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Finding a spiritual teacher is truly a momentous undertaking. The only thing more difficult than finding a spiritual teacher is finding your own guru because of the little known adage that there are many teachers, but only one guru.

A spiritual teacher can be anybody who gives you some object lesson in your life. For instance, we can learn humility from most anyone who points out something we have done to hurt somebody or create some other kind of harm. If one takes that lesson to heart, and learns by it, then that person who is kind enough to point this out has become our spiritual teacher.

As we go through life, there occur many instances when we are asked to surrender a piece of ourselves in humility either to somebody or some event. A common one is when a mother surrenders to her child’s needs. For example, if the mother has to go some place but the child is asking at that time to be fed, the mother will surrender in that instance and feed her child. Another example is if somebody in your life or family becomes very ill; in that case, out of love or respect for that person, you might be required to change your life in some large way. If that relative or friend needs to visit another city for treatment, you might even have to change your schedule to accommodate them, and otherwise modify your life so as to provide a comfortable space for this person. Suddenly, this person has become the loci of your life and your first wish is to serve them, rather than yourself. That event is a spiritual teacher.

Sometimes we are asked to change our behavior to service someone else’s ego needs or desires that severely compromises what we consider to be our integrity or our character. That is not known as righteous surrender when someone asks you to compromise your sense of integrity or morality. That kind of surrender withers and diminishes us. A true spiritual teacher is one who is desirous of leading you to your true self and with whom you feel enhanced and expanded. In that case, one must ask, is my service to this spiritual teacher one that will lead to greater service to my soul and establish a connection that I seek to my spirit or God.

Other questions in seeking a spiritual teacher are: How do I feel in the presence of this spiritual teacher? Do I feel an expansion of love in my heart? Do I feel connected with others by virtue of my connection to this spiritual teacher? Am I growing inside myself? Is this spiritual teacher following her own teachings? Most importantly, do I surrender my own ego to this spiritual teacher from love or from fear? If it the former, I would suggest that this seems to be a good criteria for following a spiritual teacher.

There are wonderful spiritual teachers in every path whom have proven themselves to their devotees in terms of their loving nature, wise counsel and disciplined lives. Some of the writings of these wise spiritual teachers can be found in the library of Ma’s India. The Dalai Lama’s Little Book of Inner Peace offers his wisdom in interpreting the Buddha’s teachings. The Inner Journey, Views from the Hindu Tradition, is compiled from the Parabola Anthology Series complete with interviews, vignettes, and essays of famous spiritual teachers ranging from Sri Aurobindo to contemporary wisdom teacher Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati.Finally, if one were intent on finding a spiritual teacher, one need not look any further than the writings of Neem Karoli Baba, Swami Nityananda, Ramana Maharshi, and Sri Ramakrishna to see the ultimate example of spiritual teachers. These men/gurus have proven themselves to be great spiritual teachers as seen by the love, devotion and respect of their devotees.

May you be blessed with wisdom in your search for a spiritual teacher!

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Links to this post icon18_email-1918900icon18_edit_allbkg-1927380 Ramana Maharshi, born 1879, is considered one of India’s foremost spiritual teachers for his authenticity as a selfless guru here on earth for the divine purpose of bringing others to realization. When Ramana Maharshi was a teenager, a sudden and unmistakable fear of death overcame him. The shock and the fear of his imminent death served to bring Ramana Maharshi to an undying awareness of the Self. Leaving his home and all that was familiar to him soon after, he came to Tiruvannamalai where he worshipped the holy hill of Arunachala as the seat of Shiva. He had the sustained and unremitting knowledge that while the material body dies, the Self cannot be touched by death. Through his practice of self-inquiry, Ramana Maharshi outlines a method of self-inquiry by which one can finally experience the true nature of the Self.

In the book The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharshi we are treated to a radical foreword by Carl Jung, a man educated in scientific pursuit, acknowledging and inquiring into the radical assertion by Ramana Maharshi that the purpose of spiritual inquiry is the dissolution of the Self. To accomplish this place of realization, Ramana Maharshi offers the simple practice of saying “Who am I?” and in this book he gives in great simplicity and detail, spiritual instruction as to how one is to engage in this practice. The subjects of Practice, Experience, Renunciation, Attainment, Self-Inquiry, etc. are some of the topics written with an eye to a beginning layman’s experience. The words of Ramana Maharshi are at once profound and explanatory.

