89. Progress in Spiritual Life
We are two girls from England, visiting India. We know little about
Yoga and we are
because we were told that spiritual teachers play an important role in
You are welcome. There is nothing new you will find here. The work we
are doing is
It was the same ten thousand years ago. Centuries roll on, but the
human problem does
change -- the problem of suffering and the ending of suffering.
The other day seven young foreigners have turned up asking for a place
to sleep for a few
They came to see their Guru who was lecturing in Bombay. I met him --
a very pleasant
young man is he -- apparently very matter-of-fact and efficient, but
with an atmosphere of
and silence about him. His teaching is traditional with stress on
karma Yoga, selfless work,
of the Guru etc. Like the Gita, he says that selfless work will result
in salvation. He is full of
plans: training workers who will start spiritual centres in many
countries. It seems he
them not only the authority, but also the power to do the work in his
Yes, there is such a thing as transmission of power.
When I was with them I had a strange feeling of becoming invisible.
The devotees, in their
to their Guru surrendered me also! Whatever I did for them was their
Guruís doing and I
not considered, except as a mere instrument. I was merely a tap to
turn left or right. There was
personal relationship whatsoever. They tried a little to convert me to
their faith; as soon as they
resistance, they just dropped me from the field of their attention.
Even between themselves they
not appear very much related; it is their common interest in their
Guru that kept them together. I
it rather cold, almost inhuman. To consider oneself an instrument in
Godís hands is one thing;
be denied all attention and consideration because Ďall is Godí may
lead to indifference verging on
After all, all wars are made Ďin the name of Godí. The entire history
of mankind is a
of Ďholy warsí. One is never so impersonal as in war!
To insist, to resist, are contained in the will to be. Remove the will
to beand what remains?
and non-existence relate to something in space and time; here and now,
there and then,
again are in the mind. The mind plays a guessing game; it is ever
restless. You resent being treated as a mere instrument of some god,
or Guru, and insist on
treated as a person, because you are not sure of your own existence
and do not want to give
the comfort and assurance of a personality. You may not be what you
believe yourself to be, but
gives you continuity, your future flows into the present and becomes
the past without jolts. To be
personal existence is frightening, but you must face it and find your
identity with the totality
life. Then the problem of who is used by whom is no more.
All the attention I got was an attempt to convert me to their faith.
When I resisted they lost all
One does not become a disciple by conversion, or by accident. There is
usually an ancient link,
through many lives and flowering as love and trust, without which
there is no
What made you decide to become a teacher?
I was made into one by being called so. Who am I to teach and whom?
What I am, you are, and
you are -- I am. The ĎI amí is common to us all; beyond the ĎI amí
there is the immensity of light
love. We do not see it because we look elsewhere; I can only point at
the sky; seeing of the star
your own work. Some take more time before they see the star, some take
less; it depends on the
of their vision and their earnestness in search. These two must be
their own -- I can only
What am I expected to do when I become a disciple?
Each teacher has his own method, usually patterned on his Guruís
teachings and on the way he
has realised, and his own terminology as well. Within that framework
adjustments to the
of the disciple are made. The disciple is given full freedom of
thought and enquiry and
to question to his heartís content. He must be absolutely certain of
the standing and
of his Guru, otherwise his faith will not be absolute nor his action
complete. It is the
in you that takes you to the absolute beyond you -- absolute truth,
love selflessness are
decisive factors in self-realisation. With earnestness these can be
I understand one must give up oneís family and possessions to become a
It varies with the Guru. Some expect their mature disciples to become
ascetics and recluses;
encourage family life and duties. Most of them consider a model family
life more difficult than
suitable for a personality more mature and better balanced. At the
early stages the
of monastic life may be advisable. Therefore, in the Hindu culture
students up to the age
25 are expected to live like monks -- in poverty, chastity and
obedience -- to give them a chance
build a character able to meet the hardships and temptations of
Who are the people in this room? Are they your disciples?
Ask them. It is not on the verbal level that one becomes a disciple,
but in the silent depths of
being. You do not become a disciple by choice; it is more a matter of
destiny than self-will. It
not matter much who is the teacher -- they all wish you well. It is
the disciple that matters -- his
and earnestness. The right disciple will always find the right
I can see the beauty and feel the blessedness of a life devoted to
search for truth under a
and loving teacher. Unfortunately, we have to return to England.
Distance does not matter. If your desires are strong and true, they
will mould your life for their
Sow you seed and leave it to the seasons.
What are the signs of progress in spiritual life?
Freedom from anxiety; a sense of ease and joy; deep peace within and
How did you get it?
I found it all in the holy presence of my Guru -- I did nothing on my
own. He told me to be quiet
and I did it -- as much as I could.
Is your presence as powerful as his?
How am I to know? For me -- his is the only presence. If you are with
me, you are with him.
Each Guru will refer me to his own Guru. Where is the starting point?
There is a power in the universe working for enlightenment -- and
liberation. We call it
who is ever present in the hearts of men. It is the unifying factor.
Unity -- liberates.
-- unites. Ultimately nothing is mine or yours -- everything is ours.
Just be one with
and you will be one with all, at home in the entire universe.
You mean to say that all these glories will come with the mere
dwelling on the feeling ĎI amí?
It is the simple that is certain, not the complicated. Somehow, people
do not trust the simple, the
the always available. Why not give an honest trial to what I say? It
may look very small and
but it is like a seed that grows into a mighty tree. Give yourself a
I see so many people sitting here -- quietly. What for have they come?
To meet themselves. At home the world is too much with them. Here
nothing disturbs them;
have a chance to take leave of their daily worries and contact the
essential in themselves.
What is the course of training in self-awareness?
There is no need of training. Awareness is always with you. The same
attention that you give to
outer, you turn to the inner. No new, or special kind of awareness is
Do you help people personally?
People come to discuss their problems. Apparently they derive some
help, or they would not
Are the talks with people always in public, or will you talk to them
It is according to their wish. Personally, I make no distinction
between public and private.
Are you always available, or have you other work to do?
I am always available, but the hours in the morning and late afternoon
are the most convenient.
I understand that no work ranks higher than the work of a spiritual
The motive matters supremely.