Lightless soldiers fail

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The real success of the Master and disciples

There was a great spiritual Master in India who lived in a very modern city. His disciples tried very hard to manifest their inner progress and light in their outer lives, but very often they felt that the little spirituality they tried to offer was just swallowed up by the complexity and sophistication of living and working in a big city. The Master encouraged them to persevere in their efforts for manifestation, and he tried to strengthen them inwardly so that they could become divine soldiers in the outer as well as the inner life.

From time to time the Master would take his students on excursions in order to bring forward their childlike spontaneity and joy, and to take their minds off their problems and tensions. One day the Master invited several of his disciples to go for a walk in a nearby forest. He was delighted to notice that one of his oldest disciples was talking and mixing freely with his young disciples. The Master couldn't help remarking to one of his close disciples walking near him, "In her case, the adult age has surrendered to childlike qualities. When she mixes with the disciples, you can see her childlike enthusiasm and spontaneity. She is over sixty, but the question of age does not arise at all with her.

"And frustration is not in her dictionary," the Master continued. "She is so hopeful with all the people she tries to sell her needlework to. She never loses hope that a large company will buy one of her designs and give her enough money to make her Master a multimillionaire."

"I admire her optimism, Master," the disciple said. "But do you think her efforts will ever bear fruit?"

"After two or three years," the Master said, "if she gives up her efforts to sell her needlework, saying these things are unnecessary and that she has just wasted her time, then all her efforts and hopes will be nullified. But if she continues with her sincere desire, then in this incarnation or in her next one she will definitely have her wish."

"But Master, she has been trying to sell her work for so many years. In a case like this, is it better for someone to keep persevering or to be very detached?"

"It is better to go on. But each time you get a blow, each time you meet with failure, you have to be detached. You know you are doing the right thing, so just because you get an experience of failure, you don't give up. You have to go on. Then, if you know that you have tried your best, and there is no more you can do, or if you get a message from within that you have played your role and the Supreme wants someone else to try now, you will stop. Or if you get an inner message that the task is no longer necessary, you will stop your efforts with complete detachment. Otherwise, if you do not have detachment and do not work with the correct attitude, in God's Eye, you will not be a success in anything whether you have outer success or not."

"Thank you, Master. You have explained very clearly the relationship between perseverance and detachment. But forgive me, Master, if I am sincere I have to say that I envy her enthusiasm."

"I bless your sincerity," the Master said, "When most of us start something, if it takes more than two weeks to complete, we cannot retain the same enthusiasm, joy, determination. But in this disciple's case, for how many years has she been trying, and with the same enthusiasm!"

The Master paused. "You do have great perseverance, my son. You and all my disciples who write articles and books about the spiritual life and about your Master are continuing your efforts to get them published with such perseverance. You know that you are doing the right thing in trying to share what you have found with others, yet you are detached from the fruits of your labours. If we are trying to do the right thing, we will accept any challenge, but of course if it is something wrong, we will not try at all."

"It is true, Master, that I know I am doing the right thing. But I confess that I am often discouraged and disheartened if I am not successful. Lately it seems that I am failing badly to get anything at all published."

The Master consoled him. "In the beginning, too much success is very harmful, even dangerous. If repeated failure comes, only then will you value the success or the progress you get. Otherwise, you will feel that success is your due, or that you are bound to get it, and you will expect immediate success in everything. It is not an easy thing to be successful in everything, and if success comes too easily, you will have no idea what its value is."

It was late morning by now, and the Master and his disciples had been walking for a long time. The Master knew his spiritual children were getting tired and hungry, so he called his disciples together for a short meditation before lunch. After the group settled for meditation, they noticed that the Master was nowhere to be found. The disciples wondered why the Master was not meditating with them, but after a while the beauty of the forest inspired them to go deep within, and each individual tried to have his best meditation. In about half an hour the Master joined them, and all meditated in silence for another fifteen minutes. After the meditation, the Master told his disciples that he was very pleased with their meditation.

One young boy said, "I think you had something to do with that, Master."

The Master was to some extent amused by his disciple's comment. "You see that I am smiling, but I wish to say that at our regular meetings and at other times as well, it is good if you people meditate before I come. Then when I start meditating and enter into my highest consciousness, you immediately see how I raise your consciousness."

"Meditating in your physical presence makes all the difference," the young boy said. "But wouldn't it be better, Master, if you were there right from the beginning? Like today, why did you wait such a long time before joining us?"

The Master explained, "True, I helped you; however, you made the preparation. If you came to meditate here and then just sat and wasted your time looking to this side and that side, you would not have felt that you contributed to your success, and you would not have valued it. But you participated, and we always value something when we offer our conscious participation."

"But what we contribute," the boy said, "is practically nothing."

"Just because we have contributed one percent," said the Master, "we know the value of the total achievement. True, if I had come there with you or before you, as soon as you started meditating, it would have been very easy for you to enter into a high consciousness. You would have been lifted like magic. But if you got such immediate success in your meditation each time, you would always expect it, and you wouldn't give it enough importance."

"Yes, Master, I can see you are, as usual, perfectly right."

The Master continued. "There are some people who are lucky — their parents are multimillionaires, and they have tremendous wealth. But if these children go to work and get a little money to add to their family fund, that is the best thing they can do. The parents may have much money, and the children will inherit their property, but they will not value it unless they contribute at least a small fraction. So success will come, but if we do not contribute to our success, then we will never value it."

The disciple who had been speaking with the Master before the meditation then said, "Master, during our walk we were speaking of perseverance and success and failure. Since today seems to be the day for talking about these things, could I ask you a question about failure? You say that failure has its own place. But why is it that I become so discouraged by my own failures?"

"Repeated failure is not good," said the Master. "If you get constant failure, you may give up, whereas if you are occasionally successful, you will be encouraged to go on. But I believe in the theory: 'Failures are the pillars of success.' In boxing or wrestling this is especially true. The more the boxer falls down, the more determination he develops and the stronger he becomes. In the spiritual life also, I am trying to strengthen my spiritual children by requesting them to fight against ignorance, limitations and imperfections. I want them to stand up to ignorance and darkness face to face and not to run away, no matter how many times ignorance is victorious."

"Master," said the disciples, "we shall aspire to be your divine warriors, your divine instruments. This beautiful forest has refreshed and inspired us outwardly, and you have illumined and inspired us inwardly. We shall return to our lives in the city, to our inner and outer work, with a new perseverance, a new understanding of success and failure, a new inspiration and aspiration to manifest the Supreme in you. This will be our real success."

"You have received my light," said the Master, "so I can call today my true success as well. Together let us try and cry. We shall have the real success."

July 30, 1974

The extravagant wife

There was once a young couple who had been married for several years. The wife was extremely spiritual. She had a Master and she followed a specific path, but the husband was not ready for the spiritual life. He smoked and drank and was a victim to many undivine forces, but he had an extremely pure heart. He realised his teeming weaknesses, and he was all admiration for his wife's spirituality. He used to treasure an idea, a legitimate idea, that just as he was meeting with his wife's expenses on the material plane, so she was meeting with his expenses on the spiritual plane. The husband and wife were extremely close to each other. He was all joy that at least his wife was for God, and he felt that when his time came he would also be a good instrument of God.

