by Durga Ahlund and M. G. Satchidananda
From the unreal lead us to the Real
Form darkness lead us to the Light
From death lead us to Immortality
Gurupurnima is the festival where devotees celebrate The Guru. This year we celebrated it on July, 2004, at the Quebec Ashram. It was a magical night, with a full moon, pale yellow in color, on a balmy night. Later that night a terrific lightning storm came up and held us in awe.
Purnima means “full moon day.” Guru Purnima is the day when the moon is the fullest of the whole year. It follows shortly after the longest day of the year, the summer solstice, usually in July.
“Gu” means darkness and “ru” means light. So Guru means “dispeller of darkness.” Gurupurnima is the day when it is said that the rays of the sun touched the earth for the first time. It is the day of wisdom, the day of light. Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya, lead us from the darkness to the light. So, Gurupurnima is the beginning of the spiritual year. It marks the beginning of chaturmas- a four month holy period of moderation and spiritual activity.
On this day the aspirants offer their devotion and the fruits of their practice to the master in the form of their gratitude and love. Every disciple makes a new sankalpa (renew their will) to practice more and to understand better the Guru’s teachings and to do Guru Seva and to be worthy of receiving the Guru’s grace. On Gurupurnima we seek the blessings of our Guru. Through our concentration on the Guru on this day, through our mind, our prana, our Self, we can experience a darshan with the Guru.
Who is the Guru?
The Guru is a spiritual preceptor, who initiates his disciples onto the spiritual path and guides them towards liberation. The Guru is one who has realized his identity with That, the absolute source of everything, and assumes the responsibility of guiding others to that realization. As such God is manifested in the form of the Guru. For one who does not have a physical Guru, God himself is the Guru.
Sometimes, a physical guru merges with the Absolute Being Consciousness and Bliss, leaving the physical plane. They remain able and willing to help true aspirants. The Guru in subtle form remains however as the grace bestowing power of God. Guru, God, Self, all pervading consciousness, Shakti, all one.
Guru tattva or Guru principle: is the principle by which Nature, creates, sustains and destroys all life in both our inner and outer universes, in whatever way is necessary for us pass from ignorance to wisdom, from egoism to Self-realization. It has existed since before the universe was created, and so transcends time and space. The Guru principle exists within everyone as the inner Self, so when we honor the outer Guru, we also honor our own Self. It is the impersonal Shakti, the spontaneous force which creates whatever is needed for the greatest expansion of sadhana. It is more powerful than the external guru because it always accessible.
The Inner Guru
While ultimately the disciple must one day transcend the external guru, and discover the guru as a spiritual principle or tattva within, in their hurry for enlightenment, Western disciples often discard the external guru prematurely, leading them to the risk of further.
The only inner guru accessible to the average individual is the ego-self. The ego-self is the cause of our unenlightenment, and it pushes the disciple deeper into ignorance, confusion and ultimately despair. self-delusion.
Powers of the Guru: the Guru may be understood by his powers and functions:
The guru assumes responsibility for assisting the disciple’s birth into the spiritual dimension, through the communication of esoteric knowledge which initiates the liberation and illumination of the disciple.
Guru = weighty; the dispeller of darkness, a teacher who not merely instructs or communicates information, as does an acharya, but rather transmits wisdom, and by his very nature, reveals the spiritual reality. He initiates and even invigorates the spiritual process of the disciple. When the guru is not yet fully liberated, transmission is largely, but not exclusively based on the teacher’s will and effort. Divine grace may also use such a guru as a temporal vehicle.
Satguru = a fully enlightened guru, whose every word, gesture and mere presence is held to express and manifest the Spirit; transmission is spontaneous and continuous.
By verbal instruction, as a living example, by oral explanation or commentary on the sacred texts, to yield their deeper meaning. The guru, by virtue of the oral transmission received from his or her own teacher or teachers, and also in light of his or her own experience and realization is able to make the written teachings come alive.
Gu = darkness; Ru = removal. The Guru is the remover of spiritual darkness; restores sight to those who are blind to their own true Self. This depends upon the degree of the guru’s own Self-realization.
The guru swims against the stream of conventional values and pursuits. Their message is radical: asking us to live consciously, inspect our motives, transcend egoic passions, overcome intellectual blindness, live peacefully with others, realize the deepest core of human nature, the Spirit. This disturbs those who are devoting their energies fully to the pursuit of conventional values.
To benefit from the guru’s transmission of liberating wisdom, one must enter into an intense transformative relationship with the guru that is known as discipleship. This includes a deep commitment to self-transformation, submission to a course of discipline, by which the mind is moved out of its conventional habit patterns, and a loving regard for the guru who must be viewed not as an individual, but essentially as a cosmic function. The guru is not interested in an interpersonal relationship, but to obliterate the illusion of discipleship, to draw the disciple into the realization of the supreme Self.
