Perfect Masters Throughout the Ages
They teach in parables,
they reveal the inner light,
and lead their disciples
with compassion and humility
through the joyous dance of life.
Buddha showed a lovely sense of humor in meeting one of his disciples for the first time. He was out walking on a very hot day, and had become covered in dust and very thirsty. Seeing an orchard full of apple trees, he decided to ask the owner if he might eat one or two of the windfalls. But the owner was a rich and snobbish man, and he had no time for the dusty and weary wanderer who stood before his gates. He began to insult Lord Buddha. Buddha asked him, "If my arms were completely full of apples, and you wanted to give me more, what would happen?" The man replied that if Buddha's arms were full, he couldn't give him any more apples. "In the same way," said Buddha, "my heart is overflowing with love, so I have nowhere to put your harsh words. I am afraid you will have to keep them for yourself." The man then understood that his whole attitude was completely negative and fell at the feet of Buddha, asking him to teach him the way of Truth.
Socrates, the great philosopher who questioned everything. Moses, the law-giver. Buddha, renowned for his compassion. Christ, who unhesitatingly gave his life for his friends, for the whole world. Krishna and Rama, warrior Kings. Lao Tzu of China. Guru Nanak. Mahavir. They were head and shoulders above the people of their own times.
These are the Perfect Masters, these are the great Ones who have graced our planet with their noble presence. Each of these men gathered a school of disciples about him, and each one taught these disciples by word of mouth, by the giving of a revelation, and by continual, wonderful playfulness.
They were princes, and the books that tell of them are the great scriptures, the great histories, and the great poetic works of the world.
They were princes, they were lovers. They taught and practised the highest love this world has ever seen. For they were Masters of the soul, Masters of the love-supply that is the driving force behind every human being, behind each breath we take. They were Masters of the energy which created this whole universe, Masters of the love without which no leaf stirs, no flower unfolds in springtime. For they were the unconditional servants of love.
This was their glory, that they served only love. They did not waver in their course to play the games of personal ambition. They were unselfish, dedicated to the good of all humanity. And because the pressures of personal greed and gain did not affect them, their hearts were light, their days were filled with joy, and all who came in contact with them, even their enemies, were their friends.
The first books of the Old Testament, the books of the Law, represent what has come down to us of the verbal teachings of Moses. The dialogues of Plato contain records of the speech of Socrates. The gospels contain accounts of the teachings of Christ. The great histories of the Mahabharata and the Ramat ana epics which compare with Homer for their lofty sentiments and robust plots — tell us the stories of Rama and Krishna. The few pages of the Tao Te Ching convey a tantalizing glimpse of Lao Tzu, his sense of humor, his silences, his quick-as-a-kingfisher flashes of speech. The poems of Rumi, greatest of Persian poets, recount the glory of Shams al-Din of Tabriz. And the endless volumes of the Buddha's sutras reveal his wisdom, his immense and breathtaking view of the universe we live in, and his unwillingness to sit around idly speculating on the finer points of philosophy, so long as anyone in the world remained under the sway of pain, doubt or anxiety.
There is an energy pack in each human body, and in deep sleep we tap into that energy pack, and refresh ourselves in readiness for the new day. Without sleep, we would become irritable and exhausted. But that energy source is so full of peace, so full of life, that we can become relaxed, rested and recharged. When we bathe in it in deep sleep, it washes away the tensions of body and mind.
And here is a point to notice. This energy pack, this rest pack which each one of us carries round with him, is neither the body nor the mind. It is the servant of both, for it supplies both with life. It is the actual energy pulse of life within this human frame. And being pure energy, it cannot be created or destroyed. It is everlasting.
This is the everlasting part of us which religions the world over call "the soul." The soul actually exists. And it is the most vital life support system of all. For it is the soul which makes sure we keep on breathing even while we are asleep. And when the soul ceases to "operate" someone, like a car without a driver, he's dead.
It is the soul which lends clarity to the mind, and love to the heart. And by its nature, the soul is more wonderful than either mind or heart, for soul is the highest faculty in the human body. It is the most delicate and perfect instrument with which man has been issued, and it is by nature so pure, that only those who are fully committed to unselfishness even glimpse its existence.
Christ said that the pure in heart are blessed, for they shall see God. The soul inside us is that inner kingdom, that hidden treasure, the Christ within, which is found by the pure in heart. And those who find it, experience it as a light which completely fills their bodies. It is this light "which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." It is this light which illumined the Buddha, so that he was called "the Enlightened One." And those who experience this light, find love beyond their wildest dreams.