The spiritual Master had special fondness for this young man. The wife was undoubtedly one of the Master's favourite disciples. On rare occasions, when the Master held special functions, the husband used to attend, and the Master would show him utmost affection and concern.

The disciples could not account for it. "How is it?" they asked. "He drinks, he smokes, he has many undivine qualities in his nature. Why does the Master go out of his way to show him affection and love?" Alas, they did not know that the husband had a heart of the purest dye.

The Master had quite a few disciples who were good, sincere and spiritual according to their capacity. But even his good disciples, who were supposed to be fully sincere, used to hide incidents from his outer vision. Who could hide anything from his inner vision? The husband's life was an open book to the Master's occult and inner vision, and he saw that the husband had a truly sincere heart.

Now, although the wife had many good qualities and was a very sincere seeker, an exemplary disciple, she had some peculiar habits or propensities. She had a liking for beautiful clothes, saris, jewellery and other expensive things. Every time she went to the Master's ashram, she wanted to wear the most beautiful and most expensive things available on the market. Naturally, the less affluent disciples were jealous of her, and also good disciples who were not poor felt that she was doing something wrong. On the one hand, she meditated extremely well; on the other hand, she indulged in earthly luxury.

Every week her poor husband had to buy most expensive things to please her. Sometimes, when he ran short of money and was unable to buy most expensive, most beautiful things for his wife, a terrible scene would take place at home. She would threaten that she would leave him if he could not supply her with all the clothes and jewellery she wanted. The poor fellow had such love for his wife that he felt he could give his life for her, but there were occasions when he really didn't have money to buy expensive things for her. He felt miserable, but since he was not in the habit of deceiving anybody, he found no way to satisfy and please her.

One day the husband went to his wife's Master and said, "Master, save me, save me. You can read my heart. I am not your disciple, but I have utmost devotion for you. I know my wife is one of your most favourite disciples but, if I may say so she has a bad habit. Every week I have to buy expensive things for her to wear when she comes to your ashram. Some people, I'm sure, admire her, but most of them are probably jealous of her.

"Anyway, I hear from her friends, I hear from her, that she is one of your very best disciples when it is a matter of meditation, dedication, love, devotion and surrender to the Will of the Supreme. I do not know how it is that she can act in two different ways. Sometimes I see that she is totally engrossed in the material life, and sometimes at home when she meditates in front of your shrine, I see no one else in the room but the Goddess herself. So Master, I am really puzzled. This moment, according to me, she is nothing but divine, and the next moment, I see she is materialistic in the worst sense of the term.

"Master, now please save me. I have run short of money. I am not in a position to supply her with most beautiful and expensive things to wear when she comes to your ashram. But she has threatened me a few times that she will leave me. And each time she threatens me, I feel as if I am about to die. It seems as if I am taking my last breath. I want to keep her, to treasure her; I can't part with her. When she comes to your ashram, by your grace, I have the capacity to remain calm and quiet. And when I go to the office, I have to remain without her; it is unavoidable. But when I am not in the office and she is not at your ashram, I am always with her, with all my heart's joy, with all appreciation, admiration and adoration for her spiritual qualities."

The Master said to the young man, "Listen to me, my child. Next time she threatens you and tells you that she is going to leave you, tell her she can do so."

"Oh Master, how can I do this? If she leaves me I don't know what I will do!"

"Don't worry. I assure you, she will not leave you. But you accept her challenge! Tell her that she can leave you if she wants to. But don't tell her that you have come here and sought my advice."

"No, Master, I won't tell."

The next time the wife created a scene and threatened to leave the husband, he said, "Well, if you are really determined to leave me, you can. I don't have the money to buy expensive things all the time just to please you. You may leave me."

It was the first time the wife heard her husband say something like this. She could not believe her ears. She could not believe her eyes. Then her husband went one step ahead. He said, "And if you bother me once more when I can't afford to please you, instead of your leaving me, I shall leave you." When the wife heard this from her husband she lost consciousness and fell to the ground.

The husband was frightened to death at what he had done. He ran to the Master's house and cried, "Master, Master, help me! What have I done? You told me that if she threatens me anymore, I should tell her that she could leave me. I told her, and she was totally puzzled, she was wonderstruck. She got a terrible shock. I don't know what prompted me, but then I went a step further. I told her that if she threatens me anymore, it is I who would leave her. When I said this, she lost consciousness and fell to the floor. I don't know what will become of me. Master, help me!"

The Master said, "My son, I didn't ask you to go to the length of saying that you would leave her."

"I know, Master. That was my own unpardonable folly. But Master, will you not forgive me? Will you help her to regain consciousness?"

"Certainly I shall. I am using my occult powers. But I wish to tell you that you have done the right thing: you have not done anything wrong."

The young man said, "I have not done anything wrong? I am the worst culprit! My heart simply bled when I saw that she fainted."

"No, my son, you have done the right thing. Go home now. When you reach home you will see that she is all right, and is eagerly expecting you."

The Master's vision was infallible. When the husband got home, his wife was anxiously waiting for him. As soon as he came in, she ran up to him and said, "For God's sake, I shall never ask you for expensive things anymore. Never, never, never! The only thing I want is for you to remain with me. We shall stay together. Master has told me repeatedly that you have a very pure heart. I don't want to lose you. In the spiritual life, what we need most is a pure heart."

The husband said, "Let us go to the Master together. I have a few things to tell your Master."

The wife was frightened to some extent when she heard this. "You want to come to the Master? What for? You don't care for my Master."

"No, I do care for him. Come with me. Let us go together. I have something special to tell your Master."

So both of them went to the Master. The Master pretended that he was quite in the dark about what had happened with the wife. The young man said, "Master, please accept me. Today is the time for me to accept you as my Master. Today I am giving up smoking and drinking. Today I am giving up all my undivine qualities."

The Master said, "Why this sudden change, my son?"

Then the husband narrated the story of what had happened between himself and his wife, but the Master still pretended he knew nothing. He showed utmost curiosity and sympathy. When the story had all been told, the Master said to the wife, "You are undoubtedly one of my most favourite disciples. Now how is it that you have been torturing your husband all this time for expensive clothes and jewellery? Why do you do that?"

She said, "Master, your philosophy says that it is not the thing that we wear which is important, but where our consciousness is. You have said many times that I do the best meditation. Anyway, you have given us the feeling that I am one of your most devoted, surrendered disciples. So I have come to the conclusion that what I wear does not matter at all, and that wearing beautiful clothes does not affect my meditation. So, since these beautiful things give me joy, I wear them."

"Yes, my daughter, you have understood my philosophy, and I have full faith in your capacity. You wear expensive things, most beautiful things, but it has not lowered your consciousness at all. They have not created pride or vanity in you."

"I am so grateful to you, Master. Since these things do not diminish my aspiration, I wear what I have."

