Guru. We hear the word being cited and recited time and again. So often, in fact, that it has started to sound like a universal Mantra of acquisition and attainment. But do we truly know what is Guru? And why Guru is essential to a seeker of Truth?
In modern-day vernacular, Guru is used to refer to a person who has authority because of his or her perceived knowledge or skills in a domain of expertise: Fashion Guru. Fitness Guru. Food Guru. It is even the title of a much loved Bollywood movie.
Guru is an ancient and timeless tradition. It is found in almost every culture and every land, though perhaps by other names. The oldest references to the concept of Guru are found in the earliest Vedic texts such as the Vedas and Upanishads. Guru, and Gurukul ~ a school where scriptures, philosophy, music, martial arts and paintings were composed and transmitted ~ have been in existence and on record since at least the 1st millennium BCE. But the records only go as far back as that.
In this day and age, Guru is most often perceived as a teacher ~ one who imparts knowledge, and thus implies a student ~ one who acquires it.
In fact, Guru is teacher and student both… as well as all that which is being imparted. Nothing is left out or discarded or dismissed. Guru is Oneness alone.
Guru is a sacred connection, or perhaps better said, an open pathway to Self Realisation.
In the words of Wikipedia ~ the Encyclopedia Guru ~ while describing at length the traits and attributes of a Guru figure or prototype, it is definitively stated that: “Guru is not just a person but is considered as the divine guiding energy which helps humanity to realise its true nature.”
In the words of the sage: “Guru is that on which the universe is built.”
The literal meaning of the word ‘Guru’ ~ which comes from Sanskrit, an ancient and timeless language ~ is “Dispeller of Darkness or Forgetfulness” (Gu ~ darkness and Ru ~ one who dispels). It is also described in some texts that the syllables Gu and Ru stand for darkness and light respectively.
While every one of us comes on earth with an inborn knowingness of where to find sustenance (mother’s milk) and how to drink it, when to sleep and when to remain awake, when to laugh and when to cry, a teacher or guide is required to learn just about everything else, from our simple ABC’s to complex rocket science to the eternally captivating worldwideweb. A teacher offers guidance and information intended to enlighten a student on the best and most practical ways and means of making his or her way through life. The teacher is a Guru of sorts, as he is devoted to enhancing the reservoir of knowledge and developing the skills of the students in his care. Teachers are an essential and accepted element of our existence and are to be honoured for their inestimable influence in our lives.
The intrinsic difference between a teacher or advisor and a spiritual Guru is that while a teacher is intent on forming and shaping the consciousness of the student, Guru knows that consciousness is pure and free, with form or without form, with or without injunction. Guru is established in the vision of Oneness, and knows that the so-called relationship of Guru and disciple or Master and student belongs only to a divisive mind. Guru knows the transient (and thus illusory) nature of mind, and as such it does not exist as anything other than an appearance, an ephemera.
An aspirant will offer his mind to Guru, so that mind’s innate sense of differentiation and divisiveness will be drawn back into its source, which is Oneness alone. Ultimately, the student or aspirant masters the very awareness that Guru embodies, and emanates the very qualities of Guru ~ free, peaceful, and loving. Such an awakening can be fostered only in the space of true Oneness.
Traditionally, Guru is seen as one who has attained the awareness of his true nature, which is all-pervasive and all-inclusive.
Guru is the one who sees us as we are, forever free and pure, and one alone everywhere the same. ~ Heart of All Hearts
GURU IS ESSENTIAL
Over the years many people have asked me, “Haven’t you learnt enough from Guru? Isn’t it time you come ‘home’ and live according to your own Guru Awareness? Is it really necessary to be with Guru?” In an age of self-reliance, the Guru-disciple tradition appears foreign and incomprehensible.
Following are six reasons why Guru is essential for an aspiring yogi and seeker of Truth.
1. Mind cannot reveal the Free Being.
Guru Awareness is who we truly are. It is our original state of knowing, before the overlay of education and built-up personality. It is the state of eternal peace, purity, and freedom.
