A story from Sri Chinmoy's 'Garden of the Soul'
There was a great spiritual Master who quite often made predictions to his disciples. His predictions were not only good and inspiring, but also came true. Because of his many faultless predictions he became very well known in his country.
There came a time when this Master took a vow of silence, and for months did not speak at all. During this time he only wrote what he wanted to say to his disciples and friends. Any instructions he had to offer would be in writing.
One evening, two seekers who were friends came to visit the Master from a distant village. One of them was merely a curiosity-monger with no sincere aspiration; the other was indeed sincere. It happened that they arrived at a time when the Master had made a second vow, to keep his eyes closed in addition to remaining silent. They did not know of the Master's second vow until they arrived at his ashram.
When they approached the Master they saw a big queue of seekers. One by one they approached the Master, who was seated in silence with his eyes closed. Some of his close disciples stood by him. Each seeker was allowed to see the Master for only two or three seconds, and then the disciples standing by his side would signal them to leave.
A few hundred seekers stood on line ahead of these two particular seekers, these two close friends. All had their turn. The Master neither opened his eyes nor said a word to any of them. But when these two came and stood in front of him, he immediately opened his eyes.
His close disciples were very surprised. They said to themselves, "The Master has broken his promise to keep his eyes closed." Then, to their utter astonishment, he also broke his vow of silence. He said to the two seeker-friends, "Go alone. Go alone. Go alone."
The amazed attendants indicated that the two seekers' time was over. The two friends left the Master, and immediately he closed his eyes and resumed his silence. Now many more seekers came to the Master for his silent blessing, and left. The curiosity-monger was laughing hilariously as they started back. He said to his friend, "What kind of teacher is he? He was supposed to be silent and keep his eyes closed, but he opened his eyes and he spoke to us. He has broken both of his own promises."
Then the curiosity-monger became very angry with the Master. He said, "We have been lifelong friends. Now why does he ask us to 'go alone, go alone?' He wants to break up our friendship. He is cruel. I will never go to him again. You know that I would give my life for you, and I am sure that you would do the same for me. We are willing to make any sacrifice for each other, yet he wants our separation. We will always stay together."
It was evening as they made their way home, and they decided to take a short-cut. On their way they came to a shaky, delicate bamboo bridge. As the two were such very close friends, they decided to go together, one behind the other. As they walked onto the little bridge together it trembled and seemed about to collapse. It was so tiny and narrow that it could not hold two persons at a time. They saw a farmer near the bridge who cried out to them, "Gentlemen, you are both wise. What are you doing? It isn't safe for you like that. Please cross the bridge one by one. Go alone. If you go alone this bridge will not collapse." The curiosity-monger would not move. He said jokingly, "Now we have another Yogi here. About an hour ago one Yogi said, 'Go alone', and now this farmer-Yogi is asking us to go alone.”
Then he turned to the farmer and said, "Listen, it is none of your business. We are the closest of friends. We will go together even if we break our legs and our heads. You fool! We would rather die together than go alone. We will not allow ourselves to be separated. No, not even death can separate us."
The sincere seeker suddenly felt unsure. What should he do? Because of the strength of their friendship, his companion was saying that even if they were to break their legs, even if they were to die, they would not be separated, even for something as simple as crossing this little bridge.
The curiosity-monger continued to insult and abuse the farmer who had given them the advice to go alone. But the farmer said, "You can scold me, you can insult me, you can do anything you want. But I wish to tell you a few things. If you cross this bridge one by one, alone, it will take only a few minutes. When you are safely on the other side, then you can go on again with your closeness and friendship. You can give all your warmth, all your concern to each other. Why do you want to embrace death when you can escape it? Cross over separately, and then you can resume your closeness, your inseparable oneness. Why don't you use your wisdom?"
The curiosity-monger became furious. He was ready to strike the farmer. He shouted, "Go away or I'll crack your skull! I don't need your precious advice. I want to be with my friend all the time. If we die, we die together. We don't want your wise counsel. We went to see a Yogi and he told us to go alone. Now he has ruined all my inspiration and aspirations. Now you, farmer, you have become another Yogi. You are saying the same thing. I don't need you. Off with you!"
All the while something was happening inside the heart of the sincere seeker; he perceived something divine in the farmer. While he watched, fascinated, he saw the farmer's eyes reveal the depths of the vast blue sky. "Please give me more advice," he asked the farmer with utmost sincerity.
But the curiosity-monger simply wanted to make fun of the farmer. He said mockingly, "Yes, we need your advice. Go on."
The farmer turned to the curiosity-monger and said, "Both of you are spiritual seekers. You know that in the spiritual life all should go together, and you two wanted to go together. But what happens when one is tired, when one is unwilling to go farther? The one that is stronger and more competent should go on. He should continue to walk along the road to reach the goal, and bring back light, peace and bliss to offer to the one who is tired or reluctant to go farther. In order to inspire others more powerfully and convincingly, one has to go farther and get more inspiration, more light from the Golden Beyond.
The two of you are one, but at the same time I see that you are only curious about the spiritual life, while he is serious and sincere. Under these circumstances you cannot go together. If he waits for you indefinitely, his spiritual life will be ruined. He will waste his precious time. And if you stay with someone who is in the spiritual life, and who is all aspiration while you are all curiosity, you will not benefit from him. Your curiosity will not draw any of his spiritual qualities. So you will also waste your precious time by staying with him.
You should go on with your own life. Right now you are not ready for the spiritual life. You are just curious. You should follow your ordinary life. There you will get your own type of satisfaction by staying with your children, with the members of your family, with your friends and neighbors. Although it is not divine satisfaction – far from it – you will get some satisfaction by mixing with people on your own level. And your friend will have real satisfaction by mixing with sincere seekers on his own level.
If you two go alone, you will have satisfaction at your earthly level, and he will have satisfaction according to his spiritual needs. So go alone. Go alone. Go alone."
When the farmer said "Go alone" for the third time, his face changed into the face of the Yogi who had told them to go alone.
The sincere seeker touched the feet of the farmer, who was really the Yogi. But the curiosity-monger said, "You have ruined our friendship. You have ruined my life." And in his anger he struck the Teacher with all his might.
In return, the Master gave him a broad smile. He compassionately said, "You have given me a blow, but from now on you will be doing the right thing. That is why I am happy with you. I am sure that you will be following the right path according to your present needs."
To the sincere seeker he said, "I am proud of you. You are ready to follow the spiritual life. You will be following the right path, the spiritual path, your soul's own path. You have truly pleased me.
Both of you have pleased me – each in his own way. Go alone. Go alone. Go alone."
Just start your inner race
Without waiting to see
Who else is ready to run with you.
When others see you have reached your goal,
They will also be inspired to run.
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