The Master said, "Here I must correct you. True, when you wear expensive clothes, your consciousness does not descend. But how do you get them? At the expense of somebody else. You make your husband's life miserable in order to please yourself. You should wear what comes to you under normal circumstances, and not what you get by begging your husband or by threatening him until he is forced to satisfy your demands. Even your real needs should be satisfied in a normal and natural way. You have pleaded with your husband, and for certain things you have threatened him. This is not the right way. The right way is to let things come to you in the normal course. If your husband gives something to you on his own, or if he gives you money and you can afford to buy things according to your satisfaction, you can wear these things. But forcing him and pleading with him is not natural."

"Master, Master, please do not find fault with my wife. She is so dear, so close to me. I will not be able to endure her suffering. Now I see she is sad. I can have all the world's suffering in my own heart, but I cannot stand to see her sad face. My wife's sad face has the power to destroy all my happiness. So Master, please forgive her.

"And now, Master, I wish to say, I am yours. I wish you to accept me as your disciple. And here is my promise to my wife: I shall not smoke or drink anymore. I shall not do any undivine things. I shall be totally devoted to my wife and please her in every way."

The wife said, "Devoted to me? You don't have to please me anymore. I was a fool. I wanted material things from you. It was the height of my stupidity. You don't have to please me. I was wrong."

The husband said, "No, you wanted me to accept a spiritual path, your path. I want to please you in that way. And I want to be devoted only to you."

At this point the wife became furious. "Never utter these foolish words!" she cried. "If you really want to please me, please my Master. If you please him, then rest assured that you have also pleased me. But by pleasing me, if you think that you are going to please my Master, that is absurdity itself. You should see me inside the Master, and try to please him in his own way as I am fully determined to please him in his own way. Let us make ourselves feel that we belong to our Master alone. You and I do not belong to ourselves; we have no right to claim each other. Let us claim the Master, only him, as our very own. We shall remain together, but we have to feel that he is our Source, he is our all."

The Master blessed both the husband and wife together. The husband said, "Master, you are my all because in you I see my all, my wife."

Again the wife became furious. "Who do you think you are pleasing with your foolish obstinacy?" she asked. "You are not pleasing me and you are not pleasing my Master. You are only pleasing yourself! Master, you are my all because in you I see my real Reality, who is the Supreme."

"Master, will you give me another chance?" asked the husband. "Another chance? I will give you as many chances as you want," the Master said, blessing him once again.

"Master, you are my all precisely because in you I see what I eternally am."

"Please tell me what you mean by this," said the Master.

"What I eternally am is ever-mounting aspiration and ever-descending compassion. Ever-mounting aspiration I feel and become when I enter into your heart. And when I look at your eyes and become one with your eyes, I see that I am an ever-descending compassion. Your eyes are infinite compassion. Your heart is eternal aspiration."

August 10, 1974

The perfect leader

In India many many years ago, deep in the heart of the Himalayas, there lived a very wise and great spiritual Master with his seven disciples. The Master was like a true father to his disciples, and they turned to him for everything. Even though the Master did not have as much worldly experience as many of his disciples, and even though he was younger than some of them, they all considered their Master the epitome of worldly as well as spiritual wisdom.

The Master showered his few disciples with concern on both a human and divine level, and quite often all of them sat in the Master's hut cutting jokes or discussing the world situation until the early hours of the morning.

One of the disciples had a brother who was a well known politician. One evening, as all sat around talking, he said, "Master, I am very disturbed. It seems that my village will never have a good leader. Not only in my home village, but in the neighbouring area in general, no leader seems to be coming forward. And I am not speaking only from the spiritual point of view. I just mean someone with real leadership qualities."

"You are unfortunately right, my son," said the Master. "Even on the spiritual and occult plane I am not getting that kind of vibration from any person."

"Master," said the man, "when will we have true divine leadership? Do you foresee any politician like this in the near or distant future?"

"My son, I am sorry. I do not. But the villagers are also to blame. You are also to blame."

"Master!" the young man said. "What do you mean? What can we do if no one comes forward as our leader?"

"My son, your attitude toward choosing a leader is wrong. I am saying this not only about your village, but about nations in general, about human nature itself."

"What is our wrong attitude, then? Please tell us."

"Unfortunately," the Master replied, "most people choose somebody as their leader only if they feel that he is just like them. If he is an inch above them, they feel that he is too superior. If somebody is better than they are, they think that they will not understand his language, and they do not want that person."

"But Master, to some extent isn't it necessary that your leader be able to identify with you and understand you perfectly?"

"Yes, that is true. But to choose somebody who is exactly on your level is to ask the blind to lead the blind. What kind of leadership can he provide? He will not know any more than you do."

"Then who should we choose, Master? I am eager to hear your philosophy."

The Master said, "He whom you choose as your leader should be not only greater than any one person in your group, but greater than all the individuals put together. He, should have this divine capacity. Only then can you put all your faith in him, in his ability to lead you and your village and your country."

"Master, that is quite a lofty ideal," said one disciple.

"Yes," agreed the Master. "He will be high enough so that you can stretch out your hand and reach up to him. At the same time, he will stretch his hand out and reach down to you. In that way you will meet. You need not and must not be on the same level. It is his humility that will connect him with you, and it is your sincerity that will connect you with him."

Another disciple joined the conversation. "Humility, Master? I don't think most people know the meaning of humility, not to speak of our so-called leaders. These days, sincerity and humility are badly ignored by our leaders and by everyone else, too."

"Don't worry," the Master said, "this has been the case from time immemorial. Don't think that the present has discovered something new. If only people knew the power of humility."

"What exactly do you mean, Master, by the power of humility?"

The Master explained, "We are ordinary human beings, and at times we may fall victim to temptation, deception or other undivine qualities. In the case of a leader who has made serious mistakes due to his earthly weaknesses, he can save himself only with one thing, only one word: humility."

"Master, please explain to us exactly what you mean."

"If a leader says, 'Forgive me, I have made a mistake. I see now that we must take another course,' then don't you think his subjects will forgive him? Suppose a King has made a wrong decision. Now, before his Kingdom begins to suffer from his mistake, if the King admits his mistake, saying, 'I am human; to err is human. Let us try another way,' then the situation can be rectified right from the start."

"If humility has the power to change things before any damage is done, then indeed it is a great, very great power," said the first disciple. "Why is it, Master, that politics doesn't seem to encourage people to cultivate their divine qualities and apply them in their public life?"

"Your brother, who is such a well-known politician, should hear you now," the Master said in a joking manner. "Politics as such is not bad, but being a leader is not an easy task. Two years ago, you gave me the good news that a new King had begun to rule the country at the foot of this mountain, and just yesterday all of you were saying how badly he has disappointed everyone. Some people start with high aspirations, but very often they are pushed down by the pressures and burdens of their work."

"And we are struggling, too," said the disciple, "so that our spiritual life will not be destroyed by our outer and inner defects.

"Master, you are our divine, supreme leader, and in you we place all our faith, all our hope, all our aspirations, all our ignorance. In the inner politics we know that we have made the right choice, we have chosen the perfect leader."

The Master smiled and asked his seven disciples to come up for his blessing.

September 15, 1974

A new spiritual adventure

Hundreds of years ago there lived in India a spiritual Master who had only fifty or sixty disciples. All of them were men. The Master and his disciples spent much of their time meditating in caves at the foothills of the Himalayas. Most of the disciples were very sincere, and the Master was pleased with their austerity and aspiration.

