God’s, and you are far wiser than God. In a few years you are going to transcend God and replace Him, and you will be able to rule the present creation much better than God.” While extolling the cosmic god to the sky, the writer placed a flower at his feet. “I didn’t place a flower at the Feet of God. But you rightly deserve my appreciation, admiration and adoration. So to you I offer the flower.”

The cosmic god said, “You fool! Do I deserve this kind of thing? He is the Lord. He is the Supreme.” And then the cosmic god took the flower and placed it at the Feet of God, and bowed down to the omnipotent God, the Supreme.

The writer was deeply impressed and said to himself, “Look at the cosmic god’s nobility. All my appreciation, admiration and adoration he could easily have kept for himself. He could easily have said, ‘I am glad that you have realised my capacity.’ But no! He offered all the appreciation, admiration and adoration that I offered him at the Feet of God, the Supreme. People think that he is inferior to God, but look at his heart’s magnanimity. To me, he is the one who is really superior.

“Now I have come to realise that all the inferiors are far superior to their so-called superiors. In each case it has been proved. The tiger showed gratitude, the Minister showed appreciation with money, the heart showed its sincerity and nobility and the cosmic god offered all my adoration to the Supreme God. This proves that those who are great are not really great, and those who are not great are really great.”

The seeker-writer went home very pleased with his discovery. After he fell asleep that night, he saw a most beautiful human being all of a sudden standing in front of him. The being appeared to be a saint. The seeker asked, “What do you want from me?”

The saint said, “I have come only to see you.”

The seeker said, “Today I have been terribly disappointed. All the time I used to cherish the idea that the superior would be superior in every way. But now I am seeing that the inferior are actually superior to the superior.”

The saint said, “Now tell me, how do the superior become inferior and the inferior become superior?” So the writer told the whole story.

Then the saint said, “Unfortunately you are mistaken. You are simply a fool.”

“What do you mean I am a fool? Why do you think I am a fool?”

The saint said, “When the lion was roaring, it was not because he wanted to devour you. On the contrary, he was roaring with tremendous joy and inspiration. The lion felt that your appreciation made him stronger. Your praise had energised the lion to such an extent that he wanted to show his courage and strength. That is why he was showing you, through his thunderous roaring, his own gratitude. He was also telling the other animals: ‘Look, here I am well appreciated even by the human beings.’ So it was gratitude he was offering to you, but you misunderstood him.”

The saint continued: “You wrote a few things about the King highly appreciating him, and the King said, ‘Thank you.’ But you must understand that the King does not care for this kind of appreciation. Every day he gets lots of appreciation and admiration from men who are far more important than you. You are only an ordinary man, yet the King allowed you to come to his palace, he listened to you, and he most kindly said, ‘Thank you.’ You must remember that he is a great man and has many, many things to do. Kings don’t usually even say ‘Thank you.’ They just nod their heads. Yet your most generous King has given his very precious time and also said, ‘Thank you.’ What more can you expect from a great King? To get a ‘thank you’ from the King is really something.”

After a pause, the saint said, “Now, about the soul. When you spoke highly of the soul, the soul smiled at you most beautifully and divinely. To get a smile from the soul is not a common thing. After all, the soul represents God on earth. When this soul of yours gave you a generous smile, it offered its own divinity to you. So you saw and received your soul’s divinity in the form of a smile, and you say that the soul didn’t appreciate you or give you anything. You are such a fool!”

The saint paused once more, and then went on. “Now, about God. You appreciated, admired and adored God, and God said to you, ‘It is all right.’ When God tells you ‘It is all right,’ that means that what you have said is perfect. Look, we human beings say everything wrong, we write everything wrong, we do everything wrong. For God to say that what you wrote is all right means that God has fully sanctioned all your writings. It means that He is telling you that what you have written is absolutely correct, absolutely right. You fool, God has appreciated you much more than you actually deserved. If God told me that something I said or did was all right, I would be so proud, so utterly delighted. We are all ignorant people. For us to do anything right, and to hear from God that it is all right, is the height of glory. What more do we need? What more can we deserve?”

He continued, “The superior are always superior and will remain so. But we are not able to understand them. When we do not understand, we go to those inferior to them and try to create a problem between the superior and the inferior. But if we are sincere, if we are earnest, then we will come to see that the superior are always superior. And the superior will offer their appreciation in a different way from those lower than they. When we mix with the inferiors, just because we ourselves are equal to them, we understand their appreciation perfectly well. But when we actually mix with the real superiors, we do not understand their way of appreciation.”

My ashram is a miniature world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When the Yogi touched the scorpion, it immediately died.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How do you know?”

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

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

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

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

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

Translations of this page: Russian , German
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