wisdom of thesadhu

T E A C H I N G S O F S U N D A R S I N G H

wisdom of the sadhu

T E A C H I N G S O F S U N D A R S I N G H

compiled and edited by kim comer

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Copyright 2003 by The Bruderhof Foundation. Inc.,

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C O N T E N T S

to the reader vii

I . S C E N E S

the hungry birds 2

dharma devotion 4

five holy men 9

maya illusion 14

the saint 20

santi peace 25

the scholar 30

jnana knowledge 33

I I . C O N V E R S A T I O N S

the pilgrim 2

darshana the divine presence 48

avatara incarnation 1

the lovers 68

karma bondage 76

moksa release 85

the prince and the thief 1

dyva vileenam oneness with god 98

dhyanam contemplation 15

three seekers 3

seva service 25

tapas suffering 1

the king and the farmer 54

amrita eternity 63

a warning to the west 72

seeker and master 1

background and context 8

sources 196

Seek not to understand so that thou

mayest believe, but believe so that

thou mayest understand.

Augustine of Hippo

 

To the reader

As a large, red sun rises from the Punjabi plains, the solitary figure of a sadhu – an Indian

holy man – comes into view, trudging along a

dusty road. In another frame the figure appears again,

this time toiling to reach a remote Tibetan village

along a narrow, icy track better suited for goats than

for humans. In yet another, the man appears at the

edge of an ancient marketplace at dusk, mingling with

the crowd as he seeks a place to sit and rest. Wherever

this sadhu appears, those who look into his eyes immediately

sense his extraordinary humility and peace.

They discover a mystic…

Just as Sundar Singh appeared in such scenes

again and again – without prior announcement, without

introduction, without credentials – so he appears

in this book. “Scenes,” the first section, contains impressions

from key events in his life. It is based both

on accounts by Sundar Singh himself, and by writers

who knew him. “Conversations,” the second, contains

dialogues that draw freely on material from all

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six of Sundar Singh’s books, as well as interviews and

articles. Both sections are interspersed with parables

that punctuate the themes. Though structurally unusual,

the resulting collage allows us to encounter the

sadhu in the way his contemporaries did: not as a systematic

thinker, but as a personal teacher.

In his teachings as in his life, Sundar Singh offers

little by way of rational orientation. He defies categorization

and critical analysis. The impact of his message,

however, is always direct and immediate. His

voice rings with a clarity that rises from the deepest,

clearest sources of life itself.

K. C.

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the hungry birds

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P A R A B L E

the hungry birds

Once as I wandered in the mountains, I

came upon an outcropping of rocks, and as I sat on the highest

rock to rest and look out over the valley, I saw a nest in the

branches of a tree. The young birds in the nest were crying

noisily. Then I saw how the mother bird returned with food for

her young ones. When they heard the sound of her wings and

felt her presence nearby, they cried all the more loudly and

opened their beaks wide. But after the mother bird fed them

and flew away again, they were quiet. Climbing down to look

more closely, I saw that the newly hatched birds had not yet

opened their eyes. Without even being able to see their mother,

they opened their beaks and begged for nourishment whenever

she approached.

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These tiny birds did not say: “We will not open our beaks

until we can see our mother clearly and also see what kind of

food she offers. Perhaps it is not our mother at all but instead

some dangerous enemy. And who knows if it is proper nourishment

or some kind of poison that is being fed to us?” If they

had reasoned thus, they would never have discovered the

truth. Before they were even strong enough to open their eyes,

they would have starved to death. But they held no such

doubts about the presence and love of their mother, and so

after a few days, they opened their eyes and rejoiced to see her

with them. Day by day they grew stronger and developed into

the form and likeness of the mother, and soon they were able

to soar up into the freedom of the skies.

We humans often think of ourselves as the greatest living

beings, but do we not have something to learn from these

common birds? We often question the reality and the loving

nature of God. But the Master has said: “Blessed are those

who have not seen and yet believe.” Whenever we open our

hearts to God, we receive spiritual nourishment and grow

more and more into the likeness of God until we reach spiritual

maturity. And once we open our spiritual eyes and see God’s

presence, we find indescribable and unending bliss.

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dharma devotion

Candlelight flickers across the worn

pages, and the Sanskrit characters dance rhythmically,

like graceful maidens chanting ancient hymns. Transfixed,

the young boy follows their motion, and his

soul sings in unison with them:

A mass of radiance, glowing all around,

I see thee, hard to look at, on every side;

Glory of flaming fire and sun, immeasurable,

without beginning, middle, or end of power.

Infinite arms, whose eyes are the moon and sun,

I see thee, whose face is flaming fire,

burning the whole universe with thy radiance.

Quietly another voice enters the song. It is a gentle,

beloved voice, calling him, calling “Sundar,” drawing

him out of the chant, away from the dance. Slowly

closing his inner eyes, he looks up into the candlelit

face of his mother. “Come, Sundar! It is past midnight

already. Soon it will be morning. You are only eight

years old, my son. You must rest.”

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Obediently, reverently the boy returns the holy

books to their place and seeks his mat. The candle

flickers one last time and dies. Later he remembers:

Although my family was Sikh, we had great reverence

for the Hindu scriptures. My mother was a living example

of the love of God and a devoted follower of

Hindu teachings. Every day she awoke before dawn,

prepared herself with the cold water of the ritual bath,

and read either from the Bhagavad Gita or from one of

the other sacred writings. Her pure life and her complete

devotion influenced me more strongly than it did

the other family members. From the time of my earliest

memories, she impressed upon me one rule above all

others: when I woke from sleep, my first duty was to

pray to God for spiritual nourishment and blessings.

Only then could I break the night’s fast. Sometimes I

objected to this rule and insisted on having breakfast

first, but my mother would never relent. Usually with

coaxing, but when necessary with force, she impressed

this rule deep onto my soul: Seek God first and only

then turn to other things.

At that time, I was too young to recognize the true

value of this education, and I resisted her. Later, however,

I came to appreciate her example. Whenever I

think back now on her loving guidance, I cannot thank

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God enough for her. For she planted in me, and tended

in my early life, a profound love and fear of God. She

carried a great light within her, and her heart was the

best spiritual training anyone could have: “You must

not be careless and worldly,” she would say. “Seek

peace of soul, and love God always. Someday you must

give yourself fully to the search, you must follow the

way of the sadhu.”

With pleading eyes, the boy looks up at his father:

Please help her, Father! She is so old and the weather is

turning cold. I spent all my pocket money to buy food

for her, but I did not have enough for a blanket. Please

give me money to buy her a blanket.

Sardar Sher Singh retorts:

Listen, Sundar! Over the years I have given that widow

all manner of help. We are not responsible for her. The

other people in town should also help look after her.

They must also learn charity. You cannot be responsible

for everyone all the time. Others must learn to

play their part. Do not worry about her now. You have

done more than enough for her.

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Downcast, the boy turns away. Agony of conscience.

Has not Mother always said we should show compassion

and pity? Has Father no heart? What if no one else

helps her? She might freeze in the night. Is there nothing

I can do? Maybe…No, I mustn’t! That would be

wrong. But then again, Father has so much; he will

never miss a few rupees. It is for a good cause; I’m not

stealing for myself…

Sundar was wrong. Father does miss it. In the

evening, Sardar Sher Singh calls together the household

and announces that he is missing five rupees.

“Has anyone taken money from my purse?” he asks,

gently but firmly. Each one answers in turn. Sundar

quietly says, “No Father, I didn’t do it.” The day closes

somber and unresolved.

Sundar sleeps fitfully. He tosses and turns. In his

dreams, he sees the stern face of his father, hears the

disappointment in his voice: “How could you steal

from me, your father? How could you secretly disobey

me? Even now, after I ask for the truth, still you

lie to me.” Sundar knows this is not dharma – devotion.

This is adharma – sin.

It is evil. The holy books speak of karma – the relentless

cycle of sin and death by whose law every sinful act

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burdens the soul and carries painful consequences. The

holy books warn that we will reap what we sow, in this

life or the next. How can I escape this karma? How can

I undo what I have done? What good is compassion for

others in need if my own soul is burdened?

Sardar Sher Singh hears a quiet, frightened voice:

Father! Wake up, Father! Something terrible has happened.

It was I, Father. I stole your money to buy a

blanket for the widow. Forgive me, Father. I want to escape

the karma; I am ready to accept punishment; I am

ready to accept it as penance for this sin.

Now awake, Sardar Sher Singh sees the anguish in the

boy’s face and sees the hours of anguish behind it. He

takes hold of the boy – not to punish him, but to take

him up into his strong arms; not with anger, but with

love. Gently he says: “I have always trusted you, my

child, and now I have good proof that my trust was

not misplaced. Sleep in peace now, for you have

shown courage to choose what is right. In this way,

you have turned the wrong to good. I, too, am sorry

that I refused you money for the widow. I will not

refuse you such a request again.”

five holy men

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P A R A B L E

five holy men

Once in Haridwar I met a sadhu lying on a

bed of nails. I went to him and asked, “To what end do you

wound and torture yourself so?” He answered:

You are a sadhu yourself. Do you not know why I do this?

It is my penance. I am destroying the flesh and its desires.

I serve God in this way, but I still feel all too clearly the

pain of my sins and the evil in my desires. Indeed, the

pain of them is far worse than the pain of these nails. My

goal is to kill all desire and so to find release from myself

and oneness with God. I have been exercising this discipline

for eighteen months, but I have not yet reached my

goal. Indeed, it is not possible to find release in such a



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short time; it will take many years, even many lives, before

I can hope for release.

I considered the life of this man. Must we torture ourselves

through many lives in order to find true peace? If we do not

reach our goal in this life, why should there be another chance

in another life? Is it even possible in thousands on thousands

of lives? Can such peace ever be found through our own efforts?

Must it not be a gift from God? Surely we must seek the

life of God, not the death of flesh.

I met another sadhu doing penance. His feet were tied

with a rope and he was hanging upside down from the branch

of a tree. When he had ended his exercise and was resting under

the tree, I asked him, “Why do you do this? What is the

purpose of such torture?” He answered:

People are greatly amazed to see me hanging head-down

from a tree, but remember, the Creator sets every child

head-down in the mother’s womb. This is my method to

serve God and do penance. In the eyes of the world it is

folly, but in this exercise I remind myself and others that

all of us are bound by sin and lead lives that are, in God’s

eyes, upside down. I seek to turn myself upside down

again and again until in the end I stand upright in the

sight of God.

It is true that the world is upside down and its ways are perverted.

But can we ever hope to right ourselves through our

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own strength? Must we not turn instead to God, who alone

can set right what is wrong and free us from evil thoughts and

desires?

Later, I met yet another sadhu. In the hot summer, he

would continually sit within the five fires – that is, with four

fires around him and the burning sun overhead. In winter he

would stand for hours in the icy water. Yet his whole expression

was marked by sadness and despair. I learned that the

man had been undergoing this exercise for five years. I approached

him and asked: “What have you gained from this

discipline? What have you learned?” He answered sadly, “I do

not hope to gain or learn anything in this present life, and

about the future I can say nothing.”

The following day I went to see a sadhu who had taken

an oath of silence. He was a genuine seeker after truth. He had

not spoken for six years. I went to him and asked him questions:

“Did God not give us tongues so that we can speak?

Why do you not use yours to worship and praise the Creator

instead of remaining silent?” Without any hint of pride or arrogance

he answered me by writing on a slate:

You are right, but my nature is so evil that I cannot hope

for anything good to come out of my mouth. I have remained

silent for six years, but my nature remains evil, so

it is better that I remain silent until I receive some blessing

or message that can help others.



five holy men

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Once in the Himalayas I learned of a Buddhist hermit, an old

lama who lived in a cave in the mountains. He had closed off

the entrance of the cave by building a stone wall – leaving only

a small opening for air. He never left the cave and lived only

from the tea and roasted barley that devout people brought

and passed through the small hole. Because he had lived so

long in utter darkness, he had become blind. He was determined

to remain in the cave for the rest of his life. When I

found this hermit, he was engaged in prayer and meditation,

so I waited outside until he had finished. Then I asked if I might

speak with him, and we were able to converse through the

hole in the wall, although we could not see each other. First he

asked me about my spiritual journey. Then I asked him, “What

have you gained through your seclusion and meditation? Buddha

taught nothing about a God to whom we can pray. To

whom do you pray, then?” He answered:

I pray to Buddha, but I do not hope to gain anything by

praying and by living in seclusion. Quite the opposite, I

seek release from all thought of gain. I seek nirvana, the

elimination of all feeling and all desire – whether of pain

or of peace. But still I live in spiritual darkness. I do not

know what the end will be, but I am sure that whatever I

now lack will be attained in another life.

I then responded:



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Surely your longings and feelings arise from the God who

created you. They were surely created in order to be fulfilled,

not crushed. The destruction of all desire cannot

lead to release, but only to suicide. Are not our desires

inseparably intertwined with the continuation of life?

Even the idea of eliminating desire is fruitless. The desire

to eliminate all desire is still itself a desire. How can we

find release and peace by replacing one desire with another?

Surely we shall find peace not by eliminating desire,

but by finding its fulfillment and satisfaction in the

One who created it.

The hermit closed our conversation, saying, “We shall see

what we shall see.”



maya

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maya illusion

The sunlight speckled with jungle

shadows paints leopard spots on the hermit’s yellow

robe. The hermit, the old sadhu, the holy man sits

cross-legged on a leopard skin, one with the skin, one

with the leopard, one with the jungle.

At the feet of the sadhu sits Sundar, a boy fleeing

maya – illusion – and hungry for certainty and knowledge

– jnana. The boy is devout. He is a Sikh, a devout

Sikh, a devout among the devout, a lion among the lions.

But he is restless.

Sikh priests have taught him all they know, but

he is not satisfied. He can recite the entire Guru Granth

Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs, but it does not

quench his thirst. He can recite the Upanishads, the

Darsanas, the Bhagavad Gita and the Shastaras of the

Hindus; the Qur’an and the Hadis of Islam are known

to him by heart. His mother fears God and sees in him

a pilgrim; she sees in him the making of a sadhu. His

father is worried. He asks Sundar: “Why do you tor

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ment yourself over religious questions? You will twist

your brain and ruin your sight.” The boy answers, “I

must have santi. I must have peace.”

In his quest, the boy has come to the old sadhu in

the jungle:

Sadhu-ji, you say my hunger and my thirst are illusion,

tricks of maya. Only Brahma is truth. Brahma is the divine

source of all things, you say; Brahma is God. You

say I will see that I am part of Brahma, and that once I

do, my needs will cease to concern me. Forgive me,

Sadhu-ji, and do not be angry with me, but how can this

be? If I am Brahma or have even a part of it, how then

can I be deceived by maya? How can illusion have

power over me? For if illusion has power over truth,

then truth is itself illusion. Is then illusion stronger than

truth? Is illusion stronger than truth?

Sadhu-ji, you say I must wait. You say I will gain

knowledge of spiritual things as I grow older. My thirst

will be quenched. But can it be so? Is not food the answer

to hunger? Is not water the answer to thirst? If a

hungry boy asks for bread, can his father answer, “Go

and play! When you are older, you will understand

hunger and you will not need bread?” If you, Sadhu-ji,

have found the understanding I seek, if you have found

certainty and peace, please tell me how I can find it. If



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not, then tell me so, and I will continue my search. I

cannot rest until I have found peace.

Something is wrong. Why do the Shastaras no longer

come alive before my eyes? Why does our holy book

now seem so distant? Why do I return from the peace

of yoga meditation to find my heart still burdened with

unrest?

