Conversations with a Master

A rhyming play, based on 13 stories by Sri Chinmoy. Performed January 2019, on a winter retreat in Madeira, with the Sri Chinmoy Centre.

1. This plant is man, this plant is God
2: Play your role as a daughter of God
3: Two disciples
4: The unconditional gift
5: Renunciation is not the answer
6: The spiritual lesson
7: The fight is for the brave
8: Conquer your enemies
9: Human expectation and divine fulfilment
10: Everyone has his own role
11: The heaviest load
12: Who is more important – Guru or God?
13: The two friends


Disciple 1
Disciple 2



[Enter Master]

MASTER [To audience]:
My God, spiritual guidance is relentless, heavy work.
My multifarious duties I would often rather shirk.
P’rhaps I’m blessed for I have but a single spiritual daughter,
And  she takes to heart most of the lessons I have taught her.
In these seven stories you will see how progress flowers,
I shall first bestow upon you certain occult powers.
Concentrate and you will know the art of reading minds.
Hold still and prepare to open all your inner blinds.

[Master makes a flourish]


[Enter Disciple 1, gardening with the Master aside]
[Enter Disciple 2]

Ah, this is a sacred place. Oh, what a peaceful garden.
How they work in harmony… Hello, I beg your pardon!
Sir, you have the look about you of a spiritual Master?
I ask as I would like to realise God… a little faster.
I notice your disciple always seems to do your bidding.

MASTER [To audience]:
Well, if only that were true, I don’t know who she’s kidding.

Is it possible for her to realise the Supreme
By following your teachings, or is that a girlish dream?
I’m a worldly person and I cannot find a guide,
Though for many years I have been searching far and wide.
Seems it is impossible that such a one exists
Who’ll guide a hopeless seeker such as I am through the mists,
Let alone one great enough to take me to the goal.

[To audience]
I’m not sure one as bad as me would even have a soul!

Others may take sides with you, but I must disagree.
To realise God for anyone is simple as can be.
Now look here, these little plants are rooted in the sod.
Take this plant as you, my child, and this one take as God.
Now I am the Master, I came here and touched this plant.
I have done in moments that which you have said you can’t.
This tiny thing immediately responded to my touch.
In the blinking of an eye, this God-Plant as such
Gave me all His Joy, Delight, Compassion and His Love.
I merely switched them, but the act was sanctioned from above.

Master, I have found you, please give me initiation!

Soon, my child, but let me first explain your great frustration.
Your ideas of God and spirituality are not right.
When I approach you, you have fear and think of taking flight.
You’re ashamed, your ignorance you’re eager to conceal,
But this plant has no shyness if its brown roots I reveal.
It rises to adventure, look its very leaves are thrilled!
Offer up your darkness, and your wish may be fulfilled.

[Exit Disciples]


[Enter Disciple 2]

Master, you may not yet have my heart of true devotion.
It’s just that now my life is full of worry and commotion.
But I promise that will not much longer be the case.
My life will soon be marching at a somewhat slower pace.
Now my sons are studying, which is a great distraction.

And when they graduate, your mind will meet with satisfaction?
No, they’ll work in medicine, in law and in gymnastics,
You think your sons will see the light and turn into monastics?
No, you’ll say then is the time for finding each a wife,
And believe me, that is the beginning of your strife.
There’ll be children – three times three or maybe even more.
They’ll be scattered far and wide from here to Bangalore,
With studies and professions and more marriages to match.
How do you imagine you will manage to detach?

DISCIPLE 2 [To audience]:
Drat, he’s right of course, I really didn’t think this through.
I must try to deceive him, it’s the only thing to do.

[To Master]
No, just wait a while… until their little ones are grown,
Then I promise, Master, that my life will be my own.

Oh yes, very good, so at the age of ninety-nine?

But it is my duty that I care for all that’s mine.

It was God who brought you to the life of aspiration.
Call has come! Arise, awake, and seize your inspiration!
With one foot in the grave your days will then be disappearing.
Your boys are men now, do you think they need you interfering?