One morning after breakfast the Master said, "Today, instead of going to meditate, we are going to do another kind of sadhana. We are going to embark on a spiritual adventure."

His disciples were very curious to hear what the Master was going to say. "Today we will start ploughing and cultivating all the fields in the ashram. We shall grow many kinds of fruits and vegetables. Each of you will have a particular job to do, and from now on, all of us will work in the fields every day."

The disciples were shocked. "Every day?" said one disciple. "O Master, what about our individual meditation? How are we going to make any spiritual progress?"

"Selfless service and oneness with others in our work is also a form of spiritual discipline," said the Master.

One disciple stood up. "Master, I don't know how I am going to stay with you any longer. It seems to me that you want us to work only for your own name and fame. People will give you all the credit for having an ashram with such fruitful land."

"The ashram is in my name," replied the Master, "but when I look at the fields, I will see there your hearts and souls, your dedicated oneness with me. I will be all gratitude for your service. Inwardly, in the Supreme's eyes, in my eyes, you will get all the credit."

"Master," said one young boy, "we all want to please you in your own way. Don't listen to my spiritual brother who doubts your motives for starting this project. Let him leave, if he must. Now Master, please tell us how much time we should actually devote to this work."

"There is much work to do," said the Master, "and at times you may feel under pressure to get a job done. Naturally you will have many other important things that you must do in your life and of course you will do them. But if you are sincere to yourself, you will know if you are putting my work first."

The Master then asked the young boy to come up for a blessing. "You are the youngest of my disciples, but when it is a matter of dedicated service, you stand first. When it is a matter of working for me, no one can come close to your eagerness and willingness. Here, there, everywhere, you work for me in many, many projects."

"But Master," one elderly disciple said, "we thought you wanted us to spend more time in meditation."

"This disciple of mine also meditates many hours a day, and he has his own studies and work to do as well. But still he finds time to devote to my needs. There is not one single disciple among you who cannot devote one or two hours more a day to my work. If you say that you can spend only five minutes more or ten minutes more, then I will say no. All of you, without exception, can increase your outer offering."

"But Master," the elderly disciple said, "you don't always have work for us."

"This is your complaint. I hear this all the time from my disciples. But you can create work. To create work means that you will ask if there is any way you can contribute or be helpful. Do not always wait for the work to come to you. Look and see what needs to be done, and then offer your services."

The Master then told the disciples what work they would be doing, and asked one disciple in each group to take the role of leader. "Even though I have appointed one person to head each group, every person in the group is equally important. Everyone's dedicated service is meaningful and valuable. The leaders will be responsible for organising and co-ordinating the groups, but no one is superior or inferior. Everyone is indispensable if they work with aspiration and dedication. Again, no one is indispensable if pride or self-importance enters into him. Then he is worse than useless."

The Master blessed his disciple-leaders. "My spiritual children, you must see that there is co-operation between all the different groups. No group must make me feel that only its job is important and that nobody else does anything significant. Within each group I want each of you to strive for perfection and to make sure that you don't make any mistakes. Of course, if you see that a group before you has done something wrong, when it is your turn to add your labour to the project, you will take pains to correct their mistake."

"It seems, Master," said one man, "that you are asking us to bring forward the critical side of our nature."

"Here you are mistaken," the Master replied. "You will not spend even an iota of energy criticising others' work. You will just use your energy to concentrate on bringing the work to perfection. Dedication and a critical attitude do not go together. If you criticise others, what happens? The energy that you spend thinking of what others have done or not done is not being used to correct the mistake. Who is perfect? We all make mistakes from time to time. So the best thing is just to correct the error, and not dwell on who has made it or who has let the mistake slip by him."

"Master," said one disciple, "you have explained your philosophy to us very clearly. But, forgive me, I still feel sad that our meditation time will suffer."

"All of you please meditate for a few minutes before you start working. Invoke me and cry to enter into my consciousness. Then, when you work, try to remain in my heart. To be in my consciousness is the best meditation. If you are in my consciousness, then you will do your jobs with the correct attitude, and you will be having the best meditation. There will be co-operation, dedication and selflessness. The Supreme needs our feeling of oneness, our ability to work together. Today we will start this new form of aspiration: dedicated work. Please me in this way, my children, and you will see that a new purpose, a new joy, a new inspiration will come into your inner and outer lives from today on."

September 17, 1974

The Master's divine wish

There was once a spiritual Master who not only had a very big heart, but had also been blessed with an extremely brilliant mind. He offered his disciples spiritual nourishment and guidance, and at the same time illumined their minds and hearts with his divine mental clarity. One day the Master called together thirty of his most devoted disciples who were also very mentally developed.

"My dearest spiritual children," the Master began, "you know that I am now quite old. I shall soon pass behind the curtain of Eternity. But now I have a very sweet desire. Although I have written very little in my life, I wish all my writings to be published in a small book. I wish to leave this book for humanity, as humanity's possession."

All his disciples were sad to hear that their Master would soon leave them. But everyone was deeply moved that the Master would leave his writings for them to cherish and treasure.

"Spiritual Masters," continued the Master, "are not supposed to be writers. Except for one or two Masters who wrote considerably, most of them had nothing to do with literary work. Krishna, Buddha, the Christ — these Masters did not write. Some Masters did not even know how to write their own names."

"O Master," one disciple said, "whether you compose books or not, your soul's blessing and concern are more than enough for us."

"Yes," the Master said, "I love you people, and you have my constant concern. But I am not only for six or seven hundred disciples. I am for humanity, for the whole world. I wish to offer to humanity what I have and what I am in the form of my writings. I have something special to offer the hearts and minds of humanity. So out of hundreds of disciples, I have chosen you thirty to help me fulfil this sweet desire of mine."

The disciples were happy that the Master had chosen them. "We are eager to fulfil you, Master," one girl said, "But please tell us what you would like us to do."

"Since I want to offer this book to the world, I feel that it should be as perfect as possible. True, it is not absolutely essential that I offer this book at all. And even if my writings are published without being organised and carefully presented, humanity will still derive benefit from them. But you know that I am an Indian, and English is not my native tongue. For you to help me present this book in polished form is very easy for you, since English is your native language."

One boy said, "You don't need us, Master. It is your consciousness, your light, your capacity which will illumine the world through your book."

"It is true," agreed the Master, "that my task is infinitely more difficult than your task. When I write, it is from a plane far beyond the mind. But since we have the capacity — 'we' means you as an extension of myself — to make this book as perfect as possible, I feel we should utilise this capacity. Some of you will go through my writings and categorise them according to subject. Some of you will type, some will proof-read, some will do art work, some will do the printing. All of you will work for me. All of you will help me fulfil my sweet desire. I have chosen you because I have perfect faith in you. You are my own limbs, my chosen instruments who will serve the Divine in me in the way it wants to be served.”

"To work for the Master is the highest blessing," the disciples said. "We are deeply honoured that you have asked us to work for you."

