A lost friend

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A lost friend

There was once an extremely advanced seeker who stayed in the ashram of a very great spiritual Master. The seeker's name was Brahmamoy. In his previous incarnation he had been a great Yogi. Now, at the age of sixteen he was already meditating for six, seven, eight, nine, sometimes ten hours a day to regain his spiritual realisation, revising the pages of the book that he once knew so well. Many of his brother and sister disciples in the ashram felt something in him. They saw his shining purity and they appreciated his inner wealth, but they didn't realise his true height, for he was extremely humble and lived as one of them, working at his daily job of peeling potatoes in the ashram dining hall. Many people secretly mocked at him, for they thought the Master must be displeased with Brahmamoy to give him such a menial task. His family and friends felt miserable about it, but Brahmamoy was very happy since it was a simple job and permitted him much free time to meditate and read.

Brahmamoy had a very close friend whose name was Kanu. Kanu was extremely devoted to Brahmamoy. Every day when they went to the dining hall for meals, the first and foremost thing Kanu did was to bring water for Brahmamoy, and he would always insist on getting Brahmamoy's food. He would say, "Please stay here. I will get your food. Please let me do this for you." Brahmamoy deeply appreciated his friend and was moved by his sincere devotion.

This went on for months and years. Then Kanu found a girlfriend and he started to think of her all day. Poor Kanu was very sincere in his spiritual life, and his impurity was a real torture to him. He used to curse both himself and his girlfriend all the time. One morning he said to himself, "Brahmamoy is so pure, so spiritual. I have such love for him and he has such love for me. I feel sure that if I can just touch him he will take all my impurity from me. He will cast it into the Universal Consciousness and I will be freed from this bondage."

Kanu anxiously awaited the midday meal when he would see Brahmamoy again. In his eagerness he was the first to arrive at the dining hall and he was already seated with two trays of food when Brahmamoy arrived. Brahmamoy smiled and sat down next to his friend. But as he closed his eyes for a few seconds to invoke the Supreme before eating, he felt Kanu touch his knee. Brahmamoy looked up and said, "What are you doing?"

"Oh! That girl, that undivine girl! She has made me ruin my whole day with impure thoughts. But as soon as I touched you they went away. Now I am all purity."

Brahmamoy was a little bit amused but, at the same time, he was moved by Kanu's faith in him and gave Kanu a compassionate smile.

This purification ritual became a regular part of their friendship. Every few days, when Kanu was suffering from thoughts of his girlfriend, he would devotedly touch Brahmamoy's knee at mealtimes and say, "Oh, now it is gone. Now I am pure."

A few months passed and one day in the dining hall Kanu said to Brahmamoy, "Can you read my thoughts? Can you enter into my mind?"

Brahmamoy replied, "I don't have to be able to do that, Kanu. I only have to look at your face to read your mind."

Kanu said, "You know that I am very impure. That is why you are saying this. But can you really read my mind?"

Brahmamoy nodded, "Yes, Kanu, I can. Not only will I read your thoughts of today, but I will read your thoughts of quite a few days past and I will tell you what they were. First I will make you conscious of the exact times at which you had the thoughts, so you will believe me and not deny it. Then I will tell you for three days what kind of thoughts you cherished and at what times. Give me your notebook."

Brahmamoy started to write down Kanu's thoughts. He wrote both the good and the bad thoughts. He knew that if he wrote only the bad thoughts Kanu would think he didn't know about the good thoughts. Before he had even finished writing Kanu took the notebook from him and started to read the first two pages. Suddenly he let out a cry, "Oh no, oh no, oh no…" and he rushed out of the dining hall. Brahmamoy ran after him and found him sitting in the farthest corner of the sports ground. His head was in his hands, and he was sad and depressed. Brahmamoy sat down next to him and tried to console him.

He said, "Look Kanu, I don't cherish these kinds of things. What is in your mind, good or bad, doesn't matter to me. You are my friend."

"Oh, you know all about me, you know how bad I am."

"Kanu, my heart is big. It is full of compassion. You are my friend." He put his hand on Kanu's shoulder but Kanu pulled away.

"Oh, but you know, you know exactly what is going on inside me. I am filled with inner disgust at myself. I am so bad and if I mix with you, I will ruin you. I will bring you down to my level."

"Kanu, that is a false way of feeling. You cannot ruin me, and I assure you that I shall not cherish your weaknesses."

"Oh, but I am so inferior and you are so superior."

"That is absurd."

"I cannot be your friend any more," Kanu continued. "I know that on the one hand I will cry to be near you, to be beside you, but on the other hand I shall always feel that I cannot come near you." He stood up abruptly and walked away from Brahmamoy without even looking back at him.

Brahmamoy thought sadly to himself, "By showing Kanu my occult power I have really lost something. If I had not done it, he would always have been very close to me. But now I have lost my friend. With my inner vision I can see that Kanu is not going to stay in this ashram. He will leave in a few years and get married. From where to where will he descend!"

Brahmamoy walked slowly back to the ashram. He remembered his Master telling him that if spiritual Masters show occult powers, they often lose disciples. He thought of his own sad experience with Kanu and sighed, "Yes, and if seekers show occult powers, they will lose their near and dear friends."

Exposed in the inner world

There was once a very great spiritual Master who was living in America. The Master had spent many years in meditation and spiritual practice in India, and he had achieved God-realisation before coming to America. Despite his great inner height, this Master used to mix freely with his disciples, and often the Master would invite a few disciples to his home for dinner and innocent joy. During these evenings, the disciples would often ask the Master questions about matters that were bothering them.

