1. There is no point in carrying
[Amma: “The past is like a cancelled cheque. It has no value. It is futile to keep brooding over the past worries, hurts and pains and making the present miserable.”]
Once a disciple went to his spiritual master and cried, “Guruji, I have so much of difficulties and pains in my heart that I have been carrying from the past and I could not get rid of them. Please help me to attain mental peace.”
The guru gave him various spiritual advices but the disciple could not grasp them well and put them into practice; he continued to suffer from the thoughts of the past and he kept complaining to the Guru again and again.
Then, the Guru gave him a sack load of vegetables weighing about 15 kilos and said to the disciple, “You carry this on your shoulders all the time; even when you are lying down for resting or sleeping, you should hold it on your chest. Do this till I give further instructions”.
The disciple obeyed the guru and carried the sack load of vegetables all the time on his shoulders or on his head. It was very painful and tiring for him. During nights, he kept the sack on his chest and slept. He could not sleep well.
He kept on doing this for the next few days. The vegetables started decaying and soon afoul smell started emanating from the sack. As they decayed further, liquid started dripping from the sack he felt it irritating and itchy.
Unable to bear the pain and discomfort any longer, he ran to the guru and sought his permission to throw away the burden. The Guru gave his permission and said, “This is precisely what I was advising you with regard to your carrying the mental burden of the past too! That too was heavy, painful, irritating and itching in your mind! If only you could throw them away like the sack that you did now, you will be relieved!”
(Beach Satsang 2/1/2017)
2. The enlightened disciple
[Amma: “Amid spiritual aspirants living with a Sadguru, there are some whose nature is more feminine. They have no desire for lecturing; they care the least for fame or respect. They may not even aspire for self-realization. They are just content to be with the satguru and do His service. That’s their austerity. They don’t know any higher level of spirituality. They have nothing greater to aspire than the company of their sadguru. This devotion cannot be explained intellectually or logically. Their condition can be equated to the devotion of Gopi’s of Vrindavan on Lord Krishna.”]
One of the disciples of Lord Buddha was suddenly missing. Over a week, everybody was searching for him but he could not be located, nor his whereabouts known.
One day Lord Buddha located him. He was hiding himself by sitting in the roof of an Ashram shed. Buddha however knew that he was hiding there; he also knew that the disciple had obtained self-realization and was hiding himself after attaining it.
He made the disciple come down. Holding his hands, Buddha said, “I know you have attained your goal”.
The disciple said, “My lord, Even before you told me this, I knew that I have realized the goal of my life. In fact I was hiding from your view only because I feared that you will declare that truth. I was afraid that you would then say, ‘Now that you have attained it, go out of this ashram and teach the world.’ But, my dear master, I would be happy only to remain unrealized and just be in your joyous company for ever. I don’t want to leave you. I don’t want to go out and teach the world as a person of self-realization”.
(From Arul Mozhigal-7 Tamil)
3. The essence of true knowledge
[Amma: “Explanations and interpretations (of scriptures or spiritual knowledge) actually become a hurdle in turning the mind inward and experience the Truth. In fact, our mind and thoughts become hindrance to real experience. If one has to experience the beauty of flower, all thoughts related to explaining the flower must stop. Likewise, only when the mind becomes silent, one can grasp the true meaning of scriptures. Do read scriptures; but never assume that you don’t have to do anything else over and above it. Only when one attains a childlike mind that says, “I don’t know”, one can really progress in spirituality.
Once a young man went to a saint and became his disciple. The saint said to him: “You write down whatever you have known and learned about religion and spirituality. It will benefit you. Then come and show it to me”.
The disciple, heeding fully to the Guru’s command, started writing in a big notebook whatever he knew so far in life about religion and spirituality. It took one year for him to complete it. He brought the notebook and handed over to the Guru.
The saint opened the notebook and glanced over several pages for a while. Then he said, “This is indeed written with clarity and mental focus. It can really give the reader the needed spiritual phillip to tread the path of spirituality. Your one year of hard work is reflected in the contents. However, it is rather too long. Can you please do a precis writing and reduce the length?”
The disciple agreed and went back. It took five years for him to condense his ideas and reduce it to half of its original length. He brought it to his Guru. The guru leafed through it and said, “Well done! Ideas are very clear and the writing style is excellent! However, I want you to make it considerably more brief”.
The disciple was disappointed when he heard this. However, bowing to the Guru’s wish, he started rewriting it. It took 10 years for him to finish the task of condensing all his ideas to just 5 pages. He submitted it to the Guru saying, “Master, I have condensed all that I have understood on spirituality in these 5 pages. I am thankful to you for making me fit for grasping this truth”.
The guru went through the five pages fully and thoroughly. Then he said, “Extremely well written! YOu have achieved it purely through your concentration and spiritual austerities. Yet, there is a little shortcoming in this. Try to rectify it”.
Years went by. The guru was getting old. He became bed ridden. The time had almost come for the guru to leave his mortal body. The disciple came to the guru and prostrated before him. He handed over a piece of paper to the guru. The guru glanced it. There was nothing written in it. Immediately, the guru placed his hand on the disciple’s hed and blessed him, saying, “Now you have grasped the truth fully. Let the truth henceforth be revealed to you and shine in you”. In that very moment, the disciple attained enlightenment. He sat silently at the feet of the guru. The guru left his mortal body and merged with the infinite.
[Amma: “Children! If you attain a mind that says, “I don’t know anything; I am nothing”, you will attain your goal. Only when you get that mindset, God’s grace will flow into you”]
(From Arul mozhigal-6 Tamil)
4. Relinquishing is not easy
[Amma: “Spiritual journey, in fact, is not a journey forward; it is rather travelling backward i.e. we travel back to reach our real source. In this process we have to drop off our attachments and vasanas (inborn tendencies) and it is painful. A person desirous of climbing a mountain and reach its top has necessarily leave behind his possessions down below. Else, the upward travel would be too taxing and difficult. If one does not relinquish attachments whole-heartedly, pain cannot be avoided. Amma will now share a story she had heard:”]\
Once a rich man, though possessing all objects of enjoyments that his money could buy, found his life empty and meaningless. He wanted to get rid of his worldly attachments and desires and lead a stress-free and peaceful life. He decided to seek counsel from a Sadguru.
Having known about a famous saint living in a village a few miles away, the rich man started to meet him. As he was about to depart, he thought, “What is the use of all the money that I have kept hoarded in my vault? Let me take all my gold coins, place them at the guru’s feet and forget about them”. He put all the gold coins in a bag and carried the bag with him.
After travelling the whole day, he reached the village where the guru was living. He found the guru sitting under a tree at the outskirts of the village.He rushed to the Guru, placed his bag at the guru’s feet and prostrated before him. When he rose up, he was shocked to see the Guru picking up the bag and running away!
For a moment, he was confused and shaken by the weird act of the guru. Instinctively he felt he should get back his bag containing the gold coins at all costs. He started chasing the Guru. The guru ran pretty fast; he ran across paddy fields, crossed streams, passed through thick bushes, climbed up and down a small hill and wound his way through the narrow lanes and bylanes of the village. With lot of difficulty, the rich man too ran behind the guru in order to catch him.
As the guru was very familiar with the local terrain, he could run through all nooks and corners of the village even in the dim twilight. Soon, the rich man lost track of the Guru. Dejected, he slowly walked back to the tree where he originally met the guru.
A surprise was waiting for him there. His bag was lying at the foot of the tree! The guru was not visible anywhere around. In fact, the guru was hiding himself behind the tree and watching what the rich man was doing. The rich man jumped forward to pick his bag and opened it eagerly to see whether the gold coins had been stolen. He felt very relieved and overwhelmed with joy to see that all the coins were intact.
From behind the tree, the Guru asked: “How are you feeling now, my son?”
Impulsively, the rich man replied, “Oh! I am extremely happy. This is one of the happiest moments of my life!”
The guru said, “My son, in order to gain real happiness, one has to undergo real pain!”
[Amma: “Children! You may run around behind worldly enjoyments. But unless you return to your starting point, you will never get true happiness. That is another important message from this story”.]
(From Ammavin Anbu Ullatthilirunthu – Tamil)
5. Wider vision
[Amma: “When man thinks of himself and his desires alone, he becomes narrow minded. He becomes blind to things other than his self-interest”.]
Some youngsters went to a sage and expressed their desire to become disciples to him. The sage took them to a well nearby.He asked each of them to look into the well and tell him what they saw inside.
One youngster looked inside and said that he saw his own reflection in the well water. The sage asked “Did you notice anything else?”. The youngman said, “No”.