An adolescent boy struggles to hold onto all that his

mother taught him. It was so natural and so simple

while she was alive, but since her death the spiritual

exercises require so much effort. Faith has become

clouded by doubt. The words of the old sadhu in the

jungle sound like hollow promises, with boldness he

questions the sadhu’s teaching. The words of the

Vedas and of Guru Granth Sahib no longer answer his

seeking. Instead, question after question stumble over

one another, and all is confusion. The lives of those

around him seem fraught with hypocrisy. Where is

the fire and clarity of the early Sikh believers? And

now Christian missionaries bring still another truth,

but their arrival brings Sundar only further, deeper

confusion.



maya

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This is not the truth of my mother, of our ancestors, of

our culture. This is a foreign truth, one brought to us

by outsiders who do not understand our ways. But why

then does Father make me attend the Christian school?

I would rather go to the state school at Sanewal. I am

ready to walk the six miles through the desert. I am a

Sikh. I will show them. I will show Father what I think

of these colonialists and their western ways, their foreign

faith…

When the elders come to him, Sardar Sher Singh cannot

believe his ears. There must be some mistake.

Quiet, respectful Sundar throwing stones at his teachers,

disrupting classes, and mocking the missionaries

– impossible! When Sardar Sher Singh goes to see

for himself, he cannot believe his eyes. Yet there, in

the courtyard of his own house, a group of teenage

boys gather around his son, who first tears the

Christian’s holy book to shreds and then, in a frenzy

of rage, hurls it into a fire. Never in the history of the

village has anyone publicly burned a sacred book of

any faith! And his own son! He rushes out in confusion

and anger. He seizes Sundar:

Are you insane? Why would you do such a thing? Is

this the respect for sacred things you learned at your

mother’s breast? Is this your thanks to those who teach

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you? You will not commit such blasphemy in my presence.

As your father and head of this household, I command

you to stop such insanity. There will be no more

book burning here!

Peace is gone. No one is left. Mother is dead. Father is

shamed. The sadhu in the jungle has no more to say.

The holy writings are remote and foreign. Meditation

offers escape, but no resolution, no realization. The

ritual bath cleanses the body, but all is still dark

within. The familiar words of the scriptures whirl in

his mind. There is Guru Nanak: “I cannot live for a

moment without you, O God. When I have you, I

have everything. You are the treasure of my heart.”

And there is Guru Arjim: “We long only for you, O

God. We thirst for you. We can only find rest and

peace in you.” That is the only hope. If there is a God,

then let him reveal the way to peace. If there is no

God, then there is no point in living.

The fifteen-year-old boy rises long before the

sun. With solemn ritual he bathes and chants the ancient

invocation as he has done every morning for as

long as he can remember, just as his mother taught



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him. This morning will be the last time. He thinks of

his mother and wonders if he will find her in the world

beyond. At : A.M. the express train to Ludhiana will

pass. It will pass over the tracks near the edge of Sardar

Sher Singh’s property. It will pass over the body of a

desperate, confused young man. It will crush all

doubts and drive all questions from his heart and

head.

The prophecy of the Sikh priest nears fulfillment,

for had he not said to Sardar Sher Singh: “Your

son is not like the others. Either he will become a great

man of God, or he will disgrace us all by going

insane.”



the saint

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P A R A B L E

the saint

Many years ago there was a saint who after

finishing his daily round of duties would go to a cave in a jungle

to pray and meditate for hours. One day a philosopher happened

to come across the cave. Finding the saint on his knees,

he first stood there in amazement. Then he went up to the entrance

of the cave and tapped, but the saint was so absorbed

in contemplation that he did not respond. The philosopher

waited at least half an hour and was on the point of leaving

when the saint rose and called him in to sit down. Both remained

silent for a few moments. Then the philosopher broke

the silence.

Philosopher: Do you know that this cave is known as a

den of robbers?

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Saint: Yes, sir, I know it well. This cave is a meeting place

for robbers but it is a shelter for me. When I am in the city

in the midst of so many people, when I have done my

work and want to pray and meditate, I find obstacles and

impediments that disturb my worship and distract me so

that neither I nor others receive any real benefit from my

spiritual exercise. So I retire from the disturbances of city

life to this quiet place and rest here in the presence of my

God and worship him in the beauty of his holiness. Here I

spend my time in prayer and offer intercessions on behalf

of others. This spiritual exercise has done much good not

only for me but for others as well.

Thieves often visit this place, but they never trouble

me. One of them once said to me, “See, honorable saint,

we are not blind and stupid. We rob those people who,

though not called robbers, yet rob others as much as we

do.” I will not report them to the authorities, because I

know a worldly government cannot reform them. It can

only punish them and further harden their hearts. But I

pray to God, who can change them and grant them new

life. Some of them have already changed and become

good citizens. So by the grace of God, my spiritual work

is being carried on in this solitude in the same way as it is

done among the multitudes.

Philosopher: You truly believe that you are helping others

by sitting here silently and praying?



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Saint: Some people equate watching and praying with

laziness or carelessness. This is wrong. As a matter of fact,

it means diving into the ocean of reality and finding

pearls of divine truth that will enrich not only the diver,

but others as well. As a diver holds his breath while he is

diving, so a man of contemplation and prayer shuts himself

in a chamber of silence, away from the distractions of

the noisy world. Then he is able to pray with the Holy

Spirit from above, without which it is impossible to lead a

spiritual life.

My meaning is clear: God works in silence. No man

has ever heard him speak or make any sound. To hear his

voice, we must wait for him in silence. Then, without

voice or words, he will speak to the soul in the secret

room of the heart. As he himself is spirit, he addresses the

soul in spiritual language, fills it with his presence, and finally

revives and refreshes it forever.

Philosopher: Silence is important. I, too, know that if I do

not concentrate silently, I cannot think. But I am not convinced

about your silent God. What proof do you have

for his existence?

Saint: Remember that though millions experience his

presence, he exists above and beyond all human comprehension.

He dwells only in the heart of those who have a

childlike faith. As putting our hand near the flames and

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experiencing the warmth of the fire proves the existence

of fire, so experiencing God in spirit is the only strong and

solid proof of his existence. I know of a woman who,

when she was twelve, was told by her teacher about God

and his love. It was the first time she had ever heard of

God, yet as her teacher spoke, she said, “Yes, I have known

this already. I just did not know his name.”

Philosopher: But why is it that you renounce the world?

Do you hate the world and regard yourself as superior to

others?

Saint: I do not hate the world, and I would never dare to

regard myself superior to others – God forbid. I am only a

weak and sinful man, but grace saves and helps me. Nor

have I renounced the world. I renounce only its evil and

everything in myself that hinders my spiritual life.

As long as we are in this world, it is impossible to renounce

it. If we leave the city and go to live in the jungle,

we will find that the jungle is also part of the world. It is

ridiculous to think of renouncing the world. No one can

renounce the world except through death. God put us on

this earth to live and move and be. His holy will is that we

may use the things of this world in the right way – to prepare

ourselves for our true spiritual home.

Philosopher: If you are so weak and sinful, why do

people call you a saint?



the saint

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Saint: The Greek philosopher Socrates once said that in

all his life, he had learned only one, single lesson – namely,

that he knew nothing. Whenever people asked him what

then the difference was between him and other folk, he

replied that he differed from others only in one respect:

he accepted that he knew nothing, while they obstinately

clung to the belief that they knew something.

Let people think what they will, but I am no saint –

they are mistaken. I only desire intimacy with God. In fellowship

with him I experience a peace that is unknown to

the worldly. I know that I am weak and sinful, but most

people do not even know that they are sinners. Hence,

they do not know the cure for their sin, and they die

without ever finding the peace that I have found.

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santi peace

Though at the time I had considered myself

a hero for burning the Gospel, my heart found no

peace. Indeed, my unrest only increased, and I was miserable

for the next two days. On the third day, when I

could bear it no longer, I rose at : A.M. and prayed

that if there was a God at all, he would reveal himself

to me. Should I receive no answer by morning, I would

place my head on the railroad tracks and seek the answer

to my questions beyond the edge of this life.

I prayed and prayed, waiting for the time to take

my last walk. At about : I saw something strange.

There was a glow in the room. At first I thought there

was a fire in the house, but looking through the door

and windows, I could see no cause for the light. Then

the thought came to me: perhaps this was an answer

from God. So I returned to my accustomed place and

prayed, looking into the strange light. Then I saw a figure

in the light, strange but somehow familiar at once.

It was neither Siva nor Krishna nor any of the other

Hindu incarnations I had expected. Then I heard a

voice speaking to me in Urdu: “Sundar, how long will

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you mock me? I have come to save you because you

have prayed to find the way of truth. Why then don’t

you accept it?” It was then I saw the marks of blood on

his hands and feet and knew that it was Yesu, the one

proclaimed by the Christians. In amazement I fell at his

feet. I was filled with deep sorrow and remorse for my

insults and my irreverence, but also with a wonderful

peace. This was the joy I had been seeking. This was

heaven…Then the vision was gone, though my peace

and joy remained.

When I arose I immediately went to wake my father

and tell him what I had experienced – to tell him

that I was now a follower of Yesu. He told me to go

back to bed. “Why, only the day before yesterday you

were burning the Christians’ holy book. Now you say

you are one of them. Go and sleep, my child. You are

tired and confused. You will feel better in the morning.”

Sardar Sher Singh tried to be understanding and patient,

for he felt the boy was still distraught from the

loss of his mother. So he discreetly avoided discussing

Sundar’s strange experience. Sundar in turn spent

most of his time in solitude and meditation, seeking

penance and wondering how to atone for his mockery

of the One who had revealed himself to him. Deep

within, he sensed that release would only come if he

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was prepared to serve Yesu as one serves a master – to

publicly declare himself a follower of the very being

he had publicly insulted.

No one could have foreseen the outcry that followed.

Robbed of their ringleader, Sundar’s peers

turned on their Christian teachers (and on Sundar

himself ), hurling abuse, accusing them of forcibly

converting the boy, despite Sundar’s repeated assertions

that the teachers knew nothing of what had happened.

Feelings ran so high that the school had to be

closed, and the missionaries escaped to Ludhiana.

At home Sardar Sher Singh tried everything he

could to dissuade his son from his new-found faith. At

first he exercised patience. Then he appealed to the

boy’s honor:

My dear son – light of my eyes, comfort of my heart –

may you live long! As your father, I appeal to you to

consider your family. Surely you do not want the family

name to be blotted out. Surely this Christian religion

does not teach disobedience to parents. I call on you to

fulfill your duty and to marry. I have chosen your bride,

as is our custom, and everything is prepared. As an engagement

present I will give you a legacy of ,

rupees that will provide enough interest for you and

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your family to live comfortably for a lifetime. Your

uncle will add to it a chest of gold.

I am not an unreasonable man, my child. But if you

refuse me, I will know that you are determined to dishonor

your family and I will have no alternative but to

disown you. You wear the bracelet of the Sikh, you

wear your hair uncut as is the sign of the Sikh, you bear

the name of a Sikh. Have you forgotten the meaning of

the name that our fathers adopted? Have you forgotten

what it means to be a Singh?

No, Father; the name means “lion.”

You know the meaning of your name, yet act like a

jackal of the desert. Why? The time has come for you

to make your choice.

Sundar Singh returned to his room and prayed. Then

he cut off his hair.

The face of Sardar Sher Singh was dreadful to behold.

Rage born of frustration, desperation and shame reddened

his eyes. In the presence of the entire household,

his heart heavy with grief, he led his son to the

door as darkness was falling. Already death had taken

his wife and one son; now he was to lose his beloved

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Sundar. But he saw no choice: the boy had made his

decision. Now he spoke the fearful curse: “We reject

you forever and cast you from among us. You shall be

no more my son. We shall know you no more. For us,

you are as one who was never born. I have spoken.”

The door closed behind him.

I will never forget the night I was driven out of my

home. I slept outdoors under a tree, and the weather

was cold. I had never experienced such a thing. I

thought to myself: “Yesterday I lived in comfort. Now

I am shivering, and I am hungry and thirsty. Yesterday

I had everything I needed and more; today I have no

shelter, no warm clothes, no food.” Outwardly the

night was difficult, but I possessed a wonderful joy and

peace in my heart. I was following in the footsteps of

my new master – of Yesu, who had nowhere to lay his

head, but was despised and rejected. In the luxuries and

comforts of home I had not found peace. But the presence

of the Master changed my suffering into peace,

and this peace has never left me.

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P A R A B L E

the scholar

After his death, the soul of a German scholar

entered into the world of spirits. From a distance he saw the

indescribable glory of heaven and the unending joy of those

who dwell there. He was overwhelmed by what he saw, but

his intellect and his skepticism stood in his way and blocked

his entrance to the realm of bliss. So he began to argue with

himself:

There can be no doubt that I see all this, but how can I be

sure that it is real and not just a subconscious illusion? Let

me apply the critical tests of science, logic, and philosophy;

then we will see whether this apparent heaven really

exists.

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Now, the angels who dwelt in that place knew his thoughts

and approached him, and one addressed him:

Your intellect has warped your entire being. If you want

to see the world of the spirit, you must look with spiritual

eyes. You must apply spiritual insight, not the rational exercise

of logic. Your science deals with material reality. In

this realm, however, you can only apply the wisdom that

arises from love and reverence. It is a pity that you do not

take to heart the words of the Master: “Unless you

change completely and become like a little child, you

shall not enter the heavenly realm.”

Clearly you long to see spiritual truth. If you didn’t – if

your life and thoughts were only evil – you would not

even see heaven from afar, as you do now. But until you

tire of your folly and turn around, you will continue to

wander the world, banging your philosophical head

against reality. Only then will you gain true insight and be

able to turn with joy to the light of God.

In a certain sense, all of space and time is spiritual. God’s presence

pervades everything. Thus all people live in the spiritual

world. Each of us is a spiritual being clothed in a mortal body.

But there is another level of reality where our spirits go and

dwell after physical death. This can be understood as a kind of

misty twilight between the glorious light of heavenly bliss and

the frigidity and darkness of death. Already in this life we set

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the course that determines where we shall enter into the world

beyond death. From there, we either turn joyfully toward the

light, or rebelliously toward the darkness.

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jnana knowledge

Cast out of my father’s house, I sought

the advice of my former teachers at the missionary

school. They provided for my material needs and arranged

for me to go to the Christian Boys’ Boarding

School in Ludhiana. The people there received me very

kindly and protected me in every way. But I was

shocked to see the godlessness of some of the students,

and of some of the local Christians. I had believed that

Christians would be like living angels; in this I was

sadly mistaken.

A newly captured tiger prowls restlessly, while a tiger

that has been caged for a long time sprawls lazily,

awaiting the next feeding. Sundar’s thoughts fled the

comfortable confines of the missionaries’ kindness.

Everything was available to him: a good education, a

position in the colonial establishment. Everything

would be given him if he accepted the cozy life of a

good Christian boy. Yet on his sixteenth birthday, he

disappeared into the jungle. He reappeared thirtythree

days later in the saffron robe of a beggar-monk.

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No more a lion, he had become a tiger – a tiger that

seeks the thorny tracks of the jungle. His pilgrimage

had begun.

Two sadhus sit cross-legged and converse with one

another. One is old, very old, the picture of wisdom

with a long, gray beard and faded saffron robe. The

other, Sundar, is young and strong – a slight hint of

fuzz on his chin. The one is a tranquil hermit at

Varanasi, where the brown water of the Ganges

slowly flows in its ageless, unchanging course past

masses of bathing pilgrims. The other is a wanderer

seeking the source, seeking the mountains where the

sacred river dances and leaps in rushing, unpredictable

torrents.

Old sadhu: The ancient rules laid down for the way of

the sadhu are wise. A man follows first the order of the

student, gaining the knowledge and skills for a productive

life. Next he takes on the order of father, caring for

family and property to exercise responsibility. Then, when

his duties of the second order are fulfilled, he retires

from the affairs of family and household, adopting the

ascetic order of the sadhu and renouncing the comfort

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and pleasures of this world. In this way, he can offer

penance for the failings of this life and all the lives that

have gone before; he can restore his karma.

