In one of your talks you said that the effect of shaktipat diminishes gradually; thus the seeker must maintain a regular contact with the medium. Does this not mean dependency upon some person in the form of a guru?
This can become a dependency. If someone is eager to be a guru and if someone is eager to get a guru, this state of dependency can happen. So do not make the mistake of becoming a disciple or making somebody your guru. But if there is no question of a guru or a disciple, there is no fear of dependency. Then the person from whom you are taking help is simply a part of your own self that has traveled ahead on the path. Then who is the guru and who is the disciple?
I often tell the story that Buddha told of one of his previous lives. He said, “I was an ignorant person in my previous life. A wise person had attained enlightenment, so I went to see him. I bowed down to touch his feet in reverence. But no sooner had I lifted myself up than I found to my astonishment that the old man had bent to touch my feet.
“‘What are you doing?’ I exclaimed. ‘That I should touch your feet is right and proper, but it is not fitting that you should touch mine.’
“The old man said, ‘If you touch my feet and I do not touch yours it would be a great mistake, because I am nothing but a part of you a few steps ahead of you. And when I bow at your feet I remind you that you did well to touch mine. But do not be under the misconception that you and I are two. Also, do not make the mistake of thinking that I am wise and you are ignorant. It is a matter of time. A little more time and you too will be enlightened. It is just as when my right foot comes forward, the left remains behind to follow: actually, the left foot remains behind in order that the right may go forward.’”
The relationship of guru and disciple is harmful. However, a nonrelated relating between a guru and the disciple is very beneficial. Nonrelated means there are not two; relationship is where there are two. We can understand if a disciple feels the guru to be a separate entity from him, because the disciple is ignorant. But if the guru also feels the same, that is too much. Then it means that the blind is leading the blind – and the blind man who is leading is more dangerous, because the second blind man has total trust in him.
There is no spiritual meaning to a guru-disciple relationship. Actually, all relationships are the relationships of power. They are all relations of power politics. Someone is a father, someone is a son; if this were a relationship of love it would be a different matter. Then the father would not be conscious of his being the father, nor the son of being a son. Then the son would be the preceding form of the father and the father would be the subsequent form of the son – and this is the truth of the matter.
We sow a seed and a tree grows. Then this tree gives rise to thousands of seeds. What is the relationship between these seeds and the first seed? One came first and the others followed later. It is the journey of the same seed that fell to the ground, sprouted and dissolved in the soil. The father is the first link and the son the second in the same chain. But then there is a chain, not individual persons. Then if the son touches his father’s feet he is showing his respect for the previous link. He is showing his reverence for that which is going out, because without him he could not have come into the world. He has come into existence through him.
And if the father is bringing up his son, feeding him and clothing him, he is not taking pains for someone else; it is his own extension he is nurturing. If we say that the father becomes a youth once more in his son, we would not be wrong. Then the matter is not one of relationship; it is a different matter. It is love, not a relationship.
Generally we find the relationship between father and son to be a political relationship. The father is strong and the son is weak, so the father dominates the son. He tries to make him feel, “You are nothing; I am everything.” But he does not realize that soon a time will come when the son will be the strong one. Then he will dominate the father in the same way.
These relationships between the master and the disciple, the wife and the husband are perversions. … Otherwise, why should there be any relationship between a husband and a wife? Two people have felt oneness between them, so they are together. But no, this is not so. The husband dominates the wife in his own way; the wife dominates the husband in her own way. Both are playing their own strength as a power politics on each other.
The same is the case with the guru and the disciple. The guru oppresses the disciple, and the latter waits for him to die so that he may become the guru. If the guru would delay dying there would be plotting and scheming against him. So it is difficult to find a guru whose disciples do not rebel against him or become his enemies. The chief disciple is bound to be the enemy of the guru. So one must be careful in choosing the chief disciple. It is almost inevitable, because the pressure of power is always met with rebellion. Spirituality has nothing to do with it.