DISCIPLE 2 [To audience]:
He is not a mother, so how could he understand?
For my little darlings I would give up my right hand!
They would get so thin without my homemade gulab jamun!
Will they live on cupcakes, Bombay mix and instant ramen?
No I’ll take them tiffin boxes, like a good relation.
The Master will not know… unless I’m late for meditation.

Duties are like ocean waves, they never will subside.
To make progress, you must learn to dive against the tide.
The inner life requires that you are focused, steadfast, brave!

But I’m so limited, I can’t surmount a single wave!

You are limited, but not so my heart of compassion.
Avail yourself of all I offer… in a timely fashion.
You’ve played your role as mother, now recall you are God’s daughter.
Go to His vast Sea of Love, and plunge into the water.
Leave your sons quite safely in the Lap of God’s Concern.

Master, you are right… I have so very much to learn.

[Exit Disciple 2]


[Enter Disciple 1]

Master, it grows cold outside, the snow begins to fall.
I have saved on housekeeping to buy you this fine shawl.

[Master accepts shawl. Exit Master, limping]
[Enter Disciple 2]
Look , I told you that the Master has no occult power.
He has nothing, it’s all lies, my love for him grows sour.
For months now he’s been suffering from that rheumatic pain.

Do we really have to go through all this once again?

We’ve done nothing wrong, and yet he says he takes our karma.
He’s done something wrong, not us.

Now will you stop this drama!

God made two types of people, the deceivers and deceived.
These outlandish claims of his are not to be believed.
Stay with him and suffer with him, with him you will die.

I’d die with him, and for him gladly.

Fine for you, not I.

[Enter Master]

MASTER [To Disciple 2]:
So you think my sacrifice for you is only bragging?
Go then, leave me, I will travel faster without dragging
Some ungrateful weight behind me, I have better things to do.

[To Disciple 1]
You believe all I have said on suffering is true?
Is it mental knowledge you have gathered just from books?
Or do you really feel my pain is deeper than it looks?

Master, I am sure of what you take from me each day:
Impurity, obscurity, you gently wash away,
In security and jealousy and pride and doubt,
Many other imperfections you are clearing out.

Where do they go?

I give them to you, daily I observe it.
This you do in secrecy, though I may not deserve it.

Child, there are two reasons why I suffer in this way.
One is that I bear the ignorance you give away.
In secrecy I do it, yes, this is what God expects.
It is the quickest way, but it has physical effects.
The other is that people sometimes come with their desire
And not true aspiration, so I cannot take them higher.
They come to me and see that I am paralysed with pain.
They’re doubtful, disappointed, and they don’t come back again.
God wants these unaspiring people to release their Master.
His boat is lighter then, you see, so he may travel faster.
He is left with true disciples, faithful and sincere.
These disciples know and feel their role in life is clear:
It is to give their Master joy, and please him in his way.
To make the Master proud, and prouder of them every day.

Master, for so long I’ve been a cruel and faithless creature.
Now I know you are my dearest friend and only teacher.

Master, I have followed you thus far with my devotion,
Now you have revealed to me your vast compassion ocean
I feel myself a conscious part of you – a leg or arm.
May this oneness help to keep you physically from harm.

By truly understanding what my sacrifice is worth,
You have manifested the Supreme‘s Will here on earth.

[Exit Disciple 2]


Master, what has happened to that shawl of fine angora?

I gave it to a gentleman significantly poorer.

DISCIPLE 1 [To audience]:
I believe I have the right to be extremely miffed!

Was it for me to carry for you, or was it a gift?

A gift, of course, but then I hoped that you could… have… re-used it?

How dare you ask me for it?

I just feel you have refused it.

Did you give to please me or to fill yourself with pride?
When you give to me, please leave your vanity aside.
I have money – yet more fancy shawls I can afford.
If you desire I’ll have one packaged up as your reward.
But if you did this for me, then for my sake hold your tongue.

Master, please forgive me, now my pride is rightly stung.

When you give me something, in its use you have no say.
My use for it can only be according to God’s Way.
Trust in me! You do not have the gift of inner sight.

