Traditions of the guru

The guru tradition is common to all religious systems throughout the world. The founders and figureheads of all major religions are gurus: Christ, Mohammed, Buddha, Zara-thustra and many more. These gums have millions of disciples, even though they are no longer in human form to guide their followers; instead other gurus have taken over the role of transmitting their teachings. In the present day the Pope can be regarded as the guru for Roman Catholics and the Dalai Lama for Tibetans. In Hinduism there are four jagat gurus (universal gurus) in four centres throughout India who act as spiritual leaders for millions of Hindus. On a more personal level, each priest, parson, mullah, rabbi, etc. can be considered as a guru for the group of people that he spiritually instructs. Even the cults of antiquity had gurus. The Druids were spiritual teachers who helped their disciples to higher levels of awareness; in ancient Egypt, Greece, etc., many of the well-known philosophers were gurus: Hermes Trismegistus, Plato, Socrates, Archimedes and others - all had many disciples. Lao Tse, Shankaracharya, Kabir, Guru Nanak, St. Augustine, St. Teresa, the Jewish prophets, the Sufi saints and others too numerous to mention were all gurus. These teachers guided and inspired people on their spiritual path. Their words are perhaps different but their aim is the same: truth, consciousness and bliss.

The guru is an essential part of life. His role is the essence of all mystical systems. As soon as a mystical system discards or loses the guru tradition, then it no longer remains mystical. It does not bring results. It retains all the laws, rules, formalities and rites; it retains the structure or the shell. But it loses the essence or the moving spirit behind it. This essence is the light of the guru. It is he who opens the disciple's eyes to the impossible.

There is a special day in India, the day of the full moon in the month of Ashadha (July), which is traditionally called Guru Poornima. On this day disciples pay homage to the guru, whether mentally from a distance or by their physical presence. At the same time the guru remembers his own guru.

Actually everyone we meet in life can be regarded as our guru because each person can teach us something. Even our enemies can be our best teachers, for they clearly highlight and show us our greatest problems, the obstacles to higher awareness. When we know our mental complexes, the deeper ones of which we are not normally aware, then we can take steps to remove them.

How to find the guru

If you have no guru, you may well ask: "How will I find him?" The answer is that you must just go on looking and following the path of tantra-yoga or any other system as a means to bring about greater levels of mental and physical harmony. This will accentuate your sensitivity and receptivity and eventually your guru will find you. We can never find the guru because we cannot recognize him. If we try to choose our own gum, we will choose according to our mental conditionings and projections. And if we choose a teacher who conforms to our present mental whims, then we will never be able to remove those whims, the very aspects of our personality which keep us in bondage. We should remain open, receptive and make personal efforts to tread the yogic path to mental harmony, breaking down current preconceptions. One way to do this is to hear satsang (spiritual teachings) of wise men whenever possible1. There is no need to make any commitment or confine yourself to one teacher or one belief, just go and listen. This will help you to direct your life in positive directions. When you are ready, your guru will be waiting for you. Maybe in the next lifetime! Even if you are not looking for a guru he will find you. The guru appears when the time is ripe.

It is essential that the guide be a true guru (sadguru) who is himself fully enlightened and with the highest vision. Such a being lives constantly in a transcendental state of awareness, always in communion with the absolute reality. Even while he lives and acts with people in the world, the guru is one with this infinite reality, for it is his own inner nature or Self, as it is of all other beings, whether they have realized it or not. The guru's individuality as a human being is just one tiny aspect of his being. His personality is a perfect and pure instrument of the infinite, through which unlimited power flows unceasingly to the world around him.


' For further details on the subject of satsang refer to Book III, Lesson 33, Topic 1.

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