Young sadhu: I am not opposed to the ancient customs,

but my motive in becoming a sadhu is different from

yours. I have not become a sadhu because I think that

there is any merit or salvation to be gained by it. I long

only to serve God the Master with all my heart and soul

and mind and strength and to love my fellow men and

women even as I love myself. If we allow this principle

to guide our lives, then selfishness will flee from our

hearts and we shall be like children of God. We will

find in every man and woman our own brother and sister.

This is the only salvation; this is the only release

from karma, from the cycle of sin and death. So I lay

aside all worldly encumbrances and lead the life of a

sadhu not to gain release from karma, but in thankfulness

to God, who has already released me.

Let one of your disciples come with two mangoes,

one ripe and juicy, the other skin and stone with all the

juice sucked out. What would you say if he gave you

the withered fruit and sat down to enjoy the delicious

fruit himself?

Old sadhu: Such behavior would be inexcusable. It

would be an insult and the height of disrespect.

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Young sadhu: Well, if in the days of our youth we

waste ourselves in our own pleasures and then, in the

weakness of old age, offer in service to God only the

bones and skin of our former strength, have we not also

acted selfishly and treated God with disrespect?

Where the wild, rushing Ganges leaves the Himalayas

near Rishikesh, there is the thick, wild jungle of

Kajliban, a place of complete seclusion that few pilgrims

penetrate. Two bamboo cutters discovered

there the collapsed form of a sadhu in a clearing, too

weak to speak or move. They took him to a village

where he was nursed back to health with milk and

broth and sago.

After several years of service, I felt led to go into the

forest, where I would be free from interruption. I could

fast for forty days even as the Master had done, and I

could seek blessing on my past work and strength for

my future work. Soon I was so dehydrated and enervated

that I could not even move into the shade. But my

spiritual awareness grew correspondingly sharper.

Through this I discovered that the soul does not fade

and die with the body, but goes on living, and I sensed

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the presence of God and the fullness of the Spirit, a reality

that cannot be expressed in words. I also had a vision

of the Master, though this time with spiritual – not

physical – eyes.

Throughout the fast, I felt a remarkable enrichment

of the peace and bliss that I had known in varying degrees

since my first vision of the Master. Indeed, so

great was this sense of peace that I was not at all

tempted to break the fast. The experience has had a

lasting effect on me. Before it, I was frequently assailed

by temptations. Especially when I was tired, I often

grew annoyed when people came to talk to me and ask

me questions. I still grow irritated at times, but not as

often as I used to. Moreover, I used to toy at times with

the thought of giving up the self-denial required of a

sadhu – of getting married and living in comfort and

ease. Now, however, I see clearly that my calling is different,

and that the gift of ecstasy God has given me is

far better than any home, and far greater than any hardship

I might endure.

“He’s back! The Sadhu has returned!” The news ran

like wildfire through the dingiest alleys of Kotgahr.

No adult took notice; few even heard the excited cries

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above the din of the marketplace. But the children –

the dirty toddler with the bloated stomach; the girl

with the maimed foot; the boy with the scarred face;

the scrawny offspring of the lepers, shunned even by

the Untouchables – they heard the cries. Sundar

Singh was back – and he was there again for them.

And so they hurried – running, scuffling and limping

– to his cave. It would be impossible to imagine a

happier band of children.

Meanwhile, many miles away, among the students

of the Christian Boys’ Boarding School, Sundar Singh

was changing the lives of other children too. C. F.

Andrews, a close friend of the Sadhu, remembers:

Whenever Sundar Singh was in town, he spent most of

his spare time visiting the boys in the school. They sat

up with him into the long hours of the night and became

intensely eager to go to Kotgahr and live with him

there, so that they might catch something of his brave

spirit.

The changes that resulted were marvelous to witness.

One of the students, a cricketer and athlete, gave up

assured prospects in government service for a life of

Christian service. Another made up his mind to enter the

ministry of the Church for a life of sacrifice and devotion.

When one of the school sweepers, an Untouchable,

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fell ill, one of the boys who had come most under the

influence of the Sadhu, went into the sweepers’ quarters,

stayed with him and nursed him through his illness.

Such a thing had never happened in the history of

the school.

One of the senior students returned late one evening,

carrying on his back a man from the hills who was in the

last stage of a terrible infectious disease. The boy had

found him in an unfrequented place at the edge of the

jungle, where he had been lying neglected, possibly for

some days. Without a thought he loaded the man on his

back and carried him for nearly two miles along a

mountain track. Even the physical feat was remarkable;

but the moral stamina that made him ready to risk a

dangerous disease while others had passed by was more

noteworthy still. Only because he was living with the

Sadhu, did the inspiration come to this young man with

such compelling force as to make him act in this manner.

Still further, the humility and reticence with which

this brave deed was done were themselves a reflection

of the Sadhu’s spirit.

What, it may be asked, was the attraction that made

such a wonderful change? Nothing that was merely

second-rate could possibly have effected it. No mode

of living, half in comfort, half in self-denial, could

have worked such a miracle. Indeed, those of us who

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did our work surrounded by too much outward comfort

did not impress the young people. We did not think

it possible for us to change our style of living, though

we often talked the matter over. But Sundar Singh’s life

could stand the test. It was reckless in its self-spending.

He had counted the cost. The Cross was not preached

only, but lived – and that made all the difference.

. conversations

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P A R A B L E

the pilgrim

There is a deep and natural craving in the

human heart that can be satisfied nowhere except in God. Our

being in this world is a test, a preparation for the deepest state

of spiritual communion. But most of us, suppressing our deepest

longings and disdaining God, seek satisfaction from this

world. Such a path can only lead to despair.

The story is told of a man who made it his goal in life to

find peace and to satisfy all his desires. He thought that if he

wandered the world, he would be sure to find a place where

he could live a life of peace and rest without having to work or

worry or suffer pain. Having made careful preparations, he set

out on his journey. For months he wandered from place to

place but could not find what he was seeking. One day he saw

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an old man sitting by the edge of a new grave. The traveler

came closer and asked the old man whose grave it was. The

man told him a remarkable story:

Two woodcutters from my village went out into the

nearby jungle to cut wood. By chance, I was also walking

that way. I saw them and greeted them from a distance.

They were seated near a bush in conversation and did not

notice me. So I approached them, and as I came closer,

one of them saw me and quickly covered something with

a cloth. I asked him what was under the cloth. At first,

the men tried to evade my question and keep their secret

hidden. So I asked again. Finally, they told me their story,

saying that I was to be the judge of what had happened,

and I was to give them my advice.

One of the men told me that as they were walking

through the forest, they noticed something glittering under

the bush. Coming closer, they found two gold ingots.

When I arrived, they were debating what to do with this

treasure. I told them that these bars were death traps in

the guise of gold and they should be left under the bush

and forgotten. I explained to them that I had heard about

a banker in a nearby town who had been killed by burglars

in his house. If the thieves were somewhere about

and discovered the woodcutters with their treasure, they

would not hesitate to kill them. Moreover, if the woodcutters

kept the gold and were discovered, they would

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surely be accused of the theft and the banker’s murder.

They nodded in agreement and said they would do as I

suggested. Then I went on my way.

However, they continued to argue over the gold, ignoring

my advice. The first woodcutter demanded twothirds

share, because according to him, it was he who

had discovered the gold; the other insisted that they

should divide it equally. Finally, the first agreed. To celebrate,

one of them went into the village to buy something

to eat.

Once separated, however, both men burned with such

greed that each plotted to kill the other. When the woodcutter

who had gone into the village returned, the one

who had remained to watch over the gold attacked him

and killed him. But the murderer did not live to enjoy the

gold, because – not knowing that his companion had

poisoned the food he had bought – he ate of it and fell

dead. Now both of them lie in this grave.

Looking over to another grave with a marble headstone, the

traveler asked the old man, “Whose grave is that there?” The

old man shook his head thoughtfully and said:

That man was exceedingly rich. But now he is dead, and

what use is his fancy monument? And look over there.

Do you see that mound? That was a man who was proud

and cruel, using violence and smooth words to take over

a kingdom. Once he was in power, he demanded that all

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the citizens should satisfy his desires and worship him as a

god. Then he was stricken with a fatal disease, and

worms fed on him till he died. A few days after his burial,

wild animals dug his body from the grave and feasted on

it, scattering his bones over the graveyard. The head that

had borne a crown was now a bare skull on the ground.

As the traveler was pondering the meaning of what was being

said, the old man continued:

These stories illustrate human depravity, but there is also

a solution. There is a stream of love in this world that

gives health, joy, and peace. Those who live in this current

of love (which is God) always try to do good to others and

never return evil for evil.

There was once a widow who, after mourning the

death of her husband, had a dispute with her sister over

the distribution of the property. Finally, the widow’s sister

became so angry that she took the widow’s son and

abandoned him in a basket in the river. A fisherman who

found the child took him home and brought him up as

his own son. The boy grew into manhood. One day, while

selling fish in the marketplace, he unwittingly met his

mother. Though she did not recognize the young man as

her son, she felt pity for him, and invited him and the old

fisherman to come and live with her.

Not long afterwards the widow noticed among the

fisherman’s possessions a basket she recognized as her

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own. She also noticed, on the boy’s elbow, a familiar scar

that identified him as her son.

Confronting her sister later, the widow, however, wrung

a confession from her. Her anger knew no bounds. Thankfully,

she was kept from taking revenge, for the boy held

his mother back and prevented her from retaliating. Serving

both his mother and his aunt for the rest of his days,

he showed, by his acts of kindness and mercy, how evil is

overcome only with good.

The traveler thanked the old man for his stories and set off

down the road. On the way he met an athlete and a leper talking

together. “How did you get leprosy?” the athlete asked. “I

have been told that it is because I lived in evil and immorality,”

the leper replied. “You have kept yourself in good health and

your body is strong. But in the end, your body and mine shall

be the same – dust in the earth.”

The traveler continued on his way, thinking. He saw now

that his longing for a life of comfort and ease was mere selfishness,

and that only a life lived for others and for God would

bring him true freedom. To live selfishly, he saw, is to flap like a

bird that has escaped its cage, only to realize it is still tethered.

The harder it struggles, the more entangled it becomes.

It has been well observed that though nations may differ

from nations, communities from communities, and people

from people, human nature is the same everywhere. As there

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is but one sun that warms and gives light to the earth, there is

but one God who teaches us to love one another and care for

each other.

It is not just the widows, orphans, the poor, and the

needy that are unhappy. Kings in their kingdoms, the wealthy

in the midst of their luxury, and the learned with their wisdom

are also restless and unfulfilled. As with Noah’s dove, which

found no place to rest in the world, so it is with us. As strangers

and pilgrims on the earth, we can find no rest without the

Master who said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy

laden, and I will give you rest.”

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darshana the divine presence

Seeker: Sadhu-ji, I am searching for

inner peace, but the many religions and philosophies I

have studied fill me only with doubts and questions. I

am no longer even sure if God exists. Can you help

me find spiritual truth?

Sadhu: Only the fool says in his heart, “There is no

God.” Such a thought says nothing about the existence

or non-existence of God, but only about the

skeptic’s own spiritual blindness and inability to recognize

God. Indeed, atheists deny the existence of

God altogether, but they cannot prove their claim that

God does not exist. Even if we assume for the sake of

argument that they are correct, we would only further

the cause of ignorance, not the cause of truth, because

what could be a greater waste of time than to try and

prove the non-existence of something that doesn’t

even exist? Time would be better spent on more worthwhile

pursuits. Yet if God does exist, as all spiritually

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enlightened souls know, then it would be still greater

foolishness to try and prove God’s non-existence.

Though many argue that the belief in God is a harmful

superstition that must be eliminated for the sake of

human progress, the opposite is the case. Uncounted

spiritual blessings have enriched the lives of those

who believe.

Unlike atheists, agnostics believe neither in the existence

nor in the non-existence of God. They claim

that we cannot know whether God exists. But again

this is a mistake. We have an innate longing in our

hearts to know God, and every race in every age has

shown in some form or another its deep craving for

God. Is God simply a human invention, as an ancient

philosopher once said? He argued the following: “In

the primeval age of disorder and violence, as always,

laws could punish crimes committed in the open day,

but they could not touch the secret crimes hidden in

the gloomy depths of conscience. So the best way to

make people lead moral lives was to make them afraid

by inventing gods who could see and hear all things,

not only all human actions, but also the inmost

thoughts and intentions of the human heart.” Yet,

even this argument actually acknowledges that the human

soul is incomplete and unfulfilled without God.

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Some claim that God is unknowable, but this is utter

nonsense. Such an assertion can only be made on

the basis of some kind of limited knowledge of God.

If God is completely beyond our knowing, how can

we know that he is unknowable?

Seeker: Can no one prove to me whether God exists,

so that I can know the truth?

Sadhu: God has no need or desire for anyone to

prove his existence. Our arguments are feeble, our

minds limited. God could have provided proofs convincing

enough, way beyond anything we could

imagine. God desires rather that we should enjoy his

life-giving presence and so bear witness to something

far more sublime and convincing than anything the

rational mind can produce.

Our spirits live and grow in our human bodies

much like the chick develops inside the egg. If it were

possible for the chick to be told that a great world

waits beyond its shell, that this world is filled with

fruits and flowers, rivers and great mountains, and

that its own mother is also there waiting for it to be set

free and to experience this splendor, the chick could

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still neither comprehend nor believe it. Even if one

explained that its feathers and wings and eyes were

developing so that it could fly and see, still it would

not be able to believe it, nor would any proof be possible,

until it broke through its shell.

In the same way, there are many people who cannot

comprehend the spiritual life or the existence of God

because they cannot see beyond the confines of their

bodily sense. Their thoughts – like delicate wings –

cannot yet carry them beyond the narrow confines of

logic. Their weak eyes cannot yet make out those

eternal treasures that God has prepared for his children.

The only condition necessary for us to break out

of our material limitations and attain spiritual life is

that we accept the life-giving warmth of God’s spirit,

just as the chick receives its mother’s warmth. Without

that warmth, we will not take on the nature of the

Spirit and we may die without ever hatching out of

this material body.

We have been endowed with spiritual senses so that

we can feel and enjoy God’s presence. But the influence

of irreverence and sin deadens these senses till

we are no longer able to see beyond ourselves, nor beyond

the material world. As long as we follow this

path, we cannot believe that God exists, and so we

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starve ourselves until in the end we have committed

spiritual suicide. Our end is total enslavement to the

material world.

Seeker: If we cannot prove that God exists, then how

can we ever know God or any spiritual truth?

Sadhu: God is the author of creation and provides all

that is necessary for our wellbeing. If it were helpful

or necessary for us to know God perfectly already

now, then God would have provided the means to

meet that need. Quite the contrary, it is important for

our own spiritual growth that we persevere in trying

to know more of God. True and satisfying knowledge

of anything is always the fruit of mental exertion and

the exercise of our own consciousness.

God is infinite while we are finite. We can never

fully comprehend the infinite, but we do have within

us a spiritual sense that allows us to recognize and enjoy

God’s presence. The ocean is vast beyond our

imagining, and it would never be possible for a person

to fathom it or take in all its great treasures. But with

the tip of our tongues we can recognize at once that

the ocean is salty. We have not understood even a

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fraction of all there is to know about the ocean, but

with our sense of taste we can experience its essence.

In the end, how can we expect to have full knowledge

of the creator, when even our knowledge of created

things is limited? We know a little about the

physical characteristics of the created world, but we

know next to nothing about the unseen spiritual

world. Indeed, we know next to nothing about our

own spiritual lives. If we had complete knowledge of

our own spiritual nature, then perhaps we would be

capable of knowing the nature of God, for we were

created in his image.

From the moment of birth, every child loves its

mother dearly in its own way, but the child cannot

know and love the mother as the mother loves the

child. With age, the child grows to know the mother

better and to enjoy her company in new, fulfilling

ways. Our knowledge and age would have to be infinite

if we were to truly comprehend God who is infinite.

But at every age and level of knowledge we can

appreciate and enjoy some aspect of God’s presence.

