July 27, 2010 on 11:00 am
Dear Spiritual Explorer: “I have met a teacher who blows my mind. He told me he was my guru. Should I believe him?” – Margaret S, Anchorage, AK
Dear Margaret: Once many years ago I asked advice of the I Ching, a Chinese book of wisdom, about someone who asked to be a teacher of mine. The advice was, “Do not follow a teacher that asks you to be his student.” I heeded that advice and then several years later, I met my guru, who after advising me she was my guru invited me to enter her teaching. This time I did not consult the I Ching, but relied upon my own intuition and stayed.
What made the difference? I can only say it was a feeling of knowing. I had doubts about the first teacher, but not about my guru. I felt she was the “real thing.” I still feel that way, which has been borne out by the 31 years I have resided at her ashram.
I have also known of situations where people have trusted their intuition, followed a guru and became disillusioned years later because of what they considered some human failing on the part of the guru. Was it a misstep on their part to follow this guru? While I can’t say, I can only attest that some of them had told me that during their time with him, they had made a lot of progress and grown a lot spiritually. Does that mean all the time spent with this teacher was an utter mistake, or does one separate the wheat from the chaff and appreciate the goodness gained?
Sometimes one has very high expectations of a guru, expecting them to be perfect in all realms. That sounds like expecting guru to be “ideal mommy and daddy.” A guru is not meant to be some fantastical all- knowing, all powerful person who can give us the lottery numbers. They are signposts and sources of divine wisdom that have the ability by their mere presence to bring us into a place of wisdom and knowingness of our selves. The eventual gift to us is that we feel confident in ourselves to make wise dharma decisions on behalf of ourselves and others if necessary.
You might ask some of these questions: How do you feel in your teacher’s presence? Do you feel elevated in some way and a sense of unabiding silence and grace? Do you feel as if you can be a better person just by knowing this person? Are they impeccable in what they say and do? Are they a shining example of those qualities of love and service that you revere? Once you have answered all these questions, then you are might feel ready to make a risk of commitment. Be aware, however, that the decision is not from the mind, but inevitably arises from the heart.
Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati
Last week was Guru Purnima day at Kashi Ashram with our Guru Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati. One only has to look upon Ma Jaya’s face to see the joy that we feel in her presence. I feel that Ma Jay possesses the qualities requisite for a guru. I have never met anyone in my lifetime who has possessed the great and constant heart she has when giving comfort and sustenance to thousands of people who are ailing, both physically and spiritually. She counts them all as her beloveds, endeavoring to serve them as best she can. She is a hands-on, 24 hour guru who has devoted her life to the beckoning of her soul. I am blessed to know this Great Soul in my lifetime.
Not everyone has a physical guru in the flesh. Some receive their insight and knowing from the Spirit. Whichever one is your destiny, I pray that you meet whom you desire in this lifetime and are able to make the progress you desire. I know this saying to be a true maxim, “When the student is ready, the Master will appear.” Good luck to you. Spiritual Explorer
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