The power of kindness and other stories

Beethoven’s sincerity speaks

Sincerity inspires, encourages, illumines and fulfils the world.

Ludwig van Beethoven, an immortal composer and musician of the highest order, once offered a magnificent piano performance. The audience gave him a standing ovation which lasted for a long, long time.

At the end of the programme, an elderly lady came up to Beethoven and said, “How I wish I could be a genius like you! How I wish I could have magic hands like yours!”

Beethoven immediately replied, “Madam, there is no genius involved; there is no magic involved. If you are prepared to practise eight hours a day for forty years, like me, then you can easily play like me. Just start practising many hours a day, and do it for many, many years. One day you shall most definitely play as well as I do, I assure you.”


Many other great musicians are admired by the world as true geniuses, and they may most assuredly think and feel that their musical capacities are far, far beyond the reach of ordinary and even extraordinary human beings. They may act as if they are divinity’s most precious gift to humanity. In Beethoven’s case, he was one of the greatest musical geniuses the world has ever seen. But he was not at all bloated with pride or arrogance. What wonderful encouragement he offered the elderly lady! Other musicians might not have been as sincere. Others might proudly have said, “Thank you! It is true that I am a genius, and this genius comes directly from God. Right from my birth, God created me as a supreme musician.”

We all need to receive the sincere encouragement that Beethoven offered. When this encouragement comes from the greatest human beings in any field, it has tremendous power. How hard these geniuses work for years and years, and often they go totally unrecognised for decades. There are so many extraordinary and pre-eminent scientists, musicians, artists and others who work extremely, extremely hard day in and day out for years and years.

In the days of Beethoven, and for centuries before, people who created or discovered something really great simply offered it to the world. Usually they did not receive any special recognition or extra money.

Nowadays, if a scientist, for example, discovers something most significant, the Nobel Committee is there to present the scientist with a million dollars. If not that, then a major university will offer the scientist a new laboratory and so on. Then the person becomes very rich. He offers his great discovery and also receives great compensation.

Yet in no way were the discoveries of the hoary past inferior to the modern-day discoveries. What did the brilliant scientists of some two or three hundred years ago receive? On the one hand, they did not or could not fill their pockets with very large amounts of money. On the other hand, they were inundated with appreciation, admiration and love. Because of their big hearts, they offered their discoveries and services for the betterment of mankind without charge. God Himself compensated these great scientists with His infinite Blessings, Love and Pride.

Each person must choose what he wants: money-power or heart-power. Do we desire the increase of our money-power, or do we aspire for the expansion of our heart-power? While the two sometimes go hand in hand, it is the inner aspiration of the individual which is of paramount importance.

Napoleon bows before Saint Francis

Napoleon the Great was once travelling through Italy with his mighty troops, including several of his generals. He was at the front of a very large and majestic procession, having already conquered many lands.

On the way to their next destination, Napoleon saw a statue of St. Francis of Assisi. Napoleon commanded the entire procession to come to an immediate halt. He then removed his headgear and bowed. The generals were shocked. They said to Napoleon, “Sir, you are the greatest man in the world. You never bow to anyone, nor do you show respect to any other human being on earth. The entire world knows you and reveres you as the most indomitable figure ever to walk on this earth. How is it that you have taken off your headgear now?”

Napoleon replied, “I need guns and cannons to conquer the world. Once I conquer one country, another country revolts, and then I must go there to quell their revolt and reconquer the country. My victories are in no way permanent.

“Look at St. Francis! He was such a great saint. He had no weaponry — not one gun, not one cannon. I have countless weapons, but he had only one weapon: love. With that love-weapon, St. Francis conquered the entire world. With all my guns, cannons, ammunition, armies and more, my victories are never, never lasting. But his victory is everlasting, and his sole weapon was love.”

The generals were deeply moved by Napoleon’s humility. The greatest and most powerful man on earth recognised his own limitations. Napoleon Bonaparte announced to all his troops that one simple saint was far, far more powerful than himself. In this way, Napoleon won the one-pointed love, admiration, devotion and loyalty of his troops.

