Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

It is easy to become a guru but difficult to become a disciple. Guruship or gurudom is easily attained, but to live like a disciple is a near impossibility. To live as a disciple one always has to struggle with the mind, the ambitions of the mind and the ego. Real discipleship needs a person who is totally open, empty, free - and this is not possible.

Another definition of a disciple then, if the first one is not attainable, is: one who is ready to learn and doesn't say "I know, I know." One who is ready to listen and doesn't say "I know what you are going to say, you don't have to tell me." One who is ready to learn all the time, even if it is the same thing twenty times over, with the same keenness as if it were the first time. That is one quality of a disciple, and possibly the most important and valid one.

That is how I have tried to mould my life in every matter, philosophical, spiritual, administrative, social. It is a different mentality; it is the willingness to learn, not to know. After knowing something once, you think you know everything. It is like saying that once you have seen one, you have seen them all. Normal people think this way, but disciples think in another way. Even if you encounter the same situation, the same person, the same knowledge, the same event a million times, don't allow the ego to say "I know", because the moment you say "I know" there is a psychological block, a barrier in the process of learning. This psychological barrier is the beginning of the downfall of human consciousness. Ego restricts, inhibits and suppresses creativity. "I know" suppresses my creativity. "I will learn" enhances my creativity. It is a question of choosing between the two.

Ganga Darshan, January 24, 2000