DISCIPLE 1 [To audience]:
I’m such an idiot, of course the Master’s always right.

[Exit Disciple 1]


[Enter Disciple 2]

Master, I took your advice regarding family duty.
Now I may immerse myself in God’s immortal Beauty.
I spend more time in quiet prayer and serious reflection,
But my three sons fail to understand my new direction.

[To audience]
I’m listening intently for the sound of God’s Command,
Then the phone rings with one more ridiculous demand.
A cricket bat, some idli chaat, please pick me up from soccer.
Saag paneer, some running gear, please get me an iced mocha.

[To Master]
Had I stayed unmarried I would not be in this mess!
If I could renounce them, I’d be able to progress.

Child, I see your point, but you are acting like a fool.
Does every lonely widow study at her inner school?
No, she tames a dog or cat – some sorry waif or stray.
With food and milk she draws it in and urges it to stay.
If the cat should wander through the houses of her neighbours,
The widow then would scold them for undoing all her labours.
Without your boys, you think you would spend all day long in prayer?
No, you’d find some animal to take into your care.
Your boys are flesh and blood, are they not worth more than a cat?
As human beings are they not far more evolved than that?
To renounce the world completely goes against my teaching.
Instead of making progress, you are only over-reaching.
See God in your dear ones, see your spiritual Master,
Then you’ll find your peace of mind will come to you much faster.
You will feel more love for them, concern and sweet affection.
Less of an attachment, more a meaningful connection.


[Enter Disciple 1. All meditate.]

DISCIPLE 2 [To audience]:
Master told me I must meditate much more sincerely
So that I may hear the Supreme’s Will for me more clearly.
Meditate… meditate… Oh now he looks my way!
I must be having quite a high experience today.
Meditate… and still I notice he avoids her side!
Her consciousness must be so low, she hasn’t even tried.
Maybe she is daydreaming, or maybe she’s asleep!
What unaspiring company the Master and I keep!

DISCIPLE 1 [To audience]:
Master I’m so grateful that you only look her way,
When you treat me thus you keep my jealousy at bay.
Even your avoidance of me I take as your grace.
It is my good fortune just to look upon your face.

Good girl, you have shown me your true heart of gratitude.
I am proud of you for your surrendered attitude.
When I looked away you still were soulfully aware.

DISCIPLE 2 [To audience]:
WhatYou must be kidding me, that really isn’t fair!

[Exit Disciple 1]


Mast er, when I first came to you, I was quite content.
Now it seems my life has turned into one long lament.
I thought in this place I’d see my hapiness increase,
But I’m plagued by forces here, they give me no release.

Ah yes, that’s familiar, it’s quite often the way.
Med itation is the key to keep them all at bay.

DISCIPLE 2 [To audience]:
I’m cranky and I’m restless, I am jealous, insecure.
I’m hounded as by animals, ferocious and impure!
A tiger of destruction, or the malice of a snake.
It’s like I’m in a nightmare when I’m actually awake.

Meditate, good girl, or just immerse yourself in prayer.

But when I sit in silence, forces drag me to their lair.
Seems the inner journey just gets harder by the day.

Meditation is the key to frighten them away.
Child, please listen to me, all these forces were inside
When you joined the spiritual life, they were just trying to hide.
Now you have invoked illumination from Above,
They are revealed, so please be happy, this is all God’s Love.

DISCIPLE 2 [To audience]:
How can I be happy? I feel utterly disgusting.

[To Master]
Why would God be testing me when I have been so trusting?

God does not test, His only Wish is for you to grow stronger.
And even if he did, you’d not be happy for much longer
Till you sit and passthe test, so thank Him for the chance.
Fight, my child, it is the only way you will advance.
You say your problems never end here, but that’s not the case.
The only chance of ending them is right here in this place.
When dark forces are revealed, it’s better to rejoice!
If they’re hidden you will never even have the choice
Of facing them and fighting them, and ultimately slaying.
Please try to be happy. I suggest you start by praying.
Let these forces win and they will make of you a slave.
The race is for the swift, good girl, the fight is for the brave.
Just be happy, run the fastest, dive deeper within.
You are right now far more perfect than you’ve ever been.