I can understand a father pressuring the son: it is a case of two ignorant people, and they could be forgiven. It is not good but it can be excused. The husband oppressing the wife and vice versa is usual – not good, but it is very common. But when the guru suppresses his disciple it becomes difficult. This area at least should be free of any claim that “I know and you do not.”
What is this relationship between a guru and a disciple? One is a claimant: he says, “I know, you do not know. You are ignorant, I am wise. The ignorant must bow to the wise.” But what sort of a wise man is he who says, “You must bow in reverence”? He is the most ignorant person. He knows a few inherited secrets, he has studied some scriptures and he can repeat them from his memory. There is nothing more to him than this.
Perhaps you have not heard this story:
There was a cat who became all-knowing. She became famous among cats – so much so that she came to be looked upon as a tirthankara. The reason for her becoming all-knowing was that she had found a way of sneaking into a library. She knew everything about this library. By everything I mean the means of entrance and exit from the library, which set of books was the most comfortable to snuggle against, which books gave warmth in the winter and which were cool in the summer, et cetera.
So the word went around among the cats that if anybody wanted any knowledge about the library, the all-knowing cat could provide the answer. Naturally, there was no doubt about such a one who knew everything about the library being omniscient. This cat even had followers. But the fact remained that she knew nothing. All she knew about books was whether she could sit behind them comfortably, which books had cloth binding, were warm, and which ones did not. More than this she did not know. She had not the least idea of what was inside the book. And how could a cat know what is inside a book?
There are such all-knowing cats among men too, who know how to shield themselves with books. You attack them and they will at once take refuge in the Ramayana and try to strangle you with its verses. Or, they will say, “So says the Gita.”
Now who is to fight with the Gita? If I were to say, “This is what I say,” you can debate with me. But if I bring the Gita in I am safe. I take refuge behind the Gita. The Gita gives warmth in the cold; it gives me a vocation and becomes a protective shield against enemies. It even becomes an ornament and can be played with, but a person who does this only knows as much about the Gita as the cat in the library; he knows no more than she does.
It may be possible that by long association the cat might come to know what is inside the books, but these knowledgeable gurus will not know at all. The more they learn the book by heart, the less need there will be for them to know. They will then be under the illusion that they know all there is to know.
Whenever a man claims the authority of knowing, know that it is only ignorance that has become outspoken, because assertion is ignorance. But when a man hesitates even to mention that he knows, then know that he has begun to receive a glimpse, a ray of wisdom. Such a man, however, would not become a guru, he would not even dream of becoming one, because with becoming a guru comes the authority of knowledge. The meaning of guru is one who knows: he is sure that he knows, and now you need not know; he can impart his knowledge to you.
So this claim and this authority kill the sense of quest and inquiry in others. Authority cannot exist without suppression, because he who wields authority is always afraid of your finding out the truth. Then what would become of his power? So he will stop you from finding out. He will gather followers and disciples around him, and within the disciples also there will be a hierarchy of chief disciples and lesser disciples. This is again a political web and it has nothing to do with spirituality.
When I say that a happening like shaktipat – which is the descent of the energy of the divine – takes place easily in the presence of a particular person, I do not mean that you should cling and get fixed with this person; nor do I say that you should be dependent upon him or make him into a guru. I also do not say that you should stop your search. On the contrary, whenever this event takes place through a medium you will feel that if this experience through an indirect source could bring so much joy, how much more blissful it would be to experience a direct descent of the divine energy! After all, when a thing comes through someone it does lose some of its freshness; it becomes a little stale.
I go to a garden and I am filled with the fragrance of the flowers, and then you come to see me and you feel the fragrance of the flowers through me. You will find that it will also be mingled with my body odor, and it will also have become faint by then.
So when I say initially shaktipat is very beneficial, what I mean is that first you should get the news that there is a garden and there are flowers so that you maybe are encouraged to set out on the journey. But if you acquire a guru you will stagnate, so do not stop at a milestone. The milestones tell us much more than the ones we call gurus. They tell us exactly how many miles more are left for the destination. No guru can give such precise information. And yet we do not worship the milestones or sit near them. If we did we would prove ourselves to be less than stones, because the stone is there to indicate how much more of the journey is left. It is not there to stop you.