One evening, about twenty disciples were at the Master's house when one of them asked, "Guru, when we quarrel with another disciple, does God get displeased with us?"

"Oh!" said the Master, "as if God has nothing else to do! When you have quarrelled with someone, God says, 'I am still pleased with you, even though you got angry with so-and-so.' But you know, Mula, very often when we get angry with someone, we get angry with God as well. We say, 'I have been praying and meditating for so long! How could God allow me to get angry with this particular person?' Or worse, we feel, 'I am angry with so-and-so because he is an unbearable fellow. Why did God create such a rogue and why does He allow him to bother me?' At that time, we become a destructive force."

"Do people really think that sort of thing, Master?"

"Certainly. They also feel this way about spiritual Masters. Just the other day it happened to me. For three months two disciples had been angry with each other and one of them finally got very angry with me because I am supposed to be perfecting their nature. Also, he got angry because I am allowing the other person to stay in my ashram. In another ashram I know of, two of the disciples who had been very good friends became the greatest enemies. One of them wrote to the Master, 'Since you are leading so-and-so to God-realisation, I don't need that kind of realisation. And furthermore, if you are taking him to the same Goal that you are taking me to, I definitely don't want to go to that Goal.' So he left the Master."

"Master, do you know when we are inwardly angry? Do you know what we are suffering from at every moment?" asked another disciple. "Do you know what causes our depression?"

"Certainly," replied the Master. "I know what you people are suffering from and going through just as well as you know it. But if I ask some disciples about their suffering, they categorically deny that anything is wrong. They simply say, 'Everything is fine, Master.' Somebody is sad and depressed, but he will say, 'Oh no, I am fine.' Somebody is jealous of someone, but when I ask her about it, she will say, 'Oh no, I am not jealous.' Somebody is cherishing doubt, real doubt about me, but he will simply say, 'No, no, I have all faith in you, Master.' Out of a hundred people, ninety-nine per cent will deny it when I ask them about their inner problems. So what am I to do?"

"But aren't we sometimes really unaware of what we are doing?" another disciple asked.

"For a few days you may be unaware. But there is not a single one of you whom I have not approached in the inner world. Occultly I convince you and you know it, but outwardly you deny it flatly. I give you people warnings hundreds of times by making you feel what you are doing against my Mission, against me, against the Supreme. I do make you feel this. So if you say that you are unaware of what you are doing wrong and how you are acting in the inner world or outer world, then it is not true. I have exposed you inwardly."

The disciples looked puzzled. After a brief silence one of them asked, "Master, what do you mean when you speak about the way we act in the inner and outer world? Could you explain?"

"Certainly. In the outer world people stand right in front of me with folded hands. But in the inner world, at two o'clock in the morning when I meditate on them, some of the disciples would simply kill me if they had more vital power. I go to them at that time to feed their souls, but they are displeased with me because I have been paying attention to somebody else. Fortunately, in the vital world they are weaker than I am. Even in the physical world I am stronger. If they tried to strike me, I would use my occult power and prevent them. But they come devotedly with folded hands in the outer world, while in the inner world there is such resentment, anger and hostility. Now, do you think that I don't bring this to their notice? In the inner world I expose them. I make them aware of these feelings that they are cherishing. But even now there are some of you right here who are doing things like this, and you know you are doing it."

The disciples were shocked that even in this intimate gathering their brother and sister disciples could cherish such behaviour, and one or two protested. But the Master continued, "If some of these disciples' resentment, undivine thoughts and undivine vital were accumulated together, you would see a real ocean, another Pacific Ocean. But God's Compassion for us is fortunately much larger than the ocean."

One of the newer disciples asked, "Master, why do they act this way?"

"Some people think that if they do this, perhaps one day I will surrender to their wishes. They think that if they are so bad, then I will let them have their own way. At times, just to achieve a kind of peace, some Masters make a compromise. But that is wrong. If I allow someone to increase his imperfection by allowing him to have his own way, then that person's wrong vibration will increase in the ashram.

"On the outer plane I may remain silent. I go on and let these people run according to their capacity. But if someone tries to run while carrying a heavy load of doubt, he will not be able to run; he will just stumble and fall. If another has willingness to run without the heavy burden of doubt or jealousy or anger, then I shall be able to lead that person faster. And if one has total consecration, love and surrender, then that person will run the fastest.

"In the beginning, when you first started your journey, I thought that everybody would run the fastest. Then I saw that some people do not have the capacity. So everyone goes according to his own speed. If you can run, I will run with you. If someone else can only walk, I shall walk. If he stumbles, I shall also be there to wait for him. This is what a spiritual Master does."

The Master then gazed at each disciple with such sweetness that many were moved to tears. Then he bowed his head, and the gathering broke up.

The real boss

One evening a spiritual Master and the disciples of one of his newer Centres, or spiritual communities, were gathered to celebrate the Centre's second anniversary.

They had a very deep, sublime meditation and the Master blessed the disciples individually. After the meditation one young woman asked, "Master, are you pleased with us as individuals? Please tell us what you would like from us as individuals and as a Centre. How can we please you as individuals and best grow as a Centre?"

"To be very frank with you," said the Master, "I am really pleased with you people. But there is no end to our progress. Since progress is our goal, we would like to make progress all the time. First of all, as an individual you can make progress, he or she can make progress, everybody can make progress. And naturally, if you make progress it will give me greater joy. Then, I feel that your Centre has to try to achieve something together as a Centre as well. At the same time, when necessity demands, if another Centre needs some help, this Centre should immediately run and help them. You should not feel 'Oh, Guru has asked another Centre to do this, so we won't get any glory.'