[Enter Master, Disciple 1]
DISCIPLE 1 [To audience]:
Do I dare to share with him the contents of my heart?
No I’m too ashamed… I might just quietly depart.
Or maybe I should do it… yes it would seem more polite
Than sneaking under cover of the dark and taking flight.
I’ll spare the gruesome details of my vital and my mind.
They’d be too unsavoury to some one so refined.
He must have no idea what a mere mortal hides.
What a mess of ugliness right now in me abides.

[To Master]
Master, I have come to a most difficult decision.
I have tried and I have failed to live up to your vision.
I am a constant victim to the dark and undivine.
Wild emotions, vital problems, evil thoughts are mine.
I’m leaving you to travel on my own a little while.
My very presence here I’m sure could damage and defile.
You have my word, it may take time, but I shall then return.
I do not want to cause you any trouble or concern.

So you think by leaving here, you will not cause me trouble?
That things are easier beyond the safety of this bubble?
That you’ll fare much better when you’re free of my protection?

Master, you have showered me with blessings and affection,
But happiness eludes me, mine is quite a hopeless case.

How can you reach the finish if you drop out of the race?
You must take medicine in a divine emergency!
Immediate relief you need, so act with urgency!
Pray and meditate: that is my spiritual prescription.

But I’ve tried, and now my torment goes beyond description.
God knows I’ve tried and now I am exhausted from the fight.
Let me surrender to these forces, then they’ll see the light.
They’ll know that I am useless, and they’ll leave me then alone.

Child, your logic is absurd, your words I can’t condone.
What would you first do if you were bitten by a snake?
Sure ly in a tearing rush an antidote you’d take!
What use would be the antidote long after you are dead?
Fight these enemies, this is no time to lose your head!
They have no compassion, they will never let you go.
In fact they get more dangerous the stronger you may grow.
Fight and I’ll fight with you, you must win at any cost.
Give up when they’ve dealt their worst and you’re forever lost.
Free yourself, I urge you, as they’ll never set you free.

How is it so? You always know the way to rescue me.
Your compassion is my sword, my shield, my victory’s crown.
I’ll place them at your feet. Dark forces can not drag me down.
From now on I’ll please you, only you in your own way.
You’re my home, my refuge, and from you I’ll never stray


[Enter Disciple 2]

Today we shall go for a hike and pic nic in the woods.
The way is distant, so we’ll need to take some worldly goods.
Kind ly choose a bag to carry with you on the walk.
You may not change your mind once you’ve decided. Please don’t talk
amongst yourselves or look inside the bag till we arrive.

DISCIPLE 2 [To audience]:
This one’s so much lighter, it would be almost a skive.
With that I’ll put my back out or I’ll get a nasty blister.

Let me take the heaviest so I may spare my sister.

DISCIPLE 2 [To audience]:
What? She wants the heavy one? She must be going crazy.
Suits me, it’s the weekend and I’m feeling pretty lazy.

To be in nature’s beauty is itself a meditation!
Wonderful, here is the place, we’ve reached our destination.
So, my children, God has made a serious mistake.

Haha, really? Surely that is one thing God can’t make!

Master, please explain it to us, I’m a bit confused.

It is very serious, I see you are amused [To Disciple 2].
You know there are lions, tigers, bears in God’s creation.
They eat only meat. Is this an ideal situation
When cows and goats and buffaloes eat only grass and leaves?
Why not give the same food as the other type receives?
Why not let them all eat meat, or let them all eat grass?
What’s the point in putting each one in a certain class?
Still you think it’s funny and you can not understand.
Can you not imagine it’s exactly as God planned?
Maybe in a family one brother is not well,
While one is strong and stout. You think the mother cannot tell?
Of course, she uses all her wisdom and her kind concern
To feed each one a different type of meal in his turn.
When we eat at home the food is nourishing but plain.
But when a special guest arrives this would be too mundane.
Richer people have rich foods, not what a pauper eats.
No dahl or rice, but rare exotic fruits and nuts and sweets.
God is not a communist, in case you weren’t aware.
Yet when I treat you differently, you think I am unfair.
You feel jealous, guilty and sometimes you may protest.
Do not think each type of food is good, or better, best,
But one type is best for each according to one’s needs.
As a mother, so the Master blessingfully feeds.