Abraham Lincoln prays for God’s victory

The great American President Abraham Lincoln had many saintly qualities. He did so many good and great things for America. This story took place when he was fighting alongside his army during the Civil War. There was a tremendous battle going on, and God alone knew which side was going to win.

Lincoln’s Commander-General asked him, “Do you know what is in God’s Plan? Do you feel that we are going to be victorious, or shall we go down in shameful defeat?”

Abraham Lincoln replied, “My problem is not the victory. My problem is to be certain that I am on God’s side. I am praying to God. I do not know if we shall win or lose this war. But my constant prayer is for God’s Victory. I pray that He will accept me and this nation to be on His side. I am not at all praying to God to take our side and defeat our enemies. No, never! I want God’s Victory, not my victory. This is my only prayer.”

The Commander-General and all his men were profoundly moved by Lincoln’s spiritual depth, which he maintained even during the thick of battle.

Dining his second inaugural address, soon before his victory, Lincoln once again affirmed his faith in God and his prayer for God’s Will to be done. Referring to the North and the South, Lincoln said, “Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged….the Almighty has His own purposes.”

As it turned out, God’s Victory was definitely won in and through President Lincoln’s most courageous leadership. Alas, he was assassinated just a few days after that immortal victory.

The power of kindness

The kindness aspect of life carries us far, very far, towards our destination. How kindness can change human nature for the best!

There was a school with quite a few students. Most of the students were excellent. There was only one unfortunate boy who was not at all a good student. At the same time, he had a very bad habit: he used to steal. Quite often this boy missed class in order to steal people’s money and other valuables.

Some of the boys lived in a dormitory and, from time to time, they found that their money was missing. This went on for a long time and the students became extremely frustrated. They had no idea who the actual thief was.

A brilliant idea flashed across the mind of one of the most intelligent students. On one particular day, this boy pretended to be sick and did not come to class. He was hiding in the dormitory. As fate would have it, the student who was in the habit of stealing came into the room to steal something, and he was caught red-handed. The good student immediately informed the school authorities. Word spread very quickly around the school that the thief had been caught. All the students came to know who the culprit was, and they started insulting him ruthlessly.

The teachers wanted to take the matter to the police. They said, “This boy should be punished! He should be put in jail!” The headmaster firmly told them, “No, I will not allow that. It will bring disgrace to my school. Plus, I really want to help this boy and also help the other students.”

The headmaster called all the students and teachers together, including the boy who had stolen the money. He said to the students, “You people must be frank with me. I would like each one of you who has lost money to tell me how much you have lost.”

One student said, “I have lost ten dollars.” Others said twenty, thirty, forty and so on. The whole amount came to $300. There and then, the headmaster took out $300 from his own wallet and returned the exact amount that had been stolen to each student who had lost money.

The boy who had stolen all this money was badly humiliated. Then the headmaster said to him, “You may return to your classroom. You should complete all your courses.”

The boy obeyed the headmaster and resumed his classes. But the other students continued to look down on this boy. They spoke about him behind his back and made fun of him to his face. When the headmaster heard what was going on, he was extremely sad. He told the students, “The way you are behaving is not good. We have to conquer people with our kindness. You are all my students. I will be the proudest person if you please try to develop kindness, compassion and forgiveness.”

The head of the school was truly an excellent human being. Unfortunately, neither the students nor the teachers listened to him. They simply could not look upon this particular student kindly or favourably. Immediately after being caught, the boy had stopped his stealing. He was determined to live a good life, but he was taunted again and again because of his past actions.

The headmaster repeatedly pleaded with his students and teachers, “I am begging you to please be kind to this boy. He has totally given up his stealing. All of us have weaknesses that we must conquer. Please try to find kindness, compassion and forgiveness inside your hearts.”

Slowly but surely, the headmaster’s pleading worked. People began treating the boy with sincere kindness and concern.

After four or five years, he completed his studies and went to work. He obtained an excellent job building houses. After he received his first paycheck, the first thing he did was to withdraw $300 in cash and go to his old school. The headmaster was still there.