This is the revelation which every Perfect Master makes to his disciples, this is the gift of the Saints to men.
A man who has not seen his soul is like a flower whose bud has not opened to the sky. He is all thorn, leaves and stalk, he has not yet uncovered his secret fragrance, his deepest beauty. The kingdom of love is still closed to him. That is why the Saints come. They come to open our vision, to allow us to see the hidden treasure which is in store for us. They come like the sun in springtime, to open all our hearts. ^
All the great Masters gave their disciples this same experience, and all the great scriptures describe it in similar terms. Krishna speaks of the heavenly kingdom which he reveals to his disciple Arjuna in these words: Neither sun, moon nor fire shines there. Those who go thither never return. For that is my heavenly abode.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah echos his images: The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.
In the Hindu scriptures we read: There the sun shines not, nor the moon, nor the stars, lightnings shine not there, much less earthly fire. For by His light, all these give light, and His radiance illumines all creation.
Saint Kabir was a Muslim poet. He sang: What a secret splendor is there, in the mansion of the sky! There no mention is made of the rising and the setting of the sun; in the light of love, day and night are felt to be one.
And the Book of Revelation takes up the same refrain: The city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamb is the light thereof.
Light is our true nature. Light is the nature of our real Self, the nature of the soul. And thus, true Self Knowledge is Knowledge of the light within us. When Socrates said "Know Thy Self," it was the light of the self which he meant us to discover. When Christ said "Seek, and you shall find," it was the light of the soul he was speaking of. Because "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all."
This light energy created the universe. It is conscious, hidden in every atom's heart, and in the heart of every living being.
And this light energy is love. When love springs from the heart, divorce or death can break it, for the heart is not the eternal part of us. But the love that springs from that inner light, from the soul itself, that love is forgiving, that love is pure, that love is without selfish motive, that love is unending. For that love is life itself, beyond the grasp of death.
When a Master teaches his disciple to see the light, and to recognize the real nature of the soul, the light begins to act on the disciple. The more he meditates on that light, the more it bathes away all tensions from his body and his mind. He becomes radiant with love.
I remember one day I was very annoyed. I had just done the washing up, which didn't put me in a very good mood in the first place, and then one of my brothers came up and accused me of not doing it. I was furious. I went around and told a couple of people how unfair it was, but they weren't too interested in my whining. And then I ran into a mahatma, one of those souls so pure that Guru Maharaj Ji has instructed them to transmit the Knowledge of the Self to others. He stood there in meditation, his eyes twinkling at me, as I complained about this terrible injustice. I could feel my anger like a huge knot in my stomach. I was righteous in my indignation. I had done the washing up. But as the mahatma smiled at me and I whined at him, I could feel the knot inside me rising up as though it was being pushed out of me. I fought to keep my anger inside me, but the mahatma's love was too strong. It was as if he had a fire hose trained on my anger, and was washing it off the streets of my life. The anger came up and out, and suddenly I was left smiling, completely at peace, saying to the mahatma, "I'm sorry, Mahatma Ji." He said, "Don't interrupt your soul's happiness to be sorry about anything," and walked off.
The love which Guru Maharaj Ji's meditation unleashes is strong enough to wash all selfishness off the face of this planet.
The first part of the Perfect Master's teaching is by word of mouth. Thus Christ and Buddha both taught in parables, Mohammed received the Quran and transmitted it, Moses the Ten Commandments. And the second part of the Master's instruction consists of the revelation of the inner light of love. But it is the third part of the teaching which is the most wonderful, the play of that love between the beloved Master and his beloved disciple.
Life is for learning perfect love, and this whole world was manufactured by the Supreme Artist so that a fantastic Adventure and Love Story might take place. No respectable adventure is without its thrills and spills. There is always suspense, and the seeming reality of the suspense is what gives depth to the story. It is what we are saved from that gives value to our salvation. It is darkness that brings importance to the light.
So it is with this story, history, his story. The height of his love is matched only by the depth of our selfishness.
All heroes must appear to be in trouble from time to time, or there will be nothing adventurous about their adventures. How can our gallant hero
extricate himself from the dark dungeons of the dragon's castle? For the dragon is breathing fire and slaughter. How on earth can our hero survive? Will Daniel ever get out of the lion's den alive?