In The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi edited by his great and brilliant devotee, writer Arthur Osborne, there is gathered together Ramana Maharshi’s original works: Self-Enquiry, Upadesa Saram, Five Hymns to Arunachala and two sets of Forty Verses, together with various other works. Throughout his works, we witness how Ramana Maharshi constantly admonishes his followers to embrace the path of awareness and self-inquiry in their daily lives and not to just reside as a sadhak in meditation. Nearly everything Ramana Maharshi wrote was in response to a request or to meet a need of a devotee. For the interest of the reader, Arthur Osborne gives, in great detail, the genesis of each writing from the remarkable teachings of Ramana Maharshi.

This spiritually significant book entitled Talks With Ramana Maharshi: On Realizing Abiding Peace and Happiness is a series of dialogues between the Master Ramana Maharshi and his devotees from 1935 through 1939. Each dialogue is prefaced by an informative introduction to the particular devotee asking his questions of Ramana Maharshi. We see how Ramana Maharshi constantly points the dialogue back to the inquiry into the self. For example, as one devotee asks, “Do I need to become a sadhu in order to achieve self-realization?” Ramana Maharshi responds, “Who is it that thinks he needs to become the sadhu?” Again directing the questioner back to the Self, Ramana Maharshi instructs the seeker that the true realization of happiness lies in the realization of the Self.

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Links to this post icon18_email-1918900icon18_edit_allbkg-1927380 Even in childhood, Bhagawan Nityananda was heralded as being in an an unusually advanced spiritual state, Eventually given the name Nityananda meaning “always in bliss,” he migrated to Southern India. While there, Nityananda gained a reputation for effecting miracles and cures. As guru, however, Nityananda spoke very little, sitting with his devotees most of the time in silence.When he spoke however,as is recorded back to the early 1920’s, his devotees assiduously wrote down his rare words. Settling in southern India, Nityananda gained a reputation for effecting miracles and wonderful cures.In 1936, Nityananda went to the Shiva temple in the village of Ganeshpuri and asked if he could stay there. The family that looked after the temple built a hut for him. As visitors and followers increased, the hut became an ashram. To the people around Nityananda, he was called an “avadhut,” one who is absorbed in the transcendental state.


The Sky of the Heart one is introduced to the profound simplicity and wisdom of Bhagawan Nityananda contained in the rare verses transcribed by his devotees during the 1920’s. “With the mind, you want everything. With no mind, you want nothing. With mind, you see ”God” as separate; when mind merges with higher mind, no separate god is needed.” Because Nityananda spoke rarely, this is a rare collection of inspirational verses to enlighten the soul of the devotee. In Divine Presence is an uplifting, inspiring and moving chronicle of Bhagawan Nityananda’s life by his devotees from the time of his birth to his taking of mahasamadhi in 1961.Here we see the story of this selfless saint, the many miracles that unfolded around him, his extreme benevolence to those who came to him and his candor of his sadness for those who came to him merely for material worth rather than spiritual sustenance. Included are previously unpublished photographs of Nityananda through his life. In Divine Presence is an easily read book of the great saint known as Nityananda. In this wonderful recount of a devotee’s reverence for his master. Swami Muktananda in Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri recounts his life as disciple and successor to Bhagawan Nityananda. With great clarity, love and understanding, he describes what it is to know a “siddha,” a great soul beyond duality, established in a state of supreme freedom. Swami Muktananda speaks of his years as a student of Bhagawan Nityananda and with great poignancy of his final moments with Bhagawan at his death and how Bhagawan Nityananda on that day imparted to Muktananda his final initiation as a siddha. He brings great understanding and clarity to the extraordinary teachings of Bhagawan Nityananda.

Ma’s India carries a wide range of rare Photos of Swami Nityananda from his years as a young sadhu to his advanced years as an avadhut. Some might merely see a simply clad master imparting his teachings to those who sought them. Others realize that to even see a picture of this radiant and selfless siddha is to receive his darshan.

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