With folded hands, the young man offered the money to the headmaster and said to him, “I am eternally grateful to you. You saved my life. Everyone else wanted to cast me into jail, but you did not allow them. I stole $300, which you yourself gave to the students from whom I had stolen the money. Now I am returning the $300 to you.”

The headmaster began shedding tears of joy and pride. He embraced the young man and said, “My son, my kindness has been most powerfully rewarded. I am so proud of you and so grateful to you. In the future, my boy, do not steal. Never steal.” The young man replied, “I have completely stopped stealing. Never again in my life will I steal. I have turned over a new leaf, and it is all due to your kindness. I assure you, if and when I have children, my children will not be affected by what I have done. They will not be like me. I will only instil sincerity, kindness, concern and compassion into my children’s hearts and lives, just as you have done to me.”

Again and again the young man offered his gratitude to the headmaster, saying, “You saved my life! You saved my life!” Then the young man bowed to the headmaster very deeply once again and took his leave.

The following day, the headmaster related this particular incident to all the students. Most of the students who knew about the stealing episode had already passed their examinations and graduated.

The headmaster said, “Many years ago, somebody was not doing the right thing in this school. He stole money from so many students during the day while they were having their lessons. When he was finally caught, someone showed kindness to this boy. Most people wanted to put him in jail, but someone did not allow that to happen. The boy immediately turned over a new leaf and became very, very good and nice. I am telling you all this because I do not want you to repeat the same story.

“You must not develop the habit of stealing. At the same time, you must not develop the habit of looking down upon others. We all have weaknesses. At what point weaknesses will dominate us, we have no idea. If we become kind and compassionate to others, there is every possibility that our compassion, kindness and forgiveness will work miracles in their lives and in our lives as well.”

The divine punishment

There was once a spiritual Master in India who had about ten disciples. The Master was extremely strict with all his disciples. Sometimes he used to actually strike them if they were not behaving well.

It happened that once the Master was very sick. Even so, he was scolding three disciples most powerfully because they were not pleasing him with their aspiration. The disciples could not control their anger, and they started beating the Master black and blue.

The poor Master was close to death. He said to those three disciples, “You have badly beaten me. I am dying now. But I am going to curse you. You will not believe what my curse is: from the inner world, I shall send you to a Master who is infinitely higher than me.”

In a few days’ time, the Master passed behind the curtain of Eternity.

About one year later, the Master was repeatedly coming to those three disciples in their dreams. He was inspiring, begging and commanding them to go to another spiritual Master. He told them, “You will not be able to strike this Master. He is infinitely higher than I am. Go to him! Your new Master will be near the Bay of Bengal, and he has many disciples.”

Their Master gave a full description of the new Master, but he did not mention the name. The three disciples searched for the new Master and found him near the Bay of Bengal. They joined his Ashram and began to aspire most sincerely. Eventually, they wrote a book about how they were responsible for their former Master’s death. Look at the nobility and vastness of their Master’s heart! His punishment was to send them to a higher Master.

Tips for the Master

Five disciples of a Master who was no longer in the physical once came to me in New York. Let us call this Master Guru Sukha. This Guru had a very, very good soul and he had many disciples.

One by one, these five disciples each had dreams of their Master during their sleep. He told them, “Please go to Sri Chinmoy, please go to Sri Chinmoy.” He also said very nice things about me to them in their dreams.

One of Guru Sukha’s disciples came to me. Then, in two months’ time, another one came, and then another and another. All of them had the same story: “Master keeps coming to me in my dreams and begging me to become your disciple.”

Alas, none of these disciples stayed on my path. They thought that I was too high for them!

One of these disciples was a hairdresser. She used to speak so highly of me to all her customers. She would have tears of devotion in her eyes as she spoke about me. Her customers would be so moved that they would often give the lady small tips for her Master, and she would gladly take their donations. After some time, she left the path.

Four or five years later, quite unexpectedly, this lady came to my house. I was on my porch. She came with a very large bag containing coins, and also one and five-dollar bills. She offered me this bag.

I asked her, “What happened?”