Why do we need to know more than this? As we grow

spiritually, we will come to know more and more of

God, but there is no need to be impatient. Eternity

stretches before us.

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One day I saw a flower and began to contemplate

its fragrance and beauty. As I thought more deeply, I

recognized the creator of such wonders – not with

my mortal eyes but with my spiritual eyes. This filled

my heart with joy, but my joy was still greater when I

recognized that same creator at work within my own

soul. How wonderful is God, separate from creation

and yet ever filling it with his glorious presence.

Seeker: Since we know so little about God’s nature,

how is it even possible to recognize his divine presence?

Sadhu: Many people experience the Master’s presence

without actually seeing him. When we apply

medicine drops to our eyes, we experience the healing

effect, but we cannot see the drops. In the same way,

we recognize the presence of the Master and his work

of cleansing our inner eyes and aiding our spiritual

sight even though we cannot see him.

Those who turn to the Master with open hearts will

feel his power and experience peace. It is like something

sweet on the tongue. Both our sense of taste and

the sweetness of the sugar are invisible to the eye.

Similarly, the Master sustains us with unseen nourishment

– wisdom that the five senses cannot grasp.

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God is revealed in the book of nature for God is its

author. Yet we only comprehend this book if we have

the necessary spiritual insight. Without reverence and

perception we go astray. We cannot judge the truthfulness

of any book merely by reading it. Agnostics

and skeptics, for example, find only defects instead of

perfection. Skeptics ask, “If there is an almighty creator,

why then are there hurricanes, earthquakes, pain,

suffering, death, etc.?” This is like criticizing an unfinished

building or incomplete painting. When we

see them fully finished, we are embarrassed at our

own folly and praise the skill of the artist. God did not

shape the world into its present form in a single day,

nor will it be perfected in a single day. The whole creation

moves toward completion, and if we see it with

the eyes of God moving toward the perfect world

without fault or blemish, then we can only bow humbly

before our creator and exclaim, “It is very good.”

Seeker: From what you say, Sadhu, it seems to require

patience and great effort to recognize God’s presence.

What do we actually gain by seeking God?

Sadhu: A mother once left her child for a time playing

in the garden. When her little son noticed she was

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not there, he searched the whole garden over. He

looked everywhere but could not find her. Finally he

cried and called out, but still she did not appear. The

gardener saw him crying and tried to calm him, saying:

“Do not cry! Look at these beautiful flowers and

delicious mangoes. Shall I pick some for you?” But

the child answered: “No! No! My mother has better

food than these mangoes and her love is far sweeter

than all these flowers. I want my mother.” When his

mother heard these words, she rushed out, embraced

him, and smothered him with kisses. At that moment,

the garden became a paradise. This world is like a

great garden full of wonderful and beautiful flowers,

but we cannot find true joy in it until we meet God.

Seeker: So how do I find the path to spiritual truth

and to knowledge of God?

Sadhu: God never discourages a seeker by judging

his or her beliefs to be wrong. Rather, God allows

each person to recognize spiritual error or truth by

degrees. The story is told of a poor grass cutter who

found a beautiful stone in the jungle. He had often

heard of people finding valuable diamonds and

thought this must be one. He took it to a jeweler and

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showed it to him with delight. Being a kind and sympathetic

man, the jeweler knew that if he bluntly told

the grass cutter that his stone was worthless glass, the

man would either refuse to believe it or else fall into a

state of depression. So instead, the jeweler offered the

grass cutter some work in his shop so that he might

become better acquainted with precious stones and

their value.

Meanwhile, the man kept his stone safely locked

away in a strongbox. Several weeks later, the jeweler

encouraged the man to bring out his own stone and

examine it. As soon as he took it out of the chest and

looked at it more closely, he immediately saw that it

was worthless. His disappointment was great, but he

went to the jeweler and said: “I thank you that you did

not destroy my hope but aided me instead to see my

mistake on my own. If you will have me, I will stay

with you and faithfully serve you, as you are a good

and kind master.” In the same way, God leads back to

truth those who have wandered into error. When they

recognize the truth for themselves, they gladly and

joyfully give themselves in obedient service.

Some say that desire is the root cause of all pain and

sorrow. According to this philosophy, salvation consists

in eliminating all desire, including any desire for

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eternal bliss or communion with God. But when

someone is thirsty, do we tell him to kill his thirst instead

of giving him water to drink? To drive out thirst

without quenching it with life-sustaining water is to

drive out life itself. The result is death, not salvation.

Thirst is an expression of our need for water and a

sign of hope that somewhere there is water that can

satisfy our thirst. Similarly, the deep longing in our

soul is a clear sign of hope that spiritual peace exists.

Something can satisfy our thirsty souls. When the

soul finds God, the author of that spiritual thirst, it

receives far greater satisfaction than any thirsty man

who receives water. When the soul’s desire is satisfied,

we have found heaven.

The water of a river that has its source in one country

may flow through many different countries before

it reaches the sea. It passes within the domain of many

chiefs, rajahs, and princes. Yet no country has the

right to stop it and keep it within its territory. It is the

common property of all, and wherever it goes, it

quenches the thirst of all. In the same way, the stream

of life comes forth from the ocean of God’s love,

streaming to earth again as rain and then flowing as a

river through the channels of the prophets and holy

ones to irrigate the world. In this way, it quenches

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thirsty souls, enriching and restoring the lives of

people and nations everywhere. Whoever desires it

can freely take of this gift of life.

Seeker: If this life is freely given, then does God expect

nothing from us? Don’t we owe him some kind

of worship?

Sadhu: People are foolish to believe that they confer

some favor on God by their worship. Those who approach

worship with such an attitude know nothing

of the true nature of God. If we love God with all our

heart, mind, soul, and strength, and if we love our

neighbor as ourselves, then we will experience God’s

presence. This is worship. Eternal life will spring

forth in our hearts; the fire of love will melt and forge

us anew into the image of our creator.

The Master has said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

It is not hard to live for a few days in peace with

someone – even one who is unfriendly. But if someone

lives near us and annoys us day in and day out,

then it becomes a difficult task even to endure – much

less to love – that person. Yet if we can win through

this great struggle, then we will find it all the easier to

love others.

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God is love, and the ability to love is inborn in every

living creature, most especially in human beings.

It is only right therefore that the Lover who has given

us life and love itself should also receive love from us.

God’s love is creative and selfless, giving itself for the

joy and benefit of creation. If we do not love God

with all our heart and soul and mind and strength and

if we do not love others freely and selflessly, then the

love within us loses its divine character and turns to

selfishness. Love then becomes a curse. Ironically,

those who are selfish end up destroying themselves.

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avatara incarnation

Seeker: Sadhu-ji, I see that you live

in deep inner peace, and I, too, long to find this peace.

Can we imperfect mortals ever hope to experience

true oneness with God?

Sadhu: We all have a natural, inborn desire to see

God. But God is infinite and incomprehensible. No

one can see God without being of the same infinite

nature as God. We are finite, and so we cannot see

God. But God is love. He is also the source of our

craving to know and love him. Out of this love God

took on a form that is comprehensible to us mortal beings.

Through this act of love we can now share in the

joy of the angels by seeing and knowing God directly.

This is why the Master said: “Whoever has seen me

has seen the Father.”

God knows well the inner state of every human being

and reveals himself to each heart in accordance

with its needs. There is no better way for a person to

enter true spiritual life than by encountering God di

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rectly. God became man and dwelt among us so that

we might not fear him as something terrible and foreign,

but instead see that God is love.

Seeker: I can understand that the infinite God is incomprehensible

to us mortals. I can also understand

that the power, or spirit of God, is at work around us.

But how can this God be a man as well? This seems

impossible.

Sadhu: The Almighty God and God Incarnate and

God the Spirit are one. In the sun, there is heat and

light and they are all one. But the heat is not the light

and the light is not the heat. So it is with God. The

Master and the Spirit both proceed from the Father to

bring light and heat to the world. God the Spirit is fire

that burns away all evil, making our hearts pure and

holy. The Master is the true light that drives out all

darkness and leads us to bliss along the path of truth.

Yet all three are one, just as the sun is one.

Seeker: Tell me more about this Master of yours. Did

he write down instructions for us to follow like other

religious teachers?

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Sadhu: The Master never wrote anything down, nor

did he ask his followers to record his teachings. His

words are spirit and life. Spirit can only infuse spirit.

Life can only infuse life. The Master’s teaching cannot

be contained on the pages of a book. Other great

teachers left behind books to replace the living voice,

to guide and help their bereft followers. But the Master

did not do this, because he has not left us. He is always

with us, and his living voice guides and counsels

us. His followers recorded his teachings after his ascension

as a help to those who cannot yet perceive his

living presence. In the end, however, when people ask

me, “What made you a follower of the Master?” I can

only answer: the Master.

Seeker: But don’t your scriptures reveal the truth

about God?

Sadhu: They reveal much to us about the life and

teachings of the Master and about the nature of God’s

love. God the Spirit is the true author of the Bible, but

this does not mean that every word, taken on its own,

is holy or inspired. It is not the words in themselves,

but rather the meaning that is inspired. The language

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used by those who wrote the books of the Bible was

the language of everyday, not the language of spirit.

Only when we make direct contact with the author,

that is, with God the Spirit, can the meaning become

clear. Just as many do not understand the Master, so

too, they can not understand his words.

Seeker: I want to believe the truth of what you say,

for I see its fruits in the peace you experience, but it is

difficult for me to understand or accept.

Sadhu: God has created us with spiritual faculties and

powers, but these must be used or else they will decay

and be lost. Faith must be fixed on the living God or

else irreverence and sin will rule; they will lead to

doubt and ultimately destroy all faith.

Sometimes people say that they are ready to believe

in God if only this or that doubt is removed or satisfied.

Can one go to a doctor and ask that the pain of a

broken arm be removed before the bone is set? This

would be ridiculous because the pain is the result of

the break. Once the limb has been set, the pain will

pass away by itself. Doubts are spiritual pains that

arise from our sin. Irreverence has broken our spiritual

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oneness with God. We must first restore spiritual

union with God; then doubts with regard to the existence

of God or the divinity of the Master will disappear

on their own. Only then will the pain fade. Only

then will we experience the wonderful spiritual peace

that the world can neither give nor take away. The

Master reveals God to us so that the union between

God and us sinful humans might be restored. He has

opened the way for us to enter his heavenly realm.

Whoever sincerely seeks truth with an open heart will

find it revealed in the Master.

We do not need knowledge of Hebrew or Greek,

but we do need to be united with the Spirit. This Spirit

guided the prophets and followers who recorded his

words, and this spirit alone can reveal their true meaning

to us. The language of the Master is spiritual, and

we can only understand its meaning if we are awake in

spirit. We do not need to know or understand anything

about theological questions or criticisms. Indeed,

a child can most readily grasp the Master’s

teaching, for the child is still united with the spiritual

world from which it came. But those who possess wisdom

that is only of this world can never understand,

for the Master’s spirit is not in them.

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Seeker: If sin and irreverence have broken our relationship

with God, then can’t we restore it simply by

leading a righteous life?

Sadhu: A cobra remains a cobra, no matter how

many times it sheds its skin. There was once a village

girl who daily dusted the cobwebs from her house.

Once as she was doing this, she also prayed, “O God,

as I am cleaning this room, please also cleanse my

heart.” Then she heard a voice saying: “Daughter,

you will have to cleanse the room again and again as

long as the spiders remain. It is better that you drive

the spiders from your house.” But she was not able to

drive them out because they were hidden from her

and too clever to be caught. Likewise, we see the signs

of sin in our lives and struggle against them, but only

God can remove the roots of sin from our souls.

Some moral teachers and many religious leaders say,

“Do good works and you will become good people.” It

is absurd to suggest that a bitter tree will become sweet

by constantly bringing forth fruit. A bitter tree can only

become sweet by being grafted onto a sweet tree. The

life and qualities of the sweet tree can then flow with

its sap into the bitter tree, driving out all its inherent

bitterness. In this way the tree becomes a new creation,

capable of bearing sweet fruit.

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We may well have the longing to do what is right,

but everything we do is corrupted, tainted by our own

selfishness and sin. Only if we recognize our sinfulness,

as well as our inability to do what is right, and

turn to the Master who grafts us onto himself, do we

become new creations. Only then are we capable of

doing good works. So I say, “First become good, and

then you can perform good deeds.”

Once a young man fell over a cliff. By the time he

was rescued he had lost so much blood that he was almost

dead. His father rushed him to a doctor, but the

doctor said: “He will certainly die, unless someone

can be found who is willing to provide enough blood

for a massive transfusion.” Now the father’s heart

overflowed with such love for his son that he offered

his own blood, though he knew it would cost him his

own life. So by the sacrificial love of his father, the

young man was given new life. We, too, have fallen

headlong from the mountain of righteousness and lie

broken and wounded by sin, with our life fast ebbing

away. But if we turn to the Master, he freely gives us

his spiritual blood so that we might be saved from

death and regain life. Indeed, he came to us for this

very purpose.

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P A R A B L E

the lovers

God is love. In love, God created human beings

in his own image, to love their creator with heart and soul,

to rejoice in his endless love and to love one another. But because

of sin, we love created things. We have forgotten God’s

original love, the only genuine love. But sometimes it happens

that our distorted human love leads us back to divine love.

It is told that there was once a young man who belonged

to a respectable family and who, after finishing his studies and

other duties, used to go out for a walk in the jungle each evening.

His parents loved him dearly because of his good character,

amiable disposition, orderly habits, and obedience. He was

the pride of the family. One day he went farther than usual

into the jungle. In fear that darkness might overtake him, he

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frantically tried to find his way. Just as he reached the road, a

wild beast attacked and wounded him. With his last strength,

he drove off the beast, cried out for help and then collapsed

from shock and exhaustion.

Some distance away a beautiful girl was gathering firewood.

When this horrible cry reached her ears, she was at first

frightened, but she took courage and went to see who had

cried out so desperately. She found the handsome young man

lying half-conscious with no one nearby to help him. He was

badly wounded and bleeding heavily. She pitied him and led

him by the hand to the nearby river. She washed his wounds,

and tearing her own dress, she bandaged them. Then she

struggled to help him reach his own village.

Finally, they reached the house of the young man. His

parents and relatives were shocked to see him in such a frightful

state. They were also distressed to see him in the company

of the girl who was obviously poor and, in their eyes, quite beneath

his social position. When the young man and the girl

told their story, the lad’s parents thanked the girl for her help

and invited her to stay with them for the night, but they were

actually eager to see her on her way. Early in the morning, the

young man sent for her to express his deep gratitude. As soon

as he saw her bright and beautiful face glowing in the morning

light he was overwhelmed by her innocence, tenderness,

and beauty. He fell in love with her in that instant and made up

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his mind to marry her at all costs. But the girl belonged to a

very poor and low caste, and he knew this would be a great

obstacle to overcome.

After hearing the young man’s words of gratitude, the

girl headed home. On her way through the jungle, she picked

up the bundle of firewood she had left behind the day before

and reached her village about midday. About the same time,

her parents and relatives returned exhausted and desperate

from their fruitless search through the night. Needless to say,

they were greatly astonished to find the girl at home. The girl

told the whole story in all simplicity and honesty, but nobody

believed her. Her elder brother doubted her character and

chastity and thought that she had run away and disgraced the

name of the whole family. Her father beat the innocent girl

black and blue and forbade her to step out of the house.

In time, the young man heard about how she had been

treated, and so he decided to visit her. He went to her village

and told her parents the whole story, but they did not believe him

either, for there was no witness to verify it. The girl, who was

listening eagerly to the young man, remained silent. The sweetness

of his words and the brightness of his face mesmerized her.

When he had left, she told her parents, “If you doubt my chastity,

then please let me marry this young man.” But her parents

were very angry and refused. On his return home, the young

man told his parents that he loved the girl who had rescued him

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and wanted to marry her. They became red with rage, punished

him severely, and said: “Can’t you find any better girl than this

one of low and poor caste? Why do you want to disgrace our

respectable family?”

