Do We Stay True To Our Master

In American business conversation, we usually use phrases derived from sports. So we use a phrase from American football (which, of course is played very little with the foot) for at least the last 30 years, “Take the ball and run with it.”

Sometimes, I have seen people take the ball and run with it, but they don’t know when to stop. They go past the end zone, through the tunnel and “spike” the ball in the parking lot.

OK, it’s a tortured metaphor. I was thinking last night of the problem of disciples taking one phrase or attitude from their master, or teacher, and going too far.

A woman in our Yoga class last night said something that reminded me of a story about the great Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy. He was a well-known pacifist in almost all things. He attracted a flock of disciples who gathered at his estate, I suppose to live off the rich, old guy, or to learn from him.

It seems that one afternoon during a discussion, a mosquito landed on Tolstoy’s arm. He rather absent mindedly swatted it. His disciples were aghast! How could the great Tolstoy kill a living being!?

That’s going too far.

I’ve read many, if not most, of the world’s greatest spiritual seekers. Then I’ve read about what some of their followers have done with the teachings. Mostly the seekers wanted to breed other seekers. They wanted to point them in the right directions. Help them out.

But some of the followers just wanted a list of rules. Then they would take one of two of his teachings and emphasize them beyond the entire body of teaching–and against the attitude of spiritual seeking of the master. It’s more like, we don’t need to seek anymore. The master was the explorer. He found the gold mine. All we have to do is carry out the gold.

A friend of mine just discovered that in the history of Christianity, not all who professed to be Christian actually behaved in a Christ-like manner. In fact, the history of the Christian church is filled with violence, depravity, hate. That’s what happens when we cease being seekers and think we have found the gold.

Each person born into the world must seek for God himself. We cannot incorporate others’ learning by osmosis. We must learn for ourselves. There are no shortcuts in life.

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