Lesson in Giving

Swami Yogasagar Saraswati, South Africa

Spiritual lessons can never be taught through the intellect or a book because they require the magic of the guru, taking the opportune moment to probe and awaken the inner conscience of the disciple.

In the early days of BSY, life was very simple. The opportunities to satisfy one’s latent desires were very few. Once someone sent me a king-size block of chocolate, hand-delivered by a visitor from Australia. Of course I wanted to eat it all by myself and decided to hide it carefully. At that time I slept near the kitchen. Within an hour came the instruction that Sri Swamiji wanted me to move my bedding to the stairwell. Not only was his room adjacent to the stairwell, but most sannyasins had to pass the stairwell to get to their rooms.

That day I was especially vigilant with my duties and worked late until everyone had retired. I walked barefoot past Sri Swamiji’s door and immediately he called out, “Kaun hai” (Who’s there). Not everyone spoke Hindi so he called out again in English. I replied and he called me into the room. Sri Swamiji was reclining on a large couch propped up by cushions and waved me to come closer. As I approached, he turned to the side that was hidden from my view and picked up a bar of chocolate that was opened and broken into several pieces. “Would you like some chocolate?” he asked, looking into my eyes with all the sweetness and innocence of a child. I stood there with my own bar of chocolate hidden in my dhoti and took one piece from him, feeling very guilty. “Take it all,” he said.

That evening I sat on my bed with both chocolates and deliberated on what to do. Did he know or was it just a coincidence? The thought emerged that I should share with everyone, so the following morning I sat outside with the chocolate broken up in small pieces to hand out. Just before the other swamis arrived, Swamiji came out and sat beside me. “Let’s do it together,” he said. “Giving is so much fun.” And he took each piece from my hand and placed it in the mouth of each sannyasin as they came past.

The inner experiences are always more subtle and known only to guru and disciple yet they become the most powerful and memorable.