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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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
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
to the reader
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.
the hungry birds
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
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.
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.”
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
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.
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
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
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
five holy men
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
five holy men
own strength? Must we not turn instead to God, who alone
can set right what is wrong and free us from evil thoughts and
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
Once in the
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:
five holy men
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.”
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
P A R A B L E
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
Philosopher: Do you know that this cave is known as a
den of robbers?
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?
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
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
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
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?
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.
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
Hindu incarnations I had expected. Then I heard a
voice speaking to me in Urdu: “Sundar, how long will
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
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
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
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
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
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.
P A R A B L E
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
No more a lion, he had become a tiger – a tiger that
seeks the thorny tracks of the jungle. His pilgrimage
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
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
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
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
Old sadhu: Such behavior would be inexcusable. It
would be an insult and the height of disrespect.
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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.
P A R A B L E
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.”
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
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
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.
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
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
starve ourselves until in the end we have committed
spiritual suicide. Our end is total enslavement to the
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
P A R A B L E
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
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
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
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
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
The next day the young man went to the hospital as
usual, but was confused when he did not find her there. The
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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,
but if we prefer a life of sin, it is torture for us to stay
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
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
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
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
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.
Seeker: Does God really forgive us for what we have
done wrong? Is this what you mean by salvation or
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
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
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.
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 prince and the thief
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.
the prince and the thief
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
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
the prince and the thief
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.
the prince and the thief
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
the prince and the thief
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
the prince and the thief
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
the prince and the thief
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
Seeker: Is the goal of prayer to lose our individuality
and dissolve into oneness with God?
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
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.
Seeker: Sadhu-ji, some say that to
encounter God we must fulfil some special devotional
exercise of contemplation. What does contemplation
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.”
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
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.
P A R A B L E
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
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.”
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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