Eventually, the young man slipped away unobserved, and

went to the village of his beloved. By chance, she was alone in

the house that day. So they talked together freely and frankly.

They were able to meet a number of times in this way and their

love grew ever deeper. But their parents were angry and bitterly

spoke against their children’s wishes. It thus became increasingly

difficult for them to see each other. So they arranged to

meet late at night when others were asleep. Sometimes the

young man waited outside the girl’s village and sometimes the

girl waited near her lover’s room.

One night there was an accident. The girl fell down a

steep bank behind the boy’s house and injured her leg. The

young man heard the noise and came out at once. He discovered

that her leg was broken, took her to the hospital, and

made all the necessary arrangements for her care. He went

daily to see her. After some days she felt much better. When

her parents finally found out where she was, they took her

away from the hospital and hid her with some relatives in a distant

village.

The next day the young man went to the hospital as

usual, but was confused when he did not find her there. The

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doctor in charge of the ward told him that she had recovered

and that her parents had taken her home. The young man ran

at once to her village, but she was not there. He feared that

she had deceived him and had run away with some other man.

Nevertheless, he missed her terribly and worried constantly. He

could not find any clue where she might be. The girl also worried

and wept bitterly day and night. Days passed but she

heard nothing from her lover, so she also thought that perhaps

he had forgotten her and had fallen in love with some other

girl. In addition, her parents were arranging for her to marry

another man.

One day, when her family was asleep, the girl slipped out

and ran to her lover’s house. Calling at his window, she discovered

that he was not there. She wept bitterly, saying: “Alas! My

parents and relatives are now my enemies. The man to whom I

gave my heart has also left me. I cannot live another day in this

world that is now hell to me.” Thinking thus, she turned her

steps toward the very river where she had once washed her

lover’s wounds. There, she jumped into the water, intending to

end her life.

Nearby, her lover sat behind a large rock, absorbed in his

thoughts and entirely unaware of the presence of his beloved.

Hearing the sound of someone falling in the water, he leapt in

and rescued the girl. It was all like a dream. He held the unconscious

form of his beloved on his lap. After a few minutes, she

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revived and looked up into the dear face of her lover. All the

bitterness of her life vanished in the twinkling of an eye. They

embraced and kissed each other. At first, they were so overcome

by joy that neither could speak. For half an hour they

embraced each other with the deepest affection. Then they

began to converse:

Lover: My beloved, how did you fall into the water? If I

had not been here, your life would have ended.

Beloved: My darling, I waited so long for you and you

didn’t come. Then I went to your house to see you. When

I did not find you there, I came here in despair and

jumped into the river. There was no other way to put out

the fire of separation and end the bitterness of my life.

Without you my life appeared to me like hell. But tell me,

why did you come here?

Lover: I came here with a similar determination. When

you disappeared from the hospital I wandered about,

searching long for you, but you were nowhere to be found.

In my despair, I became weary of my life and wanted to

die rather than face another day without you. I was on the

point of committing suicide when I heard you leap into

the water. Had you delayed even a few minutes, we both

would have lost our lives in the same river, this river where

you once washed my wounds. What a marvelous thing!

Here you once saved my life and now it is I who have

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saved yours. Today we have both received a new life. Let

us therefore lead it in a new way.

Surely, it was not we ourselves, but God who has given

us this new life and united us again. As a sign of our

gratitude we should now worship him and walk according

to his will, because he alone is the source of life. Let

us go to the man of prayer who once came to me and

comforted me when I was lonely and heartbroken. His

words of sympathy applied a wonderful and soothing

balm to my aching wounds. It was he who told me that

without the love of the Creator, the love of the creature is

incomplete and can only breed restlessness and grief. I

learned that God is always with us and that real happiness

is found only in his presence. So, let us go to that

man of prayer and he will marry us.

Beloved: My only longing is to follow you wherever you

go and to serve you with all my heart and soul. Yes, I am

ready to give my life to God and to you. A Hindu widow

willingly gives herself to be burnt alive with the dead

body of her husband. Would it not be shameful, if I am

not ready to give my life in service to the living God and

to his servant, my dear husband? But what will become

of us? I am of a very poor and low caste. Our parents are

already very angry and will never accept our marriage.

Lover: My beloved, had I taken pride in caste or social

standing, I would never have loved you in the first place.

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The class system is a curse that the proud and selfish use

to separate people from one another. We are all children

of the one God. If my parents will not welcome you, then

we will move somewhere else and make our own way.

No one should separate what God has joined together.

Let us simply trust in him.

So they went to the man of prayer and explained the whole

situation to him. He gladly married them and sent them on

their way with his blessing. They returned to the city, rented a

small house and worked hard to earn their living. Even the

richest people, with their palaces and worldly comforts, would

envy the life of peace, love, and happiness that those young

lovers enjoyed in their poverty. Along with their love for each

other, they were also filled with the bliss of divine love. They

gave themselves heart and soul in the service of God and he

blessed them in every way.

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karma bondage

Seeker: Sadhu-ji, you say that it is

our sinfulness that has broken our spiritual oneness

with God. Why did God allow such evil to enter the

world?

Sadhu: Apart from God nothing can be created, for

God is the author of all that is. God is good and has

created nothing harmful or detrimental, for that

would be against his nature. Evil does not create, but

only corrupts and perverts what God has created. Sin

is not a part of God’s creation. It has no independent

existence. Sin is the delusive and destructive state of

those who abandon truth and who, in irreverence,

seek to satisfy their own selfish desires. We may think

that we can obtain happiness by abandoning God’s

will and following our own whims and passions, but

the result is not true happiness.

Think of light and darkness. Darkness is the absence

of light. It is the same with sin: sin is the absence

of what is good and true. Evil is terrible because

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people drive themselves to utter destruction – shipwrecked

on the rocks for lack of a guiding light. For

this reason, the Master who is light became God Incarnate.

All who see his guiding light and follow the

way it leads will safely pass through to the blessed

haven where darkness is no more.

Seeker: But if God is almighty, why did he not create

human beings so that they could not fall into the dark

state of sin?

Sadhu: Sin arises because people deliberately violate

God’s order. Of course, God could prevent this by

creating human beings differently. But then we would

be like obedient puppets or machines, incapable of experiencing

the bliss that can only be reached by freely

choosing the good. Adam and Eve lived in sinless bliss,

but they were free to choose God’s will and direction

or to follow their own appetites. Even Lucifer knew

nothing of pride, a state that had never existed before

he held himself to be God’s equal. So through the

choice of angels and human beings, sin arose. But God

is almighty and can even transform evil into an opening

for new and glorious ends. Firstly, God became

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incarnate to release us from the cycle of sin and death,

thus revealing God’s boundless, self-giving love in a

way that would otherwise have remained unknown.

Secondly, since we have tasted the bitterness and inevitable

consequences of sin, we delight all the more

in our release from its clutches – just as the sweetness

of honey gives greater pleasure after the taste of bitterness.

In unending unity with God, we are free to

serve him with reverence and obedience.

Seeker: Modern philosophy, however, teaches that

moral values are relative. They are products of history

and culture. How then can one say that people

are sinful?

Sadhu: It is said that a person suffering from jaundice

sees everything with a yellow tint. People whose lives

are colored by sin or guided only by the understanding

of their minds also see reality colored by their own

infirmity. When we shape and fashion spiritual truths

according to our own ideas, it is not surprising if, in

the end, we reject not only moral values, but also the

reality of God. But the Master’s work is to release

seeking hearts from sin and death. He continues this

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work in the hearts of those who seek his help without

regard to the opinion of others.

The blindness that sin brings about can be illustrated

in many ways. Leprosy makes one’s limbs

numb and insensitive to pain and injury. People affected

with this disease unwittingly receive wounds

and allow the injuries to fester until the body is no

longer able to survive. In the same way, sin deadens

the heart and clouds the mind until people no longer

have any sense of shame or disgust. Eventually, however,

their eyes will be opened and they will see how

sin has damaged and ravaged their souls; then there

will be great sorrow and pain.

Many people are immersed in sin and don’t even

notice its great weight – just like a diver may be covered

by tons of water without feeling its load. But if

when the diver emerges from the water he tries to

carry even a small bucket full, he will feel how heavy

it is. The Master came to seek and save those who

struggle with the burden of sin. He freely gives us rest

and release from sin, but first we must feel the weight

of it and turn to him for help.

People may not even be aware of their mortal danger.

They are like the hunter who caught sight of a

honeycomb on the branch of a tree overhanging a

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river. Catching sight of the honey, he forgot everything

else and quickly climbed up. The honey was

sweet and he was so enchanted by its flavor that he did

not notice the alligators waiting in the stream below.

Nor did he see that around the foot of the tree, wolves

had gathered. Worst of all, he didn’t notice that the

tree itself was infested with termites and was not

strong enough to bear his weight. While he was still

enjoying the honey, the tree fell and the hunter fell

prey to the alligators. So too, the human spirit enjoys

for a time the pleasant but fleeting delights of the

senses, forgetting that the world is like a jungle

fraught with dangers of every kind. Sin gnaws at the

very foundation of our lives, threatening to fling us to

our spiritual deaths.

The evil of this world lures us with clever words

and beguiling enticements like certain snakes that fascinate

small birds with their glittering eyes until they

can devour them. Or think of the moth that gives no

thought to the burning, destructive power of the fire.

Fascinated by the flashing brilliance of the flame, it

rushes to its own death. Likewise we often see only

the allurements of the material world, seeking quick

gratification of our own urges, and so rush headlong

into spiritual death.

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Once in the depth of winter, a bird of prey was busy

feasting on a corpse that was floating toward a waterfall.

When the bird came near the falls he wanted to

leave the corpse and escape. But his claws were frozen

to it and he could not fly away. He fell into the roaring

waters and died a miserable death. Likewise, if we allow

sin to numb our consciences, we become powerless

to escape death and danger ahead, no matter how

we struggle to escape.

By turning to the Master, however, and building

our lives on him, we are saved from certain death and

granted spiritual life that no one can take away. The

Master frees us completely from the life-destroying

seductions of this world. He sets our souls free from every

bondage. Overcoming the attractions of the world,

we mount on wings of prayer into the spiritual realms

where our souls find peace in God’s unfailing love.

Seeker: Has not Confucius said that those who respect

the main principles of human conduct need not

worry about their faults and lapses in smaller issues?

They are excused. Why then do you say that all sin is

dangerous, even dangerous enough to destroy our

souls?

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Sadhu: Not every organ in the body fails before the

body dies. If the heart or brain fails, then life ends

even if the other organs are healthy and strong. In the

same way, the poisonous effect of one sin may destroy

the spiritual life not only of a single soul, but also of a

whole family or nation, even of the whole human

race. Such was the sin of Adam. But remember, just as

one word from the Master was enough to call the dead

back to life, so one word is enough to restore spiritual

life to those who have lost it.

If a wild animal or bird is tamed and then returns to

the wild, its own kind may reject or even kill it, rather

than accepting it as one of their own. They sense that

long association with humans has affected its habits

and manners. In the same way, the holy ones of the

spiritual world cannot tolerate those who associate

with evil and who have thereby corrupted their spiritual

nature. Such people are alien intruders in the

spiritual realm and they will not be at home there.

Even in this world, sinful people despise and avoid the

company of spiritual people. How then will they find

joy in the eternal world of spirit? For them, heavenly

bliss will be a living hell.

In this world, a traitor against king and country

may escape punishment by seeking refuge in another

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country. But where shall we flee if we rebel against

God? Wherever we go – in the physical or in the

spiritual world – God is ever present. Our only refuge

is to seek forgiveness and release from God.

Seeker: So is it true that, if we do not plead for mercy,

God will send us to hell and punish us eternally for

our sins? How is this perfect love?

Sadhu: Do not suppose that God casts sinners into

hell. God is love and has no desire for anyone to suffer

spiritual torment. But our own corrupt and sinful life

deprives us of spiritual bliss. Heaven or hell is established

in our souls and by our own choosing, long before

our lives in this world come to an end. Sin is not an

illusion or a fantasy. It is a real spiritual state. In this

state, the human will separates itself from the divine

and thus introduces the seeds of its own destruction.

God condemns no one to hell. No, it is we sinners

who do the condemning. We condemn ourselves. Too

many hearts are in a condition that they can only feel

at home in hell – that is, outside the peace of the Master.

God allows everyone to come to his kingdom. Indeed,

he invites everyone most earnestly to come in,

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but if we prefer a life of sin, it is torture for us to stay

there.

Pain and disease are not products of the imagination.

They are all too real and we see how some diseases,

like smallpox, can in a short time destroy the

beauty of human skin, turning it into repulsive ugliness.

Whoever longs to escape spiritual torment and

death should therefore turn to the Master. He offers us

release from sin and its consequences. His presence in

our hearts and the influence of his Spirit rescue us

from hell and lead us to eternal bliss as God’s spiritual

children.

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moksa release

Seeker: Sadhu-ji, you say that our

sinfulness has separated us from God and yet our destiny

is to live in oneness with him. How can we overcome

the separation?

Sadhu: First, we must see that we have become unclean

through our own sinfulness. We may try to

cover this sinfulness with good works, but our good

works are like dirty rags unless our hearts are cleansed

first. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit

and were ashamed at their own nakedness, they tried

to cover themselves with fig leaves. But fig leaves

were too scanty a covering, so God gave them coats

of skins to clothe themselves. Our attempts at good

deeds are not enough to overcome our sinful inclinations.

Nothing will protect us except the robes of

righteousness the Master freely gives us.

Many of us have learned by bitter experience that

our own efforts at goodness can give us neither peace

of heart nor certainty of eternal happiness. When a

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rich young man approached the Master and asked how

he might gain eternal life, he said, “Good Master!”

and the Master rebuked him saying: “Why do you call

me good? There is no one good except One.” This

young man had lived a devout life in accordance with

religious law, but he lacked true peace of heart. The

Master could see that he wanted to be good and upright,

but he failed to recognize that the Master himself

was the source of life. When the Master offered

no rules or commandments and instead offered him

the chance to give away all his possessions to the poor,

to abandon his inner uncertainty and to enter into

the Master’s company, the man went away sad and

unfulfilled.

If good works and religious observance had given

the young man spiritual peace, he would not have

sought out the Master in the first place. Not only did

his moral efforts fail to give him peace, they hindered

him from accepting the Master’s offer. Not long afterward,

an equally zealous man named Saul encountered

the Master. Unlike the rich young man, Saul

immediately left everything, gave up all he had and

followed him. Everyone who ceases to trust in human

goodness, and turns to the Master for release, shall receive

true peace and spiritual life.

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Seeker: Does God really forgive us for what we have

done wrong? Is this what you mean by salvation or

release?

Sadhu: God is love and forgives us freely. But God

does even more than this. Forgiveness alone is not

enough to release us from our sins. Complete release

only comes when we are free from the urge to sin. It is

completely possible for us to receive forgiveness and

still die from the consequences of our sin. The Master

came not only to announce our forgiveness, but also

to deliver us from the disease of our sin, from its consequences

and from death – to break the relentless

cycle of sin and death.

Consider the man who suffered from a debilitating

disease of the brain. At times it would cause him to act

irrationally and unpredictably. Under the influence of

one such attack, he unwittingly struck out and killed

another man. At trial, he was sentenced to death. But

when his relatives appealed for mercy and explained

the medical reasons for his temporary insanity, the

governor granted clemency and pardoned him. But

before his friends and relatives reached the prison to

share this good news, the man had died as a result of

his illness. So he gained nothing from the governor’s

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pardon. Quite apart from the pardon, he needed treatment

for his disease. Only then might he have lived to

enjoy his release.