“I am not ready to be your disciple,” she answered, “but I cry and cry when I talk about you to my customers. I think of you all the time. When I talk to my customers and tell them about you, they are so moved. They give me money for you, so I have brought you the money they wanted to give you.”

I said, “Why do you not come back to our path?”

“Oh, no, your path is too high for me! I cannot,” answered the lady.

Guru Sukha was a very good and genuine Master. Some Masters want their disciples to stay on their path, even when the disciples want to be with another Master. Again, Masters like Guru Sukha send their own disciples to another Master when they feel that a certain Master can help their disciples to continue to make progress. This has happened many, many times. Truth to tell, there are many ways to arrive at the Goal.

Only God can cure her

About one hundred years ago, there lived in India a very good and kind spiritual Master. Let us call him Guru Raghunath. At that time, he was eight-five or ninety years old and he was extremely ill. His dearest disciple was a woman. One day she came to care for her Master, but she got angry with him for some silly reason. She struck him with a very large wooden spoon. Guru Raghunath fell down from his bed and died.

There were three or four other disciples present in the room and they witnessed everything. They were very upset with this lady, but they did not report her to the authorities.

The story never ends! Many years later, another Master — let us call him Guru Achal — was in northern India to give a talk. Before it started, one man stood up and came near him. The man was screaming, “Where is your cross? Where is your cross?”

The man wanted Guru Achal to show his cross. Otherwise, he felt that Guru Achal was not authorised to speak.

Another man stood up and said, “Jesus Christ himself was a Jew!”

Yet another party came to the Master’s rescue and screamed at the first man, “You show Jesus Christ your cross!”

Finally, everyone calmed down and the Master was able to give his talk. After everything was over, a lady came up to the Master and said, “Guru Achal, Guru! Please do me a favour.” He asked her, “What kind of favour would you like?”

She replied, “Please tell me the truth. I am Guru Raghunath’s disciple. People say that I struck my Master and killed him. Is it true?”

This was the question the lady was asking Guru Achal! He was so shocked. He said to her, “Am I the one to answer this question for you? You do not know whether you killed your Master?”

“Oh, no, you have to tell me!”

He replied, “I do not know whether you struck your Master or not. You are the one to answer this question.”

Then the lady put her hands on her throat and started massaging it. She said, “Please save me!”

“What has happened?” he asked.

“I have got a growth in my throat. You can cure me!”

“I do not have that kind of power,” Guru Achal told the lady. “There are other Masters who have that power, but I do not.” She continued, “No, no. I know you can cure me. Can you not at least touch my throat?”

“O God! I cannot touch your throat. I am very sorry,” said Guru Achal. “But I can do one thing.”

“What?” she asked.

The Master answered, “I can pray to God to cure you.” The lady was very happy that he would pray to God on her behalf.

Actually, instead of praying to God to cure her, the Master prayed to God, “Let Thy Will be done.”

One spiritual Master saves another

There was a very, very high spiritual Master. Let us call him Master Balakrishna. One day he was meditating most powerfully in a forest. Alas, the forest was extremely dry and it caught fire. Master Balakrishna was about to be burnt to ashes.

Another spiritual Master — let us call him Lalit — became aware of Balakrishna’s plight. Lalit had conquered fire, and therefore it could not burn him. He assumed another form so that Balakrishna would not be able to recognise who he was. He went to Balakrishna and grabbed him in his arms like a child. Then he carried him away from the fire. In this way, Lalit saved Balakrishna’s life.

Many years later, Balakrishna went to see Lalit because Lalit was such a great spiritual Master. When Lalit saw Balakrishna, he said, “Do you remember the incident when you were meditating in a forest and then the forest caught fire?”

“Then what happened?” enquired Balakrishna.

“Somebody came and…”

“Yes!” exclaimed Balakrishna. “Somebody came out of the blue. He grabbed me and took me out of the forest to safety. That person saved my life!”

Lalit asked, “Who was that person?” Then he assumed the same form that he had taken when he saved Balakrishna. “You see,” he said, “I am the one who saved you.”

