On Not Joining A Movement

The skill of Bhakti lies in living the wisdom, not in joining a movement.

So many think that they must abandon the Master's sadhana because of what they see happening in the movement. This is a tragic mistake. As a movement grows in success, it inevitably becomes less like a family and more like a business, and finally like a corporation. Conflicts between egos arise, hierarchy solidifies, the innocence of the early days fades away. But true innocence flows from your heart, not from the organization..

The Master and the movement are completely different. Will one reject the beauty of Jesus because of what one sees in the Church? So it is with modern spiritual organizations and ashrams. Perfection lies in the formless, not in the form. Take the honey, leave the flower. The form blossoms, releases its fragrance, and fades away. But the formless is bliss.

There is a Student, a Disciple, and a Devotee. A Student visits the ashram to take a course. A Disciple works for the spiritual organization. A Devotee tastes some banned substance bubbling up the spine, then dissolves into the face of the Beloved.

We can't judge the level of devotion by one's degree of involvement in the movement. Some devotees stay under the umbrella, and some don't. Devotees may serve the Master in other, less visible ways. For some Devotees, there are no more courses and no more movement, just vanishing into clarity.

The Student acquires a blessing, the Disciple acquires salvation, the Devotee acquires nothing but divine madness.

The Guru slaps the Devotee hard in the face, then touches his chest like a feather. (This actually happened.) The Devotee never stops tingling with the sting of that wound which cleanses his mind like the space between stars. He feels that feather touch forever in his heart, yearning never to be healed.

You don't understand this? Neither do I. I am no longer singing. I have become my song.

The student goes to the market to purchase a single hothouse rose. The disciple works hard to cultivate the master's garden. The devotee just stumbles through the forest, where it is most pathless and green, ecstatic at the sight of a wild iris.

"Good-for-nothing lout" you call him? I agree. But which one of the three is most likely to play a golden flute? Or dance with babies at the supermarket?

Which one will stay drunk when the righteous throw us all into prison where there isn't any wine, but the stuff that ferments in the charred barrel of the ancient heart?

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