I remember reading somewhere about a poor disciple who served his Guru, his Master wholeheartedly for many, many years without expecting anything in return. Pleased by such selfless service, the Master asked him: “Tell me, what is it that you want from me? Ask for anything.”
The disciple is bewildered, he is confused: “What to ask, Master? Your grace, your blessings suffice. And, I have got them in abundance, indeed, more than what I deserve.”
“No, no, you must ask…. Go home and ask your family, they may have some needs.” Pressed by the Master, the disciple goes home, quite reluctantly though, and asks his old mother, “Mother, please tell me if you want something from the Master…. He has been pressing me to ask for something.”
The Mother answers: “Ask for a piece of land, my son. We have no roof of our own. You have served your Master for so many years, he will certainly fulfill your desire.”
The Disciple Thought It was Not Right…..
Meantime, his wife who was listening to the conversation, joined in: “My dear husband, I can read your facial expression. Perhaps you think it is too much to ask for a house. Then, ask for some money. The Guru knows our condition. He will certainly give you enough to ensure a decent livelihood.”
The disciple was not convinced…. Well, from the very beginning, he did not like the idea of asking anything from the Guru he has been serving selflessly without any selfish motive.
His daughter, barely 7-8 years old comes to her father’s rescue: “Father, father…. Guru knows everything. He is all love, all compassion. Let us not ask for something that undermines his greatness.”
The disciple, the proud father seemed to understand what the little girl was trying to say: “You are right my daughter, come, let us go to the ashram. And, yes, whatever you ask must not undermine his greatness.”
At the Guru’s Ashram…..
The little girl bows down to the Guru, and beseeches him: “With your grace, Master, there has never been a single day when we slept on an empty stomach. You have blessed us with at least one meal a day – everyday….. Bless us, Master, if ever, due to our karmas, the consequences of our past actions, we must sleep on an empty stomach – we will still be grateful to you for your grace, your compassion, and your love.”
The Guru embraces the little child and blesses his beloved disciple: “There shall be no dearth of food in your house, never ever…. You are blessed with the true wealth of wisdom…. May that very wisdom shelter and protect your family.”
The Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad Gita
begins with Krishna telling Arjuna: “The true knowledge of the Self is the light of wisdom that dispels the darkness of ignorance and vanishes all doubts. Through devotion and determination, Arjuna, you can gain that knowledge.”
A Guru, as in the story above, is but a means to develop devotion. A Guru has no need for any service. It is the disciple who needs a Guru in flesh and blood so as to help him develop devotion. Can one be fully, unconditionally, and selflessly devoted to an abstract idea?
And, once devotion is developed, determination follows. You can not pursue something with all your mind without a strong will, without determination.
Krishna is Not Philosophising About Life.
He is pointing the way to living fully. So far, we have not been living fully. We have been living in fear, in doubts – even not knowing what life is all about…. All these years, all these life times, we have been living superficially.
Krishna tells Arjuna to understand what life is, “All that you see is pervaded by the Self, by the same consciousness that pervades you and pervades me. The manifestations of the Self vary, but the Self remains the same all the while.
“The natural elements – earth, water, fire, air, and ether – even the human mind, ego and intellect – all are the gross or lower manifestations of the Self. Whereas the Jiva, the Spirit that is the source of All Life, the Life Principle that sustains all, is the Subtler or Higher Manifestation.”
Are We Getting What Krishna is Trying to Tell Us?
The gross or lower manifestations of life have their own set of natural laws to follow. They thrive upon the principle of duality. All kinds of divisions, differences, conflicts, and etcetera arise from this principle of duality. Indeed, this very world, the constellations of planets, the universes, the entire existence must necessarily abide by the principle of duality in order to exist. There is no way to shun duality at that level.
Hence, the need for harmony.
Harmony does not end the divisions and differences; it can, however, end the conflicts arising from such differences and divisions. Once we understand that duality is natural at the level of gross or lower manifestation of the Self, there will be no conflict. There will be acceptance and appreciation of such divisions and differences.
At the Subtler or Higher Level….
There are no divisions, no differences. All Energy is One. All Consciousness is One. At that level, it is the Law of Oneness that is in force.
However, as long as this body exists, as long as the mind, the ego, the intelligence are there – there is no way to remain at the Subtler or Higher Level of Consciousness at all time. The Oneness of this Level of Higher Consciousness is something that we have to realize, something to focus upon; and, yet work and live at the level of lower or gross consciousness.
This, then, is the key to living harmoniously, living happily!
More on this in the next musing, we are still in the seventh chapter….