Balakrishna knew that someone had come and saved him from the fire, but he had no idea who it was. There was no resemblance at all between Lalit’s ordinary form and the form he had taken when he entered into the forest to save Balakrishna.

After this, Balakrishna and Lalit became very close to each other. Lalit always wanted Balakrishna to go much higher than his own present spiritual height. He would tell Balakrishna, “You can still go much higher, much higher! Why are you not going as high as you can?”

At that time, Balakrishna had many disciples. To them Lalit also criticised Balakrishna. “You have such a bad Master!” he would say. “He is not going nearly as high as he is able to go.” The disciples used to get furious. They would say, “You have no right to speak ill of our Master. How dare you criticise him!” The time came when Lalit decided to take his earth-departure. He said to Balakrishna, “When I leave the body, I would like you to take care of my Ashram and all my disciples.” Balakrishna was stunned. “No, I can never do that,” he said. “You always say such bad things about me. You constantly criticise me. How can I take care of your disciples?”

Master Lalit said, “No, no! My disciples are no match for you. You are much, much more developed than they are, only I want you to go yet higher. That is why I have criticised you in front of your disciples.”

Master Balakrishna answered, “I do not want to take your position. I will not do that.”

“All right, all right,” said Lalit. “All I am asking you to do, then, is to pray and meditate more sincerely.”

By that time, Balakrishna had acquired much occult power and he had had many, many high, higher and highest spiritual experiences. He also had many disciples of his own. He had three or four Masters who helped him greatly. For a few years he would have one Master, and then somebody else would be his Master. But he never accepted a single spiritual Master.

Lord Vishnu’s great devotee

There was a very, very famous king who was kindness incarnate, compassion incarnate and self-giving incarnate.

Usually it is impossible for any one person to please everyone but, in his case, all his subjects were extremely pleased with him, extremely grateful to him and extremely proud of him. The king’s name was Ambarish.

The king was a very great and very sincere devotee of Lord Vishnu. Once he decided to fast and pray and meditate for three days without rest in order to receive blessings from Lord Vishnu. It was a special religious rite that he wanted to perform.

For three days Ambarish fasted and prayed and meditated. Then he was so elated and so grateful that he had been able to fulfil his desire that he decided to fulfil the desires of all his subjects.

“Since it will be difficult for me to bring all my subjects to my palace, let me start with the priests,” said Ambarish. “We have so many priests. Since they are spiritual people, I want to please them first.”

The king invited all the priests to an elaborate banquet. After the banquet, he was planning to give boons to each guest. Ambarish himself did not want to take even a morsel of food or a single drop of water. Nothing at all! He was not fasting unto death; there was no threat involved. Ambarish was trying to win Lord Vishnu’s special blessings by performing this penance.

The priests were all ready to begin eating. All of a sudden the great sage Durvasha appeared. Durvasha was known for his very quick temper. In a second, he could destroy anyone. This kind of occult power he had, and he misused it millions of times.

Everyone was shocked to see Durvasha. King Ambarish greeted him very respectfully. “O great sage,” he said, “we are honoured by your presence. You are our guest of honour. Please allow me to serve you first.”

“No, Ambarish,” replied Durvasha, “I am going to bathe in a nearby river. After I have washed myself completely, I shall come to eat.”

Durvasha went to the river. Half an hour passed, then an hour, two hours, three hours. He was enjoying himself. Even after four hours, there was no sign of his return. For the special kind of worship that King Ambarish was performing, one has to resume eating at a certain hour, after having completed the fast. One of the priests said to Ambarish, “O King, if you do not eat during this special hour, you will commit a sin, according to our Shastras.”

“What am I going to do?” asked the king. “If I do not wait for Durvasha and offer him food first, he will curse me. And if I do not eat during this most auspicious hour, I shall be committing a sin.”

The priests held a consultation, and then they advised the king, “You are such a good, kind-hearted king. We do not want you to suffer. This anger-flooded sage should suffer! Drink just a drop of water. Then you will be able to say to Durvasha that you have not eaten, but at the same time you will be able to please God because you have taken something.”

