The Disciple’s Ideals

Even if there is a small defect in a disciple, it undoubtedly spoils his character and life. Therefore, he should be absolutely free from all kinds of weaknesses and faults. He should be an ideal person endowed with all virtues.

The aspirant must adopt the golden medium, observe moderation in everything and lead a well-regulated, disciplined life. He must stick to his ideal and be ever aware of his goal.

In the presence of guru

The disciple should have an attentive ear when he studies under a guru and an attentive eye when he serves him. He must use his common sense while serving and remember that in the service of guru there is no such thing as menial service. Don’t miss any opportunity to serve your divine teacher. Never feel shy to serve him in front of others.

If the disciple really desires to improve himself, he must be frank with himself and straightforward to his guru. Never try to appear before your guru what you are not. He who is disobedient, who breaks the discipline, who is not straightforward to his guru, who cannot open his heart to his preceptor or spiritual guide, cannot be benefited by the help of guru. He remains stuck in his own self-created mire and cannot progress on the divine path. His lot is highly lamentable indeed. The disciple must make total, unreserved, ungrudging self-surrender to guru. Admit your faults daily before your preceptor. Then alone you will find the strength to rise above worldly weaknesses. Lay bare the secrets of your heart. The more you do so, the greater the sympathy.

The aspirant should have an eager receptive mind, ready to imbibe the teachings of the master. Then only will he be spiritually benefited. Otherwise there is not the least hope of spiritual upliftment of the aspirant and regeneration of his old unregenerate nature. Do not indulge in unnecessary or idle talks before your guru. Love and help all your brother and sister disciples. To love a gurubhai is to love Gurudev. To help a gurubhai is to help Gurudev. When serving under guru, never make others serve you. This is a great obstacle to grow in spirituality.

Never compare your privileges with others and if a thing is refused to you, do not aspire for it again. The disciple must be contented with whatever food, clothes and shelter he gets from his guru and apply himself in the service of guru with his whole heart and soul. It is contentment alone that gives strength and joy to an aspirant while serving his guru under all circumstances. Be always contented with what happens. Know that what guru chooses is better than what you choose. Without such a spirit of selfless service and self-denial it is very difficult to progress.

Always approach the spiritual preceptor with self-control, tranquillity, sincerity and humility. Then alone you will be benefited. Hear silently anything that your guru might say – hear with faith and bhava. Adapt yourself to his ways. He who serves the preceptor and follows his instructions gains the greatest benefit. He who speaks ill of his guru and does not follow his instructions, loses most.

The disciple should never find fault with his guru. Can there be anything wrong in what the guru says? There is some reason for it. The human intellect cannot reach there. The possession of university degrees cannot entitle a man to be an examiner of guru.  It is the height of impertinence and foolishness on his part, blinded by the vanity of worldly knowledge, to test the spiritual knowledge of the guru. Therefore, when the guru points out your mistakes, do not try to justify your actions. Simply obey him.

What to discard

Give up selfishness, pride, egoism, hypocrisy. Regenerate your lower nature. Find out through self-introspection if you want real freedom and liberation or you are just inquisitive about higher things or have a lurking desire for obtaining money, name and fame by exhibiting spiritual powers. If you have a curiosity to get psychic powers, you cannot have success in yoga. Yoga does not consist in sitting cross-legged for six hours, stopping the pulse or beatings of the heart or getting buried underneath the ground for a week or a month. What is required is eradication of all negative traits that stand in your way of ethical perfection and self-realization.

The disciple must be free from envy, jealousy, pride, without attachment, free from impatience and intent upon knowing the truth.  He should possess a loving heart, never injure the feelings of others even in jest, and must not be jealous at the prosperity of others.

The student of yoga should be abstemious in his diet. He should avoid laziness, ease, habitual languor and excess of sleep. He should observe silence and occasional mild fasts to ensure a good tone to his constitution. He should develop correct habits. He should check all sorts of ambitions and the counter currents of the worldly desires by enquiry, thinking and discrimination.

Impertinence, pride, luxury, name, fame, self-assertive nature, obstinacy, idea of superiority, sensual desires, harmful company, overeating, overwork, too much mixing and too much talking are some of the obstacles in the path of yoga. When you are free from all these traits, samadhi or union will come by itself.