"Now, something very unfortunate is happening; it pains me deeply. There are many disciples here who once upon a time used to work very, very hard, especially at the Centre printing press, in folding, binding and other things. Now, except for one or two, the rest have stopped coming."

One lady raised her hand. "Master, forgive me, but my evenings are taken up caring for my family."

A young woman stood up and said, "All my time is spent studying, Master. I'm sure you understand."

Several other disciples also gave reasons why they were unable to do selfless service. Finally, a young man said, "Master, I have to be very frank with you. Unfortunately, many of us do not like one or two of the persons who are in charge of certain jobs at the press. Forgive me, but one or two of them are impossible to work with."

"I appreciate your sincerity," said the Master. "You say that a leader of a selfless service project is very, very bad. Now, you have to know that even if I agree with you that someone is very bad, you have to go beyond the person's personality and individuality if you want to serve the Supreme in me. I can take your side and agree that everything you say is right: he is bad — I won't deny it; he is rude — I won't deny it; he is unfair — I won't deny it. But whose work suffers? Whose mission suffers? Your mission, my mission. My work suffers and you know my work embodies my consciousness."

"I understand, Master," said the same young man, "but what should we do if someone isn't nice to us?"

"Here I am telling you this most soulfully, with utmost love and concern — a father talking to his children with all his heart's love: if a member of your family is not nice to you, you have to know that you are not working for him. He happens to know the job well and he is in charge of organising it. As long as I tell him to organise it, he will do so. You are saying he is rude, he is callous and all kinds of things. I fully agree with you. But if due to personality conflicts you don't work, who becomes the sufferer? It is your Guru who becomes the sufferer. You can't imagine! About eight books, seven hundred copies of each, have been printed. Yet we still haven't got the finished copies of even a single book. We have bound only one hundred or two hundred copies of two books. In three weeks' time they have given me two books, whereas eight books have been printed.

"Each book contains my consciousness, my light, and when it is out it goes to various places. You are trying to get my light, my consciousness. You see me once a week, whether on your meeting day or on other days when I am available. But people who are not in neighbouring Centres, who are in far-off lands, what are they getting from me? Inwardly they are getting my light and consciousness as you are getting it. But on the outer plane they should also get something: my books, my music and so forth."

"O Master," one lady said, "I feel sad. Those disciples depend so much on your books for inspiration and guidance, and we are preventing them from getting these things."

The Master continued: "You know that recently I have entered into the painting world. Again I wish to say very frankly that like my books, my paintings contain my consciousness. From the artistic point of view they may be absolutely useless. There are many, many artists on earth who are far superior to me. When people view their art from the artistic point of view, everybody will say that as artists they are far better than your Guru. I don't deny it. But those particular persons do not have my consciousness. Just because I have done the paintings, you are dealing with my consciousness, and this is what is important from the spiritual point of view."

"Is that why we all love your paintings so much?" asked another young man.

"When we love a person spiritually or in any way," the Master explained, "there comes a time when we like everything that person does and everything he has. In my home village we had a novelist. He had a dog which was filthy, dirty, the worst possible dog on earth. Because the man was a great writer he had many, many literary admirers. When they used to come to his house, the dog used to bark and even bite. But still they used to appreciate the dog like anything. There were other dogs infinitely more beautiful, but this dog belonged to their novelist-friend. That's why they liked it. Here the story does not end. When the dog died they had a big funeral and important writers came and offered their eulogies to this dog. Look at this! This is called true love for an individual, for it even went up to his dog.

"Here is the thing I am always telling you people. If I like something, you should also like it. It is not that I want you to be blind. No, far from it. The only thing is that if you can mould your consciousness into my consciousness, then you will expedite your progress. You know about Lord Krishna and Arjuna. Once both of them were walking along the street. Krishna said to Arjuna, 'Look yonder. There is a tree and there are some fruits. Can you tell me their colour?' Arjuna said, 'Oh, they are white.' Krishna said, 'No, they are blue.' Arjuna immediately said, 'Yes, they are blue.' Then Krishna said, 'No, they are not blue; they are black.' Arjuna said, 'Yes, they are black.' Now the human mind will say, 'Look at Arjuna's stupidity. He is just flattering his Master, Krishna. He is saying this in spite of knowing that it is not so.' This is what the human in you will think. But the divine in Arjuna was very wise. He said, 'If I don't see the reality through my Master's eyes, then how am I ever going to see the face of reality? He is not fooling me; he is only trying to mould me into his consciousness, the consciousness which has realised the Truth, realised the Highest.' Even on the physical plane, from the practical point of view, if we please someone — not by flattering — but by seeing eye to eye with him, what do we gain? We gain his concern, his compassion, his love, his light. If someone says these things, then it is my bounden duty to do everything for him.

"Master, now we understand much more the value of your books and paintings. But can you please tell us what to do about leaders of selfless service projects who are difficult to work with?" asked the young man.

"My children," said the Master, "I get so many complaints against one or two individuals. But you have to know that the individual himself is not actually the problem. We have to go far beyond the individual. No matter how bad he is, the real problem is your own ego. Otherwise, you can easily conquer someone's pride or rudeness or undivine qualities with your own life of compassion. If he is asking you to do something and he is unjust, immediately say to yourself, 'I feel so sorry for him and until he is perfect, where is my perfection?' How can you perfect him? Not by pointing out his mistakes, but by praying to the Supreme inwardly in silence, 'O Supreme, please cure him of this imperfection.' Then you will see that the Supreme will cure him. But before curing him the Supreme will just point at you: 'Look at yourself, My child. Do you have any imperfections?' And as soon as you look at yourself, you will say, 'Oh, I am caught.'"

