Spiritual Device is one topic I wanted to write about since the time I came to know about the Spiritual Devices and their effectiveness in someone’s spiritual progress.
Let’s understand most important part of Spiritual Discipline –
What is a Spiritual Device? – Normally, we will see people are really fond of accepting some person as their Guru or Master etc. Then they start following this Master and they start learning things from Him. So, up to this time, it is all theory going on. Master is speaking some words and Disciples are listening to them.
But how Master or Guru will know if the Disciples are really learning anything or they just listened and forgotten the lesson then and there only?
This is where the real test of Master or Guru also lies? A real Guru is not only a Teacher but also an Examiner. A real Guru will not only teach His disciples some lessons but He will also put them under test time and again, without them even knowing that He is testing them. This makes a Teacher to become a Guru/Master and the ways by which He tests His disciples are known as Spiritual Devices.
My knowledge about Devices – Obviously, I came to know about Spiritual Devices through Osho’s preaching. In many of His preaching, Osho has talked about the importance and utilization of Spiritual Devices for spiritual evolution of disciples. He specifically mentioned a lot about Russian Mystic George Gurdjieff in this matter. As per Osho’s preaching, Gurdjieff will first give a simple theory to his disciples and after 10-15 days, when disciples are completely unaware or even forgot that theory, Gurdjieff will create a scenario to test that theory on his Disciples.
For example – George Gurdjieff may give a very simple teaching to one of his Disciple one day that a person should not get angry. Disciple agrees. Now, after 10-15 days, Gurdjieff with the help of a few other disciples will create a situation in front of This Disciple where he may get angry, just to test if Disciple really understood the teaching or he just heard and forgotten. And this situation will be created in such a way that none can ever doubt that it is a created scenario to test someone. A person who is not aware or conscious will fall into the trap very easily.
What I have stated here is very mild example of Gurdjieff’s devices!!! Osho narrates stories where Gurdjieff has given some huge tasks to be performed by Disciples to test them or even physically beaten his Disciples to test them.
This is where they say that real Guru is really dangerous!!!
A few more examples - And it is not that Gurdjieff is alone in this long line of Masters who have created Spiritual Devices. Similar Devices were created by many Gurus at different times for testing awareness/consciousness of their disciples and helping them to evolve further. This thing needs to be remembered that purpose of Devices is not to humiliate a disciple in front of other disciples or make him feel insulted but just to make him forever conscious with this awareness that my Guru can put me into test at any point of time. Here are a few other examples of Spiritual Devices which I came to know about –
Neem Karoli Baba – One of the disciple of Neem Karoli Baba told Baba that he has overpowered his anger. Baba listened to it. After few days, Baba was travelling with the same disciple and they reached residence of a high government authority, uninformed in advance. As Govt Officer didn’t know Baba and Baba used to remain in his ordinary blanket and bare feet, this Govt Officer started abusing/insulting Baba. Seeing this, Baba’s disciple got angry and started responding to Govt Officer in equally abusive language.
Baba quietly moved out of that residence. All this was done to see if that disciple has really won over his anger, as claimed, or it was just a mere bragging.
A similar incident is when Ram Dass made a similar claim of mastering human emotions in front of Neem Karoli Baba. The very next day, Ram Dass and his group went to visit some nearby temple on some Hill. They went by Bus. While returning, it seems that other people forgot if Ram Dass is in Bus or not and they left thinking that all have come inside the Bus. But in fact, Ram Dass was left behind and he had to walk in the cold weather for about 10-15 miles to come back to Baba’s Ashram. As soon as Ram Dass was back at Ashram and he saw other people of group, he started shouting at them and complained to Baba about them leaving him alone in cold weather on a hill.
Baba only said this much – “So, Ram Dass is angry today”. :)
This was again done to see if Ram Dass has really achieved what he is claiming and also to show Ram Dass the reality, so that he shouldn’t remain under illusion and should continue on his path of evolution.
Osho – Osho himself has created many devices throughout his physical life for helping his disciples to evolve. Now, looking back at His life, I am of the view that every day of His life and every act of His life was a device to help people evolve further. One incident which I can state here is this –
At the time of giving Sannyas, Osho used to give a new name to disciple, a Mala and they were supposed to wear Orange Robes. Then one day suddenly, Osho announces that purpose of Mala and Orange Robes is over and whosoever wants to remove them, they can do so. There is no need to wear them any further but if someone still wants to wear them then they can continue to do so.
For much amusement, even before Osho could have completed this preaching, 90% of disciples have removed Mala.
Now, the next day Osho came again and said that yesterday’s announcement was a device to check who are really devoted to Sannyas? Osho said that I was telling many things to you people from last 30 years but you never showed such urgency to perform those actions. The fact that 90% of people removed Mala as soon as I offered, only shows that these 90% people never wanted to wear Mala at 1st place because I gave other option too that whomsoever wants to keep wearing Mala and Robes, they can continue to do so.
So, if we see closely, a simple thing like Mala or Robes or change of name can also work like a device.