It is treatment we need, not just forgiveness. In

ancient times, religious law forbade people to drink

the blood of animals or to eat certain foods. These

customs undoubtedly arose from the belief that such

foods caused certain illnesses or, perhaps, that they

would foster some savage animal behaviour. The

Master has said, “My flesh is food indeed and my

blood is drink indeed,” for they provide spiritual

health and life.

Seeker: This teaching is hard. Who can accept it?

Sadhu: After the children of Israel fled slavery in

Egypt, they lost faith in God and grumbled about all

they had to endure. Things became much worse when

they came to a place infested with poisonous snakes,

where many were bitten and died. Then the people

were sorry for their grumbling, and they asked Moses

to pray to God for relief from the snakes. Moses prayed

and was directed in a vision to make a snake of bronze

and set it high on a pole. Anyone who was bitten had

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only to look upon the bronze snake, and the poison of

the snakebite was made harmless.

Now, there were some who still grumbled and murmured,

“If Moses would provide an antidote or some

medicine against the poison, that we could believe,

but what effect can a bronze snake have on real snake

bites?” So in their unbelief, they refused to turn to the

bronze snake, and they died. In the same way, the

Master provides release from the deadly poison of sin

if we turn to him in faith. Those who refuse to believe

because they cannot understand the work of the Master

with their minds will perish. But they will perish

from the poison of their own unbelief.

Remember that the heart, not the head, is the

temple of God. Spiritual and religious ideas are matters

of the heart – not the head. If our hearts are filled

with the presence of God, then our minds will also

find enlightenment. Our physical eyes are useless, unless

the light of day illuminates the world around us.

Similarly, our minds and the eyes of our understanding

are useless without the spiritual light of truth. The

wisdom and understanding of the mind can easily be

turned to clever instruments of evil if they are not

subjected to the light of spiritual truth.

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The Wise Men followed the star to Bethlehem. But

when they reached Bethlehem, they no longer needed

the star, for they had found the Master, the sun of

righteousness. When the sun rises, stars lose their radiance.

In India we have many genuine truth seekers

who faithfully follow their star, but it is only starlight

that guides them. In the Master we have the glory of

the sun.

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P A R A B L E

the prince and the thief

There was once a king who had a son. The

prince was just and good, like his father. However, he knew

nothing whatsoever of the condition of his people – how they

lived and what they needed – because he lived in the palace

and rarely saw any of the common people. So one day, he decided

to live among them for a time and study their life so that

he could help them when he became king. With his father’s

permission, he left the royal palace and lived among the people

as an ordinary merchant. No one, except some of his courtiers,

knew that he was the prince in disguise. Thus he lived and

grew to know the lives of his people. He came to understand

the ins and outs of their private and social lives and made plans

and arrangements to serve them better.

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As a merchant, he had to deal with all kinds of people,

and he encountered all sorts and shades of characters. He was

especially distressed to see how many people resorted to lies

and frauds, selfishness and cruelty, theft and wickedness in

order to make money for themselves. With his father’s help, he

often secretly aided the innocent victims of such unscrupulous

characters. Nevertheless, he loved even those who had fallen

into evil ways, and never injured those who deceived and

maltreated him. He always forgave them and tried to help

them change their ways. Many were reformed and became

law-abiding citizens of his father’s kingdom, although some

did not.

Now, there was a thief who had so often injured innocent

people and robbed them of their earnings, that the prince

saw no option but to have him imprisoned. When the thief got

out of jail, he wanted revenge against the prince whom he

supposed to be an ordinary merchant. He entered the prince’s

hut to steal everything of value, but the prince overpowered

him and admonished him for his shameful behavior: “You

should work hard and earn your living in a respectable way,”

he told the thief. “If you needed anything, you should have

spoken to me and I would not have refused your request. You

disgrace yourself when you injure innocent people and steal

their things. This is not right at all. You think that you are hurting

others, but you are actually harming yourself. If you do not

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change your ways, you will surely come to grief on the judgment

day. In hopes that you will see the folly of your ways, I

forgive you this one last time. Do not mention this matter to

anyone else, but use this chance that is given to you. You will

not escape punishment the next time.”

For some time, the thief kept himself in line. But after a

few months, his old nature reared its ugly head again. One

day, he set out to rob people in a distant village. Now in that

village, there was a poor widow whose husband had died a

year after their marriage. After his death she gave birth to a

son. The sudden death of her dear husband was really a great

shock to her and, sadly, she had no relatives or friends to aid

her. But as she was a devout and God-fearing woman, she

found peace and happiness in the worship and presence of her

God, even in the midst of all her hardships.

Her son cheered her and helped her to forget the woes

of the past. She raised him in the faith, fear, and love of God.

She patiently endured all hardships and troubles, working very

hard to make a living and to educate her son properly. In her

need, she faced many trials and temptations and bravely overcame

them all. At one point, when she was so poor that she

could not provide milk for her son, some wicked young men

tried to take advantage of her situation and lure her into immorality.

But she watched and prayed, and through God’s

help, she remained faithful to what she knew was right.

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In time, the widow’s son grew to manhood and secured

a good post in the city. He had to leave his dear mother behind

in the village, but he faithfully sent her money every month. At

the time of this story, the son had just returned to visit his

mother after two years’ absence. Embracing each other, their

hearts overflowed with joy, and tears flowed from their eyes. It

was a wonderful and moving scene. The son bowed in respect

and honor at his mother’s feet and put before her all the

money he had saved for her to live out her days in comfort and

security. The mother had also put aside some money every

month from her small earnings for the day when her son

would marry. Rejoicing in their long-awaited reunion, they

placed these tokens of their mutual love in a purse, then ate

and talked together for a long time.

Afterwards, they went to bed expecting to rise and see

the next morning with joy and gratitude. But alas! No one

knew that before the sun flashed in the eastern skies their

tears of joy would turn into tears of sorrow and grief. For while

the widow and her son were fast asleep the same thief, whom

the prince had forgiven, broke into the hut searching for valuables.

Just as he discovered the money in the purse, the widow

and son awoke and discovered him. Thinking only of escaping

with the purse, the thief attacked them with a sharp knife.

What a tragic scene! The son lay dead on the floor in a pool of

blood. The poor widow hardly noticed her own wounds. She

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screamed helplessly, fainted, and fell down on her son’s dead

body. Neighbors rushed to help, but they were bewildered and

stunned to find the son dead and the mother lying senseless

on top of him.

In the morning, the widow recovered a little from her

swoon and three or four women helped her in the funeral procession,

while the neighbors carried her son’s coffin to the village

cemetery. But as the coffin was laid in the grave, the

mother fainted again. As the people tried to rouse her, they

discovered that she had breathed her last. Killed by grief, she

was buried with her son in the same grave. The entire kingdom

was enraged at the news of this tragedy. A large reward was

offered for the capture of the culprit. Some people suspected

the thief, but no one had any evidence. Months passed without

any progress in the case.

About this same time, the king became very ill and the

prince returned to the palace to nurse his father. After some

days, the old king died, and when news of his death reached

the people, they lamented greatly. After the days of public

mourning, the prince succeeded his father and was crowned

king. On his coronation day, crowds of people had gathered

from the four corners of his kingdom. Many of them were astonished

to recognize the prince as the man who had lived

among them as a merchant. During the reign of this new king,

all the people prospered and the country progressed, because

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he knew his people well. He knew from his own experience

how to deal with them and how to improve their condition.

Finally, the time came when wickedness should reap its

evil harvest. One day, the thief was drinking and enjoying himself

in a wine merchant’s shop. That day he drank so much that

he became senselessly drunk. He began to talk stupidly, and

without realizing what he was saying, he confessed his guilt: “I

killed the widow’s son. With his money I enjoyed life. Now I

defy any man who dares to catch me.” He had hardly finished

speaking when he was arrested and put in jail. After he came

to his senses, he regretted his stupidity and unsuccessfully tried

many tricks to escape his fate.

The next day he appeared in the court of a magistrate,

but because of the seriousness of the offence, the magistrate

sent his case to the king. As soon as the thief saw the king he

turned white as a ghost. He knew it would be useless for him

to try and talk his way out of anything, for he at once recognized

the king as the merchant who had taken pity on him.

The king asked him, “Do you recognize me?” “Yes, Your Majesty,”

the thief replied. Then the king asked further, “Do you

wish to defend yourself?” “No, Your Majesty,” he said. The

king added: “Look here. I admonished you repeatedly, years

ago, and had forgiven you. I gave you ample time to reform

and become a good and law-abiding citizen. But you did not

listen. You wasted all your precious opportunities and now

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your sin has found you out. Not only has your sin revealed you,

but it also cries out against you and convicts you. Through your

crime, you have determined your own fate.” The thief was

taken from the king’s presence and executed.

In the same way, we will all be judged on the last day

when God judges the living and the dead. The Master lived on

earth as the son of man. He knows every one of us well. He

cries out to us: “Now is the hour of pardon! Now is the day of

salvation.” If we are indifferent to a salvation as great as that

now offered to us, our sins will surely convict us and lead us to

death.

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dyva vileenam oneness with god

Seeker: Sadhu-ji, your teaching promises

release from attachment to this world. Please

tell me more about this spiritual freedom.

Sadhu: So many people are impressed by human ingenuity

and our ability to tap the power of lightning,

wind, light, and all the other myriad forces of nature.

Yet, to overcome the passions and seductions of this

world and to gain mastery over oneself is truly a much

greater achievement. By leading a life of prayer, we

receive from God the gift to dwell in the spiritual

realm even while we remain in the material world. If

we live in prayer, no force of evil or temptation can

overcome us; we remain in safe communion with God

without any fear. If we abandon the gift of prayer, we

become like well-trained animals and no longer recognize

our own imperfection, our relationship with

God, or our responsibility for our neighbors.

Once the Master took three of his followers with him

onto a mountain. There they experienced spiritual real

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ity so intensely, that for a short time they saw something

of the Master’s divine glory. They were so captivated

by that glimpse of the divine, they wanted to consecrate

that place and remain there. How much more

wonderful will it be when we enter fully into the spiritual

realm and behold the unfading majesty of God.

Seeker: But isn’t God everywhere? Can’t we experience

God by communing with nature and the world

around us?

Sadhu: Both water and oil come from the earth. And

though they are similar in many ways, they are opposites

in their nature and their purpose. One extinguishes

fire, the other gives fuel to the fire. Similarly,

the world and its treasures are creations of God along

with the soul and its thirst for spiritual truth. But if we

try to quench the thirst of our soul with the wealth and

pride and honors of this world, then it is like trying to

extinguish fire with oil. The soul will only find peace

and contentment in the One who created it along with

its longing. When we turn to the living Master, we receive

water that satisfies our soul. This water is a well

of spiritual life that springs up deep within us.

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It is pointless to seek peace in the things of this

world. Peace and satisfaction are not to be found

there. It is like the boy who found an onion and peeled

away layer after layer, hoping to find something inside.

When he had peeled away the innermost skin, he

found nothing else. So this physical existence and all

that it contains is empty and hollow until we discover

the true source of peace. The water of life cannot be

contained in earthen tanks, but those who approach

the Risen One with a pure heart will find the answer.

Seeker: Are you saying that this material world is

completely evil?

Sadhu: We must live in this world, and we can do so

without losing our true spiritual nature. The things of

this world need not harm us. Indeed, they can help us

to grow spiritually. But this is only possible if we continually

turn our hearts to the sun of righteousness.

Sometimes we come to a filthy, polluted place and

find flowers blooming and giving off a sweet fragrance

that overcomes even the stench around them.

The plants are turned to the sun and receive its life

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sustaining light. The filth does not harm them, but actually

nourishes and mulches them so that they grow

all the more richly. It is similar when we pray and turn

our hearts to the sun of wholeness. We receive lifegiving

light and warmth so that our blossoming spiritual

lives give off a gentle fragrance. Out of these

gentle blossoms grow undying fruits.

When we neglect our spiritual life, then the same

material things that are provided for our support become

a poisonous curse. The sun provides light and

warmth so that plants can grow and bloom, but the

same sun withers and destroys the plant if its roots no

longer draw in water. In the same way, air is a source

of life and strength, but it is also the catalyst for rotting

and decay. So watch and pray that you are rooted

in life and not in death.

We all know that we cannot live without water. But

while we need and use water, we must also watch that

we do not slip beneath the surface. In the same way,

we need the things of this material world, but we must

exercise caution. God created earthly things for people

to use. But we must not immerse ourselves in them or

we will drown the breath of prayer and die.

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Seeker: I cannot grasp what this means, to live in the

world without immersing ourselves in it. Can you

make this clearer?

Sadhu: Think of the ship; it belongs in the water, but

water must not come into the ship – that would be disastrous.

Similarly, it is right and fitting that we live in

this world, and if we stay above the surface, then we

can reach the safe harbor of life – and help others to

do so. But it would be our demise if the world penetrated

into our hearts. The spiritual person holds the

heart free for the One who created it.

Waterfowl swim on the water, in constant contact

with it, but when they fly, their feathers are free of

water. So it is with those who pray: we live in constant

contact with this material world, but when we rise in

prayer, our spirits ascend into bliss without fault or

blemish.

The creatures of the sea live their entire lives in salt

water. Yet, when we taste their flesh, we find that it is

not salty. It is the same with us. If we maintain an active

prayer life, if we turn constantly to the source of life,

we remain free of the world’s corrupting influence.

Just as the bee gathers the sweet juice of the flowers

and turns it into honey without harming their color or

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fragrance, so we gather in prayer the joys and benefits

from all of creation. As the bees gather honey from

various flowers and various places into the honeycomb,

so we gather precious thoughts and experiences

from every part of creation and, in communion with

God, store them as honey of truth in our hearts. Then

with boundless peace of spirit, we taste the honey

wherever we are.

Seeker: As long as our souls are confined within material

bodies, how can we ever really escape the corrupting

influence of the material world?

Sadhu: The saltwater of the sea evaporates under the

heat of the sun and rises into the sky. There it gathers

into clouds and in time falls again to the earth, but

now as sweet, refreshing rain. In rising from the sea,

the water leaves behind all salt and impurity. So it is

with our thoughts and desires in prayer. The sun of

righteousness illuminates our souls and enables our

thoughts and desires to rise up into the spiritual realm

free from impurity. Then they return to us bringing

refreshment and blessings to many.

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Some plants close their leaves and flowers at sunset,

opening up again with the gentle morning sunlight.

They use the hours of daylight to take in the warmth

and light, and this sustains them through the cold and

dark of night. In the same way, if we open our hearts

to the sun of righteousness, we are preserved even

through the dangers and hardships of darkness, and

we grow into the fullness and stature of the Master.

Some sea creatures have such a delicate structure

that even the splash of a wave will tear them to shreds.

They are so sensitive to the atmosphere around them,

that if there is any hint of a change in the weather,

they sink into the ocean depths beyond the reach of

storms and waves. We, too, must be sensitive to the

atmosphere around us. When the storm of evil and

suffering threatens to tear us apart, we must dive at

once into the ocean of God’s love where there is eternal

calm.

Seeker: Is it true then, beloved Sadhu, that one can

experience miraculous protection through prayer?

Sadhu: I have experienced many dangers in my travels,

often because intolerant people wished to see me

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come to harm. Once near Kailas, I asked directions to

the nearest village. Out of spite, the villagers deliberately

sent me down a dangerous jungle path. As night

came on, I came to a river that blocked my path and

there was still no village to be seen. Already in the

dusk, I could hear the sounds of wild animals nearby.

With no way to cross the river, I sat down and prayed,

thinking that the end of my life was at hand. When I

looked up, I saw a man on the other side of the river

beside a fire. He called to me: “Do not be afraid! I am

coming to help you.” I was astonished to see him

wade purposefully across the swift river. Coming up

to me, he said, “Sit on my shoulders and have no

fear.” As easily as before, he walked straight across

the current with me on his back. He set me down on

the far bank, and as I walked beside him, both he and

the fire disappeared.