The young man agreed. "That is true, Master. "I do have millions of imperfections. I am caught."

"So you see," the Master said, "when many people are joined together in a single job, somebody has to be the so-called boss. But who is the real boss? Even I am not the boss; the Supreme is the boss. When we have a group, however, somebody has to lead or guide it. Let us put it this way. Somebody is just a figurehead. If that figurehead says something, we will try to do it. But if we are deeply hurt by his behaviour, then we are failing in our own purpose. We are not making progress because we do not receive his blow in a divine way.

"You have grievances; I don't deny it. But we have to go beyond personality problems; otherwise, we can't serve the Supreme. In spite of our best intentions to serve the Supreme when circumstances are undivine, if we just dwell on the circumstances, then nothing happens. Why do we expect circumstances always to be divine? This is a very spiritual group. With as much love and compassion as I have for you all, I wish to say, please do not let anybody's weaknesses be a stumbling block in your path. The individuals will have to illumine their imperfections, and if you can help them inwardly with your prayer and meditation, I will be happy and grateful."

All the disciples bowed and said, "Please accept our gratitude, Master, for illumining us on this matter. From now on, we shall try to please you in your own way."

Obedience and disobedience

Sixty years ago a great spiritual Master and his fifty disciples lived in a small community at the foot of the Himalayas. One day, while the disciples were gathered around their Master, a disciple said, "Master, since the New Year we have rarely seen you smile. We miss your soulful smile."

The Master immediately smiled at all the disciples. Then he said, "Unfortunately, the smile that I have just offered you is not my real smile, my soul's smile, my wholehearted and spontaneous smile. Lately I have been showing you only an occasional smile. Sometimes it is a full smile, sometimes it is a false smile. But you will get the real smile which comes directly from my soul, heart, mind, vital and body — from my entire existence — when you really please me inwardly and outwardly. The terms 'sweetest' and 'dearest' will not be used any more for the disciples until 'sweetest' and 'dearest' are proved in action. Right now, they are not actually coming from my heart or, I should say, they don't deserve to come from my heart."

The disciples were shocked by the Master's outburst. "What is it that you don't like? Please tell us," they begged.

The Master said, "It is your jealousy, hypocrisy, doubt, fear and so many other undivine qualities. But I wish to say that at the root of all this is ego. Ego can be conquered only by one thing, and that is obedience — inner obedience and outer obedience. All of you are lacking obedience in the inner world, and in the outer world most of you are lacking obedience. If you go deep within, you will see if I am correct or not.

"So many things I have told you to do which you have not done; so many things I have asked you not to do which you have done. The New Year has started. I got so many wonderful resolutions, prayers and promises to God from the disciples. Now, today is only the twenty-eighth of January and I wish to say that almost everyone has already failed in his New Year's resolution. And there are still eleven months left in the year. I don't blame you; it is not your fault. I have also failed in my resolution not to scold you. Yesterday, I have to be sincere, I had the unfortunate occasion to scold some of the really dear, close disciples. The very moment after I had scolded them, I said three or four times, 'I have failed, I have failed in my resolution.' But I do hope that I will be successful from now on. I won't scold you under any circumstances. Now I am just giving a talk."

"Can you speak more about obedience, Master?" asked one disciple.

"Those of you who have a little obedience, an iota of obedience, will be successful in the inner life as well as in the outer life. Every time you do a wrong thing, if you are my real disciple, one of my inner beings is bound to warn you that you are doing the wrong thing. Even if you are my worst disciple, if you are my real disciple, you will be warned by one of my inner beings not to do this, not to say this, not to behave in this way. If a person is my false disciple, I cannot say what will happen, but for my real disciples, it is only a matter of listening to me. If you don't listen and if you indulge your own ego-life, your own temptation-life, you will have to take full responsibility for what happens. I have told the newly married couples and others what to do and how to behave in their emotional life and in their outer life. I have said many, many times what emotion means, so I don't have to say it again. Physical or human emotion you know; spiritual and divine emotion you also know. The physical or human emotion is to possess and be possessed; the divine and spiritual emotion is to expand, enlarge and become part and parcel of both humanity and divinity at the same time. You all know what I have said; now it is a matter of obedience. Love, devotion and surrender is the message of our Yoga, or our path. But if there is no obedience, then we cannot even start our journey. So, if you want to follow our path, please start with inner obedience and outer obedience."

"Is this disobedience what has saddened you?" asked another disciple.

"This and other things," said the Master. "Unfortunately, in the inner world we do many, many absurd and unthinkable things. You people don't hesitate to curse me in the inner world and the word 'curse' I am not wrongly using. When your vital demands are not fulfilled, you insult me, scold me and hate me. You even insult my forefathers. What more can I say? Then you come here and sit in front of me with folded hands as if I have not seen or heard anything. There are many who are really displeased with me. Even now I don't know what makes them come to meditate here. They are not doing me any favour by coming."

"Master," exclaimed one close disciple, "it is so shocking to hear these things."

"I even have one disciple who actually wants me to leave the body," said the Master. "I know I have to leave sooner or later. When the Hour strikes, I will be more than eager to leave. But for a disciple to consciously pray for my death is beyond imagination. I forgive that disciple who is thinking of my death, but my other disciples who are really dedicated and devoted to me perhaps will not forgive this kind of disciple.

