True Teaching Is Individual

[Listen to Asha read this story]

When I came into the living room of Swamiji’s house, Deirdre* was sitting next to him on the couch, sobbing uncontrollably. Swamiji said nothing, just looked at her kindly, and occasionally patted her hand to comfort her.

He explained to me briefly about a crisis in Deirdre’s personal life that he was trying to help her through. After a few moments, she gained control of herself.

“Thank you for being so understanding,” Deirdre said to him, as she stood up to leave.

I myself had come to Swamiji with troubles of my own. He had given me a difficult writing project, and after days of effort I still hadn’t accomplished anything. My confidence was at a low ebb. When I tried to explain to Swamiji how I felt, all I, too, could do was sob. As I sat there crying, I thought of how sweetly Swamiji treated Deirdre. I’d often seen him console people in that way, and many times in the past he had also consoled me.

Today, however, what he did was get up from the couch where we were sitting, walk over to the bureau and open the drawer in which he stored his depleted flashlight batteries. Carefully he began sorting through them, applying to each one a voltage meter to see which ones still had life left in them.

I was shocked. Why would he attend to his batteries, instead of tending to my needs? His apparent indifference was so startling, I stopped crying. “I guess I’ll go home now,” I said tentatively, still hoping to get some kind of response from him.

“Good-bye,” he replied casually.

On another occasion, when Swamiji was advising us on how to counsel others, he said, “Usually you should show sympathy, but there are times when sympathy is not helpful. If someone is already feeling weak and defeated, your sympathy, instead of strengthening their will, may only reinforce the idea in their minds that the problem is too big for them to solve.”

Apparently, Swamiji considered such to be the case this time. And he was right. I left his house determined to prove I could stand on my own two feet. Going straight home, I "attacked" the project again, and finished it!

A few days later, at a community satsang, Swamiji announced, “Asha faced an important test this week, and I am pleased to say she passed it. If she hadn’t, it would have been a major setback for her in this incarnation. There was nothing I could do to help her; she had to do it herself.”

Afterwards, I said, “Why didn’t you tell me how much was at stake?”
“Because I didn’t think it would help you to know,” he said. That was good enough for me. His method worked, and that was all that mattered.

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