True Discipleship

Swami Agnimitrananda Saraswati

In order to become infinite, we must lose our individuality in the higher self - the guru. A river flows into the ocean and becomes part of that ocean. If it separates again and becomes a river, still it maintains the quality of the ocean. In the same way the aspirant must become one with his spiritual master. He must completely surrender himself to the master in thought and action.

The disciple who sits at the lotus feet of his guru has renounced the world and is in search of higher knowledge. Still many disciples come to the guru and want instant progress. They expect miracles, assuming that the guru will personally hasten their development. But in truth the guru only inspires his disciple. He lets him progress through his own effort, picking him up when he is down, through inspiration, not by accomplishing the task for him. A disciple progresses when his aspirations are high, his heart is pure, he is innocent as a child, and his mind is one-pointed. It takes so many years for a man to become a surgeon or pilot. There are many more pilots and surgeons in this world than gurus. A surgeon heals the body but the guru heals the soul and brings glory to the world. The pilot guides and controls the aeroplane in flight while the guru guides the soul to the highest consciousness.

Disciples are often very fickle. They hop from one guru to another, expecting the next one to be quicker and easier than the last. But we must choose one guru and stick to him through all our ups and downs. The guru puts his disciples to the maximum test in order to see how fit they are, and how they respond in all circumstances. He makes them work hard until they are totally exhausted. Faith in the guru brings many seekers across the ocean of samsara. Today disciples want 'instant samadhi', just as there is instant tea and coffee. They want a shortcut to happiness. They don't realise that in the beginning the spiritual path is full of thorns, whereas worldly life is sweet. But in the end spiritual life brings everlasting joy and worldly life becomes forever bitter. A disciple who sits at the feet of the guru must be like clay in the hands of a sculptor. The guru must be free to mould him into the most fit medium for his divine power. Such disciples rise to the greatest heights and are capable of leading others on the spiritual path and unfolding their divine awareness.

The relationship between guru and disciple is the highest. It is the final relationship that leads to emancipation of the soul.