So in ner nourishment may also come in different kinds.
Master, thank you, it is clear, you must have read our minds.
This morning we were criticising how you choose to treat us.
Please forgive us, we both know you’d never try to cheat us.

MASTER [Blesses both]:
Know that God has reasons for the ways of His creation,
And know that all I do is for your own illumination.
Now let us take refreshment, you have all the food and water. [To Disciple 1]
I am very pleased with you, my kind and selfless daughter.
The bag that started heaviest is now light as a feather.

DISCIPLE 2 [To audience]:
Hm… a dark cloud gathers, and I don’t mean in the weather.

[To Disciple 2]
Open yours.

DISCIPLE 2 [To audience]:
I have a sinking feeling in my heart.

Is this more a burden than it seemed back at the start?

DISCIPLE 2 [To audience]:
Sand, clay, broken pots, all kinds of worthless stuff!

Leave them in there for the way back home, you’ve seen enough.
Too late now, you each made your own choice before we started.
I hope you’ve learnt your lesson: be more thoughtful and kind-hearted!



[Enter Master, Disciple 1]

Master, you have told me to expect from the Supreme,
Not from my life, but this is complicated it would seem.
I do have faith in Him, but He is not before my eyes.

Child, some things you don’t expect, they come as a surprise.
Others you expect, but then your wish es are not granted.
Then you think it’s personal and you feel disenchanted.
When you set yourself a goal, do you always achieve it?
No, but this can also be God’s Grace, you must believe it.
Some times when we use our will, we choose a lesser goal.
But this may not fulfil the true potential of our soul.
I used to want to be a ticket checker on a train![Laughs]
God would not have let me with my lesser goal remain.
To be a spiritual Master was my destined occupation.
My true place is here with you, not in a railway station.
There I could not fully be of service to God’s Mission.
Are you happy the Supreme did not grant my ambition?

Master, yes! Thank God, thank you, your point is very clear.
But what happens if I have the loftiest idea?
I have prayed to God for boundless Peace and Light and Bliss.
Surely I am right to ask? Why won’t He grant me this?

You think He’s jealous of you? Or you’ll take away His Height?[Laughs]
It is a noble goal indeed, but is the timing right?
P’rhaps there is not room yet for an ocean in your heart,
So He gives you just a drop of nectar as a start.
If you expect and God denies, believe it is His Love.
Meditate and you may get a message from above…
Or not , perhaps, He does not owe us any explanation.
Ultimately I advise: steer clear of expectation.
Leave all to God, don’t send Him any wishes to fulfil,
But peacefully, devotedly, surrender to His Will.



[Enter Disciple 1, Disciple 2, quarrelling]

Now what is the matter? Must you always fight and quarrel?

Master, will you help us?

What she says is just immoral!

If you speak at once, how can I understand the reason?

Master it’s outrageous, what she claims is surely treason!
Or blasphemy at least, it is too terrible to mention!

Master, it is you who is the bone of our contention!
The Guru’s more important in my eyes than the Supreme,
Because without him, we cannot fulfil God’s Cosmic Dream.
The Guru takes us up to God – it’s he who knows the way.
Without him, in the mire of ignorance we’d have to stay.
God cares for everyone, it’s true, but if we need concern
Or blessings in emergency, it is to you we turn.

I say no, this kind of love has come from the Supreme.
The Master merely plays the game, though he is on God’s Team.
He’s an instrument, but God has unlimited power.
The Master is the fragrance, but the Supreme is the flower.
God is the sun, and you reflect His Light, just like the moon.