"About fifteen years ago, a spiritual Master, who happened to have been a woman, got terribly angry with some of her disciples and said, 'Who listens to me? Who is obedient to me? It is I who listen to all my disciples.' It was so hard for me to believe this at the time. I thought that if she asked anything, then immediately the disciples would offer their lives. That was my feeling, but I was such a fool.

"Now I see that unthinkable disobedience is growing in the inner and outer world of my disciples also. Who listens to me? It is I who listen to you; it is I who bow to the disciples. I am now at the mercy of the disciples' demands. Again, I don't want any of you to feel that you are at my mercy; you are only at the mercy of God, the Supreme. There is no anger inside me. I only want all of you to open to the Light. This is what I expect of you.

"Then, one day this other Master said to her disciples, 'I am feeding you both inwardly and outwardly.' She was meeting with their expenses and all kinds of things. 'How is it possible for you people to think of my death, to invite my death?' She had thousands of disciples but a few hundred were dissatisfied with her and were praying to God for her death. When I heard it, I didn't believe it at all. I said, 'Impossible. Even if a person is a bad Master, people will see this and leave the ashram.' But to keep living in the ashram and pray for the Master's death, I thought was absurd.

"O God, this little ashram of ours started only the other day — three or four years ago — but in the inner world people are so dissatisfied with me! What have I done to them? I have not fulfilled their vital demands, emotional desires and the desires for aggrandisement of their egos: that is my mistake. Now, if they are really dissatisfied with me, what makes them stay in my ashram? So, this experience that I once heard about in another spiritual Master's life is now happening in my life. What will happen is that in a few months' time I will unfortunately have to show my justice-light in divine dispensation and say to certain disciples, 'You don't come, you don't come, you don't come.' God knows how many will be asked to leave; perhaps all of you."

"Master, please forgive us," said one disciple. "I wonder if we will ever be able to live up to your expectations."

"I am here as the representative of the Supreme for the disciples only. Others can go on their own way; I have no right to tell them anything and I don't expect anything from them. But from you I expect much, much, much. I feel that if I am considered to be the leader, then I have to have the inner obedience and the outer obedience of my divine soldiers. A government may command soldiers to take part in a particular war when these soldiers don't want to go to war. But here in this battle, in the inner battlefield, I did not come to you; you have come willingly to me to learn to be divine soldiers, to fight against ignorance, imperfection and death. You have come to me and I am trying to be of help to you. It is my inner obligation. When I do something, it is for your own good."

"All that you say is true, Master," one young man said. "We have come to you because we see something in you. We have faith that you can guide us inwardly."

"This is the year of manifestation, but what is being manifested right now is only hostility, doubt, fear, anger, worry and so forth," said the Master. "Many divine qualities — joy, love, peace, harmony, the feeling of oneness — must be manifested this year."

"Master," said the disciples, "with your grace and inspiration we shall manifest the divine qualities and we shall fulfil you in your own divine way."

The student

One day after morning meditation a spiritual Master asked one of his disciples, a young girl, to come before him. He blessed her and said, "Good girl, how old are you?"

"Fifteen," she answered.

"I saw your progress report," said the Master, "and I am so proud of you. Once upon a time somebody's sister also used to do well. Those who are students, please, please do extremely well. When you do well in your studies, it gives me such joy and pride. Otherwise, you will remain a fool like me. I don't want to add more fools to my spiritual community."

The girl's elder sister raised her hand and said, "Master, I did well in high school, but now I am having trouble in college."

"You have my sympathetic heart," said the Master. "I have come to learn that in America there is a great difference between high school and college. Here students are sometimes good in high school but in college they find it extremely difficult to maintain their standard. In India, however, during the last two years of high school the teachers prepare the children so they don't have any difficulty when they go to college."

Then the Master called a young woman up and read out her graduation certificate. The diploma conferred on her the degree of Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude.

"Come," the Master said, "let me bless you. I am very, very proud of you, dearest daughter. Magna cum laude, very good. What is higher than this?"

"Summa cum laude," she answered.

"Next time you are going to get that. When you get your Master's degree, can't you get these honours?"

The disciple smiled, "Not that I know of, Guru."

"For a PhD, are there no honours or something very high? Don't some people get higher and lower grades?" he asked again.

One of the Master's oldest and most advanced disciples said, "Under the circumstances in which she got her degree, magna cum laude is very good. Her mother is blessing her from Heaven."

"Yes, I am very proud of her," said the Master. "In my next incarnation I will try to go to university. In this incarnation I had to salute high school after three or four years. I could not or did not dare go beyond high school. In my next life I will go to high school and college and get all A's. I will get all kinds of degrees."

"Master," said the older disciple, "we know you were a brilliant student — standing first in the ashram school — but unfortunately the ashram didn't offer a formal degree for higher education. Still, you did continue your studies on your own and many scholars have praised your literary work. Your writings are used as text books in university-level philosophy courses. You really deserve an honorary degree."

"Thank you, my child," said the Master, "but even so, I have not earned the degree in the traditional way. If I have not earned something, I don't get the same satisfaction from it. Instead, I worked hard to realise the Old Man upstairs."

All the disciples laughed, for they saw that their Master was in a light mood.

"Since you had the capacity to get a degree but used your capacity in another area," continued the older disciple, "you can easily accept the honorary degree."

"It is in and through my spiritual children who are teaching at the universities and who are studying at the universities that I shall get my diploma," the Master said. "The father earns money and the children use it. But sometimes the children earn the money and the father uses it. You have a Master's degree?" the Master asked his advanced disciple.

"Yes," replied the disciple. "I could have gone beyond this but at the time I didn't know how I could apply higher degrees toward my spiritual life, so I finally stopped going to school. Now all those who are earning degrees will bring their knowledge into their Master's mission in a direct way, and then the degree will have some meaning, some direct relation to the spiritual life."

