The Guru advises a person according to his or her samskara’ He might give different advice to different people in the same situation. It is foolish for the disciple to wonder why the Guru did not advise her in the same way He advised the other disciple. More than the disciple, the Guru knows how best to guide her in every circumstance. Therefore, the easiest way for the disciple to reach the Goal is to obey the Guru totally.
Two people were working in an ashram. One of them wanted to smoke. His friend said, “You cannot smoke here. It is wrong.”
The other person said, “There is nothing wrong with smoking. One may even smoke while praying.”
“Let us ask the Guru about this!” Saying so, the first man set off to ask the Guru. When he returned, he told his friend that not only was it wrong to smoke, it was especially wrong to smoke during prayers.
“Let me also ask Him,” said the second man, and off he went to see the Guru. When he returned, he was puffing away.
“What on earth are you doing? Didn’t the Guru say that smoking is prohibited?”
The second man replied, “The Guru gave me permission to smoke.”
“What did you ask Him?” asked the first man.
His friend replied, “I merely asked: ‘O Guru, may one pray while smoking?’ The Guru said, ‘There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s how it should be.’”
In one case, the mind is immersed in karma (activity) even during prayer. In the other, the mind is in prayer even during karma.
When we ask the Guru something, we should do so with an open mind. Instead, if we ask with a certain outcome in mind, we will strive to interpret His answer in a way that suits our liking. We will have to face the consequences of this later. Only then will we realize our mistake. But by then, it would be too late. The only way to prevent this is to approach the Guru with innocence and thus assimilate His words.
Perhaps, we might not get one answer to the same question. The Guru responds according to the disciple’s mental and intellectual level. The Guru might not advise someone who has been habituated to smoking for years to quit all at once. Instead, He might suggest a method by which the person can gradually wean himself off the habit. By saying that one can pray even while smoking, the Guru was striving to make the smoker’s mind prayerful even while he was smoking. When that association grows stronger, the person’s interest in smoking will gradually weaken. Eventually, he will be able to give up smoking. Conversely, if the person is someone who is strong willed, the Guru might advise him to quit smoking all at once.
A baby that has not been weaned off breast milk cannot digest meat. If given meat, it will throw up. Likewise, the Guru gives advice after duly considering the physical and mental constitution of the person. The Guru advises according to the disciple’s attitude. Through this story, Amma is not advising anyone to smoke. Smoking cigarettes might be one man’s joy, but another man will find even the smoke revolting. Therefore, bliss does not lie in the object but is within.
The Guru might have said to someone who does not do any work but remains idle, “Far better to steal than to remain idle like this!” One must have the innocence to understand what exactly the Guru means when He says that it is better to steal than to eat, drink and sleep. Here, the Guru is advising the person sunk in tamas (sloth) to rise to the level of rajas (activity). One who is rajasic will attain the spiritual goal faster than one sunk in torpor. The Guru’s words must be interpreted to mean that rajas is far better than tamas.
Amma, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi