Hari was a good disciple. He led a disciplined life and tried very sincerely to follow his Master’s guidelines. However, he also felt it was his duty to tell his fellow brother and sister disciples if they came up short and did things in the wrong way. When Hari travelled to an ashram in another city, he created a bit of a stir because he told quite a few disciples what they were doing wrong, and it didn’t go down particularly well.
Hari was also prone to periods of mild depression and frustration. He lived the strict spiritual life but felt he wasn’t always getting the joy he should be getting.
After ruminating on these issues for a few weeks, he requested a private interview with his Master where he hoped he would be able to air his grievances about what was happening in his ashram. He was fairly confident the Master would take his point of view.
When Hari went to meet his Master. The Master offered him a blessingful smile which really melted his heart. After a period of soulful silence, the Master began.
“My dear Hari, what I would like from you is for you to be happy. You must feel that in your happiness is your spiritual progress. If you are unhappy and depressed, it is like a dead weight that you are placing on top of yourself, and you will make no progress.
Of course, if you are depressed, I will still inwardly offer my compassion and love. But, for my love and compassion to be effective there needs to be some receptivity. This receptivity is in your happiness. So from now on, please make happiness your highest priority. If you are happy, then you will feel a great weight has been lifted.”
It wasn’t what Hari had expected at all. He thought the Master would talk about the issues in his ashram. He was moved by his Master’s words but also a little taken aback.”
As if the Master was reading his mind, the Master continued.
“I deeply appreciate your efforts to follow my teachings and guidelines in the spiritual life, but it is a mistake if you feel you are responsible for correcting all the decisions of my disciples. If you spend your time trying to tell others what they are doing wrong, you will only add frustration to your life.
It is true I set the highest spiritual standards in the hope my disciples will feel the inner necessity to aspire and follow my approach to the spiritual life. But, even I cannot always be telling them what they are doing wrong. If I corrected a disciple every-time they were doing something wrong, I would have left the body many years ago!” The Master and Hari smiled. But, after a short pause, Hari also asked the Master.
“But Master, I thought that if there were problems in the ashram, then we should let you know before the problem gets worse.”
“Yes, those who I have given responsibility for my ashram must ensure certain minimum standards of behaviour, and if it is a question of serious problems in the spiritual life – problems with emotional-life, vital-life, then you must let me know so that I can deal with it in my own way. But, we have to use our wisdom and discriminate between serious issues which threaten the spiritual life and those other areas where I have given disciples the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.”
In my ashram, I have disciples of many different standards in the spiritual life. I cannot expect every disciple to have the same kind of surrender. In the beginning, we cannot expect everything of a young child – we need to allow him a certain freedom to learn and appreciate the rules of life. It is the same in the spiritual life; seekers need to feel the inner necessity of making certain changes and approaches to the spiritual life. But, at the same time, if a young child puts his hand in the fire, then will his parents not immediately tell the child to stop for his own protection?”
Hari was already feeling better, it felt like his Master was taking a load of unnecessary responsibility from his shoulders, plus at the same time, he felt lifted up by the mere presence and light of his Master.
But, his Master had not finished. He continued.
“My dear Hari, I’m sure you are aware of the Saviour Christ and his profound message.
“First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
If we wish to change our brother disciple’s behaviour, we first have to lead by example. If we are frustrated and unhappy – pointing out their failings will in no way inspire them to lead a better, more illumined life. First, we have to aspire for light and happiness in all aspects of our being – our mind, heart and soul. Only then will we begin to have the potential to improve standards in the ashram. But, if we want to change someone’s nature, rarely can that happen by barking at people!
However, if we can bring down abundant light and peace into our nature, then at least some people will either consciously or unconsciously start to be inspired by our example. So this is what I want you to do – please be happy. Happiness, Happiness, Happiness! Leave the correction of your fellow man to God. Your only job is your happiness and spiritual progress!”
Happiness, happiness, happiness —
Only happiness within
And happiness without
Can free the bondage-chained life
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