"My children's achievement will compensate for my lack of achievement," said the Master. "But those who do not have degrees, don't feel sorry; I am one of you. There are many disciples who are very intelligent and were once very good students, but because of the Divine Will, the Supreme's Will, I have asked them not to study any more. These people should never feel that they are losing something. In some disciples' cases, it is the Will of the Supreme for them to study; in other cases the Supreme does not want them to study. So in no way are they the loser.

"In fact, there are two girls in this room right now who are not students but who easily have the capacity to get their PhD They are brilliant but the Supreme does not want them to go to school. So please don't ever feel that you are inferior if you are not a student; and also please don't feel that you are superior if you are a student. It just depends on what your individual soul wants and on the Will of the Supreme. The way the Supreme Will guides us is the best. Those who are studying and teaching are fulfilling the Will of the Supreme, and those who are doing something else, directed by the Will of the Supreme, are also doing the right thing. My only request to you is that if you study, study well; if you do other things, do them well. This is the best attitude."

The death of Kumar's father

Kumar's father died at the ripe old age of 78. The day before he died, Kumar drove his Master to a university in the city where he lived, for the Master was scheduled to deliver a lecture there. On the way the Master got the inner message that Kumar's father was in the hospital. While they were coming back, Kumar still didn't know that his father had been taken to the hospital so the Master just casually asked him about his father. Kumar said, "Father is fine; everything is well with him."

The Master said, "Recently, did you quarrel or fight?"

"That happens quite often," Kumar replied. "The other day he was scolding me and asking me why I was not trying to make more money in the real estate business. I told him, 'When Master comes here, at that time my only business is to be with Master,' so my father kept quiet."

The following morning at ten o'clock, Kumar phoned his Master to say his father was dying. The nurse had told him that it was only a matter of a few minutes. Kumar was quite calm and poised. The Master told him, "We must not try to keep him on earth. Let us not pull him. Let us surrender to the Supreme's Will."

Instead of a few minutes, Kumar's father's life lasted a few hours. Then he finally died. In the evening Kumar came to the ashram as if nothing had happened in his family. First the Master said, "Kumar, smile at me." From the smile he gave his Master, who could imagine that his father had just died?

Later the Master and Kumar went to the funeral home to see the body. It was about two o'clock or so when the father died, and they went there at about eight-thirty. As soon as the Master and Kumar entered the room where the coffin was, Kumar's mother came and greeted them. There were about forty people near the coffin, but only the mother appeared to be suffering from the loss. The rest were talking and smiling and acting absolutely undivine. 'Undivine' is a big understatement. So the Master and Kumar approached the mother with folded hands and consoled her. They were really very soulful. Kumar's mother didn't speak English but what the Master said, her soul, her heart felt.

Then Kumar and his Master approached the coffin and stood looking at the body. With his inner vision the Master saw that the father's soul was standing just by the coffin, on the right side. When the soul leaves the body, if it is an ordinary human soul, it sometimes stays for a while and watches what its friends and relatives are doing. The Master was standing on one side and the soul was not even half a metre away. After five minutes he said to the soul, "I know you won't play the game of manifestation any more, but please play hide-and-seek. Just enter into the body and play hide-and-seek." The soul listened to the Master and three times actually entered the body. Each time it came in, the body was full of life in absolutely every way. Finally the Master said to Kumar, "Now let us go."

On the way out, Kumar's brother was very near by, so Kumar introduced him to his Master. "He is a very great soul," Kumar said to the brother. "He will elevate our father's soul to a very high state of consciousness."

But his brother only replied, "We have our own religion." Even so, the Master did much for the father that night. He helped him and promised to continue to help him because he had always liked Kumar's father and mother so much.

When Kumar and the Master got outside and entered into the car, Kumar immediately said, "Master, do you believe it? I saw my father breathing three times, and three times I saw and felt that he was alive." So you see, even Kumar knew what had happened. The Master was so pleased that he had felt it and seen it.

Kumar's sacrifice to the Master's ashram and to his Mission could not be measured. He was one of the ashram's first heroes, the only one left among the very first group of disciples. How people tried to take him away and convert him. People pleaded with him to leave the ashram, but Kumar was always like a solid rock, a pillar of the Master's Mission. When Kumar himself died, the Master lost a peerless instrument and a most beloved son.

Is the Master to blame?

One hundred years ago in India there lived a spiritual Master who had a small ashram. Each year on his birthday hundreds of disciples from all over the world would journey to the ashram for a puja or spiritual festival. It was a time of great celebration and joy. The festivities would last a few days and then all the disciples would return to their home villages with new inspiration.

One year, after the visiting disciples had gone, the Master spoke to a few of his closest disciples. His face was very sad. "Usually my spiritual children from other parts of the world bring me much joy. But this year was absolutely the worst ever. All the hostile forces attacked me and the ashram. This has never happened before and next year I hope that we won't have this kind of experience. My dearest visitors have come and I am so grateful to them. Some visitors have gone home with gratitude; some have gone home with anger, frustration and other undivine qualities, Why? Because they say that disciples who live in the ashram see me practically every day. They want to know why it is that they can't come and stay in the ashram."

"This ashram is so small. Already it is overcrowded," said one of his disciples.