Almost everyone else, after looking into the well said the same thing.
The last younster said, “Swami, I see my reflection and also the reflections of trees and creepers that have grown tall all around me reflected in the well water”.
The sage accepted the last person alone as his disciple. He said to others, “You were all able to see just your reflection only. It indicates that each of you think about yourself only. Only this person saw trees and creepers too. It means he is not a person who thinks of himself alone. His outlook is clearer and wider than yours. Hence I am taking him as my disciple”.
(From Amutha Mozhigal-6 Tamil)
6. Who is the right person to take charge?
Once a guru had two disciples. He used to give the responsibility for most of the important activities of the Ashram to one of these two disciples; the other one was unhappy about it. The reason for his displeasure was that he was the senior among the two in joining the ashram. Hence he got angry with the other disciple who got more prominence than him.
One day, he went to the guru and asked, “Master, why are you not giving ashram responsibilities to me? I can do them better than your other disciple”.
After listening to his complaint, the Guru called both the disciples together and gave them an assignment: they have to visit an adjacent village and assess the nature of people living there.
The first disciple, on his way close the village, noticed a man pacifying a crying child by offering a chocolate to him. As he inquired, he came to know that the person offering the chocolate was a murderer. The disciple was impressed to see the good attitude of the person who was keen on pacifying a crying child, despite being a murderer.
As he walked further, on the way, he noticed another person attending to an old man suffering from hunger due to utter poverty. The man was helping the old man to drink some water. Upon inquiry, he came to know that the person helping the old man was a robber; the disciple felt glad to see compassion in the heart of the robber.
Next, on his way, he noticed a woman wiping the tears of another woman and offering her solace. That woman, he came to know, was a prostitute. He was so glad to notice the good heart of the prostitute in offering emotional comfort to a distressed woman.
The disciple came back to Guru and explained what he saw. He was full of praise about the goodness in the people despite being anti-social.
The senior disciple too returned from the village by that time.
When the guru asked him what he saw, he said, “I saw a man beating an young boy; I saw another person shouting at a poor beggar; I also noticed a nurse severely scolding a patient. I could only hate such people, who have no compassion in their heart.”
The guru arranged to investigate the cases reported by the senior disciple and then explained the real background to those incidences.
The man who beat the boy was a good samaritan; he was providing food and clothing to several destitute children. The boy who got beaten by him had a habit of stealing. No amount of good counseling could help to correct his behavior. As a last resort, the man, purely with the intention of correcting the erring boy, gave physical punishment. Hearing this, the disciple said, “I can’t accept such a behavior. However good the man be, what right has he got to beat a young boy?”
In the second case too, it turned out that the person who scolded the beggar was a one who donates generously for humanitarian activities. He was scolding the beggar because the latter was hale and healthy who could earn his living by working, instead of idling and living by alms. Even this was not acceptable to the second disciple. He quipped. “However generous the man may be, why should he scold a beggar? If he could give some alms, let him, else let him say ‘I can’t give you anything’. He has no right to scold the poor person”.
In the third case, the nurse was known for her dedicated service to patients day and night. She used to treat the man for a severe wound and she dressed it up with bandage. But the man had the bad habit of removing the bandage and it delayed the process of curing of the wound. The nurse censured the patient for his foolish behavior. When the guru explained this, the second disciple said, “The nurse might have made the bandage too tightly; she might have hurt him and caused pain and irritation to him while doing the bandage. That could be the reason for the man to remove it. Just because she was a nurse who attended to him, she has no right to scold her patient”.
The guru called both the disciples together and said, “None in this world is totally bad or evil. However evil a person may be, he would still have some good qualities in him. The first disciple could see only the good qualities in a murderer, thief and a prostitute. If we possess good qualities in us, we will only see goodness in others. We are all in need of only such eyes that see only goodness in others”.
Looking at the second disciple, he said, “My son, you only noticed your own mental tendencies in others too. You could only ‘find’ some evil even in good people. Only when your attitude changes, you will be able to see goodness in others and then you will naturally become eligible for taking up ashram responsibilities”.
[Amma: “Most of us nowadays have the attitude of the second disciple only. Even if someone possesses thousand good qualities, we don’t notice them. If we find one mistake, we would notice only that. But God sees only good qualities in others.”]