Mysticism – And this is where I feel that Mysticism is one step higher to Spirituality. If a Teacher is only giving theories about Religion, Philosophy, Literature and Spirituality then He is only doing work up to Theory part and can be regarded as Religious or Spiritual Teacher. The moment he adds some devices and tests to make his disciples more alert, conscious and aware, he becomes a Mystic Guru. I think Mysticism is going to be more and effective in coming times as we are living more and more unconscious lives.
Conclusion – Let’s conclude this article with these two beautiful stories of a Sufi Mystics where one Mystic used a Will and Camels as Devices so that his disciples can get right Living Guru after his demise and another Mystic used defame or disrepute in society as a measure to test the right people coming to him –
First Story -
THERE WAS ONCE A SUFI WHO WANTED TO MAKE SURE THAT HIS DISCIPLES WOULD, AFTER HIS DEATH, FIND THE RIGHT TEACHER OF THE WAY FOR THEM.
HE THEREFORE, AFTER THE OBLIGATORY BEQUESTS LAID DOWN BY LAW, LEFT HIS DISCIPLES SEVENTEEN CAMELS, WITH THIS ORDER:
'YOU WILL DIVIDE THE CAMELS AMONG THE THREE OF YOU IN THE FOLLOWING PROPORTIONS: THE OLDEST SHALL HAVE HALF, THE MIDDLE IN AGE ONE-THIRD, AND THE YOUNGEST SHALL HAVE ONE-NINTH.'
AS SOON AS HE WAS DEAD AND THE WILL WAS READ, THE DISCIPLES WERE AT FIRST AMAZED AT SUCH AN INEFFICIENT DISPOSITION OF THEIR MASTER'S ASSETS. SOME SAID, 'LET US OWN THE CAMELS COMMUNALLY.' OTHERS SOUGHT ADVICE AND THEN SAID, 'WE HAVE BEEN TOLD TO MAKE THE NEAREST POSSIBLE DIVISION.' OTHERS WERE TOLD BY A JUDGE TO SELL THE CAMELS AND DIVIDE THE MONEY; AND YET OTHERS HELD THAT THE WILL WAS NULL AND VOID BECAUSE ITS PROVISIONS COULD NOT BE EXECUTED.
THEN THEY FELL TO THINKING THAT THERE MIGHT BE SOME HIDDEN WISDOM IN THE MASTER'S BEQUEST, SO THEY MADE ENQUIRIES AS TO WHO COULD SOLVE INSOLUBLE PROBLEMS.
EVERYONE THEY TRIED FAILED, UNTIL THEY ARRIVED AT THE DOOR OF THE SON-IN-LAW OF THE PROPHET, HAZRAT ALI.
HE SAID, 'THIS IS YOUR SOLUTION. I WILL ADD ONE CAMEL TO THE NUMBER. OUT OF THE EIGHTEEN CAMELS YOU WILL GIVE HALF - NINE CAMELS - TO THE OLDEST DISCIPLE. THE SECOND SHALL HAVE A THIRD OF THE TOTAL, WHICH IS SIX CAMELS. THE LAST DISCIPLE MAY HAVE ONE-NINTH, WHICH CAMEL - IS LEFT OVER TO BE RETURNED TO ME.
THIS WAS HOW THE DISCIPLES FOUND THE TEACHER FOR THEM.
Osho on Sufism - The People Of The Path. Vol 2.
Second Story –
There is a story about a Sufi fakir. There were two fakirs who stayed opposite each other. The disciple of one of them, approached his guru and said, "The Sufi next door is spreading all kinds of stories about you. He even maligns you and spreads horrible rumours about you. Why do you not set him right? Why do you not say something to him?"
The fakir told him, "Why don't you go and find out yourself? But do not ask him in haste for priceless things are not told to a stranger. If a traveller, walking on the road asks a question the answers are only good for the road." "Then what shall I do?" The disciple asked.
"Go and serve him for a year. Try to be as near to him as possible. Win his confidence. Then some day, seeing the right hour and opportunity put him the question."
For a year the disciple served his Guru's enemy. He won his confidence and was very close to him. One night as he was pressing his legs, thinking the moment to be opportune, he asked him, "Why do you speak against and abuse the fakir across the road? What is the secret?" The fakir replied, "I shall tell you since you ask but tell no one. I am his disciple. I am forbidden to give out the secret. You better go and ask him yourself. Remember, these things are not spoken about to a stranger. Try to be as near to him as possible."
Now the poor disciple was in a dilemma! Thinking him to be the Guru's enemy, he had set out to solve the mystery and this man turned out to be his Guru's disciple! He went back to his Guru and served him devotedly for two years. Then one day as he was bathing the Guru and nobody was about, he asked him, what the mystery was.
The Guru said, "He is my disciple. I have specially placed him there to spread false and derogatory rumours about me. Those who believe the false rumours, do not come to me for they are false. This saves my precious time, which I utilise on those only who are really the seekers of Truth. Those who turn back by rumours alone, are not genuine seekers. This is my own man and he has served me as no other can. He has saved me from hundreds of useless seekers."
Jin Sutra – Osho
So, Devices can be made and used for many different purposes.
Message is to be alert always.
Hope this helps. Thanks,