There are many levels in the master-disciple relationship. The first is purely at the intellectual level, based on doubt more than anything else. Numerous doubts keep coming up all the time. You think, ‘Eh! He seems to be hardly thirty years of age. How can he be a master? He doesn’t seem to be highly educated or qualified. How does he get thousands of people to listen to him?’ You have your doubts, you are cynical. In the zone of pure intellect the relationship never happens.
The next step is from intellect to intelligence. From the negativity of doubt you move to, ‘Why not attend this program and see what this person is really doing?’ Instead of remaining with ‘What can he do?’ you move to ‘I think he means something. But I neither believe nor disbelieve. Ok, let me see.’ The intellect starts to become intelligence.
Then next, if you continue to look in, you move from intelligence to intelligence with emotion like 60% intelligence, 40% emotion. You feel that the master is a good friend. You think, ‘He can guide me a little bit here and there, wherever I need guidance. I have an idea of how my life should be, so he doesn’t have to teach me everything, but wherever I need to make some decisions, I can take his help.’ This is looking at the master as a friend. That’s what we call sakha bhava, the friendly attitude.
This is like using a stick to walk with. You use the stick when there are ups and downs. After that, by and by, slowly, when you go through some serious problems like depression and low mood, when you are not able to help yourself with his words, you ask him, ‘Your teachings are great but at this moment I am not able to follow them. What do I do?’ Then he supports you mentally, psychologically also. Then you realize that the stick alone may not be enough, that you need more support. Then you reach out for his hand and with his help you start walking again. The gratitude towards him increases while holding his hand. If you have only the stick, then it is a friendly attitude, the intelligent emotion. If you start holding his hand, he will start lifting you, then slowly it becomes emotion-intelligence. In this stage you move from intelligence to ‘intelligence with emotion’ like 60% intelligence and 40% emotion. This attitude is what I call feeling the master like a father or mother.
From being a friend he becomes a father or mother. Slowly, very slowly, the relationship deepens. You settle down and think, ‘He is not just a friend. He is not just a person who gives me suggestions and ideas. He takes me out of my problems also.’
Then slowly, again and again when you are helped every moment beyond your expectation, the feeling within you toward him becomes pure emotion. He fills you, he fills your heart. You have a problem forgetting him. That is the moment you feel like bowing down to him like a servant, not with shame but with revered humility that you have found someone to surrender all your problems to. This was how Hanuman felt towards his master Rama in the Indian epic Ramayana. He was completely devoted to Rama. A deep connection of high emotion happens with this kind of relationship. This attitude is much more emotional than the earlier one. It is a mix of 60% emotion and 40% intelligence.
Then, by and by, you move in deeper emotionally and you become protective of the master. Instead of asking attention from him and taking help from him, you want to support him, love him and attend to him. Your attitude becomes that of a nurturing mother. This is a state of pure emotion. It is the primal need of a mother to ensure the wellbeing of her child.
In these four states of intelligence, intelligence-emotion, emotion-intelligence and pure emotion, your life is separate and independent from the master’s life. You just take help from him to help your life, to enrich your life, that’s all.
When the emotional attitude ripens, you start feeling that your life is no longer separate from his. You then move from the emotional level to the being level. You feel like sacrificing yourself to take care of him and dedicating your life to him. There is a merger at the being level, even stronger than the emotional connection of a mother and child. It is a connection of deep love, without any gender consciousness. This is what is called madhura bhava, an intense mix of emotional and being level attitude.
When the madhura bhava becomes intense, suddenly you experience that there is no ‘he’ and ‘you’. There are no two different beings. You and he are one and the same. You start experiencing the maha bhava, experiencing you as the master. You experience the ultimate, tat tvam asi – That art Thou.
First intellect, then intelligence, then 60% intelligence and 40% emotion, then 60% emotion and 40% intelligence, then 100% emotion, then 60% emotion and 40% being, then pure 100% being. This is how step by step you start experiencing and growing in the master-disciple relationship. But at any time, any one attitude may be more prominent than the others.
Everyone grows collectively in energy, yet each one’s relationship with the master is unique. That is the beauty of it!
Be it dasa bhava, the master-servant relationship as existed between Rama and Hanuman, or vatsalya bhava, mother’s love, as between Yashoda and Krishna, or sakha bhava, friendship, as between Krishna and Arjuna, or matru bhava, child’s love for mother as between Ramakrishna and Mother Kali, or madhura bhava, love of the beloved, as was between Radha and Krishna – each bhava, the attitude, is unique to that relationship, between that disciple and the master. Each disciple progresses with the master in search of his reality in the path that is best for him to progress.
source: Living Enlightenment