(Source: Upadesamritam-1 Tamil)
7. Camel is my right guru!
[Amma: “Some people say that your Guru is within you and your own mind can guide you as a Guru. They ask, “what is the need to surrender to a third person as a Guru?” Of course it is true that there is an inner guru; but right now, it is like a guru enslaved by our own unbridled and evil tendencies. Our own mind is not within our control. It is totally at the grip of vasanas. If we go as per the whims of such a mind, it will only lead us to danger.”]
Once a man went in search of a guru. He went to several masters one after the other. Each one advised him about the need for humility and faith. It was not to his liking. He believed that he cannot be a slave to another person. Thinking so, he rested at the side of a road. He thought, ‘None of these gurus are fit enough to guide me through the right path’. As such a thought passed in his mind, he saw a Camel which was grazing in front of him nodding its head. He was surprised to notice it. ‘Oh! This camel is capable of reading my thoughts! That’s why he nodded his head in approval! This must be the right guru I was searching all along!’ he thought.
He went close to the camel and asked, “Are you willing to be my guru?” The camel nodded his head. The man felt extremely happy.
Afterward, he made it a habit to take the camel’s permission for all his plans and actions. Whatever he asked, the camel would nod its head which he would take as his guru’s approval.
One day he asked the camel, “Today I saw a beautiful woman. May I start loving her?” The camel nodded.
A few months passed. He came and asked, “May I now marry that woman?” The camel nodded.
A few days passed. He came and asked the camel, “May I start consuming a little liquor?” Again the camel nodded. Then gradually drinking became a habit. His wife started severely criticizing him for it. He came to the camel and asked, “Shall I fight with my wife?” Again the camel nodded. He went and started fighting with his wife.
He rushed back to the camel and asked, “I just cannot tolerate her arguing and fighting with me like this, as she is bent upon stopping me from drinking. Shall I stab and kill her?” The camel nodded as usual.
He ran back to his wife and stabbed her. She died on the spot. Soon the news spread; the policemen came and arrested him. After trials, he ended up in jail with a life imprisonment.
[Amma: “Our mind is exactly like this Camel guru! It has no issue with right or wrong. Whatever we desire, the mind will give its total concurrence forgetting future consequences. Thus, if we surrender to our mind which is a slave to vasanas, we will become slaves to our attachments.”]
(Source: Upadesamritam-1 Tamil)
8. Obedient Disciple
[Amma: “A tree is no doubt contained in a seed; but only when the seed goes into the soil, it can sprout and grow into a tree. Even an elephant can be tied to a tree once it is grown up. But if the seed is not cared, it will become food for bird. The truth of advaita is indeed inside us. But only when we develop humility and simplicity, read and contemplate deeply on the what we read, it could become our true experience.”]
Once an youngster went to meet a Guru and requested him to take him as his disciple. There were already many disciples in the ashram.
“Living in an ashram is not easy for everyone; please go back now and come later” said the guru.
The young man felt very disappointed. Noticing it, the guru said, “Well, are you good at any job?” He then proceeded to mention the various activities in the ashram to know whether he could fit into any of them. The youngster was clueless about all of them. Then the guru asked, “We have several horses in the ashram; will you be able to take care of them?”
“Yes, Sir, if you wish so” said the young man. The guru sent him straight away to the ashram stable to take care of the horses.
The new disciple engaged himself wholeheartedly in feeding the horses, bathing them cleaning the stable and so on. Soon, on account of his sincere and abundant care, the horses grew fat and healthy.
The guru hardly ever gave any teaching to the students. Every morning he would call them and tell them a sloka (verse). He would ask them to keep contemplating on the meaning of the sloka the whole day to grasp its inner purport and put it into practice in their life. That was his mode of teaching.
One day, the guru came earlier than normal, gave the sloka to the disciples and departed somewhere on a horse. The new disciple who was immersed in the job of attending to the horses came running. He did not get his sloka for the day from the guru.
“Master, what is my sloka?” He asked the guru, running behind his horse.
“Didn’t you notice? I am going out. Is it the time to ask?” chiding him so, the guru went away. The disciple started memorising these words of the guru again and again: ‘Didn’t you notice? I am going out. Is it the time to ask?‘
The guru returned in the evening. All the disciples were there to receive him except the new one. “Where is he?” asked the guru. The other disciples said in a mocking voice, “That fool is is mumbling something like ‘Didn’t you notice? I am going out. Is it the time to ask?‘ the whole day!”
The guru understood. He called the disciple and asked him, “What are you doing?”
