Who is a Disciple?

We know nothing of our inner nature.  Something like a crushing blow, a brush with death, boredom, loneliness, despair, extreme happiness and its opposite might trigger us to set out on the path of exploration – to discover who we really are.

Disciple comes from the Latin word to learn. As soon as we suspect there is a need to learn, the master beckons.

You ask me, who is a disciple. As far as I can see, with the benefits of a few blows and many blessings, a disciple is one who, having caught the scent of unbounded freedom, love, truth, peace, god or whatever, will stand by the one who emits that scent through thick and thin, for better or worse. 

This does not mean they become followers.  A genuine disciple remains a unique individual who breathes in the divine fragrance, and who, through diligence, persistence and trust, becomes the fragrance that the master is.

Let’s say YOU are a disciple. You were lost in a vast desert or infinite city. The Master is a single signpost; you discern a sense of direction. You have to do the walking. At nightfall you are totally exhausted: now the master is a hostelry, a host. Next morning he is an alarm call. As you continue your journey, thirst and hunger tug at you and the journey starts to pall: the master turns up as a water-seller and an orchard, bountiful with fruit.

The days wear on and once you turn towards a mirage or a shopping mall and long for its distractions: the master is a roaring security guard who will not let you pass. After centuries or seconds you catch glimpses of your journey’s end across a verdant valley with its raging river: the master is your guide and a bridge. Finally you feel within yourself, soft stirrings of the unborn: you are pregnant with essential life: the master is your midwife.

This short metaphor is a hint; the truth is more complex and exciting.

We need to understand about ‘surrender’, a word much used in the master-disciple connection. It has two connotations – one is of abject giving up, a kow-towing to superior might, a dropping of responsibility.  The authentic disciple’s surrender will have none of that. 

Osho says, As far as I am concerned, I am not part of any old category of masters. I am a new beginning in the sense that the old master demanded surrender. I don’t demand anything from you, because to me surrender is a subtle spiritual slavery. […]  I want my people to be individuals living in freedom. On another occasion he said, the master does not teach and yet you learn from him. When you surrender to the master, you do not surrender to the master.

My understanding is that what the disciple apparently surrenders is what is not real, the artefact known as their ego. They are relieved of a burden and the master is not lumbered with it.  That is the win-win for master and disciple.

The disciple undertakes to learn from the master how to discover his own true nature. He embraces no beliefs or prescriptions, listens more to the silence of the master than his words, follows his heart not his mind and, when the wind is blowing in the right direction, his ego falls away. He finds himself as free and innocent, connected with all people and all things as when he was a child.

Cut now to the present day, early 2022. Humanity is sleepwalking, stumbling down the path of self-destruction. It is time for us to wake up. Whoever you are – painter or porter, jockey or journalist, content controller or maintenance manager we all need to change ourselves, to avert our descent into climate catastrophe.  We can’t look to ‘them’ – it’s down to us.

We all have the Buddha within us – that truly is our inner nature. With ardent intent we can learn from children, a dog, a forest of trees: an authentic master is the fast track most of us need. Osho, the master of masters, is as present and as potent now as ever he was when embodied. 

Sw Rashid Maxwell


02.02 2020

Rashid started life aged 40 growing vegetables for meditators in the Osho Ashram. Forty-four years later, he is still a gardener, a beekeeper and sometime author, poet and painter. He now lives in Devon , UK.  

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