Ambarish put a little drop of water in the palm of his hand and was about to drink it when, lo and behold, Durvasha appeared. He was furious. “What kind of audacity is this?” he shouted. “I am such a great sage. How dare you drink without giving me food first? I curse you!”

From his matted hair, Durvasha removed a few strands and turned them into a chakra, a disc. He released the disc, and it flew very fast towards Ambarish to kill him. Ambarish prayed to Lord Vishnu, “O Lord Vishnu, what have I done? I did not want to drink, but my priests said I should. They said that otherwise I would be committing a sin because I would not fulfil my vow. Now I have to face Durvasha’s wrath.”

Lord Vishnu immediately sent his Sudarshan chakra to intervene. This chakra came down from Above and broke Durvasha’s chakra into pieces. But that was not enough. Vishnu’s all-conquering Sudarshan chakra started chasing Durvasha here, there and everywhere. Durvasha ran for his life. He even ran into the river, thinking that the disc would not follow him there, but no matter where he went, Vishnu’s Sudarshan chased him. At any moment, he was about to lose his life.

Finally, the sage went to Brahma, the Creator, and pleaded, “O Brahma, please, please, save me, save me! Vishnu’s chakra is about to kill me.”

“You fool!” Brahma replied. “How will I dare to challenge Vishnu’s chakra? I am not going to do anything.”

Then Durvasha went to Lord Shiva. Shiva is so fond of Vishnu. Shiva became furious with Durvasha. “Just run away from here!” he said. “Otherwise, I will destroy you! You will not have to wait for Vishnu’s chakra. I am going to destroy you here and now! What an unthinkable thing you have done to Vishnu’s devotee! Our devotees are dearer than our lives themselves.” Shiva scolded and insulted Durvasha mercilessly.

In our Indian philosophy, if a Master has a very sincere and excellent devotee, he is ready to sacrifice his own life for the devotee.

Then the helpless, hopeless and useless Durvasha went to Lord Vishnu for forgiveness. “Am I going to forgive you?” said Vishnu. “Ambarish is dearer than the dearest to me. He is dearer than my life itself. I am not going to help you. How could you do such an unthinkable thing to such a good king? Go and beg Ambarish for forgiveness!”

Poor Durvasha had to go to Ambarish and beg for forgiveness. “Please, forgive me, forgive me, forgive me! Save me!” he wept.

Ambarish said to Durvasha, “I have no power. I can only pray to my Lord Vishnu. He is the one who is about to kill you.” Ambarish prayed to Vishnu, “My Lord, please, please, forgive him.”

Vishnu said, “Only because of you, I am forgiving him. Because you are so dear to me, I will always listen to your request, but not to his request.”

Then Vishnu forgave Durvasha and Vishnu’s chakra stopped chasing him. Durvasha asked Ambarish, “How is it possible? Brahma did not dare to challenge Vishnu’s chakra. Shiva did not dare. On the contrary, they both insulted me and scolded me brutally. And Vishnu himself did not forgive me. But your forgiveness immediately produced results.”

“O Durvasha, you know that it is not my power,” replied Ambarish. “It is my Lord Vishnu’s Compassion-Power. I prayed to him only to become a better king. That is why I observed that particular religious rite of fasting for three days. It was nothing. Anybody could do it — just three days of fasting. I did not drink, I did not eat anything. But my Lord Vishnu’s Compassion is infinite. His Love for me is infinite. It is his Love for me that wanted to punish you. It is his Compassion for me.”

In India, there are millions of mythological stories about this kind of injustice and retribution. If someone does something wrong to a sincere devotee, then from Above not only these three main Cosmic Gods — Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva — but others also punish the culprit. Whenever their super-excellent devotees are in trouble, the Cosmic Gods immediately take their side.

This is an authentic story of how Lord Vishnu wanted to glorify Ambarish because, as a king, Ambarish was kindness incarnate, compassion incarnate and self-giving incarnate.

Not to judge, but only to love

Once a prominent spiritual Master was invited by the mayor of a certain town to offer a talk. The spiritual Master had never been to that town before. He very happily accepted the invitation and decided to travel there alone. Though he had many, many disciples throughout the land, he had none in this town.