He said, “I am repeating and contemplating on the sloka that you uttered this morning while leaving”.
The guru’s eyes filled with tears. He called the disciple close to him, placed both his hands on his head and blessed him. The other disciple got very displeased with what the guru did.
“Master, we are with you in this ashram for so many years and yet you are showering your blessing to that foolish newcomer! It is unfair” they said.
The guru said, “Go, buy some narcotics and bring it here”.
They did. He mixed the narcotic drug in water, poured a mouthful in each disciple with a strict instruction that they should not swallow it, but spit it out. They obeyed.
“Do you feel intoxicated?” asked the guru.
“No master! How can we? We never drank it!”
The guru explained: “You too were only receiving my words in a similar way. You listened to them and immediately forgot about them. But look at him. He did not do so. Without trying to find fault in my words, he simply accepted it. He has such a guileless heart. It is not just that. I had given the job of taking care of the horses to you people earlier; none of you took care of them properly; you never fed them in time nor bathed them properly; they were looking lean and impoverished during your days. They were also behaving very restless and unruly. But, after he took charge, the horses became hale and healthy. They not only received good feeding but also his love and care; hence they lost their aggressiveness and became friendly with people. He worked wholeheartedly; he did karma for the sake of karma. Above all, he could take my words totally as I uttered without questioning. That’s how he became eligible for my blessing”.
[Amma: “Children! We should also strive to be like that disciple. One should not find fault with the words of the guru. He should accept them as such, take to heart and practice what he preached. Then none including the guru himself cannot stop the grace of the guru from flowing to him.”]
(Source: Upadesamritam-1 Tamil)
9. Guru’s tests could be toughest
[Amma: “Children! There is no difference between a brahmachari or a householder in the holy presence of God or Guru. A disciple should always keep his mind on God and do his duties. What is important is the total, unwavering surrender to the will of God or Guru.”]
Once a guru went to a village accompanied by his disciples for conducting a series of discourses. A householder came regularly with his family to attend the discourses daily; he was highly impressed by the Guru and his teachings. He wished to join the ashram along with his family.
After the discourse program was over, he went to Guru’s ashram with his wife and children and prostrated at the feet of the guru. He expressed his desire to join the ashram permanently and serve the guru.
The guru explained to him the hardships involved in living in the ashram in order to dissuade him from his desire. However, the householder was quite firm in his resolve. The guru permitted him to stay in the ashram with his family. Soon, the man shifted his residence there.
He engaged himself earnestly in all ashram activities and was very dedicated in his work. However, the brahmacharis in the Ashram were not happy to have a householder amid them. They found all sorts of faults with him and complained to the Guru. The guru knew well that the householder was extremely dedicated and sincere. He decided to demonstrate it to the brahmacharis and make them understand.
He called the householder in the presence of other brahmacharis and said, “You have relinquished your home, hearth and job and come here to stay with us permanently. The ashram has very limited resources and somehow we have been managing things with only brahmacharis here. If you are a single person, we could manage, but we are now burdened with the expenses of your wife and children too. Hence you should go out, work and earn money to meet the expenses of your wife and children”.
The man started going out from the very next day to an adjacent town, did some labor work from morning to evening, collected his daily wages and gave it to the ashram for meeting their expenses. A few days passed.
The other bachelor disciples started finding new problems with the man and complained to the guru again.
The guru called the man and said, “The money you are giving hardly can meet your expenses. All these days, only ashram has been spending for your family. Consider it as an accumulated debt; you have to compensate it; work hard, earn double the amount and pay to the Ashram. Only afterward you can take food from the Ashram”.
The man explained the matter to his family and said, “You should not eat hereafter from the Ashram kitchen. Wait till I comeback from my work; I will buy and bring food for you when I arrive at night. Only then you should eat”. His family members agreed.
The man started working from early morning till late in the evening. He collected the wages and gave it to the Ashram. Whatever little money he was left with, he would buy some food and bring for his family. There were days when his earnings were inadequate and they would go hungry on such days.
Even after subjected to such hardships, the householder did not venture to move out of the ashram. The brahmacharis were very much surprised to see this. Yet they were unhappy. They created new reasons to complain. They said to the guru, “He is working from day to night in his own business and earning quite a lot of money; he is giving only a portion of it to the ashram and living comfortably otherwise, leaving the family inside the ashram”.