This task of the Guru is effective with prajna (insight) and karuna (compassion) which are themselves supra-individual capacities oriented towards the Self, rather than the finite human personality. If the Guru is only compassionate, he could not guide the disciple out of illusion, and the disciple would misinterpret the compassion as love for how the disciple is now. The Guru loves the disciple in his true nature, the higher Self. If the Guru was merely wise, but lacking in compassion, most likely the disciple would become crushed under the demand for self-transformation. Disciples are prone to misconceptions, projections, illusions, and delusions that prevent or delay a constructive relationship with the guru.
Connecting with the Guru, Surrender and Grace
Yoga traditions describe various seats of the guru in the subtle system , the most powerful being the sahasrara. The guru is also inwardly heard in the forms of subtle sounds. The inner guru may be experienced without form, as Silence and Infinite Spaciousness of the expansive heart. Our true inner guru lives in the sahasrara and is accessible and associated with our use of the mantra. As you chant the mantra Om Kriya Babaji Nama Aum also meditate on the mantra. The mantra is shakti. It is very powerful. The Guru transmits his Shakti through the mantra and the shakti enters the disciple through the mantra. The Siddhas favorite form of worship is to the feet their guru on top of their heads.
The root of the mantra is the guru’s word. The mantra is a form of the guru himself
Surrender is of such importance. If you surrender yourself to the Guru, you will receive initiation by one way or another. Through surrender one unites with the Cosmic Being, and draws down immense grace. Grace removes all obstacles without which perfect union is not achieved. Surrender and grace are complementary to each other. The disciple can assimilate powerful currents of spiritual energy which flows from the Guru in direct proportion to the degree of his faith and devotion to the Guru. The Guru has an Infinite pool of spiritual energy received from the Supreme Being for redirecting to his disciples.
When a disciple chants the guru mantra and meditates on the Guru, whether or not the Guru is in a physical body or not, the Guru feels a current of sublime thoughts proceeding to him from his disciple. The Guru from his inner sight visualizes clearly a fine line of dazzling light between them , which is produced by vibrations of sublime thoughts in the wide expanse of superconsciousness.
Give Salutations to your Guru and to the Guru in all forms
Regard the Guru with deep love. It is important to keep the Guru in our heart and to be with Him/Her in principle and to keep attuned with Him.
Meditations on the Guru
Do we need a Guru?
With few exceptions, all souls which take incarnation in this world do so because they remain attached to duality. Notions of liking and disliking, getting and losing, high and low, good and bad, disturb us continuously. The identification with the body-mind is so strong, that they are drawn into the ego’s snare of ignorance as to their true identity. Therefore, virtually everyone needs the grace and guidance of a guru, whether it be external or subtle, until and unless they realize the Self.
The Guru and the Guru’s Teaching are one and the same. Real spiritual progress can only be made through applying the teachings. While reading spiritual books may point the way, they do not provide the essential experience or divine grace which comes when one surrenders the limited ego perspective. Through practice of the sadhana prescribed by the guru, karma yoga or selfless service, self-study and devotion progress can be made in overcoming ones “samskaras” or habitual tendencies which bind one to duality.
How do you know when you have found your Guru?
You should approach the Guru with profound humility, sincerity and reverence. You should have an eager and receptive attitude to the teachings of the Guru. If you find peace in the presence of your Guru, whether in physical or subtle form and find that your doubts disappear, then you should accept Him as your Guru. It is said that you should know, if you finally “accept” someone as your Guru that means He has already accepted you as a disciple long before, otherwise you would never have been able to accept Him. Know that you have found your Guru, when you don’t even have to verbalize questions in order to get answers. Out of nowhere, you will hear exactly what you need to know. Until then, the best and perhaps only way of finding your Guru is by diligently preparing oneself. It is said, that when the disciple is ready, the Guru will appear. So apply yourself as a disciple, to the discipline or sadhana and teachings of the Guru. See how these affect you. The Guru and the Guru’s teachings are the same. A true Guru however, will always emphasize the teachings, not his person.
Spiritual knowledge is handed down from Guru to disciples. The teachings of the Guru are called Upadesh which means near the place. The object of Updesh is to show a distant object quite near. The Guru makes the disciple realize that Brahman (Absolute Being) which the disciple believes to be distant and different from himself is near and not different from himself. A disciple learns Yoga through dedicated practice of the teachings laid down by the Guru, by sincere self investigation and by service to the Guru.
Copyright Marshall Govindan 2004. All rights reserved.
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