Spirituality is about complete liberation and freedom. Spirituality not only preach about it but also has imbibed it as true nature. ‘Buddha’ with his unique and ultimate methods of attaining enlightenment, paved a new path for seekers who could not succeeded in finding true spiritual master. He gave the ways to discourage the habitual residing on master for spiritual attainments. But he never has discouraged the ‘master-disciple’ relationship and ‘master-disciple’ tradition. He himself was having many disciples. ‘Kabir’ has said the importance of master in his lines that,
“Guru bin gyan na upaje, guru bin mil na moksh;
Guru bin lakhe na satyako, guru bin mite na dosh.”
(“Without the Master no one obtains spiritual knowledge or achieves salvation and also without the Master no one can see Truth or have his doubts removed.”)
Its relevance can be seen in the ancient story of Indian epic.
When ‘King Janak’ became eager to do spiritual practice, he called all the saints, spiritual and religious masters to his court. He also had a stage built and said, “Whoever can reveal to me the true Knowledge in same length of time as it take to drink a glass of water, please come and sit on the stage.”
All the religious and spiritual masters thought that this could be done only after they had taught him from the very beginning; that knowledge was not like something that could be passed on to him to drink. But one of the sages, named ‘Ashtavakra’, who was himself a realized soul, said that he could do what the king wanted. He was hunchback and ugly, so the people looked down upon him and jeered at him. But after being insulted in this way by others, ‘Ashtavakra’ said, “I was under the impression that this was a meeting of hermits and sages and not of cobblers and low castes.”
The king asked him what he meant by these words, and ‘Ashtavakra’ replied, “Judging the beauty and color of a skin is entirely the work of cobblers and people who deal with prostitutes.”
On hearing this, King sought the True Knowledge form ‘Ashtavakra’.
When ‘King Janak’ had seated himself before ‘Ashtavakra’, the sage asked him, “O King, are you certain that you are really eager to have your request granted?”
“There is no doubt whatever in my mind,” replied the king. “I am seeking for the True Knowledge with the utmost earnestness.”
Ashtavakra then turned to the assembled holy men and asked, “Is there anyone among you, who can impart True Knowledge to the king quickly?”
There was utter silence. Addressing the king, ‘Ashtavakra’ said, “King! There is price that must be paid for obtaining this True Knowledge. Are you prepared to pay it, no matter what it may be?”
“Yes,” said the king.
“Then I will tell you the price,” said ‘Ashtavakra’, “and listen carefully. The price consists of three things that you must give to me, ‘your body’, ‘your mind’, and ‘your wealth’. Is this agreeable to you?”
The king said, “Yes, it is agreeable to me.”
‘Ashtavakra’ then told the king, “You should think this matter over very carefully, and only after thorough deliberation should you promise to hand over to me the three things.”
The king assured him with great earnestness, “Ashtavakra, I have already given the matter the most careful thought. There is no doubt whatever in my mind. I will be glad to pay the price.”
After the king had made the promise, Ashtavakra said, “Now that you have surrendered everything, your body, mind and wealth- to me, will you please leave your throne and come down and sit where all the shoes of your people are lying?”
The king was quite annoyed at this, but soon realized that he had already given everything to this mystical master. So he quietly left his throne and sat among the shoes of his subjects. When ‘Ashtavakra’ made this request to the king, he was quite aware that many people do not advance spiritually because of their sense of ego, honor and glory.
When the king had seated himself amidst the shoes, ‘Ashtavakra’ told him, “Now, please do not allow your mind to think of your wealth, since you have no wealth of your own to think about. It all belongs to me.”
At the time that this order was given, the mind of the king was sometimes thinking about his wealth, sometimes of his other possessions, sometimes of his kingdom and sometimes of his wife and children. But on hearing the words of ‘Ashtavakra’, he realized that is was useless to think of any of these things, as they no longer belonged to him. And so his mind came back to its center. Like a crow on a ship, his mind had no other place to go but to come back and sit on the ship.
As the king had been enjoined to stop his mind from going out to anything that did not belong to him, he covered his eyes so that his attention would not go out. Then ‘Ashtavakra’ said to him, “This mind is mine, and you have no right even to think with it nor to have any desires.”
Then King complied and withdrew his entire attention from outside and from his body up to the eyes, then ‘Ashtavakra’ immediately gave his own attention to the king with the result that the king’s soul went up to higher realms. ‘Ashtavakra’ verbally called him again and again, but there was no reply, as the king was deeply merged in True Knowledge or Inner Bliss.
Later on, with his own attention, ‘Ashtavakra’ brought the King’s attention back into his body and asked him,
“Have you obtained the True Knowledge you requested?”
The king replied, “I have obtained it, O! ‘Ashtavakra’ and it is far greater, more glorious and blissful than I had ever dreamed that it could be.”
After this, ‘Ashtavakra’ said, “I have no need for your body, mind or wealth; so I return them all to you. You are to act as a steward and use them on my behalf. By giving up the world and your worldly possessions, you have received the priceless gift of truth, the World of God. Henceforth, you will cease to crave for happiness and riches in this world, but shall crave only the Love of the Lord and the Bliss of His Presence.
Spirituality gives us this freedom either to walk alone or with Master or Guru. But only condition is that person should fulfill the criterion of being a Master. If one could find the true master his journey of spiritualism becomes more authenticated.