HE HAS NO SHAME
Now and again, the father would consider how the son never left him for any change whatsoever, even for recreation or sightseeing. When the father would ask the son to go sightseeing, the son did not want to go. One day, the father thought of a plan to give some change in scenery to the son.
He said to him, "Your maternal uncle is about 50 miles from here, and I would like to see him. Will you come with me?"
The son said, "Of course, how can I leave you alone? I will go with you."
"We have only one donkey. How can we both go?"
"I am quite young, and I can walk the distance," the son said. "There is nothing difficult for me. I am strong."
The father was very happy, and he thought that in this way his son would get a change. So early in the morning of the following day, they started on their journey. After travelling awhile, they came upon a village. The villagers stared at the pair as they travelled down the street.
The people said, "Just see this man. He is riding the donkey, and he has no shame in seeing that young boy walk beside him." When the father heard this, he felt ashamed that he was riding the donkey while his son was walking.
So, the father said, "Son, now you ride the donkey. I will walk for some time."
Because the people were laughing at them, the son, feeling ashamed, also agreed. The son and father switched places, and the son was riding the donkey. They went a further distance and came upon another village. There again, people started looking at them and speaking amongst themselves.
This time the villagers said, "What kind of young man is he that lets this older man walk while he rides the donkey like a prince? He has no shame." When the son heard this, he felt very ashamed. So, the father decided that both of them should ride the donkey. They went a further distance and came across another village.
There, too, people looked at them and said, "Just see their cruelty. Both of them ride the donkey, while the poor, dumb animal cannot say anything. How cruel they are!"
When the father and son heard this, they felt bad because they were being so cruel to the donkey. They decided then that both of them should walk and drag the donkey. Now the sun was near setting, and they came across another village. Once again, people looked at them and said, "What fools they are, that they are dragging a donkey while they themselves are walking. They are so ignorant that they don't even know that a donkey is meant for riding. They walk and drag the donkey."
Now the father and son felt really confused. They were feeling ashamed and cruel and foolish all at the same time. As they passed through that village, the father and the son decided to sit under a tree, feeling overwhelmed from everything that everyone had said to them. Wherever they went, they were found in the wrong by others. And they did not know how to proceed on their journey.
Just as they were thinking such thoughts, a saintly person came by and he said to them, "Why are you sitting here?"
They said, "We are thinking what to do." And the father told the saintly person what had taken place on the first day of their journey. "If you have any remedy for this situation, please let us know. We will act accordingly."
The saintly person replied, "The reason that all this is happening is because you want to please the people of the world. But this is not possible because each person has their own ideas. Even though you did what they wanted, you are now confused and ashamed. They found you cruel and foolish. This is your weakness, because really you are neither. But if you continue to listen to the people as you travel from one village to the next, you will never be able to get to your destination. Then you really would be foolish. Do not listen anymore to their chatter, but listen to God within you. He will guide you properly....
And that is why it is most important for you, as Spiritual Trainees, to listen to how important for you, as Spiritual Trainees, to listen to how Beloved Baba is prompting you. That is the voice you must follow, otherwise, you will not get to the destination. But to hear the voice in your heart, you have to be very honest with yourselves.
Desires of every kind will always be in your mind, urging you to follow their lead. So you have to develop the discretion to distinguish between what is the voice of the heart and what is the noise of the mind and its innumerable desires. If you are not honest with yourselves, you will be led by false modesty, thinking that you are leading a spiritual life. But what you will be leading is only an ideal life, and no real inner change will take place.
THE SPIRITUAL TRAINING PROGRAMME, 2nd ed, pp. 111-114
2005 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust