So many people ask me about what a guru is. On the spiritual path, it is one of the most crucial questions one needs to have clarity of or at least some good guidance, otherwise, it sets us up for trouble and possible heartache.
There is only one Guru – the great grace-bestowing power of the Divine. This aspect of the Divine has many names but is beyond all names and concepts. That’s the first thing to get straight. It is not a person.
That being said there are a few people who are so at one with The One Guru that they are called Gurus too.
There are very very very very very very (please note that was 6 verys) few real Gurus. A real Guru is a human being who has reached full enlightenment and have dedicated their lives to the upliftment of humanity.
In these amazing people, their ego is fully transformed and they are immersed and at one with the Divine – all the time. They have the power to give you a piece of their enlightened energy so you too can have a taste of that oneness with the Divine. This is how they uplift the world. One heart at a time.
There are some teachers who have reached a certain state but don’t clarify with their students that they are not enlightened, or do so in such a way it comes off as being humble – that they really are enlightened but just don’t want to say it. They can give you blessings of feel-good energy but cannot actually bring you further than that.
I see people get caught up with teachers of this ilk, believing them to be fully enlightened – they dedicate themselves to serving them and their cause. Though there is sometimes good that comes out of this, there is also much danger.
Unfortunately, when we believe someone is enlightened, we assign God-like powers to them of compassion, love and knowledge towards us and of us. Our guard falls down and we believe they have our best interest at heart. Dangerous.
One of the biggest mistake devotees of this kind of teacher makes is to think that their spiritual experiences are intrinsically linked with this teacher. That without them they can’t go further, so they become dependent on their teacher and stay in what sometimes can become an unhealthy dependency.
The teacher also becomes dependent on their adoration and love to bolster the ego he has running the show. Because only one whose ego is totally and completely transformed can truly have only their students best interest in mind – it’s very hard to do otherwise completely. Usually, the problem with teachers like this is it ends up being a matter of politics and finances to keep their self-interests going under the guise of fulfilling the ‘mission’.
The group dynamic is learned from the top down. It is set from the enlightenment or lack thereof of the main teacher.
We all know the story and have heard it so many times.
How do we protect ourselves from teachers like these? We do our homework.
If we come upon a long-time teacher and their group is somewhat smallish, click ish, very rigid in their approaches to running the group and full of people believing their teacher is a true master – they are doing something wrong. Run don’t walk.
Then there are other teachers who are just wonderful – not enlightened but on their path and doing the work of helping people break through their issues so they can have a daily practice and really make some headway in their own sadhana, spiritual path.
These teachers are clear and vocal that they are not enlightened and that they can’t bring their students ‘all the way’ but they can do much to inspire, motivate and encourage their students on. I’ve been fortunate to work with many of these types of teachers and I work hard to do this for my own students.
In order to connect with the Real Guru, we don’t need to go from one teacher to the next to see if we can find the one. It’s more of an inside job.
We go within.
What’s wonderful is that we have our own connection with that great One. We can pray directly to that Beloved and our prayers can be heard. The answers can be tangibly felt.
If it’s our time maybe a true Guru will come into our lives and we can become awakened to the full experience of the Divine within us. But I feel that our connection with the Divine is enough to get us across the ocean directly. Once we have had that taste of awakening that the Divine can give us, where we experience enlightenment even for a moment or for some a few days, weeks or months. You can never go back to seeing life in the same old way. It gives you fire and hunger to do practices, so you can experience that bliss again and again. It becomes your life.
In order to connect with the Divine Guru energy, you can use this Mantra:
OM SADGURU PARAMATMANE NAMAHA
Salutations to the transcendental omnipresent Guru
In the end, in this life or some future life, we will all come to understand that the Guru is actually our own true Self – omnipotent, omniscient and at one with everything.
Aly M. Dunne