Another evening, I was driven out of a village by

an angry crowd, wielding clubs. They drove me into

the forest until I came to a rock face and could go no

further. There I huddled among the stones waiting for

them to attack me and batter me to death. But nothing

happened. After it was quiet for a time, I looked

around and there was no sign of my tormentors. I

built a fire, tended my wounds and slept at that same

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place. In the morning, I awoke to the sight of several

men staring at me fearfully from a distance. Cautiously,

they approached and offered me food and

drink, asking, “Sadhu-ji, who were those men in shining

robes who stood around you last night?”

Once, at a town called Rasar in Tibet, I was taken

before the head Lama and accused of heresy because I

shared freely about the Master’s work in freeing us

from our sin. An angry mob dragged me to the edge

of town, stripped me of all my clothes and cast me

into a dry well that was then locked shut with a lid. My

arm was injured in the fall, but worse than the pain

was the smell. Many others had suffered the same fate

and wherever I reached in the darkness I could feel

bones and rotting flesh. The smell was vile. It was like

hell. There I was tempted to doubt: “Where is the

Master now? Why has he allowed this to happen?”

But I also remember a sense of peace, a certainty that

the Master was there with me.

I do not know how long I had been in the well, perhaps

two or three days, when I heard a grating sound

overhead. Someone was opening the lock and dragging

away the lid. A rope came down and a voice

commanded me to take hold of the rope. I grasped it

with all my remaining strength and was dragged up

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into the night air. As I lay on the ground, breathing in

the fresh air, I could hear the well being closed and

locked again. When I looked around, I couldn’t see

anyone. I do not know who rescued me, but in my

heart, I know that it was the Master.

The next day, I went again into the village and

started to teach those who would listen. Some people

dragged me again before the Lama, and I told him the

whole story of my rescue. He was very angry and ordered

that a search be made for the man who had

taken the key to the lid. But when he discovered that

the key still hung on his own belt, he was speechless.

He ordered me to leave the village at once, lest my

Master should punish him and the village.

Seeker: I find it difficult to believe that such amazing

things are possible. Can we really move God through

prayer to alter the natural course of events?

Sadhu: The scientific mind does not grasp how the

author of life holds in his hands the created laws of

nature. It is God who establishes the laws of nature.

Thus, it is foolish to suggest that miracles violate the

laws of nature. There are actually higher laws about

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which we know little or nothing. In prayer, we can

come to gradually recognize these higher laws. Then,

we understand that miracles are not only possible but

even natural.

In very cold places, it is quite common for the surface

of a river to freeze over while the water still flows

beneath. I have crossed many such rivers safely and

easily. But if I travel in tropical regions and tell people

that there are bridges of solid water across flowing

rivers and that I myself have walked across such

bridges, then they shake their heads in complete bewilderment

and argue that such a thing is impossible.

Likewise, those who live only by the senses and by

reason are utterly ignorant of the spiritual life and

what things are possible through prayer.

God is spirit and God’s ways are spiritual. Spiritual

things cannot be grasped by human reason; they can

only be seen with spiritual eyes. The greatest miracle

is to be born in the spirit, to experience true peace.

Once we personally experience the Master and how he

has shattered the relentless cycle of sin and death and

released us from our own sinful nature, we know that

all things are possible with God. Once we have experienced

this greatest of miracles, all other miracles

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seem small by comparison. That a poor, restless, impure,

fallen soul can receive God’s forgiveness and

taste the Master’s peace – this is the miracle of miracles.

Whoever believes in this miracle believes in all

miracles.

In great fear or anger or madness, a person can do

extraordinary feats that seem far beyond human

strength – like breaking iron chains. Clearly, this

strength is latent within the human body and only

comes to expression when the entire energy and concentration

of mind and body is directed toward a

single purpose. In meditation, our spiritual strength is

similarly focused. Divine power flows through us,

overcoming the chains of sin and spurring us to marvellous

spiritual feats. But beware! Consider the power

of guns and bombs that wreak destruction and devastation.

Spiritual power can also be used for evil ends.

Seeker: God will truly grant whatever we pray for?

Sadhu: Some people think that we alter God’s will

and plans through prayer, but it is actually our hearts

that are changed. The unfulfilled potential of our soul

is ever striving to reach beyond the limitations of this

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imperfect life. When a bird first lays her eggs and begins

to brood and warm them, there is only formless

liquid inside. But as the mother continues to cover

them with her own body, the liquid inside is transformed.

It becomes solid and takes on the form of the

mother. Similarly, our prayer does not change God.

Rather, it is we who are transformed into the glory

and image of God.

We do not pray to inform God of our needs. We

pray in order to open our hearts to the giver of all

blessings. When the Master departed from his disciples

he did not pour the Spirit out onto them the

same day. They needed a period of special inner

preparation before they were ready for this gift. If we

receive God’s blessing without expecting it and without

being inwardly prepared for it, we will appreciate

neither the gift nor will we hold onto it for long. It was

the same with Saul, the first king of Israel. He was not

seeking to serve God, he was only concerned about

lost donkeys. So when he received the spirit of God

and was anointed as king, he was not inwardly prepared.

Because of this, he soon lost both.

Seeker: What, then, is true prayer?

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Sadhu: When we see a crane or heron standing motionless

on the shore of a lake or pond, we might think

it is meditating on the beauty of the water. But this is

not so! The bird stands there for hours without moving,

but as soon as it sees a frog or small fish, it darts

forward and greedily snatches it. Many people have

the same approach to prayer and meditation. Seated on

the shore of the boundless ocean of God’s love, they

actually give no thought to his majesty or to the divine

grace that cleanses us from sin and satisfies the hungry

soul. Instead, they are consumed by the thought

of receiving something for themselves, some morsel to

gratify their self-indulgence. Having visited the very

source of true peace and bliss, they fail to appreciate it

and instead give themselves to fleeting pleasures.

The essence of prayer does not consist in asking for

things, but in opening one ’s heart to God. Prayer is

continual abandonment to God. It is the desire for

God himself, the giver of life. Prayer is communion

with God, receiving him who is the giver of all good

gifts, living a life of fellowship with him. It is breathing

and living in God.

A little child will run to his mother exclaiming:

“Mother! Mother!” The child does not necessarily

want anything in particular. He only wants to be near

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his mother, to sit on her lap, or to follow her about the

house. The child longs for the sheer pleasure of being

near her, talking to her, hearing her voice. This is

what makes him happy. It is just the same with those

who are truly God’s children. They do not trouble

themselves with asking for spiritual blessings. They

only want to sit at the Master’s feet, to be in living

touch with him; then they are supremely content.

Climate affects the form, color, and growth patterns

of plants and flowers. In the jungle we often see

insects that have taken on the form and color of the

grass and green leaves on which they feed. In the

snow of the North, the polar bear’s fur has the same

snowy whiteness. The Bengal tiger wears stripes on

its skin like the reeds where it lives. Our spiritual environment

similarly affects us. If we remain in communion

with God, our habits and disposition – even

our appearance – are all changed. To pray means to

be on speaking terms with God, to be in communion

with him and to be transformed into his likeness. We

begin to take on a glorious and incorruptible spiritual

nature.

Seeker: Is the goal of prayer to lose our individuality

and dissolve into oneness with God?

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Sadhu: We have been created in the image of God.

Our destiny is to be restored into that image. God

came to us in the Master to restore us to God’s divine

nature. In this way, the Master transforms us into

flames of spiritual fire. To become spiritual fire means

to become like God. Even the smallest flame of fire is

fire and has all the qualities of fire. This does not mean

that our spirit is God’s spirit, as some pantheists and

philosophers suppose. We are not fragments of God’s

spirit. We are not God. God is distinct from us, but our

souls can only find peace in oneness with God.

A sponge lies in the water and the water fills the

sponge, but the water is not the sponge and the sponge

is not the water. It is the same when I immerse myself

in God. God fills my heart and I am in complete union

with God, but I am not God and God is not I. We are

distinct though not separate.

People are very different from one another – in

character, temperament, and abilities – even though

we are all created in the image of God. Indeed, if all

the flowers in the world were of the same color and

scent, the very face of the earth would lose its charm.

When the sun’s rays pass through colored glass, the

color does not change, but the sun highlights and

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reveals its varied hues, its true charm. So the sun of

righteousness shines through the varied characters of

spiritual men and women, revealing God’s boundless

glory and love.

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dhyanam

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dhyanam contemplation

Seeker: Sadhu-ji, some say that to

encounter God we must fulfil some special devotional

exercise of contemplation. What does contemplation

really mean?

Sadhu: The wonderful peace and calm we experience

in prayer does not come from our own thoughts or

imaginations, but from the presence of God in our

souls. The vapor rising from one small pond is not

enough to form large rain clouds and drench the

thirsty land. Such large clouds can only come from

the mighty ocean. Peace cannot be found in our own

subconscious minds, our own concentration, but only

in the boundless ocean of God’s love.

God is love and freely gives everything we need,

both for our material and for our spiritual existence.

But because the blessings of God’s spirit are so freely

given, we often take them for granted. If all people

had open and receptive hearts, they could see and hear

God’s voice at all times and in all places. But we have

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lost this awareness. Through prayer, we learn to appreciate

spiritual gifts, gifts that are at least as important

for life as air and water, heat and light. Those who

are focused on this material world foolishly waste the

spiritual blessings offered to them, while those with a

focused prayer life obtain true wisdom.

Dolphins can live in the deepest water without danger

because they regularly come to the surface and

take in the air that sustains them. We, too, must rise in

prayer into the spiritual realm. To pray is to breathe in

God’s life-giving spirit that gives life and peace, even

in this world.

The new-born child needs no instruction in drinking,

but instinctively turns to its mother’s breast for

nourishment. For her part, the mother withholds no

good gift from her child, but still the child cannot receive

the mother’s milk without effort. In the same

way, we are carried at God’s breast, but we must turn

to God in prayer for the spiritual milk that sustains

our souls.

The root tips of trees are so sensitive and responsive

that they instinctively turn away from places

where there is no nourishment and spread themselves

instead in places where they can drink in moisture and

life. I have seen green and fruitful trees standing in the

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middle of a dry and barren desert. These trees survive

and flourish because their roots have driven down and

discovered hidden streams of flowing water.

Some people live in the midst of evil and misery but

still radiate joy and lead fruitful lives. Through

prayer, the hidden roots of their faith have reached

down to the source of living water. They draw from it

energy and life to bear spiritual fruit. If we lead active

lives of prayer, we will also gain the spiritual discernment

to turn away from illusion and evil and to find

the truth we need for life.

Seeker: You speak of discernment. Can you explain

further what you mean?

Sadhu: Human consciousness is very subtle and sensitive.

We can receive impressions from the unseen,

spiritual world that express themselves in ideas and

concepts familiar to us. Poets, artists, and musicians

may experience these impressions in the form of rich

colors, beautiful music, or other wonderful sights and

sounds that come to expression in their artwork. Some

people experience such things through dreams, some

through visions, others during wakeful mediation. In

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prayer, light streams out from God, illuminating and

guiding our innermost conscience. The discerning

power of prayer enables us to distinguish the useful

from the useless among such experiences. If we spend

more time in meditation, we can recognize the relationship

between the visible and invisible world ever

more distinctly and clearly.

No thought, word, or deed is ever extinguished.

They are forever imprinted on our souls – recorded

in the book of life. Meditation provides the atmosphere

for us to grow in fear and love of God so that

these impressions are refined to contribute to our

spiritual bliss. In meditation, the true condition of the

soul is exposed, and God can reveal our failings in order

to heal and bless us.

Seeker: Why doesn’t everyone readily embrace this

truth?

Sadhu: Once a woman was travelling along a mountain

path carrying her child in her arms. The child

caught sight of a pretty flower and lunged forward so

unexpectedly from its mother’s arms that it fell to its

death on the rocks below. Isn’t it clear that life and se

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curity were to be found at its mother’s breast, not in

the fascinating flowers? Many who set out seeking

truth do the same thing. Catching sight of some fleeting

and fascinating pleasure, they forget the spiritual

milk God provides, an offering that comes with

greater love than any mother can give, and they leap

out into the world and are lost.

If we do not tend and care for a tree or a bush that

bears good fruits or beautiful flowers, then it will

grow wild and in the end it will be neither beautiful

nor useful. It is the same with people of faith: if we

neglect prayer and allow our spirits to grow sleepy, we

will wither, fall back into our old evil ways, and die.

Once ten bridesmaids went out to meet the groom

and lead the wedding procession. Five of them were

wise and took extra oil in case he might be delayed.

The others were foolish and took only their lamps.

The groom was delayed in arriving, so the lamps

burned low and the bridesmaids fell asleep. In the

middle of the night they were awakened by the cry

that the groom had arrived. They all rose, trimmed

their lamps, and prepared to begin the procession, but

the foolish ones noticed their oil was used up. They

asked the wise ones for oil, but these knew there was

not enough oil in their flasks to keep all ten lamps

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burning all the way to the banquet hall, so they told

the foolish maids to go, awaken a merchant, and buy

their own oil. They frantically tried to find someone

to sell them some oil, but by that time the procession

had arrived at the hall and the wedding feast had begun.

The doors were locked, so the foolish bridesmaids

missed the feast as well as the procession. Let us

now follow the example of the wise maidens and fill

the vessels of our hearts with oil of the Spirit. Otherwise,

nothing will be left for us but grief and despair.

Seeker: What is this oil of the Spirit and how can I

obtain it?

Sadhu: To obtain the blessings of a spiritual life, we

must be ready to believe and obey without doubts and

questions. Once the Master was in a temple where

people were gathered for worship. Among the people

was a man with a crippled and withered hand. The

Master called to the man, “Stand up and come here to

me.” There the man stood in front of all the people,

and the Master looked at him and said, “Stretch out

your hand!” Without hesitating, the man held out his

hand, and it was completely healed in that instant.

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Imagine if the man had said: “If you are a prophet

then you know my hand is withered and that I cannot

lift it. First heal my hand and then I will be able to

stretch it out.” Or he might well have been embarrassed

to put his hand on show in front of so many

people and quickly run away in humiliation. Such reactions

would have been reasonable and understandable,

but the man’s hand would not have been healed.

Whoever wants to encounter God must be obedient.

We must lift up in prayer our weak and withered

hands, and then we will receive complete healing and

new life – all our needs and longings will be fulfilled.

There was once a woman caught in adultery and

brought by an angry crowd before the Master. Now,

the law prescribed that she be stoned to death. Instead

of addressing the crowd, the Master wrote quietly in

the sand with his finger. Finally he lifted his head,

looked at the crowd and said, “Let the one who has no

guilt throw the first stone.” Then he continued to

write quietly in the sand. One by one the crowd dispersed

– oldest to youngest – until only the accused

woman was left. Then the Master lifted his head again,

spoke to the woman and said: “If none of these people

accuse you, then neither do I. Go, then, and lead a life

pleasing to God.”

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With his finger, the Master had quietly written on

the ground the sins and failings of each of those in the

crowd who stood ready to condemn the woman, until

each one left in shame and humility. With the same

finger, he points to the secret wounds of sin in each

person who seeks the truth. Then, with that same finger,

he heals our wounds. As children hold a parent’s

finger to walk without falling, we, too, can grasp the

Master’s finger and walk securely the road to spiritual

peace.

As the earth moves, we experience the changes of

day to night and summer to winter. But with the sun,

there is perpetual noon and perpetual summer. Likewise,

the sun of righteousness is the same yesterday

and today and forever. If we experience the exuberance

of joy or the gloom of despair, it is only because

our position shifts in relation to God. If we open our

hearts in prayer and meditation, the warming rays of

the sun are always there to heal the wounds of our sins

and give us perfect spiritual health.



three seekers

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P A R A B L E

three seekers

The story is told of a wise man who met

three pilgrims on the road. The first was pale and withered and

cringing with fear. The wise man asked him, “Why are you in

such a frightful state?” Haltingly, the man answered: “All that I

have ever done wrong haunts me. I fear the consequences of

all the evil I have done knowingly or unknowingly. I am afraid

that I will suffer the eternal punishment of naraka, what men

call hell.” The wise man spoke to him, saying: “It is sad and distressing

that you do not turn your heart and thoughts to God,

who alone is the source of all wisdom. Instead, you live in continual

fear of hell. So your pilgrimage is not genuine. You are

trying to offer your pilgrimage as a bribe to God, so that you

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will not be punished for your sins. You will never find peace

along this path.”