Say unto the deceiving mind: “O mind, I know your tricks. I have acquired dispassion and discrimination now. Do not wag your tail any more. I will clip it off mercilessly. I have learnt many lessons. It is only ignorance that makes a person prefer a transient gain to permanent benefits. I do not want these sensual enjoyments again. They are like vomited matter for me. I have resolved to attain the free, everlasting fruits of yoga: eternal peace, infinite bliss and supreme joy.”

What to cultivate

Ethical perfection is a prerequisite for self-realization. No amount of practice can be of any value to the aspirant if he ignores this side of sadhana. Therefore, love all. Prostrate before everybody. Become humble. Speak loving, sweet and endearing words. Become sincere and firmly devoted to guru.

Spiritual progress requires intense and unswerving faith in the teachings of the guru and the scriptures, burning and lasting vairagya, yearning for liberation, adamantine will, fiery resolve, iron determination, unruffled patience, leech-like tenacity, clock-like regularity and child-like simplicity. Purify your mind. Develop sattwic qualities such as nobility, courage, magnanimity, generosity, love, straightforwardness and truthfulness. The aspirant on the path of yoga should be simple, gentle, refined, tolerant, merciful and kind.

Another preliminary qualification for a student is an earnest desire to search for the truth. He must always keep alive this desire for the truth. It is the fundamental requirement of an aspirant. If one has this qualification or merit, all other merits will cling to him. All good qualities will come by themselves. Then alone he will be able to tread the path of truth easily.

The guru will only impart spiritual instructions to that aspirant who thirsts for liberation, who duly obeys the injunctions of the scriptures, who has subdued his passions and senses, who has a calm mind and possesses virtuous qualities. Initiation into the mysteries of the Brahman will fructify only when the disciple’s mind becomes desireless, and will produce jnana, wisdom, in it.

The struggle for perfection

Live with a definite purpose. Do not roam about aimlessly. Walk with a definite aim. Climb the hill of knowledge steadily and reach the summit of the temple of Brahman or the sweet abode of immortality. Be determined. Be sincere. Be serious. Understand clearly and definitely what it is that you are really aspiring for.

On the spiritual path there are constant failures and setbacks. Repeated endeavour, constant vigilance and undaunted perseverance are needed. When the heart-knots are gradually loosened, when the desires are thinned out, when the bonds of karma and ignorance are loosened, when weakness vanishes, you will become more and more peaceful, strong and serene. You will receive more and more light from within. You will become more and more divine.

Hard enough it is to purify the lower nature. Difficult enough it is to practise concentration and meditation. But vigilance, perseverance, constant practice, steady and persistent efforts, satsang, resolute will and a strong determination will obviate all difficulties and render the path easy, pleasant and attractive.

It is far better to believe a hundred times and be deceived a hundred times than to make the heart completely devoid of all trust and belief. Lack of belief turns a person into a cynic in the end. Fight with the mind bravely. March onwards. Go on fighting with an undaunted heart. Struggle now. Be courageous. At the end of your battle you will attain the illuminable dominion of eternal bliss. Even when you get a glimpse of truth, your whole life will be changed. You will become a changed being. You will have a new heart and a new vision. A new thrill of spiritual current will pass through your entire being. A wave of spiritual bliss will sweep over you. That state is indescribable. There are no words and no language to describe that inner experience.

To sannyasin disciples

Though I give much freedom and liberty in dress and external forms, I am very strict with my students with regard to the essentials. The rules prescribed by the order of sannyasa must be followed diligently. Then only can they shine as ideal sannyasins. Comfortable sannyasa is very dangerous. They should not give leniency to the mind. Fashionable, independent sannyasins are a menace to society. The people in the world curse such sannyasins and treat them with disrespect and contempt. Burning vairagya with simple living and high thinking must be the ideal at every moment of their lives. No doubt renunciation is mental. That does not mean that you can do anything and live in any way you like. That will bring your downfall. Strive for perfection by following the traditional rules for discipline and control of mind and senses. Discipline in food and dress will naturally manifest if you have genuine vairagya and dispassion. External observance of the rules will help you stick to the path. Maya works havoc. Maya deludes. Beware. Be cautious at every step and watch the vrittis, modifications of the mind.

My disciples should have no superiority complex. They are not dry philosophers who spend all their time and energy in preaching alone. They have self-sacrifice and serve the world with their silent and intense sadhana. In the midst of intense service, they learn the way to rivet the mind on the aim. They are rooted in the idea: “The world is a long dream, perishable – truth alone is real.” For my students, there is no world. They perceive the divinity behind all names and forms.