"One day," said the Master, "we will have an ashram big enough for all my disciples. But right now some of the visiting disciples feel it is my fault or blame me because they were born in other countries, while you people who live here are with me. Everything they say is childish. Who asked them to take birth in another country? It is the soul that is guilty; the soul should take the blame. And who knows, if the soul had taken birth in India, perhaps they wouldn't care for us. I can't tell you in how many ways I have helped them, but these people are so displeased with me because they are not with me. Ingratitude is like that. If they can't get my attention all year around, is it my fault, am I responsible?

"Some disciples who couldn't come to my birthday celebration because of financial difficulties sent me whatever money they had as a love offering. I was so deeply moved. But two or three have cursed me because they could not come. Instead of showing me love, these few disciples have been throwing their ingratitude at me. It is my fate.

"I always scold the near and dear ones to try to be better hosts and hostesses. I see they may not be perfect, but they have tried. Now, if you say a particular host or hostess has not done his or her job, is it my fault? If one or two persons don't take care of their guests and serve them well, why should the guests curse me and my forefathers?"

The disciples said, "Master, we are so sorry that because some of the hosts were not nice, you are suffering."

The Master said, "In one ashram I know of, two disciples had a terrible fight. One of them wrote a letter to the Master saying, 'If you grant so-and-so realisation, then I don't care for your realisation. It is beneath my dignity to have the same thing he has. If you keep such a bad man in your ashram, then there is nothing for me here. I will go away.' The actual person blamed was the Master. Now, if my disciples act like that, then who becomes the loser? By leaving the ashram, you are not going to get realisation."

"I am surprised, Master," said one disciple, "that a few people are so dissatisfied with you."

"Unfortunately, it is true," the Master said. "Someone heard two visiting disciples deliberately talking against me and the local disciples. They say I am the culprit, that I am giving too much attention to disciples in this area. But what can I do? I have to call on them. Otherwise, it is simply impossible to do the work of my Mission. I am trying to catch up with my correspondence, do this and that. I have to have help. But it is only a very small number who feel this dissatisfaction with me. Most visitors are extremely, extremely grateful. Why blame everyone? Everyone is not the culprit."

The Master paused. "Well, my children, let us not dwell on this problem. Ninety-nine per cent of the visitors received joy from us and gave us joy. We are speaking only about a handful of unfortunate disciples. Let us hope they will realise their Himalayan blunder and that next year one hundred per cent of the disciples will return to their home satisfied and inspired."

The Master's Compassion

One evening a spiritual Master and a few disciples were eating dinner at the home of one of the Master's older disciples. The disciple had cooked the meal herself and the Master blessed her for her excellent preparation.

The disciple bowed and said, "Master, you have kindly eaten my food and I am most grateful to you. Now, may I ask you a question about foods?"

"Certainly, my daughter," replied the Master.

"I am curious to know, would you ever refuse a disciple's food if, say, it wasn't to your taste or because you were full?" she asked.

"I will always take at least a spoonful," the Master said. "It happens hundreds of times that I am absolutely full to the brim; I have just eaten and I am not hungry at all. Then somebody will ask me to eat and I do it to please them. Sometimes it happens that children eat, not because their stomach is actually hungry but because their eyes are hungry. In my case it often happens that my eye is not hungry, my stomach is not hungry, but my Compassion is hungry. I don't need any more of anything, but I eat one spoonful so that I can give a little joy to that person."

"Master," asked the disciple, "why do you say that your Compassion is hungry and not, for example, your Love? What is the difference?"

"Love is oneness, compassion is oneness. Again, love itself is wisdom and compassion is also a form of real wisdom. Real love, however, always keeps some wisdom inside itself, but when we show compassion, for the time being we just cover our wisdom. Love will warn me. Love will say, 'I have complete oneness with the person and I will be able to tell the person frankly that I won't be able to eat his food.' When I show compassion, though, in spite of knowing that I will suffer if I take somebody's food, I will still take some. Compassion will allow me to suffer; then I will cure myself. But my Love will be frank, saying that I am one with you."

"Then does your Compassion ever create problems for you?" asked the disciple.

The Master explained, "Pure compassion is the love of oneness. If it is a real love of oneness, it will not try to do anything consciously or unconsciously which will eventually create a problem. In the highest compassion, spiritual Masters don't consciously create any problem; but in order to please, we come down to the human level. Then, if any problem arises, we look at the situation and try to overcome the problem."

"Would that mean that compassion is superior to love?" the disciple asked.

"Not superior," the Master said. "It is only that they are two different aspects of oneness. Love can also be called superior, for love tries to perfect the person immediately."

The disciple bowed to the Master and said, "Master, this talk has been most illumining. Thank you. Thank you for your Love. Thank you for your Compassion."

Two strangers

One afternoon a spiritual Master was speaking to a few of his disciples about the need to conquer depression in their lives and in the lives of their brothers and sisters. At one point one young woman asked the Master, "Should we try to show compassion if one of our brother or sister disciples is depressed?"

The Master, who always exercised his endless compassion to help disciples who were depressed for days, months and even years on end, surprised everyone by saying, "Give the person a certain period of time. For fifteen minutes you exercise your compassion. Fifteen minutes is a long time. If the person doesn't snap out of his depression after fifteen minutes, then you exercise your justice-power."

"Shouldn't we wish the person well, Master?" the young lady asked.

"Your goodwill will definitely be there, but you will not be directly involved. The Supreme has appointed you to fight for Him for fifteen minutes. So for fifteen minutes you try. During this time you can feel responsible for helping the person. If you still fail after fifteen minutes, offer your achievements at the Feet of the Supreme. Tell the Supreme, 'I give You full responsibility.' You are still wishing the person well, but now you are letting the Supreme appoint someone else to show compassion. At that time, it is the Supreme's problem."