"What else is meditation," said the Master, "if not this kind of service? You people may think that you meditate only once a day in the morning or during meetings with me. But no, every second your life can be meditation if you serve me devotedly. Believe me, that is absolutely the highest form of meditation. Do your work soulfully, devotedly, unconditionally, and you will see if what I am saying is true or not. Keep your minds and hearts on me as you work. Offer me your love, devotion and surrender through your dedicated action. Be with me, of me, for me, and you will have my deepest blessing and highest pride."

In this way the Master inspired his disciples to help him fulfil his sweet, divine wish.

September 17, 1974

The Master's aura

There was once a spiritual Master living in India, who had thirty or forty disciples. These disciples were like his children and he dealt with all their problems as a human father might, solving them with his endless compassion and wisdom.

One evening, the disciples were gathered around him for meditation. The Master said, "My sweet children, now we have had a most wonderful meditation. I know that some of you have a few inner problems or at least a few questions. Please tell me them now. Please ask me anything."

Immediately one disciple said, "Master, the other day my sister's baby died. Please tell me, Master, how does it happen that a baby can die so shortly after birth? The child was only one month old. He could not have done anything wrong."

The Master replied, "Dearest child, there is no hard and fast rule. Early death can be the result of karma from a previous incarnation. Perhaps he did something wrong in the past and his soul wanted to have an experience in and through this body only for a few days or a few weeks. It also happens that when some very good souls enter the world, they are frightened by the world's ignorance and leave the body quickly. There are also some advanced souls who are enthusiastic about returning to earth when they are in the souls' world, but when they enter into the physical world, they realise that they do not want to accept the challenge and try to swim across the sea of ignorance again."

"Master," continued the disciple, "when does the soul enter the body?"

"Again, my son, there is no hard and fast rule. Souls enter into the body at the time of conception or two, three, six, eight months later, or even on the day the child comes into the world. The soul may enter the body at the time of delivery or even a few hours after delivery, but never as much as a day later. That is impossible. Usually the soul enters five or six months after conception, but there is no rule. The soul enters at the Supreme's Hour."

Another disciple raised his hand and said, "Master, when we are in the soul's world like that, it must be so easy for us to do the Will of the Supreme all the time — to know what He wants. But once we are on earth, we lose touch with that Reality. How can we know what is our personal will and what is the Divine Will?"

"My child, a seeker can know the difference between personal will and Divine Will from the result of the experience. If after he does something, he does not feel peace of mind, then it is not the Divine Will that he has followed. If he is using the Divine Will, whether the result is success or failure, he will have peace of mind. But if he is using his personal will, then even if the result is successful, he will never be satisfied. He will be like a greedy person who has eaten one piece of bread and immediately wants more. If he is doing the Divine Will, even if he does not receive a piece of bread, he will merely feel that his hour has not struck. The Divine Will will always give us peace of mind, whether the experience is fulfilling or not. In other words, Divine Will is satisfaction and human will is dissatisfaction."

"How can we bring this Divine Will, or our soul's will, to the fore, Master?" asked the disciple.

"First, you have to feel during your meditation that we are not the body, not the vital, not the mind. You are the soul. If you know you are the soul, then it is up to you to remain inside your soul-room. But first you have to know and feel that you are not the body, mind or vital, and only then you can bring your soul to the fore.

"Let me tell you a sweet experience I had yesterday. You know Ranjit? Well, his little son was playing around my chair. We were eating and talking when all of a sudden the child became one with his soul. He came and stood right in front of me, and said, 'I love you, I love you, I love you. I love you only.' Then he took my foot and brought it right up to his face and kissed my toe. Now what does a child of his age know about devotion? His act came directly and spontaneously from the soul. The body and the mind would not prompt him to do something like this. When a person remains in the soul, he runs the fastest. When you remain in the soul, you will realise who I am."

"Master," said another disciple quietly, "how can we stay in the soul all the time in order to realise who you are?"

The Master replied, "My dear son, first you have to try to remain always near the tree and not at a distance. Then try to be at the foot of the tree. Once you are at the foot of the tree, then try to look up and see how far your vision can go. If you are really trying to heighten your vision, then Grace will descend from the Supreme, who is your Guru, my Guru, everybody's Guru. This Grace is like a magnet, but that magnet will operate only when it sees that you are anxious to be pulled by it. So if you go and stand at the foot of the tree and look up to the top, the Grace-magnet will pull you up. That is the only way a disciple can realise the height of the Master.

"Dear children, I am most pleased with the questions you have been asking me. Now, I would like to ask you a question. Did any of you see any light or colour around me today, while you were meditating?"

"Yes, Master, I did," replied one of the women disciples.

"What did you see?" asked the Master.

"I saw a very beautiful blue light, Master. What does it mean? Where does it come from?"

"This blue colour signifies spirituality. It also signifies Infinity. Each colour has some significance which can help the seeker. For example, if one day you want to have renunciation, or if you want delight, if you concentrate on the proper colour you will gain that quality. This is a very easy method of getting results. Of course, the success of your meditation depends on the amount of faith you have in my inner guidance and my revelation of the qualities that the colour embodies."

"In India, the colour blue is usually identified with Sri Krishna. In my case, blue and gold are my predominant colours. Gold signifies manifestation. Each individual has an aura, but spiritual Masters have many auras. Krishna had many auras, but his main one was composed of the blue colour."

"Master, where does this colour come from, or where does it reside?" asked the woman.

"In the heart of our aspiration, in the inner sun. Each of us has an inner sun, which is infinitely more brilliant and powerful than the outer planetary sun. Each person has at least one inner sun, but if you are an advanced seeker, you have more than one. In Vivekananda, Sri Ramakrishna said he saw eighteen suns. The blue colour is always present in the inner sun, although another colour may also be present. Each sun must have the blue colour, because blue signifies Infinity in the form of Peace, Light and Bliss."

"My daughter, I am very pleased that you have seen this colour around me today. Another day I will answer more of your questions. Right now I must have more concern for your bodies. As I said before, the Supreme has an hour for everything, and now is the hour for you to rest. So go, my children, and tomorrow we shall meet here again."

September 17, 1974

The Master's food

Many years ago there lived a spiritual Master who had several hundred disciples. Some disciples had been with him for quite a few years, but because his mission was still very young, most of the disciples had come to him more recently. The Master's disciples were very devoted to him and tried to please him in every way.

It was the practice at this Master's ashram for each disciple to have an opportunity to cook the evening meal. And so it happened that a competitive spirit began to develop in the serving of the meal each night. Each disciple would try to serve a meal more delicious than the previous one. It was the habit of the Master to join his disciples after the evening meal; he would sometimes take a seat and eat his meal among them. It seemed an excellent opportunity for disciples to gain his favour by trying to please him with a most delicious meal.

Kaugal, who had been with the Master for some time, worked especially hard one evening to prepare the Master's choicest foods. He spent many hours preparing the various dishes and secretly prayed that this evening his Master would choose to come early. But when the Master arrived, he looked around and, after a few moments, turned and left the hall. The tray that Kaugal had prepared for his Master sat untouched, and Kaugal felt very hurt. He even felt a little anger somewhere deep inside him.

About a week later, when all the disciples were gathered at their Master's feet, one of the closest disciples asked why he hadn't eaten with them for the past few nights. The disciple who had been so disappointed a few days earlier listened very intently as the Master began to answer the question.

