09 Nov VAT: Where are the enlightened disciples?
With enlightened masters from Jesus to Buddha to Rajneesh to Rebbe Schneerson to the Dalai Lama and countless others with flocks of disciples, it is curious that when these enlightened ones transitioned from this world no equally enlightened disciple emerged to replace them. Perhaps a disciple, like a drone, cannot turn into a queen bee by following her lead. Perhaps it’s hard to see the light under the shadow of an enlightened master. Perhaps the road to enlightenment is a narrow road that doesn’t allow a disciple to walk side by side with their master and partake of the panoramic view of life. Or maybe a chick needs to give birth to itself by cracking open the eggshell in which it developed; otherwise, cracked open by the enlightened master, the chick might not survive its birth. That is, enlightenment is not a relay race with the passing of the baton but an individual journey one needs to travel alone. Though a road map, the writings and teachings of an enlightened master, can be helpful; following enlightened masters will never get us to the divine destination where they reside.
As Menachem Mendel Schneerson said at his inauguration as the Rebbe in 1951: “Now listen, Jews. Generally, in Chabad it has been demanded that each individual work on themselves, and not rely on the Rebbes. One must, on their own, transform the folly of materialism and the passion of the ‘animal soul’ to holiness… if one does not work on themselves, what good will submitting notes, singing songs, and saying lechayim do?… one must go to a place where nothing is known of godliness, nothing is known of Judaism, nothing is even known of the Hebrew alphabet, and while there to put oneself aside and ensure that the other calls out to God.”