For Your Sake

[Listen to Asha read this story]

“I don’t think I have the spiritual depth to carry through with the job you have given me,” a devotee wrote to Swamiji.

“I am not asking you to do this job because it will help others,” Swamiji answered. “I am asking you to do it because it will help you develop the qualities and consciousness you want for yourself.”

Another devotee, after suffering a painful disappointment, decided to renounce worldly life and become a monk. At that time, however, there was no monastery at Ananda. He decided to create one by putting up a building where the monks could live.

“I told Swamiji I was going to raise money and do this,” the man said later. “Swamiji’s response was two-fold. First, he went into his wallet and pulled out $50, which he donated to the project. Then he said simply, ‘Buildings alone do not create monasteries and communities. They are created by people.’”

Nothing came of the monastery project and a few years later the man got married. “With Swamiji’s permission, I kept the bills he gave me,” the man said later, “as a reminder of his encouragement and support.”

“I don’t start from the point of whether or not a project will succeed,” Swamiji explained on another occasion. “My starting point is whether or not it will be spiritually beneficial to those involved. If it is, I encourage it, even though I may know in advance it will come to nothing. The mere effort will help people develop the magnetism eventually to succeed, if not in this project then in some other.

“In the same way, even if success is guaranteed, if the project is not spiritually beneficial for those involved, I won’t encourage it. Even if it is something Ananda needs, I’ll wait for years if necessary, until there are people for whom the job is spiritually right before putting my support behind it.

“And if no one comes, I’ll give up the project. To act in any other way would be using people, which is contrary to every principle of our path.”

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