On the side of a mountain, overlooking a beautiful flower-decked valley in India, was a cozy hermitage. This hermitage was actually a cave, carved out of a rocky ledge of the mountain. Here dwelt a great Master with a devoted disciple.

When the dawn wiped away the darkness from the face of the hills, the Master and the disciple sang hymns together with the rising sun, which reminded them of the awakening of wisdom after the long sleep of ignorance. They smiled as Nature smiled after her night of silence.

While dawn still lingered over the valley, the Master would ask the disciple to sit upright in the perfect meditating posture and to listen to his teachings with complete attention. Thus, every day the disciple eagerly devoured the lessons falling from the lips of his Master.

One day, however, the Master noticed that his young disciple was absent-minded and restless, so he gently said to him, “Son, today your mind is not on my words; it seems to be wandering over the hills elsewhere. Pray tell me, what is the reason for your absent mindedness?”

The disciple respectfully replied, “Honored Master, I cannot concentrate on your lesson today because my mind is thinking about the newly-acquired tame buffalo, which is now grazing on the green verdure of the valley.”

The guru, instead of scolding the disciple, calmly asked him to retire into his silence chamber, close the door, and to think of nothing but the buffalo. One day passed. The next morning the Master looked through the little window in the silence chamber where the disciple was still meditating upon the buffalo. The Master asked, “Son, what are you doing?”

The disciple answered, “Sir, I am grazing with the buffalo in the field. Shall I come to you?”

The Master replied, “No, Son, not yet. Go on grazing with your buffalo.”

Another day passed. On the third morning, the Master again looked through the window of the chamber of silence and inquired, “Beloved Child, what are you doing?” The disciple, in a state of ecstasy, replied, “Heavenly Master, I behold the buffalo in my room, and I am feeding it. Shall I come to you with my buffalo?”

The Master replied, “Not yet, my Son. Go on with the vision of the buffalo, and of feeding it.”

Another two days passed, during which the disciple visualized and meditated upon the buffalo. On the fifth day, once again the guru spoke through the window of the silence chamber where the disciple was alone in complete ecstasy. “Son, pray tell me what you are doing now?”

The disciple bellowed, imitating the buffalo’s voice, “What do you mean? I am the buffalo. I am not your son.”

To this, the Master smilingly retorted, “All right, Mr. Buffalo, you had better come out of the silence chamber.”

The disciple would not come out. “How can I get out through that narrow door?” he rumbled. “My horns are too big and my body is too large.” Then the Master went into the silence chamber and brought the erstwhile “buffalo” out of his trance. The disciple smiled to find himself walking on all fours, trying to imitate the object of his meditation.

After a light repast, the disciple went to listen to the words of his Master. His Master asked him many deep, spiritual questions, all of which he answered correctly – more correctly than ever before. At last his Guru said, “Now, your concentration has reached the perfect state, when you are able to become one with the object of your study.

“You can begin, now, to try to make yourself one with your object of concentration. Concentrate deeply upon God until you feel that you have become one with Him. Practice constantly!”

From the Praecepta Lessons, 1938