Question: I lost my supply of ash when my wallet was stolen some weeks ago, and I was wondering how important the application of ash between the eyebrows is to the technique. Do you have to do that to do the technique, or not?
It is not a must. Because it is normally given as a traditional practice to give an anchor of a devotional thing for a student, so that the student shall have total faith that the Master is with him through that thing. Just like giving some symbol, any symbol, a photo or a cross, or an idol, anything is given, it is also a traditional practice in India to give the vibhuti as what we call the offered Prasadam, the offered thing to God. So that is how it is. If it is there, it is welcome and good; you might have an anchor in the beginning. Even if it is lost by chance, without it also if you can meditate, it is well and good for you.
What is necessary is faith in yourself, within you. That is the most important thing. Faith is the most important thing that you need to cultivate. If you have faith, it can work wonders for you. That is why sometimes I jokingly say, when you buy my photo, if you ever get annoyed with me, don't get annoyed with the photo, because that photo is your faith. Don't allow it to waver. So if you have that faith within you, even without the holy ash also it is okay.
Years ago, in 1978, 3-4 years after I joined my Master, a couple of his disciples had sat for Tapas, but they were getting disturbed and were wanting to get out of the Tapas and go away. That was happening. At first I was attracted, thinking that I would do some Tapas also. Then it was my birthday, on 20th September, so I took a small piece of vibhuti (this type of holy ash) and went to my Master's room where he was resting, and gave this to Him. "Please bless this to me." He asked, "For what purpose do you want this to be blessed?" I said, "I want to do Tapas." He teased me: "Do you think this vibhuti can make you to sit for Tapas?" I said "I have faith; you just bless, and you give it to me. In your name, it can work wonders for me." Well, however, He said, "Maybe you can sit and do Tapas just now, but you might become egoistic because the time is not yet ripe, and you might go away from my Lotus Feet. You might try to become on your own." So then I lost interest. I said, "No, I don't want Tapas. I want to be at the Lotus Feet of my Master, because that is my first love and first interest, so the Tapas can happen whenever you want." So I just took back the vibhuti and came out.