"Master," one disciple said, "if you know some wrong force has gotten into your own consciousness, should you go to some disciples you feel will make you happy?"

"Yes," the Master replied. "If you are depressed, find someone who is in a cheerful frame of mind. Also, it has to be someone you have faith in. If you don't have faith in that person, you will just go down further. Now, in this situation, the other person has to be very wise. If he feels you are not changing, not listening to his advice, he should just stop the conversation and walk away or, if he is on the phone, he should just hang up."

"I can just imagine, Master," said one young man, "what would happen if I hung up during a phone conversation with my wife."

The Master smiled. "How I wish to have some juicy stories like that in the future. In that way, I can capture some disciples who are placing a heavy load on my head. You have to know that if my head is weighed down, it is primarily from the depression of some disciples."

The young man asked the Master again, "What happens if you are driving with someone in a car and you have to be with them for more than fifteen minutes?"

"In that case," the Master said, "if the person doesn't change his consciousness after fifteen minutes, you should just stop and let him out of the car. No matter where you are, whether you are on the highway, on the way to the Centre, or anywhere, just stop and let him out of the car."

"Master," exclaimed the young man, "how could I ask my wife to get out of the car, especially if she was depressed. I don't think I could do it. I just couldn't leave her on the highway."

"My son, if you let your wife out of the car, will my protection not be there?" The Master turned to the disciple's wife, with a gentle smile. "My daughter," he said, "if you are lucky enough to have money or if your husband is kind enough to give you money, you can take a taxi. When you have to pay forty dollars to get home, you will see what kind of punishment that is!"

The husband interrupted the Master. "If I let her out of the car, I couldn't stop worrying. Even though I believe you, I'd have to go back for her."

"Where is your faith in my God-realisation if you can't listen to me?"

"But she'll feel so miserable," the husband said.

"Although she will feel miserable if you direct her out of the car, who knows, when you go back to pick her up, she may have come to a soulful consciousness and ask you to go away. It won't be because she is angry, but because she knows she did something wrong. If her soul comes forward, she will say, 'I deserve punishment. I want you to listen to Guru. You go on without me because you are violating Guru's wish if you continue to keep me in the car.' In this way she will try to perfect your own weakness."

At this point the husband looked at his wife and said, "Master, I shall do everything you want, except I can't bear to see her tears."

The Master smiled and shook his head wisely. "Look at your sincerity. Your sincerity is based on weakness and attachment. I admire your sincerity, but sometimes sincerity is not the solution. Does sincerity change one's nature?"

"Forgive me, Master," said the young man. "Now I see what I must do." And he glanced at his wife out of the corner of his eye.

"Master, now I understand your philosophy," the husband said.

The Master blessed the couple. "Today I have been begging you to leave your dear ones when they are in a depressed consciousness, but it is for your good that I am telling you this. I want you to love your dear ones, but you have to know whether you are acting out of love or out of attachment. Through your attachment you are only helping your dear ones increase their ignorance. You have to think of the after-effect, the result, because each time you forgive, forgive, forgive, the more strongly your dear ones will take the side of ignorance. You have to know that your friend or your wife is drowning. What will you do? Will you jump into the ocean if you also can't swim? Will you say, 'It is better to drown together'? No, you have to be on the shore so that you can extend your hand and save your dear one. Otherwise, you will both drown."

The Master gave both husband and wife a broad smile, and then rose. It was almost time for evening meditation, and everyone had to go home and shower.

The husband looked at his wife and said jokingly, "Well, do you want to come home with me in the car, or is it too risky?"

The wife said, "It's only a five-minute drive home, so I'm safe. Besides, all my depression is gone. From today, depression and I are two strangers."

But the wife, who was not at all upset by the conversation, turned to the Master and said, "What if it is the driver who is depressed? Who would throw him out of the car?"

"Fifteen minutes is not a joking matter. If you are driving with a friend who remains in an undivine consciousness for more than fifteen minutes, at that time it is real torture. If you feel compassion in your heart, it is in your foolish heart, not in your spiritual heart. I have been hearing stories about the disciples' depression and I have been asked what disciples should do to help others. Now I am giving you the medicine. Remember, fifteen minutes means fifteen minutes. You are not doing anybody a favour — either them or yourself — if you remain with them longer than fifteen minutes."

The husband said jokingly, "If either of us was depressed on a journey of just over fifteen minutes, we could drive faster and arrive at our destination within the time limit.

The Master smiled. "But not if you violate my fifty-five mile per hour speed limit." Previously, the Master had asked his disciples not to drive over fifty-five miles per hour as a safety precaution, for one or two of them had been involved in serious accidents. He also had asked them to meditate for two minutes and pray for the Supreme's Protection before driving off in their cars.

"Please remember," the Master continued, "to do what I have told you. Stay with your wife for fifteen minutes, then leave her, saying, 'I can't stay with you; you are in an undivine consciousness. I have to leave you.' In that way you are really helping your wife, not punishing her. If you allow her to continue in ignorance, both of you will be the losers. After fifteen minutes I will be fully responsible for the person." The wife asked, "What if the person's consciousness has greatly improved in the time period?"

"If you notice that ninety per cent of the depression has disappeared in ten or twelve minutes, then that is an achievement for the person. With that hope, you can go on. If five percent is still lingering, then ask the person to conquer that five per cent. But if he cannot, ask him to get out of the car.

"Today if you can conquer depression in fifteen minutes, then tomorrow it will take only five minutes, then one minute. When you are able to conquer depression in one minute, you will be the happiest person."

The wife bowed. "Thank you, Master."