"How many times I don't eat the food you people prepare for the evening meal! You are my children, true. It is one thing to be identified with your consciousness, with your lives, but at the same time, if a child brings me something unclean, at that time my love for purity will not permit me to eat it. My love for the disciple will not decrease, but at the same time, purity is also a child of mine. Because of my love for purity, I will not be able to eat."

One of the young disciples who loved food and always ate everything said, "But Master, didn't you eat everything when you were a child?"

The Master replied, "When I lived at my Master's ashram, I had to eat what was offered. I used to eat, and then I would suffer for hours. But here in my own ashram, just because I have become a Guru, I can say I won't eat certain food. When I first came to have my own ashram, how I suffered from my disciples' cooking! Even now, on some occasions I suffer."

The same young man asked, "Is the reason you suffer because some people aren't clean and neat when they cook?"

The Master gave a little smile and said, "True, some people are not at all clean and tidy when they cook. At home, my mother and sister won't even go into the kitchen without taking a proper shower. Then right after they have prepared the meal, they will take another shower. But here we aren't careful enough about cleanliness while cooking."

One of the woman disciples, very neat in appearance, spoke, "But Master, are there really that many disciples living among us who are so careless about cleanliness and outer purity?"

The Master shook his head and said, "God alone knows how much I have suffered from my disciples. How many times I have requested them to take showers. I threaten them, I bark at them, but the next week, these same brilliant soldiers fail to take a shower even before meditation, not to speak of before they cook for us."

"Master," said an older man, well-known for his exotic food, "some of us are clean and tidy, yet you still don't eat our food. Why is this?"

The Master replied, "Even if someone is clean and tidy, his consciousness may be very low, and his vibrations enter into the food. Every thought, as well as the wrong forces that enter into the disciple, enter the food. I see this immediately, so I don't eat."

"But Master," said a disciple, "you said you still suffer sometimes. Why do you eat that food, then?"

"Sometimes just to please a disciple I eat his food, and then I suffer. And even if the inner consciousness of the food is good, sometimes I still suffer when I eat it, because I will gain five pounds and then suffer for the next two weeks trying to lose weight. But if I don't eat his food, the disciple will be sad, depressed. He will say, 'Oh, the Master does not care for me!' So I eat the food to please the disciple."

Another disciple quietly asked, "Master, what do you do for food when you travel?"

"If and when I must stop at a restaurant while travelling, I either put my fingers here on my forehead, or I put a great concentrative force on my system. Also, I know that whoever is cooking is not cooking for me as if I were a guest of honour."

"Master, because we cook for you as if you were a guest of honour, does it make any difference when you go to eat the food?" asked a woman sitting in the front row.

"Here at my ashram," said the Master, "there is tremendous inner competitive spirit. Everyone wants to surpass all the previous cooks. Everyone wants more appreciation and admiration than others got from the disciples and from me. When you are cooking, you often think of the disciples who are creating problems for you. All your frustration, anger, jealousy and accusations come forward and enter into the food. Although the cook in the restaurant may have his own personal problems, he is not bringing them consciously to the fore. I am not involved in his life, so he is not killing me inwardly as he is cooking for me."

"Since our accusations and frustrations are not directed at you, Master, how is it that we are killing you inwardly?" enquired one of the disciples.

"For everything I am the culprit," said the Master. "You blame me for all your problems; your central thought is always on me. The thought will come to you that I smiled at somebody else yesterday with such a beautiful smile, whereas I didn't even look at you. You will think that so-and-so received so much affection from me, or that I spent more time talking to someone else than I did to you. You think of these kinds of incidents while you are cooking. Your mind wants to give you this kind of inner experience, and then all your aspiration drops."

"Even if our food tastes delicious to others, you cannot eat it?" asked the same disciple.

"Even if the food is most delicious, if your consciousness has dropped, then for me the food is inedible. Everybody will appreciate your food, but it will not be the same for me. With some disciples, the moment they bring the food to me, I lose all hunger. Sometimes when cooking they are in a good consciousness, but at the dining hall many wrong forces enter into them, and again I can't eat their food. I have suffered so much from the disciples' food."

One of the Master's close disciples gave a sigh and said, "Master, will we always have to worry about wrong vibrations in the food we serve you?"

The Master answered, "The person who has cooked may be very bad, but if your own love and devotion-power fights against the wrong forces and the impurity in the food while you are serving it to me, the wrong forces can be nullified. This is the victory of your love and devotion. In the case of one great Master, his dearest disciple used to taste the Master's food before he would give it to him. He would take a bite out of a piece of fruit to make sure it was all right before giving it to his Master. In this case, it was an act of extreme devotion. But most people do not have that kind of devotion. While cooking, they put their fingers into the food so they can taste it, but this is not an act of devotion. Not only do they do that, but they even taste their food with the same spoon time after time without washing the spoon even once. This is really unthinkable carelessness and disrespect. Devotion is necessary. All love, all devotion, should be in the food that is prepared."

Now was Kaugal's chance to ask a question. "But Master, cooking the evening meal takes so many hours. How can we maintain such a high consciousness for the entire time?"

The Master answered, "Why don't you sing the songs that you have learned here at the ashram? If you sing soulfully, how can wrong forces enter into you? In this way, you can concentrate on keeping your consciousness very high and one-pointed. Of course, you have to sing with conscious devotion. If you sing mechanically while still cherishing wrong forces, it will be useless. In some ashrams they chant the Gita for hours and hours, or they repeat some spiritual mantras to gain realisation. They are able to raise their consciousness and sustain that height for hours. Other seekers do it, and you can also do the same."

One of the youngest disciples leaned forward from the corner and said, "But Master, my mother is unaspiring and I eat her food all the time without it bothering me!"

The Master gave a broad smile and said, "If you have a blood relationship with someone who cooks, if the person is a member of your family such as your mother or sister, and if you have a close connection of consciousness with that person, you will not be affected. Even if your mother or sister did not take a shower and observe strict rules of cleanliness, because of your closest connection with their lives, you will not be affected. Your consciousness is not affected because your consciousness is inseparable with your mother's or your sister's. But if the same things are done by somebody else with whom you do not have a close connection, or who is not a blood relative, then you will be affected."

Again Kaugal asked, "Since no blood relative cooks here, are disciples also affected by the food they eat at the ashram?"

"I think that my consciousness is a little higher, at least one centimetre higher than my disciples' consciousness. I can perceive all these forces, but the disciples will not be affected in any way. If the disciple were very, very high, and if the one who had cooked the food had a very low consciousness, then the first disciple would be affected by the food. But, there is not such a yawning gulf between the levels of consciousness of different disciples. It is not that someone is on the top of the Himalayas and someone else is at the bottom of the ocean. But it may happen that during a meditation someone has raised his consciousness very high, unusually high. Then, if he has to eat this food, he may be affected. Usually, though, it does not happen like that at our meditations."

One of the newer disciples asked, "What about those who simply don't cook well?"

