From the Chapter “The Guru’s Reminiscences”, The New Path by Swami Kriyananda
Talk turned one evening to the attributes of success. “Will power,” Master told us, “is more important to success than knowledge, training, or even native ability. Some people, when you shake them, reply with a groan, ‘Don’t bother me; I’m sleeping.’ Others wake up a little bit, but if you leave them alone for a few minutes they start dozing again. But some people are wide awake the moment you speak to them, and keep going without having to be stirred again. Those are the kind of people I like!
Master often told us stories of his boyhood in India. Years later I wrote and published several of these accounts in a small book titled Stories of Mukunda. Here is one that was omitted from that book; it didn’t quite fit the mood of it.
“The first time I fed the poor in India,” Master said, “I decided to feed two hundred people. I was just a boy. Everybody wondered how I planned to do it. Another boy, a friend of mine, objected, ‘You haven’t any money. Neither have I. There’s just no way we can feed that many people.’
“‘All I need,’ I replied, ‘is twenty rupees. And that money will come through you.’
“‘Impossible!’ he cried, shocked.
“‘It will happen,’ I assured him, ‘but on one condition: that you take care not in any way to antagonize your mother today.’
“Later that day his mother told him to go to his rich aunt’s house and deliver something. He was about to refuse, when he remembered my warning. Docility was hardly his usual attitude, but he went this time without a murmur, and delivered the package.
“When he arrived at his aunt’s house, she began scolding him, ‘Who is this boy you’ve been running around with?’ Her reference was to me. Like many wealthy people, she tended to harbor suspicions of strangers. My friend grew angry. He was about to leave when she cried, ‘Stop! I hear he is planning on doing some good. Take this money and use it.’ She gave him twenty rupees.
“The word had already been making the rounds that we were planning to feed the poor. Those twenty rupees bought a sizable amount of rice and lentils. When the neighbors saw such tangible support for our plans, they became enthusiastic. Money began pouring in from all sides. People volunteered their services to help with cooking and serving. Instead of two hundred poor people, we fed two thousand!”
“When I first started on my own in the spiritual life, I settled in a little mud hut with two other boys. One of them was about my size: short and slight. The other was a big, stalwart fellow. One day I said to them, ‘Let’s lay a cement floor in the main room.’
“‘Impossible!’ protested the big fellow. ‘We don’t have the cement; we don’t have the equipment; we don’t have the know-how. For a technical job like this you need experience.’
“‘If we make up our minds,’ I replied, ‘we can do it’
“‘Wishful thinking!’ he scoffed, walking away to show what he thought of the scheme.
“That day the other boy and I went around to the neighbors. Bit by bit we gathered donations of materials, and loans of equipment. Two men added careful instructions on how to mix and lay the cement. That whole night we stayed up, mixing and pouring. By the following morning the job was finished. Later on the big fellow returned to our hermitage.
“‘Well,’ I sighed, teasing him, ‘I guess you were right.’
“‘Aha,’ he cried. ‘You see? I told you so!’
“I then asked him please to fetch me something from the next room. He opened the door. And there was our new cement floor! We’d even colored it red. He was dumbfounded.”
“One day,” Master added, “I was traveling in this country by train. It was a very hot summer day, and the train had no air conditioning. Everyone was suffering in the heat. I said to those who were with me, ‘See what a little concentration can do. I will dwell on the idea of icebergs.’
“Minutes later I held out an arm for them to feel. It was cold.”