From time to time I will get an email question from someone I don’t know that I would share with you. This is such a one:
What does it mean to be a disciple, what is expected of a disciple, and how many disciples do you have? — Namaste, Paul
A disciple is someone who is devoted and committed to sadhana and to the sadhana teacher. Because disciples have union with Truth, God, and liberation as their first, or only, priority in life, and because the sadhana teacher provides the means of reaching this end, disciples have an investment in the teacher: they want to keep that person alive, well, and able to continue with their own sadhana so that the disciples themselves are not left in the lurch at some unfamiliar turn in the road. So they support the teacher through service and through providing practical necessities. Such a teacher is not going to be working for a living, but does full time sadhana and works for his or her students and disciples.
One exception to this is the paramguru. This teacher is someone who has completed his or her spiritual journey as a seeker, is already fully liberated and constantly in communion with the Divine, has cheated death and is in possession of the eight superhuman powers. Being beyond the influences of cause and effect, such a one has no need of support of any kind. A paramguru is difficult to find and, frankly, most of us are not likely to find ourselves in the presence of one.
I think this answers the first two parts of your question. If you would like to know more about this relationship, look for a text called the Guru Gita. It is probably online somewhere. There are a few entries from the Guru Gita on my blog site, Mystical Tidbits. The links at the bottom of this email will take you to them.
As to the last part of your question, the answer is, None. If I should come to have students who consider me and the sadhana I teach in this light and fulfill these “expectations,” I would consider them disciples.
An article on discipleship:
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