"If the disciple is a bad cook, that is a different problem. One thing is consciousness; another thing is the actual preparation of the food. Being a good cook or a bad cook has nothing to do with a person's consciousness. If he uses too much chilli powder and you eat it, your stomach and mouth will burn and you will suffer on the physical plane. But this does not mean that his consciousness was not good while he was cooking. It is a different matter altogether."

Again, the new disciple wanted to know, "Does each ingredient have its own consciousness?"

"Each spice has its own consciousness, but only the individual can decide what he should eat. I can probably eat more spicy food. Good or bad, I can eat it because that is what I am used to. But I will never tell you to eat chilli because it will purify your consciousness. No, it will only burn your tongue. I will never say eat honey or eat garlic. It is up to you to decide what you should eat. Each individual is the best judge of what food will be good for him. Each food or spice has its own qualities, but we cannot make a comparison between two spices or two kinds of things and say which is better for everyone.

"Here in our spiritual family we have a disciple — I won't say whether it is a he or she. Let us say soul, since the soul is neither masculine or feminine. That particular soul has cooked many times, but the Supreme in me has never, never allowed me to eat food prepared by that soul. Outwardly you will not know who the person is. I smile at that person, talk to that person. The soul may be excellent in many things; the soul may have many talents. It may be clean and tidy and the food may taste simply excellent. But because of the consciousness, I am not allowed to eat food prepared by this particular soul. My consciousness simply does not respond to the consciousness of that disciple. It is all a matter of consciousness. Consciousness is the most important factor in the preparation of food for a spiritual Master."

September 17 ,1974

Lightless soldiers fail

Two hundred years ago in India there lived a very great and compassionate spiritual Master. This Master accepted disciples from all walks of life and all levels of spiritual development. One night, the Master came back to his cottage to find that all his doors and windows were open. When he walked inside, he was shocked to see that most of his possessions had been stolen. Only his small bedroll remained. The Master knew that the disciples who had been working there that day had forgotten to lock up his house. But he was so sad and disturbed by their irresponsibility that he didn't have the strength to go and scold them.

The Master sat down on the floor to pray to the Supreme to forgive these disciples. No sooner had he closed his eyes than a disciple knocked on his door excitedly. "Master, Master!" the disciple cried. "What am I going to do? What am I going to do? I am in trouble!"

"What are you going to do about what?" asked the Master. "Please come in and tell me what has happened."

"Master, today my mother was very sick, so I asked my cousin to look after the ashram cows. But he fell asleep and left the gate open and all the cows have wandered away. I have been searching for them for hours, but to no avail. Master, now what am I going to do?"

Before the Master could say anything, there was another loud knock on his door. It was the village police. "We have come to inform you, Sir," said one of the officers, "that we have received a complaint against you from the village authorities. They had to spend several hours cleaning up after your last outdoor public meditation. They cannot tolerate this kind of thing. We are sorry, but you will no longer be allowed to hold meditations or give lectures in our town."

The Master said, "I am also sorry." But instead of sending for just the disciples who had been in charge of the last meditation, he asked all his disciples to come to his house.

When all were gathered at his house, the Master said, "I am giving all of you absolutely my last warning in this matter of irresponsibility. If I notice any irresponsibility in anything else that you do, the punishment will be very strict. For one week, one month, two months or even six months, you will not be allowed to come to the ashram. Also, no dedicated service will be accepted from you during this time."

"Master," one girl said, "we can't believe our ears. We thought you were all forgiveness, all love for us. How can we exist without seeing you, without serving you?"

"I am doing this for your own good," replied the Master. "I am exploring all possibilities to make you people run fast. Love is force and force is love. If I forbid you to come to the ashram for a month or so, it is for your good. It is not my personal malicious feeling towards you. No!"

"But Master," a boy said, "we are all human beings, and we have come to you for perfection. How can you expect us not to make mistakes from time to time?"

At this the Master became furious. "Most of you, if not all of you, have no sense of responsibility. Recently some disciples have made a few serious mistakes, and we are suffering and suffering from it. But all of you are culprits. Because of your irresponsibility, our mission is suffering like anything. They are the recent culprits, but all of you could easily do the same thing either today or tomorrow. To everyone I am saying that irresponsibility is also inside you; I see it in your nature."

All the disciples remained very quiet. Each one was thinking of the things he had done wrong recently because of his lack of responsibility.

The Master continued, "No matter who you are, no matter how hard you work for me or how long you have served me, whether you are ten years old or seventy years old, please take this warning very seriously. Please, please, please! If I see irresponsibility once more in any disciple, I will take action. This is not my personal grievance against any disciple, but my personal concern for your spiritual life."

"I have accepted all of you, but now the ashram has become like an Indian village market. You are just singing and dancing. There is no seriousness in you. So I shall start this policy from tomorrow, and your punishment will be very, very severe."

The disciples were inwardly relieved that their Master would not start until the next day. Each one was thinking about how to rectify his mistakes before tomorrow dawned.

"I am your eternal Father, but if I don't act as a divine judge, the way most of you are behaving I see you will take Eternity to realise God. Love is necessary, but force is also necessary. Force is love; love is force. I tell you, force is not punishment. But our human insecurity, our human ego, does not take force as love. It takes it as personal retribution."

"Master," said one brave disciple, "we understand now that you are using your force for our own good. But why have you chosen this particular way to punish us — by not allowing us to come to the ashram? It seems to me that nobody will ever know the reason why some particular disciple doesn't come to the ashram. We will all just think that he is sick or that he is away on vacation."

"It will be known," said the Master, "why you are not coming to the ashram and why you are not participating in selfless service. So that everyone will know the real reason, either I shall announce it to everybody, or it will be posted on the bulletin board. This kind of action will serve us extremely effectively, for others will then be very, very careful. In this way, many will learn from the mistakes of one."

"Master, it seems that being careful will now become a main part of our sadhana," a disciple said. "I never thought of responsibility like that."

The Master explained, "If you drop a glass, it breaks. The soul is also delicate like that. You are holding the soul, a most beautiful child. If you drop this child through carelessness, the child will fall and break its legs or arms. So please be very, very careful."

After a pause the Master said, "There is another way you people show your sense of irresponsibility. If ever I ask you to bring me something or do something for me, if I have to wait for two or three days, if you forget or neglect my request, I will consider that irresponsibility. Please don't do this kind of thing anymore."

"What happens," asked one boy, "if you don't give us any special time limit for accomplishing something?"

"If I ask you people to do something and tell you that you can take your own time, if you have real love and devotion for me, you will try to please me by giving me the work at your very earliest. If I tell you to do something for me in a week, you will try to do it in a day. If I tell you to do something in a day, you will try to do it in an hour. If I tell you to do something in an hour, you will try to do it in five or ten minutes. If you behave like that, I will be very happy, very proud of you. Now, does anyone have any other questions about this, or about anything I have said?"

The disciples kept silent.

"Then please go home," said the Master. "We shall see what happens tomorrow."

September l8, 1974

The Master's unconditional promise

One afternoon a very great spiritual Master invited his disciples to his home to celebrate the birthday of one of their spiritual sisters. It happened that the brother of this young woman also came. He and his sister had both accepted the Master at the same time, but after about two years the boy had decided to leave the Master. Now, several years later, he was interested in another path, and he was about to move to a distant city because of it.

When the Master saw this wayward son of his in the gathering, he gave him a broad smile full of love and compassion and said, "Keshava, I am very happy, very happy to see you." Then he was inspired to say a few significant things.

"My child, you may call it my pride, but I tell you, whoever has accepted me, the Supreme in me, as his spiritual Master, will always have the Supreme in me as his spiritual Master. The spiritual Master in me is the Supreme, not my body, not my mind, not my physical existence. After reaching the highest in me, which is the highest in you, you will never be satisfied with another path. One can take a short sabbatical leave. Even for a long time one can take leave. You have now enjoyed a very long leave. But I know who I am; I know who you are; I know who others are. So I wish to tell you, my dearest child, no matter where you go, your soul, which is the real in you, is eternally bound to the real in me. No matter which path you follow or are going to follow, it will always remain my duty, my bounden duty, to take you to your destined Goal. That was the promise I made to your soul, and that was the longing of your soul. I wish to say that any promise was one hundred percent sincere, and your longing was also one hundred percent sincere."

"So, good boy, you may go wherever you want. If you want to stay elsewhere, you may. But for your spiritual life, my child, no matter where you go or what you do, no matter whose earthly guidance or spiritual guidance you take, I tell you, it is this rascal or this representative of the Supreme who will feed the eternal hunger in you. Nobody, nobody on earth or in Heaven can be of any real help to you in your life of aspiration and realisation except the Supreme in me, which is my highest part and your highest part. And wherever you are, if you are in any real inner difficulty, you can invoke me and call upon me as your very own. So, Keshava, my sermon is over."

The Master saw that Keshava's heart was receiving his soulful and affectionate message. But after the party was over, one of the disciples went up to the Master and said that Keshava told him that he thought these words were meant for the others, and not for him. The Master smiled and said, "Such a clever mind my Keshava has! The monkey in me has pinched him very nicely, but he is too proud to confess the fact that he has felt it."

September 22, 1974

Purity in the physical is indispensable

There was once a very kind and compassionate spiritual Master who lived in an extremely poor village in India. He was the spiritual Father to many sincere seekers. The Master knew that his disciples led extremely hard lives, and so he was fond of inviting them to come to his home for parties and various activities, just to give them some joy and relaxation.

One day the Master invited his disciples to come to celebrate the birthday of his youngest disciple, who was twelve years old. Although some of his disciples had children who were younger than she was, this little girl had come to the Master on her own, and he called her his youngest conscious disciple.

On the day of her party, almost everyone showed up very late, looking as if they had been working in the fields of the Master's small ashram up until the last minute and they hadn't had time to wash or dress properly. "Why are you late?" the Master asked them. "Did something unfortunate happen that prevented you from coming?"

"Nothing unusual," said one disciple, "but we still had so much work to do in your fields, and we thought that you would consider it more important for us to finish our work than to come to a party."

"I am grateful to you for working for me," said the Master. "When you do my work, it is good. But everything is equally important."

"What do you mean, Master?" asked the disciple. "How can a party be as important as finishing up the work in the fields?"

"If you go to a party it will be a kind of relaxation," explained the Master. "It is like a refuelling, and you are getting new strength. Otherwise, after four hours of steady work, you do not work with a divine consciousness: you become like a machine. You get a machine-consciousness. But before that happens, if you do something else for a while, the soul comes back into your actions. So work for several hours and then, especially if I have scheduled something else or invited you to come here, please come and then go back to work."

The Master began to meditate with his disciples as he often did before a function began. But after a few minutes the Master stopped meditating and looked very sad.

"What is the matter?" asked one disciple. "We are sorry that we were late, but why are you looking so sad now?"

"From now on," replied the Master, "when I invite you to come to my house for a party or anything else, please take a shower before coming. Usually you will have an extra half hour at your disposal before the function begins, so please shower then. Of course, if I say, 'Come immediately,' you may not have time to shower, although you can still make an effort to be neat and tidy. But otherwise, you must be clean."

"Please forgive us, Master," one man said. "As we told you, most of us have just been working in the fields."

"In your case that is true" said the Master, "but some of the disciples have just come from home. They pretend that they have been working, and they come here in their dirtiest possible clothes to show me how hard they work. Work hard; that will please me. But come here with clean clothes."

"Well, Master," one young boy said, "today it is a party, but often you ask us to come to your house to do work for you. I must admit that I sometimes feel that I'm wasting time by showering and getting dressed up just to come here and get dirty again."

"You are wrong," said the Master. "All the disciples who come here to work must wear clean clothes. Otherwise, I will be very sad and disturbed. If you cannot wear clean clothes, you are offensive to my eyes. Very often you come to do light work, clean work, but still you wear your dirtiest clothes. Your souls' inner cleanliness, that responsibility I have to take. But outer cleanliness you have to take care of. To purify you inwardly is my responsibility, but to keep yourself outwardly clean is your responsibility."

The Master began to sneeze and cough violently. "I have not been feeling well for the last few days. There are many reasons, but one is that I have been taking on your physical impurity. There are many kinds of impurity: mental impurity, vital impurity and physical impurity. In the last few days it is your tremendous physical impurity that has entered into me."

"Master, we are extremely sorry that our negligence in this matter has caused you to suffer so badly. We had no idea that this would happen."

"You people seem to have no idea about any kind of cleanliness, even in your own houses. True, all of you are extremely poor. But, from now on, if you want me to go to any of your houses, you have to make them clean. If I go to a disciple's house and am dissatisfied, I will never enter into that disciple's home anymore. Physical purity must play a considerable role in your lives from now own. Inner purity is important, true; but outer purity I also consider important."

The Master again entered into meditation. After fifteen minutes he blessed the young girl for her birthday, and then everybody had a delicious meal that the Master had cooked with his own hands. "I wanted to honour our youngest disciple, and so I have cooked this dinner myself. I wish to offer you all pieces of the cake I have baked, as prasad. You know that to receive prasad from the Master is the highest meditation. I wish to bless you in this way, since I had to scold you earlier this evening. Please come to me on your way out. I wish you to have my inner and outer blessing to carry home with you."

The disciples were happy and excited that the Master was to bless them in this way, for it was not often that he offered prasad. Since the Master was standing by the door, they picked up their shoes before getting into the queue. The first disciple held his shoes in his right hand and took the cake in his left. The second disciple tried to take the prasad with both hands, and his sandals were hanging from his wrists. The third disciple also did the same.

Then the Master became furious. "Stop, stop, is this what you people have learned from me? This disrespect? Do I have to touch your shoes when I offer you prasad? Do you know nothing about purity?"

The disciples hurriedly began to put on their shoes before it was their turn to come to the Master, which made the Master even angrier.

"Enough!" said the Master. "Leave your shoes here. Just take the cake from me and wait outside until all have come. Then you can think of your shoes. It seems that tonight is the night for me to scold you, but most of you have been with me for three, four or five years. You should know these things by now."

"From now on, remember all I have said today about purity. Do not forget that in my philosophy, purity in the physical is cleanliness. Be conscious of what you are doing at all times, my children. If you do this, then you will never displease me."

September 22, 1974