But how will you attain that Light without the Master’s boon?
How will you reach the Golden Shore unless you have a boat?
In the storms without a captain, will you stay afloat?
Then there is the question of efficient navigation!

Mast er, do you understand the source of my frustration?
The Gurcame from God, and back to God he will return.
His life is temporary – maybe just so his concern.
Master, I have faith in you, but for me God is higher.

So you wonder who will care for you when I retire?
If you take the Guru as the body, you are right.
The physical is nothing when compared to inner height.
Take the Master as the soul, then he and God are one,
But take him as the Transcendental Self, then like the sun
He is the very source of Light and not a mere reflection.
The Supreme is the Guru – He’s the key to your perfection.
But you’ll never realise God by means of separation.
Serve the Master physic’ly – this is your preparation.
Then to travel higher you must love the Master’s soul.
Adore his Transcendental Self, and you will reach the goal.
Firstly in the physical please see my boundless light.
Secondly please feel your oneness with my own soul’s height.
Then feel in this immortal Self eternal Liberation.
God and Guru are as one in the Supreme’s creation.
They are equally important in the Cosmic Game,
In truth they’re separated not in form, but just by name.


Ah, now my philosophy is getting far too deep.
Ah, from where to where? Now dear ones, go and get some sleep!

[Disciples bow and leave to opposite sides of the stage and go to sleep]

MASTER [To audience]:
Once these two were friends, now all they ever do is fight.
How it pains me that I cannot help them see the light.
P’raps they’ll listen if I visit each one in a dream.

[Disciple 1 awakes]

[To Disciple 1]
Child, your quarrelling must stop, it has become extreme.
How can you be happy when you cannot get along?

Master, I am miserable, I don’t know what went wrong!

If you are sincere then I will give you my suggestion.

Tell me, please, I promise to obey you without question!

You’ll be happy only if your friend is happy too.
Tomorrow when you meet, they very first thing you must do
Is offer her your fond embrace, and at that very time
Heaven will descend on her with all its wealth sublime.
All your bitter feelings this will instantly destroy,
As you’ll find true happiness in oneness with her joy.

DISCIPLE 1 [To audience]:
Hm… this is more challenging than I would have preferred…
I’ll find it in my heart to do it, as I gave my word.
We were friends, I’m sure we can become friends once again.
She might share her riches and we’ll both be wealthy then.

[Disciple 1 goes back to sleep, Disciple 2 awakes]

MASTER [To Disciple 2]:
Child, how can you find true joy when all you do is fight?

I know, but I can’t help it, Master, don’t you see I’m right?
I can’t be happy while she lives, I absolutely hate her!
When she walks into the room I want to suffocate her!

Well… that’s clear… though I was hoping for a better way.
If there’s no alternative let’s act without delay.
Tomorrow when you leave the house and you first see her face,
Exercise great self-control and give her your embrace.
The moment that you touch her she’ll immediately die.

DISCIPLE 2 [To audience]:
I can not wait for morning, that is no word of a lie.

[Leaves the house, walks towards Disciple 1]

[To audience]
Hold on, we were friends once, is this really the right thing?
Is it even worth it, how much karma will it bring?

[Disciple 1 awakes and leaves the house, walking towards Disciple 2, then runs to embrace her]

[To Disciple 1]
All the wealth of Heaven has descended on me! How?
I came to embrace you, and you’ve messed it all up now!
I wanted to be happy not in your way, but in mine!
Then you stole my thunder, why must you always outshine?

[Enter Master]

MASTER [To Disciple 2]:
Fool! You would have killed her? Such a true and trusted friend?
The cruel streak in human nature, will it never end?
She was ready to be happy only in your joy.
You were ready to dispose of her like some old toy.
See between the two of you who is by far inferior?
I want you to be as one, the lesser and superior.
Then and only then will my own mission be fulfilled.
Come, my dearest children, now your friendship please rebuild.
All the inner wealth of Heaven you have now received.
Give her half, and all our dreams of joy will be achieved.

[To audience]
My God, spiritual guidance is relentless, heavy work.
But my multifarious duties I will never shirk.


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