The second pilgrim was consumed with worries and

doubts. The wise man asked him, “Why do you seem so sad

and worried?” The pilgrim answered, “I desperately want to

find the bliss and peace of the heavenly realm, but I fear I will

not find it.” The wise man rebuked him sharply, saying: “It is

shameful that you fail to think of God’s creative power and

love. This alone should fill your heart with great awe and

thankfulness. Instead, you are consumed by your own desire

for peace and joy. You only pray in order to gain fulfillment of

your own selfish desires. Such prayer is worthless and will

never lead you to peace.”

Afterward, the wise man turned to the third pilgrim who

radiated joy and contentment. “Friend,” he asked, “what is

the secret of your joy and peace?” The pilgrim answered: “My

heart is filled with joy, and I am filled with thankfulness to God

who has opened the way for me to know his presence and find

unity with him. May he open my heart more and more so that

I can love and serve him with heart and soul and strength and

so that I can worship him for love alone.”

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seva

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seva service

Seeker: Sadhu-ji, your call to prayer

and contemplation is compelling. Should everyone

then abandon the distractions of the world to live the

life of a hermit?

Sadhu: It is true that prayer is the means by which we

experience the reality of God. But once God has become

a living reality for us, we simply have to love our

fellow men. We cannot do otherwise. Once we receive

the new life of the Spirit, we begin to live in love. And

living in love, we are moved quite naturally and joyfully

to serve others. God is love and if we live in union

with God, we have the strength and longing to love

others. Service is a spiritual activity, the natural fruit of

love. God, who is love, is ever serving and caring for

Creation. Human beings are made to be like God and

so they too should never tire of serving others.

Prayer without work is as bad as work without

prayer. A broody hen satisfies its instinct by continuing

to sit in some dark corner even after its eggs have

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been removed. So it is with those who remove themselves

from the tasks of life and spend their time

wholly in prayer. Such a life is as fruitless as the hen

that sits on an empty nest.

Remember, there is a great difference between those

who worship God with their lips only and those who do

so with their hearts and lives. All too often, people pray

to God in the name of the Master, but they do not really

know him. They take God’s name into their mouths

and onto their lips but not into their hearts and lives.

The Master guides us to recognize what will glorify

God and benefit others. If we live in the Master and the

Master lives in us, then our prayers bear fruit.

Once a man served his king with great faithfulness

and courage and thus enjoyed the king’s favor. But

this man’s son led a corrupt and selfish life. So when

the son appeared before the king asking for some favor

in the name of his father, the king replied, “Do

not appeal to me in your father’s name until you first

go and live a life worthy of his example. Carry your

father’s honor in your heart, not only on your lips, and

then I, too, will honor your request.”

Anyone who has received help from another and

yet is unwilling to offer help in turn is ungrateful and

undeserving of any further help. Unless we offer all

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our gifts and abilities in service to God, who has

given us life and breath and all we have, then we cannot

expect to receive the spiritual help that God

alone can give.

Seeker: We are weak and sinful – mere mortals.

What help or service can we possibly render to God

who is eternal and almighty?

Sadhu: God has no need of help from us. Our very

existence is entirely dependent on God’s constant

help. However, if we offer ourselves in service, God

blesses our efforts and adds his help.

When the Master approached Lazarus’ tomb, his

power and help was not needed to move the stone

away. That was a task for others. Once they obeyed

and removed the stone, however, then the Master did

what was beyond human power: he called the dead

man back to life. Afterward, there was still work left

for others: they removed the burial clothes so that

Lazarus could walk about in perfect freedom.

It is the same with those who are spiritually dead.

We can roll away the tombstones of doubt and ignorance,

but only God can breathe new life into them.

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Even then, they may still carry the burdens of bad

habits and evil company, so we have the continuing

duty to help free them from these entanglements. For

this task, we must remain ever alert in heart and soul.

God often uses the least gifted people when some

great service is needed. Why? Because people who

know their own weakness are fully open to the power

that God offers. When the Master fed the five thousand,

he did not use his disciples. They were too full

of doubt and worry, wanting to send the crowds away

to fend for themselves. Instead, he turned to a small

boy who had barely enough to feed himself. His mother

had wrapped some barley cakes and dried fish for him,

but he was completely willing to give all that he had in

perfect trust that the Master would supply the rest.

There may even have been wealthier people there

with dried fruit and cakes of wheat, but they were not

ready to give them up in such simple faith. So the

Master fed the multitude with the simple food of a

peasant boy.

Seeker: It requires such dedication to maintain an

active prayer life. I do not see how one can find the

strength to serve others as well.

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Sadhu: The great gift of service is that it also helps

the one who serves. Once when travelling in Tibet, I

was crossing a high mountain pass with my Tibetan

guide. The weather had suddenly turned bitterly cold,

and my companion and I feared that we might not

make it to the next village – still several miles away –

before succumbing to the frost.

Suddenly, we stumbled upon a man who had

slipped from the path and was lying in the snow.

Looking more closely, I discovered that the man was

still alive, though barely. “Come,” I said to my companion,

“help me try to bring this unfortunate man to

safety.” But my companion was upset and frightened

for his life. He answered: “If we try to carry that man,

none of us will ever reach the village. We will all

freeze. Our only hope is to go on as quickly as possible,

and that is what I intend to do. You will come

with me if you value your life.” Without another word

and without looking back, he set off down the path.

I could not bring myself to abandon the helpless

traveller while life remained in him, so I lifted him on

my back and threw my blanket around us both as best

I could. Slowly and painstakingly, I picked my way

along the steep, slippery path with my heavy load.

Soon it began to snow, and I could make out the way

forward only with great difficulty.

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How we made it, I do not know. But just as daylight

was beginning to fade, the snow cleared and I could

see houses a few hundred yards ahead. Near me, on

the ground, I saw the frozen body of my guide.

Nearly within shouting distance of the village, he had

succumbed to the cold and died, while the unfortunate

traveller and I made it to safety. The exertion of carrying

him and the contact of our bodies had created

enough heat to save us both. This is the way of service.

No one can live without the help of others, and

in helping others, we receive help ourselves.

Once two women appeared before the wise king

Solomon. The first said: “Your Majesty! This woman

and I live in the same house. I gave birth to a son, and

three days later she also gave birth to a baby boy. But

in that same night, her son died. So she sneaked up to

my bed while I was still asleep, took my child from my

side and left the body of her dead son in his place. In

the morning, I could see that it was her baby not mine.”

At that, the second woman interrupted, saying it

was not so. Then the two women began arguing in the

presence of the king. The king called for silence and,

to the astonishment of all present, he called for a

guard to come with a sword, cut the living child in

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two, and give each woman half of the child’s body.

The second woman said, “So be it then!” But the first

woman fell on her knees before the king and cried:

“No, Your Majesty! Have mercy and spare the child’s

life. Rather give him to the other woman.” In those

words, King Soloman recognized the true mother’s

heart and so ordered that the child be given to her.

Seeker: Your examples are full of hope, beloved

Sadhu, but I am too selfish and sinful to be of any

service.

Sadhu: There was once a convicted murderer who,

instead of being hanged, was sent into battle with the

armies of the king. He was gravely wounded, but he

fought with bravery and valor and returned from the

war a hero. The king, seeing his wounds and hearing

the reports of his valor, not only pardoned him for his

previous crime, but also rewarded him richly and gave

him a position of honor in the kingdom. So it is in our

spiritual lives. If we fight to save the lives of those oppressed

under the weight of sin and selfishness, we

will not only find forgiveness, but we will also enjoy

spiritual bliss.

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Some people are held back from serving others because

they doubt their own abilities. They are like those

recovering from a long illness. They receive nourishing

food and rest and are no longer sick, but they remain

weak and lethargic because they have not worked or

exercised their muscles. We must simply set out in

trust to bring the message of hope and faith to others.

It is useless to take swimming lessons unless we are

willing to enter the water and practice – first in the

shallow water and then in the deep. In this way, we can

gain strength and improve our technique. In order to

help those who are struggling and sinking in the dark

waters of inner need, we must enter the practical school

of theology – prayer and spiritual union with God.

Seeker: Why share our spiritual blessings with others,

when so often people only mock and ridicule us?

Sadhu: The Master said, “Resist not evil.” Once there

was a devoted Indian Christian who was praying in

his house alone, when three thieves stealthily entered

and took away all they could get. When the man had

finished his prayers he noticed that all his goods were

gone, except for the box over which he had been bow

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ing in prayer. This box contained all his money and

valuables. He immediately took the contents and ran

after the thieves calling: “Wait! Wait! You have left

some valuables behind. Perhaps you need these things

more than I.” When the thieves heard this, they

thought it was a trap. But when they saw that he had

no weapon and that he was alone, they came back to

him. The man said to them: “Why didn’t you tell me

you needed these things? I would have gladly given

you whatever you needed. Now, come home with me,

and whatever you need you may have.” The thieves,

seeing the strange life of this man of prayer, were so

struck that their lives changed forever.

If a blind man comes groping along the road, it is

only right that we who can see should step aside and

avoid bumping into him. And if he, by accident,

bumps into us, we should not take offense, but rather

help him find his way. If we get annoyed about it, it

only proves that we are blinder than the blind man

himself, completely lacking both common sense and

human sympathy. Similarly, if anyone persecutes us

because we follow the truth, we should – instead of

being offended – forgive and pray for that person in

love. If we continue to experience opposition, we lose

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nothing, since we experience for the sake of the Master,

the Truth, which is our reward.

If we serve in love, then our service will eventually

bear fruit. If some people speak evil of us or hurl

abuse and criticism, then we should love them all the

more. They may yet taste the sweet fruits of our love.

When naughty boys see a tree with delicious fruit

hanging heavy from its branches, they sometimes

throw stones. But the tree does not respond by hurling

stones back. Instead, it drops its delicious fruit for

them to enjoy. The tree does not have stones to hurl,

but it freely shares what it does have – the sweet

fruit – without murmur or complaint. So do not be

discouraged if some hurl abuse and criticism at you

for following the spiritual life. It is a sign that they actually

long for the fruit God has given you. And even

if they attack you out of malice and spite, still you can

offer spiritual fruits and reveal God’s love.

A rebellious son once left his father’s house and

joined a band of robbers living along the road

through the jungle. In time, he forgot his happy childhood

and became as cruel and ruthless as the others.

But his father never gave up hoping that one day he

would abandon his evil ways and return home. In

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time, the father called his servants and asked them to

go into the jungle, find his son, and tell him that his

father was waiting to welcome him home and forgive

him, if only he would abandon his evil ways. But the

servants refused to go. They were afraid of the wild

country and the fierce robbers.

Now, the man’s older son loved his younger brother

just as much as his father did. So, when no servant

could be found to go, he set out himself into the jungle

to find his brother and deliver his father’s message. As

he wandered through the jungle, the robbers spied

him, attacked him, and wounded him to the point of

death. Only then did his younger brother recognize

him. Filled with grief and remorse at what he and his

band had done, he embraced his dying brother and

kissed him. With his last breath, the older brother was

able to pass on the father’s message: “Now my life ’s

task and love ’s duty is done.” So saying, he died in his

brother’s arms.

The young man was so moved by the loving sacrifice

of his brother, that his heart was instantly

changed. He abandoned his life as a robber, asked forgiveness

of his father, and from that day on lived

a new and upright life. When we think of how the

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Master died in agony to pass on to us God’s message

of love, should we then not also be ready to give our

lives in bringing this message of hope to others?

Often, we can share the message of God’s love more

effectively by prayer than by preaching. Spiritual

power emanates silently and unnoticed from those

who pray and reveal spiritual truths to others, just as

unseen radio waves from a powerful transmitter can

convey messages to those attuned to them. In this

way, a seeking person may receive the greatest help

from someone praying alone.

The firefly with its flickering light and certain small

plants in the Himalayas brighten the dark jungle as

best they can. There are also tiny fish in the depths of

the ocean that give light into that gloomy darkness.

All the more should we be lights for all those souls

wandering in the darkness of this world. Even if it involves

risk or danger to ourselves, we should be eager

to share our God-given light with those who are

stumbling and in danger of losing their way.

Seeker: But if we give all our strength in serving

others, how will we ever find time or energy to

praise God?

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Sadhu: God has no need of our praise. Does God

lack anything that we mortals could provide? Those

who seek to follow the spiritual life are like salt in the

world. Salt crystals cannot give flavor to food unless

they dissolve. If we dissolve the salt in a pot, it disappears

but it does not cease to exist. Indeed, it can then

give flavor to thousands of grains of rice.

It is the same with us. If we are not melted in the

fire of love and spirit, if we do not sacrifice ourselves

completely, then we cannot pass on to even a single

soul the blissful experience of the spiritual life. If we

do not sacrifice ourselves, then we are rather like

Lot’s wife who was turned to a lifeless pillar of salt.

Yesu was melted in the Garden of Gethsemane and

gave his life on the cross to open the gate of heaven

for all. In the same spirit, we must be prepared to give

up our own lives for the spiritual welfare of others.

This is what will bring praise to God.

The sword of justice hangs threateningly even now

over many souls. We must be willing to sacrifice our

own desires – even our lives – for the benefit of those

in danger of spiritual death. Then the world will recognize

that true love abides in us and that we are children

of the God who sacrifices himself for us.

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Seeker: What happens if we fail to serve others?

Sadhu: If we repeat the same thought or word or

deed over and over, then it becomes a habit. Habits

determine our character. So we should carefully consider

the consequences and implications of our habits.

If we become indifferent to doing good, our capacity

to do good will diminish. It is difficult to do something

well. It is still more difficult to put right something

we have done wrong. But it is altogether easy to

destroy something. It takes great time and effort to

grow a tree, but it is easy to cut it down. When it is dry

and dead, it is impossible to bring it back to life.

If we do not make use of the spiritual faculties we

have been given, then we will lose them. This has happened

to certain fishes living in the deep waters of

dark caves. They have lived so long in darkness that

they have become completely blind. The same thing

has happened to certain hermits I have met in the

caves of Tibet. Therefore, do not let your spiritual

sight grow dull, but make full use of all your spiritual

faculties and strengthen them so that you are able to

sense God’s presence.

The pipe that carries fresh water is itself kept clean

by the clear water that flows through it. In the same

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way, we are kept clean and pure if we allow God’s spirit

to constantly flow through us for the benefit of others.

There are many people who waste precious chances

to serve God and their fellow human beings. They

should rouse themselves and make full use of the time

that is given to them. Once a hunter picked up some

pretty stones by a river in the jungle. He used them to

shoot at birds with his slingshot, and so one by one

they disappeared into the water and were lost. Some

time later, he was in a city and wandered through the

market absent-mindedly tossing and catching the one

stone he still had left. A jeweller caught sight of it,

marvelled at such a precious gem and offered to buy it

for several thousand rupees. When the hunter recognized

the value of his stone, he cried out: “Woe is me!

I have been carelessly shooting gems into the river. I

could have been a millionaire. But thank God I have

saved at least this one.”

Every day of our lives is like a precious diamond.

We may have wasted countless days already in idle

and selfish pursuits, so that they are now lost in the

depths of the past. But let us at least awake now, see

the value of the days that remain and use them to acquire

spiritual wealth. If we use them in selfless ser

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vice to God and if we use them to warn others who

are still frivolously throwing away their days in pursuit

of fleeting pleasures, then we will gain the boundless

treasure of heavenly bliss.

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tapas suffering

Seeker: Sadhu-ji, you speak much

about the blessings of the spiritual life, but why do so

much pain and suffering exist in t