If a milestone could speak, it too would call out, “Where are you going? I have given you the necessary information. You have traveled ten miles and you have twenty more to go. Now you know, so you have no need to go further. Be my disciple; follow me.” But the stone cannot speak, so it cannot become a guru.
Man speaks; therefore he becomes a guru. He says, “I have shown you so much; be grateful to me. You must show your gratitude, your indebtedness to me.” Remember, he who demands gratitude has nothing to give you. He is merely giving you a piece of information just like a milestone. A milestone does not know anything about the journey. There is only one piece of information engraved on it which it gives to all who pass by.
Likewise, if gratitude is demanded and expected from you, beware. Do not get stuck with an individual. Move beyond individuality towards the formless, the eternal, the infinite. However, a glimpse is possible through a person who is just a vehicle, because ultimately the individual also belongs to the divine. Just as the ocean can be known through the well, so can the infinite be known through the individual. If a glimpse can happen to you, then realization can also happen. But do not depend on anybody or be enslaved by anything.
All relationships are binding, whether they be of husband and wife, father and son, or guru and disciple. Where there is relationship, there is slavery. So the spiritual seeker has not to form relationships. If he keeps the relationship of husband and wife there is no harm; it is not a hindrance because this relationship is irrelevant. But the irony lies in the fact that he renounces and drops out of husband-wife, father-son relationships to form a new guru-disciple relationship. This is very dangerous.
The idea of a spiritual relationship has no meaning. All relationships belong to the mundane world. Relationship as such is worldly. If we say that relationship is the world, it would not be wrong. You are alone, unassociated. This is not an egotistical statement because others too are alone and unassociated. Someone is two steps ahead of you; if you have heard the footsteps, then you have already known the direction of your journey that far. There are some who are two steps behind you, there are some others traveling along with you. So an infinite number of souls are traveling on the path. In this journey we are all fellow travelers; the only difference is that somebody is a little ahead or a little behind. Take maximum advantage of those ahead of you, but do not turn it into some kind of slavery.
Keep away from dependence and relationships, and especially from “spiritual” relationships – always. Worldly relationships are not dangerous, because the world as such is a relationship. It is not a problem. Receive the message and indications wherever they are available.
I do not mean that you should not be thankful for them. This should not create any complication in your mind. What I am saying is that if gratitude is demanded it is wrong, but if you are not grateful it is equally wrong. One should thank the milestone also for giving us information, whether it hears or not.
When we say that the guru should not ask or expect gratitude, it deludes the listener and feeds his ego. He thinks, “It is absolutely correct. There is no need even to thank him!” There we make a mistake, because then we grasp the statement from the opposite extreme. I am not saying that you should not even be grateful. What I mean is that the guru should not demand gratitude. So if you are not grateful it will be equally wrong on your part.
You must be grateful, but this gratitude will not bind you because that which is never asked for never binds. If I thank you without your asking it is not binding. But if you demand thanks, whether I thank you or not, it will bind you and create troubles.
Take the hint or the glimpse from wherever you get it. It will disappear again and again. It cannot be permanent because it comes from another. Only that will last which is yours.
So you will have to undergo the happening of shaktipat again and again. If you are afraid of losing your freedom, seek your own experience. It is of no use being afraid of bondage, because if I bind myself to you it is bondage, and if I run away from you with the fear of being bound then also I am linked with and, hence, bound to you.
So take what you get silently; be grateful and move on. And if you feel something had come but has been lost again, then seek the source within, from where it can never be lost. There is no way of losing then, because our own treasure is infinite. With that which has its source in another there is the chance that it will be lost.
Do not be a beggar who keeps asking from others. That which you receive from another should start you on your own search. And this becomes possible only when you do not get stuck at having a relationship. Receive, offer your thanks, and move on.
From In Search of the Miraculous, Discourse #14
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