Spiritual Realization Requires a Spiritual Master

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Grace for World-Blessing Work

I have been writing from the viewpoint of Grace as a means for Spiritual growth and, ultimately, for Spiritual Liberation. But Grace is often sought for purely material help. Some of this is due simply to the influence of our currently materialistic culture, and a Western religious tradition that has placed more emphasis on the visible here and now, than on the "hereafter" (or more accurately, the invisible "here and now"). But equally important is Maslow's hierarchy of needs: how can we invest any serious energy or attention on Spiritual Realization, when we are hungry, poor, sick, or at war? The "lower" needs must be handled, if not before the higher needs, then at the same time, in order for the spiritual practitioner to be freed from having all their time, energy, and attention bound up in the caring for them.

Interestingly, the Grace of the Spiritual Master has always been understood to not only serve the Spiritual liberation of individuals, but also to have a beneficial effect on the world in ordinary terms. The Christian tradition of caring for the sick, clothing the poor, and feeding the hungry originated in the miraculous displays of Grace by Jesus: healings, feeding the multitudes, etc. That these too were the result of Spiritual Transmission is clear. For instance, in one incident, when a woman touches Jesus's robe and is healed, it is reported that "Jesus felt the power go out from Him", indicating that a spontaneous Spiritual Transmission had caused her cure.

Ramana Maharshi
Ramana Maharshi

The twentieth-century Indian Master, Ramana Maharshi, often was asked, "Why don't you help the world?", apparently in response to the fact that He simply stayed in or near His room all the time. Maharshi's answer was, "How do you know I do not? A self-realized being cannot help benefitting the world. His very existence is the highest good." He thus reflected the questioner's limited understanding of Spiritual Transmission; the one who asked the question presumed that benefitting the world requires physical proximity and visible action.

Many traditions suggest that the material world is arising in a Greater-Than-Material Reality. Realize that Greater Reality (even only partially), and one will be able to help the material world from the greater vantage point of its Source (or at least closer to It). Asking a Spiritual Master why He or She is not out feeding the hungry is a little like asking the staff of a cancer research institute why they are not out treating the folks in their neighborhood for colds. Other doctors are already doing just that! The opportunity represented by the Spiritual Master and His or Her Spiritual Transmission is rare.

Narayan Maharaj
Narayan Maharaj

The beneficial effect of Spiritual Transmission on the world can take many forms. The devotees of the Spiritual Master, Narayan Maharaj, believed His Spiritual Transmission was instrumental in the final resolution of World War II. The Master would read a detailed report every day on the war's progress. As the war continued, leaving large numbers of soldiers wounded and dying, mysterious wounds would appear on the Master's body, with no visible cause. As a result, He could neither walk nor eat. Finally, on September 3, 1945, Maharaj was told that the British had landed in Japan. He responded, "The war is over. My work is finished." He died later that same day.

But positive benefits on the material level are of limited spiritual value, because they pass, and because we die. Every one of the people that Jesus healed died later (even Lazarus). So obviously the eradication of physical death was not the point of these miracles. Thus Spiritual Masters have always sought to re-educate their disciples into valuing more greatly that which is eternal (or at least greater-than-material). For this reason, Masters warn disciples away from the fascinations of miraculous powers in and of themselves, because they represent a diversion from the true but narrow course leading to genuine, Spiritual growth and lasting Spiritual Realization. To the extent that Spiritual Transmission leads to a more peaceful world and better life conditions, and thus, an environment more greatly conducive to Spiritual life, its use is truly spiritually valuable. But Grace invoked solely for the sake of material gain has always been criticized by the human Conduits of that Grace.



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