The guru called the man and chided him:”You are a cheat. You have left your family here in the ashram, earning big money outside, but giving only a little to the Ashram. You are a liar; a fraud”. The disciple did not even a speak a word against his guru. He hung his head and went silently back to his room.
That night the guru called his disciples and said, “Tomorrow there is going to be a big feast in the ashram. We don’t have enough stock of firewood with us. Some of you should go to the forest right away and bring dry firewood; make sure that it is finished before dawn”. He went to sleep after giving this instruction.
The disciples were too unwilling to go to the forest at night to bring firewood. They went to the householder’s room and woke him up. They said, “There is going to be a big feast in the ashram tomorrow and our guru wants you to get enough dry firewood urgently, right now”.
The man felt happy that guru had given him such an urgent task. He immediately left for the forest and the other disciples went to sleep.
Even after dawn the next day, the guru could not see his householder disciple in the ashram. He inquired where he was. The disciples said, “Last night, he went to the forest for bringing firewood”.
The guru immediately started walking towards the forest and his disciples followed him. The went through the forest in search of the man. They shouted his name aloud again and again. After a long search, they could finally hear his feeble voice calling them back from somewhere. Searching in the direction from where his voice came, they finally located a dilapidated well from where the sound was coming. It was a shallow well with a little water inside it. While the man was tracing his way through the forest the previous night, he had fallen into the well.
It was still dark inside the well. The guru wanted other disciples to pull the man out immediately. Some of them lied down on the ground and extended their hand inside the well. What they felt first with their hand was a bunch of wood. They asked the man to extend his hand so that they could hold it and pull him out. The man shouted from the well. “You see, I am carrying the bunch of firewood on my head and holding it firmly with my hand; if I remove my hand, the firewood will fall into water and get wet. Please lift up the firewood first, which is essential for cooking the feast; please deliver it first to the Guru and you can come later and pick me up from the well”.
The Guru’s eyes became wet to hear his words reflecting the man’s total faith and surrender to the guru. Only after the firewood was picked up, the man extended his hand for getting lifted up from the well. As the man came out, his wet body was shaking in cold. The guru embraced the man lovingly, placed his hand on his head and gave him self-realization at that very instance, as the other disciples watched it with their faces dark in shame.
10. Spiritual life is no cakewalk
[Amma: “A life dedicated to spirituality is meant for people with power and tenacity. It is the path of the bold and not the weak-kneed. If some people get disappointed with life suddenly jump into a life of renunciation wearing a saffron cloth without weighing the pros and cons, life would become very disappointing for them. It is enough if a house-holder takes care of his wife and a couple of children; but a true renunciate will have to bear the burden of the entire world. He could never be fickle minded, sensitive to criticism or emotionally weak. Without discrimination and dispassion, none can live a life of spirituality”.]
Once there lived a husband and wife in a village. However much the husband worked hard and brought more and more money, his wife would keep on complaining, saying “This is not sufficient”. Because of her nature, the husband felt miserable in life. Since he had no courage to commit suicide, he decided to take up sanyas and left home.
He travelled long and finally ended up at the place of a guru. He requested the guru to give sanyas to him and take him as his disciple.
The guru asked. “Are you seeking sanyas just because you left your home and hearth out of dejection in your family life or have you really got dispassion?”
The man replied, “I have a strong desire to become a sanyasi. That’s why I left my home”.
“Don’t you have any desire for material things?”
“No; I have no desire at all”
“Don’t you want name, fame and wealth?”
“No; I don’t want any of them. I have no liking or attraction on them”.
“Are you sure you want to become a total renunciate?”
“Yes; I want to renounce everything”.
After interviewing him like this, the guru accepted him as his disciple and gave him a kamadal (water pot) and yoga dhanda (wooden staff).
Days passed. They set forth for visiting many holy places by walk. On the first day, after walking for long, they felt tired and rested at the bank of a river. The disciple wanted to take bath. He left the kamandal and yoga dhanda at the river bank and went to take bath in the river. When he returned, he was shocked to find the kamandal missing. He searched here and there but could not find it. He got very disturbed and angry.
The guru said to him smilingly, “You said you have no attachment for material things, but you seem to be very agitated for losing the kamandal! Let it go. Let us move on”.
The disciple retorted, “How will I have drinking water without a kamandal? We don’t have any other vessel with us”.