Forgetfulness of this original state arises when we wake up in the morning and think we are a human body and mind. The Free Being, the Guru Awareness, is lost to the sight of the individual knower, experiencer, and doer called me, the human being. The human nervous system with senses and mind is hard-wired to register gross forms, thoughts, feelings, subtle sensations, intuitions and the like. It has no capacity to grasp the formless, ever-present reality of who I am, which cannot be limited to any set of words or ideas. For that, another faculty of awareness is needed: the faculty of Guru Consciousness.
Guru Consciousness is the Awareness that wakes us from deep sleep at the scent of danger. It is what makes the newborn baby seek out the milk from its mother. Such knowing is more immediate than any mental pondering. It is the inherent, all-permeating Intelligence. It reaches further and faster than any intellectual knowing, for it is the space from where the waking state, with all its known forms and phenomena, appears.
It takes an aware being and seer of Truth to unearth this deeper knowing, to sift it from the ordinary understanding of the mind, and to bring forth its radiance in a man.
2. Guru is the Supreme Guide.
There is no need to reinvent the wheel. If somebody has trodden the path before you, seek out their company to guide you past the common pitfalls and distractions. Guru sees who you are and awakens you to your original nature of purity and freedom. He exposes and weeds out unnecessary baggage and misinterpretations, redirecting the awareness to its true abode.
Learning through personal experiences alone delays realization unduly. Never underestimate the experience and insightfulness of an enlightened Master.
3. Guru’s presence is an instant exposure to the Pure Being.
Anyone who has been in the company of an enlightened Being knows the mind-blowing effect of Guru’s presence. Guru is seated in Pure Beingness, rather than in personality. Meeting Guru is a homecoming, where one finally is seen for who one is, and one comes to recognize one’s own nature as ever-present Reality.
Once attuned to Guru, his presence is an instant exposure to Space, dissolving all sense of duality. No amount of practice, or saadhanaa (the path of liberation), can surpass the immediate free-ride to liberation that Guru provide.
4. Awareness cannot be learned, it is unfolded.
Modern man is preoccupied with the accumulation of information and techniques. Realization is not something you can learn, understand, and simply do. It is what you ARE. To bank upon the mathematics of mere practice to achieve your goal does not apply to the realm of realization. Although it is tempting to assume that through study and practice one has grasped the truth of existence, Guru exposes the trap of thinking that you have ‘got it’.
Guru provides an indication of the difference between a learned, sattwik (highly ethical and compassionate) mind and Freedom Pure. He reveals the Guru Consciousness hidden in the mind. Just as the butter is churned from milk, it is the constant interplay of practice and exposure to Guru that churns Highest Awareness from ordinary human understanding.
5. Guru revitalizes the chintaamani (prized jewel) of Pure Intelligence.
Having touched upon deeper revelations and direct insight into the Being, the mechanism of a human mind is to try and grab it, and to immortalize it in fragrant words of truth. The moment direct insight is transcribed into thinking, the insight itself is lost and only the memory prevails.
Guru pinpoints where the purity of Being is usurped by the staleness of intellectual recollection. He thereby acts as the windshield wiper of a misty mind.
It takes Guru to make the ever-present chintaamani of Pure Intelligence shine at every step.
6. Guru is the ultimate true friend.
The path of enlightenment is unique, confusing, and lonesome at times. Guru knows you and sees you as that Guru Consciousness, moment to moment. No grudges, no complaints, no personal past fetter the immediate connection. Whatever the situation, whatever the obstacle, Guru reaches you as your own Being. He lifts you and guides you, step by step ~ not from a space of tutorship, but from the space of Oneness.
The Guru relationship is one of unconditional love; no sense of fault, guilt, doubt, or indebtedness exists there. Guru ~ as your own true nature ~ is closer than your own mind. Guru is the ultimate true friend, always ready to receive You.
Shuchita first met her Guru 27 years ago, and has spent the ensuing decades immersed in the science of Yog and Meditation at IMI in northern India. A Meditation Guide, Yoga Therapist, and Healer with more than 20 years’ experience, she offers online classes, workshops and personal engagement through her website: www.illumayog.com. She is presently in Toronto with our dearest Niteesh / Noah Heney, sharing their infinite wealth of awareness, love, and compassion in April and May: “Awaken to Freedom: Freedom of Movement, Freedom of Breath, Freedom of Awareness, Freedom of Being.”
Freedom is your true nature. You must get it!