July 3rd is the day of Guru Purnima which falls on the day of the full moon. Just like certain days that are dedicated to fathers, teachers, mothers, and our Valentine’s, this day emphasizes showing gratitude and love to our Guru. The gratitude is shown humbly from the students to their Guru for the teachings and blessings that have been bestowed upon them. On this day, many seekers also get the initiation for their spiritual training.
Don’t confuse Adhyatam Guru (Spiritual Guru) with a teacher. There are many names for a teacher such as master, mentor or leader. But there’s no synonym for a Guru because the word holds a unique meaning. Guru is a Sanskrit word that literally means the one who spreads the light and removes the darkness. A teacher teaches you and gives you knowledge from books or his experience of the world. A Guru helps you to see the knowledge that’s already within you. He peels back the layers of ignorance and negligence, helping you to encounter the light within you.
Many seekers want a Guru for enlightenment, truth and other such reasons. Guru doesn’t transfer any magical truth from the tip of his finger. He is not a genie. He would never aim to make your journey so easy that you are reduced to a mindless person. Rather, he will show you the path that you must walk on in order to reach the truth. He will protect you from hurdles and keep you moving forward. But if you are looking for a shortcut to enlightenment, then the Guru is not the right source.
If you have ever watched Deepak Chopra answering who a Guru is, he simply says that it means G-U-R-U (gee, you are you). In such a simplistic manner, he defines the originality of Guru. Every Guru in the world is trying to teach the same message which is to just be yourself. There is no need to chase anyone. The light is within you. Osho rightfully said, “The Guru is one who pulls you towards himself just to throw you back into your own being. He functions as a mediator; via the Guru, you arrive at your own self. Because you cannot go directly, he helps you via himself. But his whole effort is to make you yourself.”
This question has nothing to do with the authentic Gurus who have transformed the global consciousness. However, this does apply to many self-proclaimed Gurus who just become infatuated with the popularity and respect that a Guru receives so they try to emulate the same. For example, a doctor can heal you or kill you. He has the complete knowledge and tools to do either. If a doctor uses his knowledge and tools to kill, we cannot condemn the entire medical profession. We just need to be aware enough that we must shut down his particular malignant practice. In the same way, just because he decided to call himself a Guru doesn’t make him a Guru. It is really up to us if we pamper that person with unnecessary attention or simply be aware enough to experience his aura. Ask a sleeping person if he’s sleeping, and if the reply comes, “yes” then, of course, he’s not sleeping. When you ask someone, “Are you a Guru?” and his reply is, “yes” then clearly he is not a Guru.
This is just a stereotypical concept that Gurus only come from India. A Guru can be from anywhere in any part of the world. We have had amazing souls from other part of the globe such as His Holiness The Dalai Lama who is originally from Tibet but currently resides in India. Lao Tzu, Gurdjieff and Rumi, just to name a few. However, the interesting thing about India is that it has been the land of most renowned Gurus of the world. Some of them are Buddha, Paramhansa Yogananda, Swami Vivekananda, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Osho and Ramakrishna Paramhansa. India has also been the land of some soul stirring studies of Tantra, Patanjali’s Yoga, Vedanta, Upanishads, Mantra and Puranas which also made it a resort to seek the truth in the deeper aspects of spirituality. It is difficult to find such a mix of spiritual wisdom in any other civilization of the world. Elizabeth Clare Prophet wrote a book, The Lost Years of Jesus: Documentary Evidence of Jesus’ 17-Year Journey to the East, where she put that according to ancient Buddhist manuscripts’ record, Jesus left Palestine and traveled to India too deepen his spirituality. No doubt many people in India are trying to cash in on in this brand of Indian spirituality. There will always be those who claim to be something that they are not in all areas of life, not just spirituality. Take the example of the Yoga scene all over the world. I empathize with Patanjali who created the sacred Yoga Sutras to indulge in deep valleys of consciousness. It unfortunately has been butchered by many in the name of marketing and selling the information to make a profit.
Not at all! If we go back to ancient times, the sages started growing their beards as an acknowledgment of the renunciation of the world. They stopped interfering with what nature has given to them. They simply accepted everything as it is. This acceptance from nature is one of the major reasons for growing beard. There is no denying the fact that today most so called spiritual people do it just as a herd mentality, but as I said, this has never stopped and will never stop. We just need to be mindful of our own journey. The most authentic and respected Gurus of the world never had beards except for Osho who simply never shaved since childhood. But everyone else, Paramhansa Yogananda, Swami Vivekananda and Jiddu Krishnamurti all had shaven faces.
Ego – The block
Our ego can act as a major block in accepting a Guru’s presence. If we jump from our ego to our awareness, the gap is too big to translate into words. The ego will always doubt the person who looks like us but is known to have special wisdom. How to resolve this problem then? The key is to not chase after a Guru. Stop making all efforts to find your Guru. Your efforts won’t lead you there but your preparation will. As they say, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. We don’t have a GPS to reach the Guru but the existence is designed in such a way that when we shed the ego, doubts and insecurities, the wisdom will just keep appearing to lead us to the next step.
Being a Guru is not an act of going to a school and achieving some certificate of holiness. It’s an intrinsic blast of light that happens with meditation. When you read the teachings of any ancient Guru, it helps and inspires, of course. However, you do need a real physical person to guide you in all steps of your journey as a seeker. When you see a person who looks like you and yet they are so unique and filled with inner light, you also become inspires because that can happen to you too!
Here are my 7 suggestions to prepare yourself for your Guru to appear:
1. Accept that you are a student and be open to learning from the experiences in your existence.
2. Stop blindly believing! Start questioning and exploring the truth.
3. Guru is only one just like we have one set parents.
4. Stop chasing after a self-created image of a Guru on Google or other places. Trust the cosmic existence, that it will lead you to the one when you are ready.
5. Meditate as much as possible with the intention of igniting the light within.
6. When you meet a teacher, don’t go by any testimonial but instead see the quality of your life changing after meeting him.
7. Work everyday to shift the level of ego and awareness. The awareness should be so high that you don’t even see the presence of ego.
In the end, we cannot accept or reject the phenomenon of Guru. The real ones are incredibly rare to find and the unreal ones are glorified due to our desperation of finding one. My intention with creating this blog is to just subdue the desperate need of finding a Guru because it may lead you to a wrong one which will leave you with a bitter taste!
Lastly, I just want to use this blog as an opportunity to thank two Gurus in my life who allowed me to reconnect with my inner self. One thank goes to my father who gave me the freedom to experience spirituality and gifted me with tons of wisdom. The other thank goes to Deepak Chopra whose work inspires me everyday and shapes the foundation of who I am. Thank you both!