The River and the Holy Secret
An extract from “With a Great Master in India”
And so this afternoon when the Master had gone, this disciple turned and walked toward the jungle and the river bank, where he sat down to think. His head was literally dizzy with the magnitude of the problem. We know that the Master is able to do any sort of a miracle that he may choose to perform, but he is himself the supreme miracle. We know it is so, and yet we ask how can it be? We know he is the superman toward whom all philosophy points, as the goal of evolution. We know he is the embodiment of the noblest human inspirations. But when you stand face to face with the living Master himself; when you grasp his hand; when his gracious smile and loving words make your own soul glad with an inexpressible delight; all philosophy vanishes from your mind and just the joy of his living presence remains.
We sought the river bank where in solitude we could think; where we might quiet the surging tumult of thoughts that came unrestrained. So we sat down and asked that calm and emotionless river to tell us of the mystery. This river that comes down so quietly from the snow-covered Himalayas. Glancing northwards, we can see those majestic old hills, those age-old sentinels, towering in their superb grandeur over the region of the Punjab, their pure sunlit summits pointing always to the highest heavens. From their feet flows this slow rolling river, this ancient river that for ten thousand generations has kept its silent way, to empty at last into the Indus and the Arabian Sea.
We begged this river, so hoary with years, to unlock the holy secret and explain to us the perpetual miracle of the Master himself. And the river replied, ever so gently and without the use of clumsy words:
As the river flows on forever, regardless of the ways of men, so flows the love of God. Be as constant in your devotion to the Master as the river is in its course, and his love will carry you to the Supreme Ocean as surely as the river flows to the open sea.
But, a little disappointed, we said: “Venerable stream, I knew that already. You talk like a preacher. I asked you to tell me more of the divine mystery of the Master himself.” And then, the river replied:
Oh, little soul, why does the drop try to swallow the ocean? Only when you have become a Master yourself, can you comprehend a Master.
And then, while the night fell over the valley of the Beas as silently as a feather drops from the sky, this lonely disciple took his refuge and returned to the solitude of his own room, but pondering still over the sublime mystery.
To be full of things is to be empty of God.
To be empty of things is to be full of God.