A Guru promised a scholar a revelation of greater consequence than anything contained in the scriptures. When the scholar eagerly asked for it, the Guru said, “Go out into the rain and raise your head and arms heavenward. That will bring you the first revelation.”
The next day the scholar came to report: “I followed your advice, and water flowed down my neck. I felt like a perfect fool.”
“Well,” said the Guru, “for the first day, that’s quite a revelation, isn’t it?”
This anecdote from Anthony de Mello’s Taking Flight shows us how one guru uses a simple method to teach humility. The Masters have always used simple methods to teach us basic spiritual truths, and one of those truths is the value of simplicity itself.
Most of us lead overly complicated lives. We wear ourselves out striving hard to please and live up to the expectations of everyone but our Master. What if we were to change focus? How could striving first to please the Master help us lead simpler lives? And how could simpler lives enrich both ourselves and those around us?
We know how to please the Master, and each of us knows the areas where our efforts need shoring up. Perhaps we need to concentrate on putting more ‘seat’ time into our meditation or more meditation into our seat time, doing simran, or acting with love and patience. Reinforcing any of these basic principles of the path helps us build simpler lives by focusing our daily activities and detaching us from the whirl of the world.
As we meditate, we develop an attitude of detachment. In fact we may begin to feel as if we are watching all the events of life from behind a sheet of glass.
Maharaj Charan Singh says in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III:
We should just attend to meditation. All attachments automatically fade out, whether they are old, whether they are new - whatever they are. The only way to get rid of them is to attend to meditation. Get attached to something higher, then they start fading out.
This detachment then frees our hearts to engage less in the outside play of drama and more in the inside play of love. Our efforts to live simply and to please the Master weave themselves into every aspect of our lives. One movement towards simplicity prompts another; one desire to please the Master feeds another. Under their influence, our inside life begins to matter more than our outside life, and this shift in priorities lightens our spirit. We find delight more easily, and we spread delight more readily. Some of the remnants of a hurried, multitasking life slough away, and we see that following the basic teachings of the Master are really all we need.
And that’s quite a revelation, isn’t it?