The Perfect Masters are the heroes of history, and they make sure that adventures are plentiful, and that their disciples await each unfolding moment with bated breath. For the more obstacles and difficulties Truth meets, the more brilliant will be its triumph. When the heavies come out against the light, the light inevitably rises to the top.
Jean Renoir is one of the world's greatest film directors, and in every film he makes, he includes a small part for himself. It generally only lasts two minutes. He ambles on camera, puffs on his briar pipe, smiles genially at the audience and ambles offstage. Yet his appearance is always the most relaxed and amiable moment in the film, for he is the director, and has no one to please but himself.
In the same way, this universe is the work of one Dramatist, one Producer, and he takes a part in his play, to play with his friends, to lead them to the brink of love, and push them in. Only the scenes in which he plays are perfect, only the scenes in which he plays are drenched with love.
Consider the way in which the Persian Perfect Master, Shams of Tabriz, introduced himself to his disciple Rumi, the most learned professor of his time.
Mullah Rumi of Konya, at the age of forty, was already the author of the most scholarly treatise on Islamic Law ever concocted by the human mind. He was sitting, reading the only manuscript of his work by the side of his rose pond one day, when an eighteen-year-old boy snatched the manuscript from his hands, and scattered the pages on the water.
Rumi gasped, "Do you realize, it has taken the cleverest mind in all Persia ten years to cut and polish this jewel, and in one instant you have thrown it away?" The boy replied, "Tut, does it mean so much to you?" He clicked his fingers, and the pages floated back to his hand. His smile was wide as he picked the book up and handed it back, "I think you will find it dry…" he said.
Thus Rumi met the Perfect Master of his time, and became his disciple.
Then there's the story of the pharisaical Brahmin priest who was on his way to bathe in the Ganges, whose waters are reputedly able to wash away sin. A Saint by the name of Kabir approached him, and offered him a drink from his cup. The priest saw that Kabir was a Muslim of low caste, and refused to drink from his cup, saying that it was unclean. Kabir told the priest, "If the water of the Ganges cannot purify this cup which I have touched, how is it going to be able to wash away your sins?"
Once again, understanding dawned, and the priest begged Kabir to allow him to become his disciple.
Christ was the Perfect Master of his time, and hidden in the gospels are stories which show him gently bending the laws of nature to illustrate a point.
One day he and Saint Peter were visiting Capernaum, when a tax collector came up to them both and asked them to pay tribute. Christ asked Peter in all innocence, "Do they usually tax the sons of Kings?" Peter of course knew full well that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Most High, but the question cannot have made much sense to the tax collector. "Oh no, Lord," replied Peter, "usually they let the sons of Kings off without paying any taxes." And Christ said to Peter, "All the same, we'd better not cause trouble by insisting on our rights. You go to the sea and catch the first fish you can. Open its mouth, and you'll find enough money in it to pay the tribute."
Life is full of laughter and adventure for those who are around the Perfect Master, and it is no less full of love. Judas was shocked when Mary Magdalen poured her precious ointment onto the feet of Christ. He told her that it could have been sold, and the money distributed to the poor. But Christ said that she had done well, that the poor were always around, but that he would not be with his disciples much longer. In a similar way, people question the disciples of Guru Maharaj Ji because we give him tiny presents, cars, aeroplanes, flowers. Yet somehow the message manages to get across to those who need to hear it. The Perfect Master gives his disciples greater riches than the bank at Monte Carlo. He gives us poor selfish human beings the ability to love.
He opens our hearts. This is not simply a sweet sounding sentiment. It is a practical fact. The Perfect Master's disciples remain faithful to him because they have hearts and souls that are alive, and that once were dead.
The Perfect Master teases his lovers. He plays hide and seek with us, he hides his love from us until we cry for it, until our defenses are down, our defenses against love. And then he showers us with love, he completely overwhelms us with love.
What other lover in this world demands nothing but purity? What other lover can be loved by all mankind without jealousy? What other lover has a glance like an arrow, that pierces only the heart? What other lover is himself the embodiment of God, of perfect and pure love?
He built all mountains. Humility was his own invention, and he liked it so much that he practised it above all other arts. He is glorious like all the suns in the universe, and he is minutely compassionate to all who turn to him.
Oh my sisters and brothers, there is nothing else to do, but love Him, serve Him, praise Him, adore Him, adore Him. I bow my head and heart again and again before the purity and mercy of His Lotus Feet.