The guru said, “You are a man without desires and why are you carrying this small attachment to your drinking pot? Accept that it is by God’s wish that the kamandal has been lost”.
But the disciple continued to me in a dejected mood. It was time for lunch. The disciple was feeling very hungry. But the guru did not offer anything to him to eat. The disciple started murmuring.
Hearing it, the guru said, “Persons choosing a life of spirituality must have patience and forbearance. Should you not learn to be active even if a whole day passes without food to eat? If you become so weak due to hunger even at twelve noon, what can be done? A spiritual aspirant must learn to renounce attachment towards food as the first discipline. You have to shrink your stomach first in spiritual life”.
However, after some time, the guru gave a little nutritional flour for the disciple to eat. But it was not at all tasty. The disciple could not eat it. As it was bitter too, he started vomiting after eating a little.
That was the last straw! The disciple was ready to relinquish the life of sanyas! He somehow wanted to return to his old family life. He sought permission from the guru to leave.
“What was your idea of sanyas when you came to me with that request?” asked the guru.
The disciple said, “I never thought a life of sanyas will be so tough. I was thinking that if I take bath, smear my forehead with ash and kumkum and sit at a place with closed eyes, people would come and fall at my feet; they would offer food to me with reverence. I thought I will be fed on time thrice a day by devotees and I can lead a life of comfort without doing any work! Now I understand this sort of life by following you is worse than the scolding of my wife. Enough is enough”.
So saying, the disciple left the guru in a hurry.
11. The final test
Once in an ashram a few disciples learned scriptures and spiritual practices under the guidance of the Guru. Once their learning was over, the Guru wanted to send them out to the world so as to guide people on scriptures and lead a worldly life if they so wish. He called the disciples and said, “As a last test to gage how far you you have acquired the required disciplines, I want you to climb up the nearby hill and fetch me the fruits from the sacred tree at the top. You must not return without bringing the fruits”.
The disciples climbed up the hill and reached the top. There the tree was there, but it was well fortified by tall compound walls all around it. They could locate only one entrance in the wall but it was covered with a massive rock. The disciples, tried to push the rock away, but it was too huge. They inspected the wall all around and found no way to climb over it and jump inside.
All the disciples except one, decided to return empty handed since it was practically futile to attempt any entry into the compound and reach the tree. But the solitary disciple said, “Our guru has given specific instruction to fetch fruits from this tree. It is my duty to keep trying and put my best efforts to somehow gain an entry into this place. I will keep trying; you people can go if you like”. So saying, he resumed his efforts to push the rock away from the gate. He was straining every limb but could not even shake the rock by an inch. But he did not slacken his effort.
The other disciples laughed at his foolishness; they came back to the ashram and reported the matter to the guru. The guru noticed that one of the disciples had not returned. “Where is he?” he asked. They said, “We all tried to roll the rock away from the gate, but we could not succeed in our joint effort; yet, like a fool, he is trying all alone to accomplish the task” said they.
“Come, let us go up and bring the fellow back”.
Along with the guru, all of them climbed up the hill once again.
When they reached the top, the noticed that the disciple was sweating profusely and still attempting to move the rock by some means or other.
“Why are you still attempting to do the impossible, my son?” asked the guru.
“Master, you had instructed that we should not return without fetching the fruit from the tree. I have put all my efforts and now you are here already; will not the impossible become possible with your grace?”
Pleased, the guru placed his hand on top of the rock. Instantly, the rock split into two and gave way. Opening the gate, all of them went inside. Under the tree, there was a box containing gold coins and jewels. The guru took them and gave it to the disciple.
He said, “You are the person who has fully grasped the core teaching in spirituality — that one should obey his guru with unwavering faith and surrender, in order to become eligible for receiving the abundant grace of the guru. Take this wealth and go to the world; Lead a happy life and serve the world with the wealth as well as your spiritual teachings”.
(From Amma’s Gurupurnima message 16/7/2019)
12. Not ripe yet
Once the king of a country came and surrendered to Saint Kabir. He wanted to relinquish his kingdom and take up a life in quest of spirituality. After warning the king about the extent of sacrifices he had to make and extent of surrender he has to possess in order to reach his goal, Kabir however took him as his disciple. He assigned the former king all sorts of sundry and unpleasant works and the king did them all without murmur.
Several years passed. Kabir’s wife was observing the former king’s behavior and she felt very happy about his humility and dedication. She said to her husband, “That ex-king disciple is a gem amid your disciples; it is high time you bless him with self-enlightenment”.
Kabir said, “No. He is not ready, yet”.
But his wife was adamant. She felt sure of her judgement. Kabir said, “Okay! Let us do a test on him. Tomorrow, when he enters into the ashram, you throw a bucketful of rubbish on his head from the terrace”.
Guru’s wife did so. The moment the rubbish fell over him, the king looked up angrily, noticed his Guru’s wife and said, “If this had happened in my kingdom, I would have shown who I am”.
The wife reported the matter to Kabir. Kabir said, “Did I not tell you? He is not yet ripe”.
A few more years passed. Again, the guru’s wife had a strong urge to give her recommendation once again. “Okay. this time, you pour more filth, cow dung etc on his head and see what happens”.
Guru’s wife did the same. This time the ex-king looked up, smiled at the lady and said, “Thank you, Mother! This is the what I deserve. My ugly ego does require such a treatment indeed!”.
When the wife reported the incidence to Kabir, he said, “Yes! Now he is ripe. Call him in and I will bless him”. When the king came, Kabir placed his palm on the head of the ex-king. Instantly, the king experienced self-realization.
(From Amma’s Gurupurnima message 14/7/2019)
13. Sakshi bhavam (Attitude as a witness)
Once a disciple went to the master and said, “Master, you are always emphasizing the need to have the attitude of a witness in handling all our emotions. But I find it extremely difficult to practice it. How do I practice it?”
The guru did not give a reply immediately.
In the meanwhile, the disciple committed a few mistakes in his actions and behavior inside the ashram. The guru called him and naming some other disciple, he explained him that such and such mistakes were committed by that particular disciple which were objectionable. The disciple heard them smilingly as it was meant to be about some other disciple.
Suddenly the Guru said in a stern voice, “Now I tell you, those mistakes were not done by that person, but were indeed committed by YOU”.
The disciples face turned very grim. He hung his head. He felt very agitated inside.
The guru said, “When I said that the mistakes were committed by you, you are feeling sad and disturbed. But earlier, when I said that they were done by some other disciple, you were able to receive them with an attitude of a witness! It means you do possess the capacity to remain as a witness. But when this subject “I” comes into picture, the trouble comes! If you consider this “I” in you as not your true Self, you can remain a true witness. We do possess the capacity to control our own thoughts and actions; if only we nurture and strengthen this capacity, then it is really possible to maintain the attitude of a witness in all circumstances and accept things with a smile. The mind will not get weakened under all circumstances.”
14. Guru’s teaching
Once a disciple went to the master at night with the intention of asking his guru’s spiritual advice specific for him. When he went there, the guru was busy writing a letter in candle light.
The disciple prostrated before the guru and asked, “Sir, I have come to you to seek your spiritual advice for me”.
The guru did not reply. He was steadfast in continuing to write the letter. After waiting for a while, the disciple asked the guru once again. No reply.
After a while, the guru finished writing the letter and instantly the flame in the candle too went out as it had burnt its full.
Now the disciple reminded his guru once again. The guru said, “I have already given you the instruction”.
The disciple was shocked. “Swamiji, I have been asking you a few times and you did not utter a word!”
The guru said, “Didn’t you notice what I was doing? The candle was burning almost close to its end; I had to finish writing this letter before the flame went out and that is what I did; that is precisely the instruction for you to comprehend too — The life is short and fickle. It might end at any time; you have to make the best use of it and attain your goal before your death.”
(Amma’s satsang 28/2/2020)
15. Guru’s only advice
Once there lived a Mahatma, who had many disciples and devotees. A constant stream of devotees would come and meet him and keep on pouring their many woes — need for money, health problems, family problems and so on. Hardly anyone would seek his advice on spirituality. But the Guru would always give a single advice to them all: “You wake up”. That’s all.
A disciple who was always nearby the Guru asked him, “Maharaj, why are you giving the same advice to all these people? Won’t it be better if you give different advices to different problems?”
The guru said, “Suppose many people are sleeping in a hall; all of them are having different nightmares in their dreams and were tossing and turning in their beds troubled by their dreams. What will you do to help them?”
The disciple said, “I will shout ‘wake up, wake up’ and goad them to wake up from their dreams”.
“That’s precisely what I am doing” said the guru!
(Amma’s satsang 28/2/2020)