The mayor made all the arrangements for the Masters visit. He reserved a large hall where the Master could offer his talk, and he had notices put up everywhere inviting all those interested to attend. Everyone was extremely happy and proud that such a famous spiritual Master was coming to their town.

One spiritual seeker named Jyotish asked his friend, “Have you heard the news? A very great Master is coming to town. He will meditate and give a talk. Who knows, he may even show us some of his occult power!”

His friend Madhu replied, “Fantastic! I did not know of this. We cannot miss it.”

Like this, the Master’s forthcoming visit became the talk of the town. Everyone was most eagerly looking forward to the renowned Master’s arrival. Finally, the day of the talk arrived. People from the town, and even many people from the surrounding villages, had come to listen to the Master and meditate with him.

Madhu excitedly telephoned his friend early in the morning. “Jyotish, we must arrive at least four hours early in order to get a good seat!”

“Yes, of course,” Jyotish replied.

The friends agreed to leave at eleven o’clock to walk to the town hall where the Master would be speaking. It was the largest meeting hall in the entire town. The talk was to begin at four o’clock in the afternoon. The mayor himself would not be attending, but he had done an excellent job of letting all his townspeople know about the Master’s coming.

A wave of tremendous spiritual excitement had spread throughout the town. All the people were thrilled in anticipation of being in the presence of a great spiritual figure. The men were wearing their cleanest white dhotis and kurtas, and the women were wearing pure white saris.

Hours before the Master’s talk, people were streaming down the main road of the town in large numbers. Just near the mayor’s mansion, and a few blocks from the town hall, all those who were passing by saw an old, unkempt man sleeping on the side of the road. His grey hair was long and dishevelled. His beard was completely uncared for. His clothes were simpler than the simplest. Nobody had ever seen this old man before.

Because people were going to attend a spiritual function and were in a good consciousness, most of them took compassion on the old man. Some kind-hearted people gave him bananas and other food.

“Here, take this, old man,” one nice mother said. She was going to hear the Master with her four young children. She put a small bowl of rice right in front of the old man. Then she and her children went on their way.

A few people were far less kind, and some of them even cursed the man. “Horrible! Horrible! Are you even a human being? Get out of here!” they cried at the poor, dishevelled man. “How dare you be here, dressed like that on such a sacred day as today! Go! Go away!”

But the old man seemed only to sleep and sleep.

Finally, the time came for the Master’s talk. When the Master entered the hall, there was a stunned gasp from the audience. “What! This is the Master? This is the Master? There must be some mistake!” they exclaimed. They were all shocked, for the Master was none other than the same old beggar they had all passed by while he was lying down on the road and sleeping.

The Master simply bowed his head and meditated in complete silence for several minutes. Then he spoke slowly and with tremendous intensity. “I am extremely grateful to all of you for coming here today to attend my talk. I have not come here to judge you. I have come here only to love you.”

Then the Master continued, “All of you who passed by me this afternoon judged me. You said to yourselves, ‘This man is so poor! He is so dirty! What is this old man doing sleeping on the road like this on such an important day? How dare he?’ Some of you were extremely kind to me and even offered me your food. Others were less kind. They made fun of me or showed their anger. I wish to tell you that the spiritual life is not to judge, but only to love. If you can all follow this one divine teaching, then you will make tremendous progress in your spiritual lives. You will see immediately what a difference this will make in your own inner life of aspiration and in your outer life of dedication.”

Without saying another word, the Master blessed each and every person in the hall in silence. Then he bowed his head once more and slowly walked out of the hall.

When the Master returned home, his spiritual children were extremely eager to hear how his trip had gone. The Master simply smiled and said, “I gave a talk. It went very well. I said that I have not come into the world to judge anyone. I have come into the world only to love everyone and everything.”

All the disciples were deeply moved. They bowed to the Master and silently filed out of the room.

(Sri chinmoy, The power of kindness and other stories)


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We are all leaves, flowers
And fruits
On the different religion-branches
Of the birthless and deathless

(Sri Chinmoy)

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