A Perfect Devotee

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A rose in a garden

One day, while travelling back home, a woman had to wait several 

hours at an airport for her flight. She was hungry so she decided to 

buy a bag of cookies and settle down somewhere and read a book. 

Engrossed in her book while enjoying the taste of the cookies, out 

of the corner of her eye, she noticed a man sitting beside her. She 

continued reading but was caught by surprise when she saw him 

helping himself to the bag of cookies lying between them. At first she 

thought, “let it go, why create a scene over a handful of cookies?”

However, that noble thought did not last long. She felt a surge of 

anger as she watched the man slowly consuming her stock of delicious 

cookies. With every cookie she took, he took one too. Finally, when it 

came down to the last cookie, she wondered what he would do. With 

a smile on his face and a nervous laugh, he broke the cookie in half 

and offered it to her. Throwing him a look of disgust, she snatched the 

cookie and headed towards the boarding gate. In her entire life, she 

had never come across such audacity. 

When she boarded the plane, she reached for her backpack and 

froze when she opened it. Inside was the bag of cookies she had 

purchased – untouched. She groaned in despair – all this time it was 

she who had been eating the other man’s cookies while he was just 

being nice and sharing them with her! Unfortunately, it was too late to 

apologize. With a heavy heart and deep regret, she realized how rudely 

she behaved towards the kind and ‘gentle’ man. 

How often have we fallen prey to a similar pattern of negative 

thinking? It is human tendency to see what is wrong instead of what 

is right – we easily jump to conclusions or pass judgment instead of 

focusing on the positive.

It is said that we all live in glass houses and no one has clean 

windows. Sadly, we seem to be more concerned with the stains and 

smudges on our neighbour’s windows than our own. Sant Mat teaches 

us to adopt a loving, humble and helpful attitude with everyone, even 

to those who seemingly ‘steal’ our cookies! 

But being loving to everyone is not always easy – especially during 

times when we have been mistreated or wronged. Our attitude towards 

others usually depends on how they behave towards us. 

But saints and mystics advise us to love everyone who crosses our 

path, whether they come to us as roses or thorns. 

If someone puts a thorn in your path and you put a thorn in his, 

there are thorns everywhere! It is like this among men, that you 

are straight with those who are straight with you, and crooked 

to those who are crooked. But among dervishes, it is like this, 

that you are straight with those who are straight with you, and 

with the crooked, you are also straight.

Sheikh Farid, The Great Sufi Mystic

It is very easy to extend our love to those who love us. This may be 

why our love is restricted to our family, spouses, children and friends. 

Because attachment is always at the root of this love, we are only able 

to channel it towards a select few. However it is when we learn to love 

everyone without judgment that we understand the true meaning 

of love. 

What does it mean to love everybody? Maharaj Charan Singh 

describes a ‘loving person’ as follows: 

They are loving toward everybody. Their love does not run in 

a narrow channel to one person. To love somebody is different from being loving toward everybody. Actually, when you love 

everybody, you don’t love the individuals, you love the Lord 

who is in everybody. Love is something different when there 

is attachment in it. In a loving and sweet nature, there is no 

attachment at all. 

Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. III

By their own example, the saints teach us to widen our circle of 

compassion and love all. And as we open our hearts towards others, 

we become more receptive to the Master’s love for us. In the Bible, 

when Christ gives his disciples a new commandment, to love one 

another, he ends by saying: “By this shall all men know that ye are my 

disciples, if ye have love one to another.” If for no other reason than 

to uphold the teachings and pay tribute to our Master, it is our duty, as 

disciples, to strive towards achieving this ideal.

Ultimately, the saints are the perfect embodiment of the teachings. 

And by observing them, we see what it truly means to love everyone. 

A rose with its immaculate beauty and fragrance is often described as 

a symbol of true love. So perhaps the Master’s love for his disciples is 

best compared to a rose. Known for its indiscriminate character, a rose 

offers its fragrance to everyone and withholds it from no one. It has 

the beautiful quality of giving all that it has, with no expectations.

The Master also does not discriminate, nor does he favour a few. 

He showers his boundless love to all alike – just like the sun that 

radiates warmth to every living being on earth. Even though he sees 

the blemishes and stains on our glass windows, in his generosity and 

kindness, he accepts us as we are.

owly and gradually, through the practice of meditation, we begin 

to acknowledge our own faults and shortcomings. And just as the 

Master loves us despite our imperfections, we understand that we too 

should love others the same way.

So we should strive to be like the rose that gives its fragrance 

even to the hand that crushes it. We should show love to everyone 

without judgment. For it is only when we have learned to love like 

this that we will have earned the honour and privilege of being a 

rose in our Master’s garden.